New Faces: Barefoot Stitches Has New Owners

Jen Brandenstein (left) and Karin Smith, co-owners of Barefoot Stitches & Gifts, pose inside their Beverly Road store. The duo purchased the business from the previous owners and opened to the public in April of this year.

Barefoot Stitches & Gifts on Beverly Road is open for business under new ownership, but the new owners didn’t exactly plan it that way.

For Karin Smith, Barth Avenue, and Jen Brandenstein, Racine Avenue, it started out as a trip to purchase iron towers for their event design business. 

“I always tease people. We came in to buy those for $200 and we ended up buying a shop,” Smith said.

That day, the women struck up a conversation with the brother of the former owner of Barefoot Stitches. One hour later, they were sitting down to talk business, an hour after that they had a handshake deal and one hour after that, their husbands were on board with the idea of them buying the unique boutique specializing in personalized gifts.

Before it became Barefoot Stitches 19 years ago, the Beverly Road store operated for years as Ducray Interiors. Lee and Emmylou Ducray still own the building. 

The next steps for Smith and Brandenstein were threefold—securing financing, working out a lease agreement with the Ducrays and hammering out the details of retaining the Barefoot Stitches name. “The name was well known; already had its reputation and customers and regulars,” said Brandenstein.

Smith told Brandenstein, if it’s meant to be, all three things will fall into place. Within two weeks, they got their wish and the new Barefoot Stitches opened its doors at the end of April. 

Brandenstein hopes the Barefoot Stitches experience is joyful for customers. “We want them to be super proud of this gift they’re giving,” Brandenstein said. “And that it’s special.” 

“Hospitality is super important to us; everything from the minute someone walks in the door until we wrap their present beautifully in a ribbon,” Smith said. “Yes, it’s a gift shop, but it’s more than that to us.”

The two women make a point of working with local vendors and their customers love it. 

 “We hear it all the time: ‘I love that you have so many things local.’ It’s one small business supporting other small businesses,” Smith added.

Looking ahead, with Christmas right around the corner, 20 percent of Barefoot Stitches’ inventory will be Christmas-related items, with the remaining 80 percent devoted to the store’s usual personalized and thoughtful gifts.

Smith promises that her 15-month-old grandson, JJ, a frequent model and personal favorite of her regular customers, will also continue to visit Barefoot Stitches. That way, “customers feel like they’re part of your family,” she said.

Photography by John Schisler