Ugly Ass Embroidery founder Shea Josuttes uses colourful threads to embroider shirts and sweaters in Calgary.

Josuttes started her business in April 2017, despite graduating from the University of Lethbridge with a marketing degree.

“It was really just an accident. I started getting into embroidery and it kind of escalated really quickly,” says Josuttes. “Then I was like you know what, ‘I don’t really want to do anything else, like, this is really fun and it’s exactly what I want to be doing.’”

As her business escalated, so did her passion for hands-on work — the kind she can achieve through embroidery.

“I appreciate being able to do simple designs and working with my hands and actually having a tangible thing to show for it, so it was mostly just a way to use my hands and distract myself,” Josuttes says.

Moving from Lethbridge to Calgary in hopes of growing her business was a difficult transition for Josuttes.

“Gaining an audience here was really hard,” she says. “There was a lot of uncertainty at that time for me.”

With her business continuing to grow, she’s had to quit her day job at Danielle’s Consignment because she found owning a small business was full-time work in itself.  

“Sometimes you’re really busy with the small business, and sometimes you’re really dead with a small business and it was just managing those in-between periods that’s really tough,” she says.

Despite most businesses having to close down  at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Josuttes was still able to continue moving forward with her work. She created popular quarantine hoodies, shirts, and sweaters for people to stay cozy while staying home during the pandemic.

Josuttes’ famous ‘quarantine sweater’ in the making, one of her most popular products during the pandemic. PHOTO: KIRSTEN PHILLIPS

Josuttes makes a living doing what she loves, so she returns the same amount of love back to her customers.

Tori English, Josuttes long time friend and roommate, notes, “Shea does a great job of connecting with her customers.” 

“A lot of people think it is just going to be an automated message behind everything she sends, but she writes everything, she does everything.”

During these hard times, Josuttes continues to develop her business from the comfort of her home through her website and Instagram.