On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about building a yarn business with my guest Amy Small.
Amy is a business owner, hand spinner, yarn lover, obsessive knitter, and podcaster. Along with making things, she’s passionate about creative small businesses and yoga! At the heart of her business, Knit Collage is the idea that making things makes us better. This might look like more creativity and confidence or patience and peace in your daily life. In a nutshell, it’s not just about the yarn – it’s about finding something that helps you and makes you feel like your most authentic, best self!
This episode is sponsored by Cooperative Press.
Publishing exciting knitting books by talented independent authors for over a decade.
Cooperative Press’s founder, Shannon Okey, got tired of trying to figure out why she earned next to nothing on every book she wrote for other publishers, so she changed the rules of the game. Cooperative Press authors earn a significantly higher royalty AND get greater creative freedom to produce the kinds of books knitters want to read… not just another garter stitch scarf book. Find them at cooperativepress.com! Use the code ABBY at check out to save 20%!
We begin this conversation with Amy reflecting on her creative childhood. She says she loved to collage ephemera onto things like lampshades and had cups full of what her dad termed “trinkets.” Amy went to college at Cornell where she studied fashion design. During college, she had an internship at Free People where she worked hard to make herself as useful as possible and, after graduation, they offered her a permanent position.
She spent several years traveling throughout Asia as a sweater designer and living in Hong Kong. It was there and during that period that she met a great group of friends, including her future husband, and participated in some endurance races. We talk about the importance of endurance as it relates to business and Amy shares that one of the key reasons why Knit Collage has survived so long is that she just hasn’t quit through all the ups and downs.
Amy shares how she came to the name Knit Collage and how she got the idea to start her business. Her yarns are spun in India by a group of women that Amy trains and knows personally. We discuss what might have been the trajectory of Knit Collage if she had tried to make all of the yarns herself.
Knit Collage runs knitalongs to build community among customers and Amy talks about how these work and how they developed into a membership community over the pandemic. We talk about the technical setup she has in place to run the membership as well.
Amy has a wonderful Knit Collage newsletter and she explains her newsletter strategy and the importance of the newsletter in the company’s sales cycle. We also talk about a potential long-term future for Knit Collage.
Knit Collage does a lot of collaborations with other designers to create patterns that it sells alongside the yarns and we talk about the importance of this strategy to the health of the business. We also talk about the importance of sticking with a unified aesthetic so that Knit Collage yarns and patterns are immediately recognizable. Amy continues to work with Free People and she shares why this relationship is also important to the business.
During this conversation, we reference:
- Hand Spun Revolution
- Dreamland yarn
- Purl Soho (listen to our interview with Purl Soho on the podcast)
- Stu McLaren
- my email newsletter course on CreativeLive
- The Artist’s Way
And, of course, I ask Amy to recommend great stuff she’s loving right now. Amy recommends:
- Journaling as a way to identify what’s bothering you and fix it
- A needle felting tool and mat that she uses for dealing with the ends of bulky yarns
- Tackling knitting projects that stretch her creativity including the Sea Glass pattern by Wool & Pine