The Disneyland of quilting is opening a yarn shop. Missouri Star Quilt Co., the Hamilton, Missouri company made famous by YouTube star and family matriarch, Jenny Doan, whose uber-relatable quilting videos have ratcheted the company to an estimated $40 million in revenue, is expanding into fiber. One Big Happy Yarn Co. just launched and is still in a very early stage, but the company has plans to grow it into a (big) local yarn shop.
They’ve hired Linda Permann for the role of Yarn Manager. Formerly the Acquisitions Editor and Senior Manager at Craftsy/Bluprint, Permann has deep roots in the industry. (She’s been at it a long time. Way back in 2005 she served as editor at Adorn Magazine.) Multi-craftual, she knows her stuff when it comes to yarn and consumer tastes.
“I think the reason why people buy yarn from a yarn shop is because they can go in and say, Hey, I dropped a stitch. Can you help me?” Permann says. That’s an experience she’s hoping to replicate through this new company. “You know, maybe we can’t quite hold your hand the same way as if you were in town, but we hope to provide people with that same level of customer service regardless of where they are.”
Vital to fulfilling that promise will be identifying and cultivating an online talent equivalent to Doan’s. That search is still underway. “When you say One Big Happy, the next thing you say is family,” says Permann. That’s intentional. The brand will be infused with the same down-home vibe as its established quilting siblings.
One Big Happy will stock “yarn shop yarns” and notions with a curated selection of kits. “We want to give you a complete offering if you want to make something, without providing an overwhelming number of options,” Permann explains. “Like if you want to make mittens, here are the mittens we recommend along with someone to hold your hand all the way through.”
An empty storefront in Hamilton is being outfitted as One Big Happy Yarn Shop Co, joining Missouri Star’s 12 quilting fabric shops. After COVID, the store will offer knitting and crochet classes, trunk shows, and in-person retreats. Still, CEO Mike Mifsud told Forbes in 2018 that retail sales account for only 10% of Missouri Star’s revenue. One could presume the same will be true here.
Mifsud, a former credit-risk analyst at Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, told me that seven years ago he worked with the team to develop a vision statement for Missouri Star: “To inspire and empower everyone to create.” It purposely doesn’t include the word “quilting.” Over the last few years, as the company acquired fine-art subscription business Let’s Make Art and Nancy’s Notions, it was time to create an umbrella organization that could better encapsulate the entire business. The staff spent some time reading the book Creativity, Inc. about the story of Pixar, and felt that name might actually be fitting so they adopted it. One Big Happy Yarn Co. neatly falls into Creativity, Inc.’s overall offerings.
“The ultimate goal with One Big Happy is to make knitters feel like kids in a candy shop,” says Mifsud. “We want it to be a delightful experience for them to create things they didn’t think, or, didn’t know, they could.”