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After several lively and informative talks with Kara Gott Warner, former executive editor of Creative Knitting magazine, it’s clear that a key theme in her life has been the cultivation of relationships. An expert knitter and designer with a background in illustration, Warner left her editorial position earlier this year and is now devoting herself full time to building an independent business. With her focus on digital media , she is a fine example of an entrepreneur who understands the importance of creating personal connections to educate and empower.

“There were such wonderful, caring people who helped me on my way up in the yarn industry,” she says. “Now I want to use the knowledge I’ve accumulated to do the same for others in a powerful, meaningful way.”

Warner entered the knitting universe in 2003 with her first published pattern in Family Circle Easy Knitting magazine that year. After training at the Parsons School of Design, she worked as a designer and sewer in New York City’s fashion industry, a famously cut-throat environment. Knitting became a peaceful refuge during this period. At the yarn shop Warner frequented on Madison Avenue, she met Arlene Mintzer, an accomplished designer and fiber artist who worked at the shop. It was Mintzer who first recognized Kara’s knitting talent and encouraged her to “go pro” with her designs.

Photo courtesy of Kara Gott Warner
The early 2000s was a very significant period for the yarn industry. The online world was rapidly expanding to include everyday users, and communities of all kinds were forming as people learned how the digital world could foster connections.

Warner took advantage of this environment, joining TNNA and publishing her first collection of indie patterns. She worked as a freelance illustrator with craft publishers such as Random House and Sterling and in the process made many new friends and colleagues in the yarn industry. Clearly both skilled professionalism and an engaging personality have been integral to her success.

Knitting designer Kim Dolce helped steer Warner into a position at Annie’s, a major craft publishing house. Warner began as an illustrator for Annie’s on several books in 2007, then moved on to serve as editor of several knitting books. When a position opened up as editor for their Creative Knitting magazine, she was in the perfect spot to compete for the job. She got it, and in 2010 she moved to Berne, Indiana, with her husband and young son to begin a new chapter.

It was a big change for someone who had, up to that point, worked primarily as a freelancer. But Warner knew the opportunity was not to be missed. “The time I spent at Annie’s has been extremely valuable to me. I had the chance to interact with experts in production, finance, and advertising, and I gained a firm grasp of the entire gamut of skills [that] craft publishing entails. Collaborating with designers and editors has also been so rewarding and has taught me so much.” She moved into the digital space with an editor’s blog that began in 2011, again indulging her penchant for building personal connections.

Yet the impulse to go indie was always there. “Being an entrepreneur is in my DNA. My dad is an entrepreneur and always encouraged that bold spirit in me too,” she says. Fortunately, the people at Annie’s understood that Warner’s indie ventures could benefit the company as well, and they supported her endeavors. In 2014 she launched her first podcast, Morning Cool Down, where she focused on developing healthy and productive morning routines and integrating a holistic lifestyle into business success. It grew into a popular podcast, and Warner’s interviews of women entrepreneurs and lifestyle coaches inspired many listeners.

“Being an entrepreneur is in my DNA. My dad is an entrepreneur and always encouraged that bold spirit in me too.”
In 2015 she developed a new podcast called Power Purls, aimed specifically at the knitting and crochet community. Her work as editor of a knitting magazine had revealed the deep hunger among crafters for information on how to become part of the yarn industry. The podcast’s stated purpose is to “empower newbie knitpreneurs to start and grow a thriving passion-crafted business through engaging conversations with knitwear designers, industry rock stars, and everyday knitters with compelling back stories.” As Power Purls drew an ever-growing audience, Warner felt certain that her next move would be a full-blown commitment to building an indie business using digital media.
She took that step in February 2017, leaving her job at Annie’s. Warner is now fully engaged in the entrepreneurial lifestyle, building her audience and exploring the best opportunities the ever-changing digital world offers. In addition to Power Purls, she’s been holding weekly Facebook Live events that allow her to communicate one on one with fans and followers. The most exciting new platform, she believes, is Patreon, a site that offers a unique and potentially lucrative way for creative artists to gain financial support from fans.
Warner is focused on working with the Patreon platform to build a sufficiently substantial folllowing so that she can make a living as a creator and inspirer. She is offering a variety of products to patrons, who can choose to support her for as little as $1 per month or up to $150 per month. At the lower levels, supporters get access to her podcasts, informational posts, tutorials, and workshops, while rewards for those contributing at higher levels include one-on-one business coaching via Skype.

Among her guides in this venture has been Gary Vaynerchuck, a best-selling business coach who believes that in today’s world “the companies that see the biggest returns won’t be the ones that can throw the most money at an advertising campaign, but will be those that can prove they care about their customers more than anyone else.” The approach fits perfectly with Warner’s people-oriented style. Other mentors are Marie Forleo, a consummate encourager and enabler for those seeking to build an indie business, and Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, who encourages building ethical business models.

These experts have helped define and refine Warner’s approach to developing the right mix of free and paid products, implementing marketing techniques for creating scarcity and anticipation when products are launched, and building a vibrant and supportive community of fans. If you’re curious to learn more about what Warner is up to, visit her Patreon page. Given her success in the industry thus far, I intend to keep a close eye on her progress.

Dora Ohrenstein

Dora Ohrenstein

contributor

Dora Ohrenstein is a leading crochet designer, teacher and author of six full-length books, including Top Down Crochet Sweaters and The Crocheter’s Skill-Building Workshop. Dora's chic and innovative designs appear regularly in print and online magazines. She teaches crochet at VKLive and has video classes on Craftsy and Interweave. Dora is an avid student of crochet history and has published numerous articles on the topic. Her website, CrochetInsider.com, is a great resource for articles and patterns. You can see her designs at Ravelry.com/designers/dora-ohrenstein and follow Dora Ohrenstein on Facebook.

CIA Member Profile: For Kara Gott Warner, Business is Personal

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