Deaf-Owned Businesses: Graciously Handmade for You by Anita Kroll

First things first: I cannot sew.

My eighth-grade sewing teacher slapped my hand in frustration as she tried to show me how to move a needle through fabric. She was so aghast at how horrible my sewing project turned out, and told me never to sew again.

Good thing I have Anita Kroll, who runs Graciously Handmade for You. She’s made my curtains, Roman shades, house accents, baby mobile, bench cushions, clothes, children’s backpacks, and purses. Oh, yes, purses—including one made out of my grandmother’s skirt. How cool is that?

Red purseLet’s talk purses for a second. As a child, and even into college, I swore I’d never carry purses. Now, I can’t get enough of them. But they have to be practical—with specific pocket types and the right length to easily carry on my shoulder. They also have to be big enough for me to stuff a couple of diapers in while holding my keys, iPhone, wallet and whatever else my children deem necessary.

So when Anita began making purses for sale, I was ecstatic. See, she’s my mom. Aside from that obvious bias, over time, I started to realize that her purses were actually far better than the purses I bought in stores. I told her she should sell them along with all the other amazing things she makes. And she’s started doing so at her Etsy shop.

An interior designer from Cary, Ill., Anita started to sew when she was 10 years old so she could make her own clothes. (My grandmother doesn’t sew, either. Unless it’s hemming or sewing buttons back on…which makes her far better at sewing than me.) Over the years, it became a therapeutic hobby for Anita. “I love sewing because it lets me use my creativity and ideas, while also giving me the calmness and harmony we all need in our lives,” she says. “Like my daddy always said about me, when I was upset or worrying, I went to my sewing machine for comfort. I still do that.”

Baby sit-up donutAnita’s impressive product line-up includes everything from purses to handcrafted items to bench cushions to table runners to quilts. (The photo at left is a baby sit-up donut. My youngest absolutely loved hers when she was a baby.) She works hard to ensure that each product she makes is unique. “I use fabrics only once for each product. No two products are alike, whether it is different fabrics, different pockets, accents, appliqués and so on.”

Anita either chooses durable fabrics to incorporate, or uses fabrics that customers purchase or request. Customers can choose their colors, ask that Anita make items using specific fabrics, or request pretty much anything they want. ”Creating things is a way I express myself, and I strongly believe that handmade products last longer because they are carefully crafted every inch of the way.”

Burlap pillowAnita often uses her own patterns and systems for creating products, and intends to start selling her patterns on Etsy. “The problem I have now is I have way too many ideas and projects that I want to do. There’s not enough time in the world for me to do them all because I always prefer to do customers’ work first—which is a great problem to have,” she says with a laugh. “It makes me feel great that I can create things by hand, and they makes for super gifts that are of superior quality and last much longer.”

Anita’s shop is at, and she has a Facebook page at

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  1. Trudy – love this article. Thanks for sharing. Will definitely have your mom and her business in my mind. In fact, I just beeped her tonight via Etsy. I LOVE Etsy and have been considering using that site to sell my products later on after I’m done with schooling. Anyway, I am in need for a new purse. Perfect timing–reading your article has give me an answer to where to shop for a new purse! My zipper broke and straps broke off like yesterday. I wanted fabric type and unique… so, I’m gonna try your Mom’s! I believe strongly in supporting deaf businesses. Thanks!


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