Husband-and-wife duo Bryson and Susan Leach always intended for Needle & Grain to be more than just a regular craft store. “The idea is purposeful living,” says Bryson. “More and more people are looking for things that have purpose – things that are useful but not wasteful. So we look for things that are local or regional or made in an ethical way. But we don’t sell a lot of trinkets and extra stuff that we don’t think you really need.”
The Columbia, Tennessee treasure began when Susan discovered quilting as a creative outlet while she was working as a teacher.
“I had always wanted to learn how to quilt because Bryson’s family had a bunch of quilts, and my family had one,” Susan says. “I was teaching at the time so I just started watching YouTube videos to learn, and when I made my first quilt, I fell in love instantly.”
After posting pictures of them on social media, her blankets quickly became popular among her friends, who began asking to buy them for baby showers and other events. From there, Susan started selling her quilts on Etsy, and eventually, inspired by her success, she and Bryson began setting up booths at craft markets, where they connected with other creatives and impressed more happy customers.
Susan credits some of this early success to Bryson’s support. “We’re both creative people, but I didn’t realize I was this creative until we got married because Bryson encouraged me to pursue my dreams,” says Susan.
Finally, the couple launched their own website and decided to start their own business, ultimately agreeing to open the store in their hometown of Columbia. “I was working at a boutique in Columbia, and we noticed that it was really starting to pick up,” Susan says. “So I thought that if we wanted to start our own business, we needed to move there because Columbia had grown exponentially in the last five years with businesses.”
So the couple moved back to Columbia in 2016 and began to plan for their store.
“We didn’t want it to just be a quilt store, we wanted it to be a home goods store for crafty people,” Susan says.
When it opened, the store obviously sold Susan’s handmade blankets, quilts and her very popular swaddle blankets for babies. But Needle & Grain has also come to carry a number of other fantastic products, from artful decor to homemade soaps and bath products to chocolates and other Southern delicacies.
“The misconception we get is that we make everything in our store, which isn’t true because we’ve met so many great people on this journey we’ve had,” Bryson says. “We wanted to bring those kinds of people to our small little town.”
Many of the brands Needle & Grain sells are made either in Tennessee or in the South. “It’s easy for us to curate because we know a lot of people who make the stuff because when we went to markets we’d meet all these other people and developed these road friendships,” Bryson says. “So we know the people who make a lot of our stuff, and it’s fun to be able to give that cool backstory.”
By balancing their own homemade goods with those of other talented creators, Needle & Grain seeks to give their customers the very best products they possibly can. “Having that story behind the products we sell is so important to us and to be intentional with it all to not just accumulate stuff,” Susan says.
Another valuable part of Needle & Grain’s business is their goal to equip customers with the skills to live purposefully on their own, by offering classes on sewing, crafting and cooking. “I was a teacher, so education is a huge part of what we want to do,” Susan says. “I teach kids and adults, and a lot of it is beginning sewing classes or beginner cooking classes. In my sewing camps for kids, we’ve made aprons, pillowcases and other things to get people interested in sewing. I just want to make it an accessible craft because it is a life skill, and people find that it’s very important.”
In addition to making their own crafts, Susan hopes she can help their customers be more sustainable with what they already own. “I want to have classes where you bring pants and learn to hem them or how to sew a button back on,” Susan says. “It’s things that, even if you’re not super interested in it, you can fix your own clothes, and you’re not being wasteful and buying more stuff.”
This philosophy continues to carry over into everything the Leaches do.
“A lot of the stuff in our store, even if it’s meant to be a gift, is still useful,” said Bryson. “It’s not going to collect dust in your life, and that’s a huge thing that we focus on. We’re not just going after stuff that’s cheap and that we know can make a buck.”
Learn more about Needle & Grain, shop online or simply browse their beautiful inventory at needleandgrain.com.
Today’s gorgeous photos are from the talented Cat Sewell of Simply Sewell Photography.
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