Smathers and Branson
In 2004, while roommates at Bowdoin College, Austin Smathers and Peter Branson decided to start a company that offered needlepoint belts. Each had been gifted with a needlepoint belt from their then girlfriends, and they became intrigued with these unique accessories. After looking to buy finished belts, they realized that there wasn’t a company that featured these timeless items. From the start, their goal was to make the belts attractive, affordable, and generally more available.
Their biggest challenge was finding and training skilled artisans. With options quickly running out, Peter and Austin decided to spend the fall in Vietnam, where they met stitchers face-to-face. This enabled Smathers and Branson to perfect the product and meet the high quality standards they had set.
They began testing the market in the spring of 2005, and quickly, the once treasured gift became the engine of a growing business. The positive response to the needlepoint belts allowed Smathers and Branson to expand to a full line of needlepoint accessories. Through licensing agreements, the company now offers needlepoint products for many of the nation’s best universities and colleges, Major League Baseball teams, and fraternities and sororities. Smathers & Branson defines its mission: “to offer the finest products with customer service to match.”