This is part of our #SmileABCs series, highlighting and going in-depth with small businesses and ecommerce brands. Check out the full series here.

Have you ever had a hobby that you wished you could turn into a business? Well Cristina Cerqueira is here to show you that with some inspiration, collaboration, and passion, it’s entirely possible. Cristina founded Unwind Studio in early 2020 after feeling burnt out from a career in data engineering.

During her maternity leave, Cristina revisited her childhood hobby of needlepointing and it reignited a passion she thought she had lost. After falling out of love with the craft in college because of out-dated designs, Cristina had her “aha” moment. She set out to combine two of her biggest passions–illustration art and needlepoint. With that, Unwind Studio was born.

unwind stuido photo of needlepoint craft on a table
The inspiration for Unwind Studio was to be an antidote to the hustle and bustle of the modern world

One of the most unique aspects of Unwind Studio is the network of talented artists they work with from all over the world. They work with each artist to transform their artworks and illustrations into beautiful, contemporary needlepoint kits, letting customers bring the designs to life for themselves.

“There are plenty of talented people out there with beautiful designs who inspire us and fit into the aesthetic of our business–this is why we have (and will continue to) feature so many in our kits,” Cristina shares with us. Whether artists reach out directly or connect over Instagram, or Pinterest, Unwind Studio has created an inspirational community of creatives that its customers can shop from.

Helping customers unwind creatively

While Unwind Studio offers beautiful crafts, it’s so much more than just a hobby brand. Cristina has successfully created a community centered on meaningful values like creativity, self-care, and championing artists. With product collections dedicated to mental health, customers can find a way to de-stress while making a product that is a positive reminder of their worth.

“We really believe in the important role that art plays in society and in our own daily lives, thus we love the fact that we can showcase the pieces of our amazing artists and turn them into such a pleasing experience for our clients.”

This dedication to its customers well-being has resulted in a thriving brand community with customers from across the globe. Cristina describes it as, “a group of amazing people who enjoy making something with their own hands or who want to learn needlepoint to incorporate a relaxing hobby into the hustle and bustle of life.”

We all know that taking up a new hobby can be exciting and stimulating, but it can also be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Unwind Studio removes this barrier by making the craft accessible to all customers. Customers can shop by level or size, as well as including tons of tutorials and value-added content through their website, blog, and social media. “For those who start the journey in needlepointing, it is important to feel supported and to have a guide that stimulates their motivation!” Cristina tells us.

When your brand sells a niche product or service, you can either target a specific audience group or you can bring your niche to the masses. Unwind Studio opts for the latter through sharing the joy of needlepointing with anyone who’s looking for a way to relax and unwind.

Unwind Rewards

Customers can also earn aptly named “stitches” as part of Unwind Studio’s rewards program. By offering points for making purchases, interacting on social media, celebrating a birthday, or leaving a review, Unwind Studio keeps customers engaged. Once customers have earned enough points they can redeem them for free shipping or various discounts off their next purchase.

“Our rewards program helped us tremendously to increase our repeated orders and retain our customers" - Cristina Cerqueira, Founder of Unwind Studio

Since launching their loyalty program in 2020, Unwind Studio has had to adapt, like many ecommerce brands, to a changing and unpredictable environment. “With the current economic situation across the globe, we are definitely seeing a shift on how people spend their money,” Cristina tells us.

Unwind Studio also has a referral program for new and existing customers, offering €10 off to both parties. In an industry that’s highly visual and creative, the power of referrals and reviews are so valuable and Unwind successfully takes advantage of both.

“The loyalty program is crucial for our customer retention strategy. Most of our loyal customers take advantage of the rewards every time they purchase with us. Investing in our existing customers first, allowed us to grow organically without relying on paid advertising.”

As you can see, both the Unwind Studio team and customers find the rewards program beneficial, making it a win-win for everyone involved!

Slow and steady wins the race

Since launching in 2020, Unwind Studio has slowly expanded to several European countries with plants to expand further in 2023. Cristina shares some of their plans with us, “We are aiming to test and launch some new services during 2023: a subscription needlepoint service, custom orders for companies that want to offer a needlepoint experience to their employees, and invest in some big European markets where we are not yet visible.”

“We want to grow and be a renowned crafts brand, but we’ll get there at a sustainable and organic growth rate. There’s no shame if you take more time to get there!”

The inspiration for Unwind Studio was to be an antidote to the hustle and bustle of the modern world by encouraging people to tale their pleasure seriously. “Having worked previously in a fast paced start-up environment, our founder Cristina now really values a more balanced work life reality,” Unwind Studio tells us.  

Collaborating with artists around the globe, Unwind Studio is an advocate for collaboration over competition. Their advice to other small business owners is to have the best team possible because you can’t do it alone.

Unwind Studio is on route to transforming the way people think about unwinding and relaxing and we’re on board for the ride!