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Nordic Needle: An International Success


It all began in 1975. Sue Meier and Rosalyn Watnemo were working at Concordia College and were in need of supplies for Hardanger, a form of Norwegian embroidery. Meier and Watnemo had taken Hardanger classes at Concordia but were unable to find supplies in the Fargo Moorhead area. So they decided to start Nordic Needle, Inc.

“We didn’t think it would be a full time job,” Sue says. “So we kept our jobs until we knew that we could make something of this.”

Sue, Roz and a third partner started what was then known as Crafts, Cloth and Collectibles in the old Bison Hotel in downtown Fargo before moving to what is now Block 6 Apartments when the store first opened in the fall of 1975. When the company incorporated in the late 1970s, they changed the name to Nordic Needle, Inc. “As the true partners we were, Sue came up with the name Nordic Stitchery and I came up with the name Scandinavian Needle,” Roz says. “So week took the ‘n’ words from both suggestions and the shop became Nordic Needle.”

This year marks Nordic Needle’s 35th year in business. Today, they have 25 full-time employees at their current location on 1314 Gateway Drive South in Fargo and a world-wide customer base. “I think the secret to our success is that we have the ability to reach out in ways a small shop that only caters to one town can’t,” Sue says. “The Internet has really helped us reach all over the world. We may have a narrow market, but we’re deep in the product.”

Nordic Needle specializes in Hardanger embroidery, counted cross stitch, silk ribbon embroidery, Brazilian embroidery, canvaswork, tatting and much more. Products and services include patterns (many of which Roz designs), 11,000 different threads, a variety of supplies, instructional classes, a weekly newsletter,  a mail-order catalog that reaches over 50,000 people in 60 countries and 900 wholesale customer stores in more than 25 countries. They have published over 150 books and more than 35 kits. They’ve also compiled over 800 recipes into a cookbook for stitchers.

“There’s something about stitching and food that go together,” Sue says. “Most stitchers are good cooks. And if they’re not good cooks, they’re good eaters.”

Aside from the vast array of products and services, Roz and Sue work hard to continue their mission of bringing fine needlework to those who love it. Every year, Nordic Needle holds a contest for original Hardanger patterns. Started in 1979, the contest draws entries from all over the world, including Tazmania, England, Australia, Japan and Canada. The winning designs are published in a book alongside pictures, biographies and charts for how to make the winning design.

They also hold an annual retreat each April. This year, 65 ladies from 21 different states, Bermuda, England and two provinces in Canada came to Fargo for a week. The retreat includes stitching classes, tours of the shop and a variety of special events. Many of the women have come back each year. “These ladies have gotten to be such good friends,” Roz says.

The personal relationships built at the retreat are just one example of how Roz and Sue measure the success of their business. “We really enjoy the way our business brings people together,” Roz says. “It’s a passion.”

The emphasis on personal relationships includes customers and staff. “We wouldn’t be here without our staff,” Roz says.

“We’re grateful for our customers,” Sue adds.

Congratulate Nordic Needle, Inc. on 35 years in business! Visit Nordic Needle's Virtual Marketplace booth and drop your congratulations in their fishbowl!

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