Bauble Stockings Capture the Benevolent Spirit of the Season

Bauble Stockings Capture the Benevolent Sprit of the Season
Photography courtesy of Kate Stewart

Text by Elizabeth Czapski

They say the best things come in small packages, and that statement always rang true for Kate Stewart growing up with her family’s favorite Christmas custom. Every year, they saved the last present for her mother—a grand-finale gift and token of appreciation for all she did for them—and that gift, or a clue to it, was found in her miniature “bauble” stocking, hand-stitched, hung on the tree, and given the name for its tendency to contain jewelry. It wasn’t until Kate got engaged in 2010 that she learned this beloved tradition was unique to her family.

Kate Stewart
Photography courtesy of Kate Stewart

“When I got engaged to my husband, Peter, I said, ‘Well, when do I get my bauble stocking?’” Kate says. “His response was, ‘What’s a bauble stocking?’ I googled it for him, and it didn’t pop up. I was appalled. I called my parents and asked if they knew that other people don’t have bauble stockings. That was when I discovered bauble stockings were not a universal tradition.”

Santa Bauble Stocking on Tree
Photography courtesy of Kate Stewart

A few years and a couple jobs later, Kate had worked her way up to COO at every company she’d been with and was realizing a desire to run a venture of her own. “Peter encouraged me and said, ‘You’ve always talked about bauble stockings—why can’t you make it a business?’” Kate recalls. Not sure where to begin, she started scouring the Internet for needlepoint manufacturers, which was no easy feat. “Needlepoint has a ton of hobbyists, but there are only 200 needlepoint stores in America and about five manufacturers in the world,” Kate explains. “It’s very specific. It’s a labor of love.”

Gingerbread Bauble Stocking
Photography courtesy of Kate Stewart

She embarked on a painstaking quest with many ups and downs, all while growing their family and working a separate full-time job, refusing to compromise on both skilled craftmanship and fair-trade labor. In March 2018, Kate felt like she’d exhausted all options, but Peter told her to try one more Google search—the same one she’d tried countless times before. Serendipitously, that was the exact, and only, time Good Threads needlepoint company paid for search engine optimization.

Kate Stewart and Good Threads
Photography courtesy of Kate Stewart

“Good Threads was everything I could want in a partnership,” Kate says. “At that point, it was all focused on single moms [in Jacmel, Haiti], so their kids could go to school. Needlepoint has a good price point, so you can pay real wages. This is a skilled labor that there really aren’t a lot of people doing in the world.”

Bauble Stocking Ornaments
Photography courtesy of Kate Stewart

After a trip to Haiti confirmed Good Threads was just what she’d dreamed of, they teamed up, and Kate launched Bauble Stockings in July 2018 from her home base in Atlanta, Georgia. Today, Good Threads employs more than 1,000 Haitians in the Jacmel community—up from fewer than 100 a few years ago—and Bauble Stockings provides 90 percent of their work. “Each bauble stocking has 4,000 stitches using petit point needlepoint technique, which shows the most detail,” Kate says, touting the precision of their stitchers who learned the skill via YouTube videos.

Bauble Stockings on Mantle
Photography courtesy of Kate Stewart

Stateside, Sarah Watson creates the artwork for the company’s designs, bringing Kate’s visions to life with classic yet whimsical holiday motifs spanning angels, nutcrackers, reindeer, and collections like their latest hit, 12 Days of Christmas. Beyond their signature miniature stockings, they offer companion accessories, such as charms and stationery, and recently introduced full-size stockings in limited quantities. They also collaborate with a growing number of guest artists, including Dogwood Hill’s Holly Hollon and Mariana Barran Goodall of Hibiscus Linens, donating 10 percent of the profits from each design to a charity of the artist’s choice—a total that now exceeds $70,000.

Dog Bauble Stocking
Photography courtesy of Kate Stewart

For Kate, giving back and bringing change to communities like Jacmel are made all the more meaningful as she does so by passing on her most cherished family tradition to other families. “I love the bauble stockings tradition because I love the feeling of going shopping with somebody special in mind,” she says. “Growing up, going shopping with my dad and brothers, thinking about my mom—that’s the memory I wanted to recreate that I couldn’t believe people had missed out on. It’s not about the gift—it’s the idea that you were very thought about. With Bauble Stockings, I want to create a meaningful tradition in people’s homes while creating meaningful work in another.”

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