On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about owning a yarn shop with my guest Cadence Kidwell.

Before Cadence opened her yarn shop, Fuzzy Goat, she was at Florida State University – where she taught Creative Writing, Multicultural Literature and designed a certificate program for students to develop cultural competencies. University life instilled a strong core of service to people seeking to improve their lives. One of her favorite pieces in her yarn shop is a SERVICE sign over the counter, announcing that the team is there to serve. 

In her mid 50’s Cadence decided that she could either steady-on into her last decade of university life or she could join the makers’ life – make a business from a rough-worn building & fill it with beautiful yarns made by strong women. Something she learned at FSU was the value of conversation among those that see the world differently – something that used to happen at, say, bowling leagues, and is disappearing in our lives. Cadence believes that knitting creates that space where conversation across generations and life experiences is valued and sought after.

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staff standing at the doorway to a yarn shop

Cadence and staff stand in the shop doorway. Fuzzy Goat is located in Thomasville, Georgia.

We begin this interview with Cadence talking about growing up in Florida with parents who had spent time in Cuba. She learned to knit by making a complex sweater project that took months to complete. Cadence says she always excelled at school and she went on to study psychology at the University of Florida and then got a master’s in clinical psychology. She worked in the field of mental health for about a decade.

After having children, she realized that she could go back to school to study writing. She earned a Ph.D. in writing and got a job teaching at Florida State. Cadence enjoyed university life, especially an entrepreneurial project she undertook while at the university to create a certification program that involved multiple departments.

customers knitting in a yarn shop

Creating a space where community members could gather, meet one another, and learn from each other was one of Cadence’s goals in opening a yarn shop in a small town.

Visiting Fibre Space in Alexandria, Virginia planted the seed for Cadence to begin to consider a career change. She talks about how she chose Thomasville, Georgia as the location for her shop and how she found the money to buy the building where it’s located, as well as the building next door (including selling a car, borrowing from family, and eventually cashing in her 401k). We talk about risk tolerance and how she was able to put everything on the line to make this shop a reality. One key aspect of her success was being part of Retail Mavens coaching. Cadence also is good at delegating, including hiring someone to set up and decorate her shop before it opened.

yarn in a yarn shop

Fuzzy Goat carries a curated selection of yarns, including indie yarns that are created in the Southern US.

We talk about what happened in March 2020 when the pandemic hit and Fuzzy Goat had to close. At that time, Cadence says about 10% of all of the shop’s purchases were done online (5% of her merchandise was online and customers purchased classes online). Cadence had a website she couldn’t easily update, and an email service provider that didn’t sync with her ecommerce. She quickly pivoted, getting a Shopify site integrated with Klaivyo, and hosting live selling events online.

She also launched a subscription box, Box of Goats, and several specialty boxes. She also forged partnerships with other yarn shop owners in other parts of the country, allowing all of them to reach a wider, more national audience. Today, Cadence estimates that 60% of the shop’s purchases are online, a radical change. Cadence was also interviewed by Matthew McConaughey in a series of videos. We talk about how that amazing opportunity came about!

And, of course, I ask Cadence to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Cadence recommends:

Keep up with Fuzzy Goat on their website, and follow along on Instagram and Facebook.

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