Linda's story is another great example of finding a niche and creating a successful knitting business that has grown and developed over her lifetime. In this interview, she gives some valuable tips and advice about knitting jobs and how to make your knitting and crochet business a success.
How long have you been knitting and crocheting?
I have been knitting and crocheting for over 40 years now. I started designing about 20 years ago but didn’t get serious until about 5 years ago and created a loom knitting pattern book. “Looney for Looms”
Can you give a brief description of your knitting business?
I have recently retired from my knitting business as far as producing products, but they included everything from slippers to afghans. Mostly though I made personalized knitwear for both individuals and schools and such. The meat and potatoes of the business were personalized knitted ski caps. These were made to order so it wasn’t something you could make up ahead of time and keep in stock. Now I am more into helping others learn the ropes so to speak. (Linda's website is www.knitting-n-crochet.com)
When did you decide to start your knitting business and what gave you the idea?
I have always enjoyed making and creating knitted items and sales is just a natural outlet. In my early 20s I first saw an ad for a knitting machine and couldn’t get it out of my head – I just had to have one! Before that everything was done by hand and very limited to how much I could produce. The knitting machine opened up a whole new world for me.
I also learned a lot from a neighbor, who had had a successful knitting business. She knitted all sorts of things including hats, sweaters and dog sweaters that she sold all over the world. They were beautiful items and were made in no time flat. There was no Internet back then so she sold through ads in magazines and a sales rep.
I had always dreamed of my own home based business but thought it was only for the rich. Then here was my neighbour running a successful knitting business, and she was an a stay-home-Mom, just like me.
She sold me her old Brother 260, she encouraged me and shared her knitting patterns. She was the one who showed me how to make a personalized ski cap. When she moved away I taught myself with books and a mad desire to open my own knitting business.
Since 1986 I have learned machine knitting, loom knitting and hand knitting along with the crocheting I already knew. You can make money and work at home with these crafts. It takes persistence, determination, a little imagination and a bit of guidance, but you can do it!
Did you have any business experience when you started?
My mother was always selling something by party plan when I was growing up, but other than that I had to learn everything on my own. Books became your best friend back than but now you have the internet and so many more opportunities available.
Were there any challenges when you started out?
There were many challenges from finding supplies, to finding customers to finding time and lets not forget finding start up money. Yes you will have many bumps in the road, but if you are willing to do the research and put in the time, you can make it.
Is there anything you have learned that you wish you had known from the start?
Yes, I wish I had not tried every get rich scheme that came down the pike. I should have chosen my niche and learned all there was about it and stuck with it.
What are your hours like? Do you work from home?
When I first started I spent many more hours working than if I had a traditional job, but this is just what you do to get started. Than I gradually would work during the day when the kids were in school. With the internet it is even better because you can work a couple of hours here or there when ever you want. You can create knitwear and ship 24 hours a day now.
Do you still enjoy knitting now that it is your business as well as your hobby, and whats the best part of knitting for a living?
Yes I still enjoy it and always will. I love working with the yarns, patterns and colors. It is fun just to see it all come together into a beautiful article. The best part of knitting for a living is I can choose my own hours, it doesn’t matter if I am working at 12:00 noon or 12:00 midnight. My family was always first for me and this made it so much easier to have both family and income.
What's the hardest part?
I know this sounds contradictory but it is that you have times and seasons when the orders flood you and you HAVE to work long into the night. Especially with my product the holidays were extremely busy and the phone rang non-stop with more orders. When I choose to work at midnight I didn’t mind, but I hated to disappoint people and say “Sorry I just can’t get that done in the time you want it”
Do you have any tips for someone who is just starting out?
First you have to have a product people like and want – if you don’t have that than you need to find one. Than you have to get it out in the public’s eye, you need the product and you need the customers to buy it. And you need to take your knitting business seriously – give it 150% if you want to succeed. With all the sales avenues available now, you have a better chance of success today than I did 20 some years ago – you have the Internet and that is a tremendous advantage alone. If you want your own business and are willing to work at it, you can do it.
Read more about Linda and her knitting business on her website at www.knitting-n-crochet.com, where you'll also find her books, patterns and some great information about starting a machine knitting business.