On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about building a retail fabric and yarn shop, both online and in a brick-and-mortar setting, with my guests Joelle Hoverson and Page Marchese Norman.
Joelle and Page, along with Jennifer Hoverson Jahnke, are co-owners of Purl Soho, a fiber arts supply company that brings a modern sensibility to traditional needlecrafts.
Joelle began her career with an MFA in painting from Yale University School of Art in 1996. From there she moved to New York City and got deeply involved in styling and art directing, ending up as a Senior Style Editor for Martha Stewart Living. During those years, she discovered a love for knitting and for natural fibers and was inspired to open Purl Soho in 2002.
Recently married, Joelle and her husband share their time between Manhattan and their home in Easton, Connecticut, where she enjoys painting, making ceramics, gardening, her two white dogs, and, of course, knitting!
Purl Soho, 459 Broome Street.
Page Marchese Norman’s path also brought her to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where she was one of its earliest employees. She spent 13 years there in numerous creative roles, ending in the position of Editorial Director of Decorating at Martha Stewart Living.
Page has also studied metalsmithing and apprenticed with a master ceramicist; has been a contributing editor to several important publications; has created advertising and products for major UK brands; has styled and art directed several lifestyle and cookbooks; and was the founding Creative Director of Sprinkles Cupcakes.
Page joined Purl Soho in 2008 as a co-owner. She lives in Fairfield, Connecticut with her husband, her 13-year old daughter, and their weimaraner, Willa. She also loves to garden, craft, cook, and travel.
A bowl of yarn on display at Purl Soho.
We begin by talking about the story of how Joelle came to found Purl in 2002 as a small knitting store on Sullivan Street. Joelle explains how her vision for the store was different from most other yarns stores in existence at that time. Bringing her background as a stylist to curating the merchandise she says, “I really envisioned a shop that when you went in you felt that the shop had a vision.”
A listing for one of Purl Soho’s signature products on the website.
The City Gym Shorts pattern is just one of Purl Soho’s many extremely popular free tutorials.
Her sister, Jennifer, started the ecommerce side of the business not long after. Joelle explains how high-quality tutorials presented on the company’s blog really drove the business’s growth. The business grew into a second storefront, Purl Patchwork, and the two later merged into a single location on Broome Street. Purl Soho also has a large warehouse in Tustin, California that’s open to the public.
Purl Soho’s warehouse in Tustin, California. All ecommerce orders ship from here. Photo by Jamie Fingal.
Glimpses inside the Purl Soho warehouse. Photos by Jamie Fingal.
Page and Joelle became friends while working together at Martha Stewart and have now been business partners for 11 years. They talk about how to have a successful partnership by listening to and respecting one another.
Follow along with Purl Soho on Instagram to see what’s new and you can always shop online or visit in person as well.
This episode is sponsored by Needle Sharp. Needle Sharp is a subscription service that let’s you sew your own style with carefully curated sewing kits, sent directly to your door. Each month they pick a fabulous sewing pattern from independent pattern companies then pair high-quality fabrics to that pattern, gather all the notions you need, and put it one convenient box. Let Needle Sharp do all the hard work for you so you can get straight to the fun part: Sewing your own clothes!
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