Bucilla was founded in 1867 by Bernhard Ulmann, a European emigrant who lived in Woodside, New York. Mr. Ulmann originally sold napkins, doilies and handkerchiefs printed with silk-screened embroidery designs from a pushcart on the streets of east New York. In 1870, he opened his first and only retail store; in 1875, he began to sell his products to other retailers.
The company was first known as Bernhard Ulmann Company, Incorporated (Lace, Linen, and Accessories). It was shortened to Bucilla, an acronym of the longer name. The company grew steadily and was well known for quality products and designs. It soon became the leader of a very small and fragmented industry.
In the early 1900s, the company developed Mellina, a brand of yarn designed for hand knitting. The brand was quite successful; at the height of its popularity, sales of Mellina yarn comprised nearly 70% of Bucilla's total sales. The yarn was extremely high in quality and was considered to be the best for hand knitting.
In addition to providing high-quality yarns and supplies for knitting, needlepoint, and embroidery, Bucilla became a well-known publisher of books and patterns related to needlework. Instructional books on various needlework methods, knitting, and pattern books were enormously popular and helped Bucilla become a common household name.
Bucilla was owned and managed by the Ulmann family until 1922, when it was sold as an early ESOP (Employee Stock Option Purchase) to its employees. The employee-owned company flourished until 1962, when it was sold to Indian Head Corporation, a well-known conglomerate of the time. Indian Head was purchased by Hannson Trust, a Swedish company, in 1966. Hannson owned Bucilla until 1977, when it was sold to Armour-Dial, a division of Greyhound Corporation.
During the late 1960s, the popularity of instructional and pattern books began to decrease. Bucilla concentrated on marketing its products in the form of needlework kits to meet the changing demands of the consumer. Also during this time, knitting as a craft began to lose its popularity. The Mellina brand was eventually sold to private investors and no longer exists today. Bucilla products remained popular, however, and the brand continued to set the industry standard for quality product and designs.
Bucilla changed hands once again in 1983, when it was purchased from Armour-Dial by a group of private investors. Its success continued, and in 1996, the company was purchased by the Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation and placed under the direction of Plaid Enterprises, where it remains today.
Bucilla's continued success can be attributed in part to its ability to adjust to the ever-changing demands of the consumer. As various needlework methods and techniques rise in popularity, and consumer demands change, Bucilla responds with appropriate products. Today, Bucilla continues to meet the needs of consumers by providing quality products, trend-right designs, and the best possible customer service. As new consumers discover the joy of time spent creating handcrafted items, Bucilla will continue to "thread a tradition" of needlecrafting to a new generation-for decades to come.