On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about running a brick-and-mortar and online yarn shop with my guest, Laura Zander.

Laura is the co-owner of Jimmy Beans Wool. Along with her husband Doug, she worked as software engineers during the dot-com boom in the San Francisco area. When Laura and Doug saw the boom begin turning into a bust they quit their jobs and moved to Lake Tahoe to begin a new adventure, opening a small yarn shop. Today Jimmy Beans Wool has been named one of the 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the US and Laura is one of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women. She was invited to the White House for a forum addressing the American Jobs Act where Jimmy Beans Wool was recognized as a notable Nevada business.

When not knitting or working, Laura spends her time on the ski hill, running, playing tennis, or relaxing with Doug and their 10-year-old son, Huck.

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Doug, Huck, and Laura.

I ask Laura to begin by describing the scope of Jimmy Beans Wool today. Then, we go back to the beginning and Laura talks about her childhood growing up in North Carolina. She was entrepreneurial, even as a child, and a hard worker. Laura went to several different colleges, ending up with a degree in criminal justice. She excelled in school and pursued higher education and internships in that field, before realizing it wasn’t quite the right fit. She made a career switch to computer science and moved to California where she met Doug.

Laura at the Jimmy Beans Wool retail store in Reno.

We talk about how she and Doug chose Nevada as a place to move after the dot-com bubble burst, and why they decided to open a yarn shop (which was also a coffee shop at the beginning). Selling yarn online has been part of the Jimmy Beans story almost from the start and Laura talks about the evolution of the online shop which now makes up 95% of total sales.

The yarn claw machine.

Laura talks about important partnership, including one with the US Ski and Snowboard team, mistakes she’s made along the way, and the importance of not being afraid to ask to be featured in the press. Her persistence and creativity are truly inspiring and I think you’re going to love this interview.

The Jimmy Beans Wool warehouse in Reno.

Of course, I ask Laura to recommend three things she’s enjoying right now. Laura recommends:

Keep up with Jimmy Beans Wool on their website, on Instagram, and Facebook, and if you’re in Reno, Nevada, drop by for a visit!

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