Semiahmoo Secondary Grade 12 student Sunnie Li and her friend Monica Xu started Boardwalk Embroidery. (Contributed photo)

Semiahmoo Secondary Grade 12 student Sunnie Li and her friend Monica Xu started Boardwalk Embroidery. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey teens turn embroidery passion into business

Monica Xu and Sunnie Li launch Boardwalk Embroidery

A pair of South Surrey high school students have taken their passion for embroidery and turned it into both a successful business and a way to do their part for the community.

Elgin Park Secondary Grade 11 student Monica Xu and Semiahmoo Secondary Grade 12 student Sunnie Li launched Boardwalk Embroidery July 1.

Through online platforms, the girls sell hand-designed embroidered sweatshirts, handbags and handmade rings.

Their sweater designs feature everything from colourful takes on the Nike swoosh, sometimes featuring flowers, animal prints or anime, to extravagant custom works that can take up to 20 hours to complete.

While the expression ‘nothing good happens after midnight’ can be true for many early-morning adventures, the girls proved that’s not always the case.

“We were talking at like 3 a.m., and we were talking about starting a business during quarantine,” Monica said. “It was summer, it was quarantine, we didn’t have much to do and embroidery was a passion we had in common.”

According to the girl’s Etsy page, which is an online marketplace for hand-made goods, the business has made 177 sales since it launched. Items are designed on order, and they’ve had clients from almost every province in Canada and from as far away as England and Iceland.

“We discovered that a lot of people were interested. When we first started, we had a few customers that were all local. In the past half of a year, we’ve gotten orders from all over the country,” Sunnie said.

While Monica said the preset designs take about an hour to complete, Sunnie said the custom works can take much longer.

“It can take me, varying on the size of whatever I’m making and the details, it can take me anywhere from eight to 20 hours on a single piece,” Sunnie said. “I usually put on a podcast, pull two all-nighters and get it done. I really enjoy doing it, too, so it’s a great excuse to watch Netflix and listen to a podcast.”

SEE ALSO: South Surrey teen launches non-profit to open opportunities for debate

The girls share a similar story in how they came to embroidery, they both were exposed to fabric crafts at an early age.

“This goes all the way back to Grade 1,” Monica said. “I had a babysitter in Grade 1 who taught me how to sew. I was sewing my stuff ever since. But last year, I picked up embroidery because I was bored and, why not, let’s try something new.”

As for Sunnie, she tried cross-stitching – something her mother would often do – at six years old. But, as it turns out, she didn’t have the patience for it at that tender age.

“About a year or two years ago, I was scrolling through YouTube, falling down that rabbit hole, and I saw some tutorials. I was like, you know what, this looks pretty cool, let’s check it out. This really looks doable, I could do this.”

But more than just a business, the girls have been using a portion of the money they make to support charities close to their heart.

Every two to three months, the friends go over their finances and determine how much money to donate. Recently, they’ve made contributions to the Crisis Centre BC, which offers confidential support and follow-up to youth in crisis, and to a homeless shelter dedicated to youth in Vancouver.

The friends are looking for more non-profit organizations to either donate to, or start a special project with.

“If anyone is interested working with us, reach out to us. We’re open to whatever,” Monica said.

The girls said they’re having a lot of fun with their new venture, partly because it’s flexible and spontaneous.

“We make really important decisions at like 2 a.m., half awake. We should probably stop doing that, but it’s worked so far,” Sunnie said. “We started it at 3 a.m., so we’re keeping the tradition of 2 a.m. decision making.”

Boardwalk Embroidery can be found on Instagram at or Etsy at

The business can be contacted at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey chief constable says ‘comprehensive’ public engagement to be done this year

Norm Lipinski says Surrey Police Service has ‘good momentum’

Burnsview Secondary in a Google Streetview photo.
UPDATE: Knife recovered after schoolyard stabbing in North Delta

One teen now out of hospital, and other has been released to custody of family with conditions

Surrey-raised forward Jujhar Khaira in action with Edmonton Oilers. (Photo:
Q&A: Surrey’s Jujhar Khaira credits parents for their hard work on his path to NHL

Port Kells-raised player talks about his journey to pro hockey with Edmonton Oilers

Dyllan Petrin is charged related to an ongoing investigation in Surrey involving a kidnapping and assault that occurred in July, 2019. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Man arrested in connection to kidnapping, murder investigations: Surrey RCMP

Police say Dyllan Petrin was arrested in Vancouver

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

Most Read