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February 7, 2024
Meet Marcus Richardson, co-owner of RichStitch Embroidery
In celebration of Black History Month, Fig is partnering with Tyrone Miller, CEO of Lancaster Works, for a special four-part series as he shines a spotlight on successful Black entrepreneurs in Lancaster by sharing their stories.
Happy Black History Month, Fig readers! I’m Tyrone Miller, the CEO of Lancaster County’s first and only Social Enterprise B Corporation staffing agency, which happens to be Black-owned. I started Lancaster Works to remove barriers to employment by providing our diverse population equitable access to the support and resources required to establish a truly inclusive economy that works for everyone. As I go about my work, I thought about how could I do something to acknowledge the contributions other Black business owners are making to our local economy. My friends at Fig magazine have graciously offered their platform as a way for me to publicly celebrate a few of Lancaster’s courageous Black Entrepreneurs. My heartfelt thanks go out to Fig. With that said, let’s celebrate!
Marcus Richardson is a native of Lancaster and a McCaskey graduate who, because of his disadvantaged background, was lured into the fast money trap that continues to destroy the lives of too many young men of color. That decision led to Marcus’ incarceration where he served a seven-year sentence before being released at age 26. With nothing but time on his hands, Marcus spent a lot of time reading and reassessing his life and future. Marcus shares this experience played a major role in shaping him into a man whose moral compass is now locked in on a positive direction. However, his period of rehabilitation ended—as it does for so many other formerly incarcerated individuals—with all doors closed to him. Every “no” began to erode his determination to stay on a positive path.
Marcus got his first break as a Packing Clerk with a toy manufacturer making $8.25 an hour; however, it was not nearly enough for him to cover even the most modest of living expenses. Ignoring the pull of his former life, Marcus enrolled in Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology’s Metal Casting class, which helped him move into a $12 an hour position at a local foundry. This proved to be a critical step in his development, as it gave him the belief and hope that he could continue to do better. Two years later, he registered for the College’s two-year Electrical program, first taking some math courses at HACC for acceptance. While working full-time and taking on the responsibilities as a new father, he completed the program and graduated with honors at the top of his class.
He credits surviving that rigorous schedule to those years of incarceration, which instilled in him the determination to do whatever it takes to improve his life situation. But he was frustrated again to find his newly acquired credentials and obvious mastery of electronics was not enough to convince employers to take a chance on Marcus. Finally, he found an employer willing to overlook his background where he worked until he took a job with Armstrong. After five years there, he was promoted to the Maintenance Lead, making a very nice salary.
Just as things were beginning to look up, his partner, Jasmine, lost her job when Region Hospital closed. During the year of her unemployment, Jasmine wanted to give something handmade and nice for his birthday. She customized a denim jacket with patches and embroidery that seemed to catch everyone’s eye. As more and more people began to request custom-designed apparel, Marcus and Jasmine saw this as the opportunity that would replace her job. They started with a sewing machine, and as the demand grew, they realized the need to invest in an embroidery machine. Marcus and Jasmine have experienced meteoric growth since starting their business in their own living room.
With demand continuing to grow, they made the decision to invest in an industrial embroidery machine which prompted their move tp a small warehouse where they worked to perfect their craft. In July of 2023, they moved the business to their present location at 42 West King Street and are celebrating a year-over-year revenue increase of more than 500 percent. Marcus attributes their success to the determination to persevere in the hard times and committing to reaching their goals. With both of their desire for continuous learning, Marcus and Jasmine look forward to their small business reaching even greater heights.
Learn more about RichStitch at richstitchembroidery.com.co.