On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about building a career bringing people together through yarn with my guest Shelley Brander.
After a successful career as a copywriter and broadcast producer, creating campaigns for brands like AT&T and Hard Rock, Shelley Brander followed her passion and started an improbable “side hustle”—she opened a local yarn store. She and her team of Loops Troops have since grown Loops into a global brand that’s on the forefront of the modern maker movement, and includes LoopsLove.com, LoopsClub.com and Knit Stars, a global, online learning adventure. She’s on a mission to Knit the World Together. Her second book, Move the Needle: Yarns from an Unlikely Entrepreneur is a Wall Street Journal best-seller. She lives in Tulsa with her husband and at least three dogs, and has three very creative, grown children.
This episode is sponsored by Esther’s Fabrics.
Old-fashioned service with modern sensibility.
Welcome to Esther’s Fabrics located on Bainbridge Island, just a short ferry ride from Seattle. Since 1959, Esther’s has offered old fashion service with a modern sensibility. We offer a range of sewing and crafting supplies including modern quilting cottons, gorgeous apparel fabric, knitting yarns and embroidery supplies and more. We buy what we love, and we think you’ll love it too. Esther’s is also online at esthersfabrics.com.
The Hot Loops Wall at Loops Yarn Shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
We begin this interview with Shelley telling the story of the first time she visited a local yarn shop. She was on a family road trip as a teenager and, although she had essentially no interest in yarn or knitting, reluctantly learned to knit that day and was totally hooked. She took on a rather complex project and actually finished it which speaks to her determination and the fact that she’s not intimidated by tough tasks, both traits that would serve her well later in life.
Next, we talk about Shelley’s career ambitions and experience working in copywriting and production and how those skills helped her to understand what was possible when, later on, she created Knit Stars. Shelley explains how she came to open a yarn shop, and what it was like to overexpand, and then have to close both stores and reopen as a single, stronger location. She also talks about developing relationships with yarn reps and coming to understand how to make the most of the buying experience. She talks about the Hot Loops Wall, a concept she developed for her store that helped the busy consumer to walk in and find a project and all the related materials quickly.
Shelley’s new book, Move the Needle: Yarns from an Unlikely Entrepreneur
Next, we talk about how Shelley decided to create a subscription box for Loops and how that changed the financial equation for her business. She found Jeff Walker, creator of the Product Launch Formula, and realized that she could figure out how to apply his concepts to her own business. After winning a contest with Jeff, she traveled to one of his conferences where she was approached by someone about creating a Modern Knitting Summit. The seed of this idea turned into Knit Stars.
Shelley wearing a skein crown as part of a fundraising drive for healthcare workers during the pandemic.
Shelley talks about the Knit Stars model and how it is unique from the other video education models currently available in the crafts market. She also explains why she’s held onto having a local yarn shop as the centerpiece of her business.
Now, Shelley has a new book out that takes you through her entire business journey, with excellent lessons learned along the way for entrepreneurs of all kinds, but especially for craft business owners. Move the Needle: Yarns from an Unlikely Entrepreneur is definitely an excellent read!
And, of course, I ask Shelley to recommend great stuff she’s loving right now. Shelley recommends: