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About Nita O'Keefe
Meet Nita O'Keefe
Nita O'Keefe (me) has been a digitizer and educator in machine embroidery since 1997. My first website went up shortly afterwards. In 2001, I entered an Impressions magazine embroidery contest. I entered the pro category, not realizing that I probably should have entered the home embroidery category. However, I won 2 third place awards and 1 honorable mention in that contest. One of those awards was for Excellence in Digitizing and one for Outstanding Achievement in Embroidery. It is my goal to always strive for that excellence in my embroidery work.
I bought my first embroidery machine to add to a line of appliquéd clothing in late 1996. At first I just stitched the memory card designs, as I had no computer or software. When I bought my first embroidery machine, I also got a first edition of a design creating tool, this was the fore-runner of the software. It was called PE-Scan and you could create a design of sorts by drawing it on several sheets of a scan paper You had to scan each section of the design into the PE-Scan box; the scan box would write the parts to a memory card and then you could embroidery these design parts. Each part was a different color. They worked well with color book kind of drawings and simple shapes. These were pretty bad by today's standards. But at the time, we thought they were pretty good. I still have some of the first designs I did with that thing. Up until Sept 2008 when Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast of Texas, I still had the PE-Scan box. It worked pretty good sitting behind my machine as a balance for my largest hoop.
I could not even use the designs that were sold on floppy disks at that time as I had no computer. Well obviously, this could not go on. I bought my computer and my PE-Design version 1 software on the same day in June, 1997.
It was a very big learning curve as I had never turned on a computer before. So I took a few computer classes and learned how to do that And once I started playing with the embroidery software, I got so excited about the possibilities that opened up for me. I started learning to really digitize and got more and more excited. I sent my first design that I really felt was pretty good to Ann the Gran and she wrote back to me with praise and encouragement.
Thank you, Ann.
After that, there was no looking back. I worked on digitizing every day, it was an addiction and I just wanted to learn more and more.
I found out about an embroidery conference that was going to be held in Atlanta in the spring of 1998. Talked my sisters into going with me and we signed up to go to that one and at the same time found out about another one in the fall in NC. Signed up for that one as well. And found out about another one on Knoxville that would be on the way to NC. So, off we went to learn. Went to Atlanta to Dianne Pomeroy's very first conference in the spring of that year.
These were some of the very first embroidery conferences ever held.
In the meantime, I heard from a friend that Elsa of Elsa's Designs was going to be visiting a dealership around the Memphis area, so I signed up for that one, so I could go and meet Elsa and see her designs and embroidered items. My sisters and I went to Memphis to meet Elsa, who is now a dear friend of mine, then on to Knoxville to the conference there and then on to the embroidery conference in NC via the Smokey Mountains. WOW! I could not get enough of learning and classes. Seems like such a long time ago now, but what fun.
I took a few designs sets in some simple packages I made up, to take along with me, to show around. I was so surprised and excited when all the people who saw them loved them and wanted to know where they could get more of my designs.
The dealer in NC -(High Point Sew and Vac)-bought several sets from me and so became my very first dealer/distributor. The dealer in Knoxville- Best Sewing-became my second distributor for designs. There were many others along the way.
During the course of that first conference in NC, I also met Becky J. McNeill, who later became my greatest pal. Meeting her was to prove significant to many lifestyle changes that were coming quickly.
Needless to say, I came back from that first conference completely inspired to get my design business on the way.
With much encouragement from my husband, CJ, I learned to make a simple website and opened it up back in 1998. There I sold my first few design sets. I think I had five sets.
My husband is both my worst critic and my biggest fan. He took over the household bills, so I could quit my full time public job and so gave me the time to learn to use my software fully, so that I could do my best job for my customers. I was still running a weekend crafting business. I did not get much sleep in those days, between the product making and the shows and wanting to spend all my time learning to digitize.
At first I did custom digitizing for others and embroidered on my craft products and line of appliqued clothing. I traveled a lot to sell these items in craft shows around the country.
The more I learned about digitizing, the more I wanted to know and soon it became the main thing that I wanted to do and as the number of designs sets grew and became more popular, I found that I had less and less time that I could or wanted to devote to the other parts of my crafting business.
Then I started traveling to attend retreats and conferences to vend and I was now teaching at those conferences as well. Keeping busy adding new design sets and traveling to teach left no time for the craft part of the business and I soon had to give that up.
As the design part of my business grew and grew, I also gave up the custom digitizing end of the business and started selling my own line of designs, Fancy That Designs by Nita. I no longer operate that website, but now sell the Fancy That Designs line of designs through www.secrestof.com . Along with any new designs that I create to sell or that are added to sale designs from the membership offerings. At this time, secretsof.com is the only place that I sell designs.
Much of my new design work goes to the two websites that I maintain as membership sites and are given to the members of those sites.
I will also maintain and operate my two websites " Nita's Place" and "Nitas Thread Nest".
I started vending my line of designs at embroidery conferences and events in 1999 and started sharing my love of the embroidery process by teaching classes to others, some of the things I have learned along the way.
My dear friend, Becky J from Becky J Designs had recommended me to the dealer/promoter in High Point, NC as a possible instructor. This was the same conference that I had attended as a first-timer and so those same dealer/promoters from those very first conferences I attended in Knoxville and in NC called me to come and teach classes at current conferences that they were planning and so started my embroidery digitizing teaching career. It has been a wonderful and exciting few years, and I am still learning and still excited about embroidery, embroidery digitizing and teaching embroidery. I am also constantly attending every class that I can squeeze in for my self. Embroidery and embroidery digitizing, whether as a business or just plain fun is an on-going learning process.
In the course of " My Embroidery Journey" I have made some of the most wonderful friends and meet the most fabulous digitizers, instructors and just folks in the world at these events and conferences. That has been one of the greatest things that has happened to me along the way. All the friends I have made all over the world and all the fantastic students that I have met and taught and all the wonderful instructors that I have been privileged to learn from have enriched my journey and made it very rewarding to me.
I am busy and excited about planning new designs and projects to inspire you and to keep you busy, excited and happy about joining and being a member here. I hope to make this website a friendly place where we can come together and learn and have a fun time doing it.
Welcome to Nitas Thread Nest