This month’s Real Live Knitting Success Story is featuring Ruth Boelkins from nonstopknits, who has taken her knitting hobby and passion, and turned it into a thriving small business.
Here’s how this "beginner knitter" made her home-grown knitting business a success…
How did she start her knitting business?
Ruth is relatively new to knitting. It took years of persuasion, but 5 years ago she finally allowed her mother-in-law to teach her how to knit. She was instantly hooked, and hasn’t stopped since! She now creates a beautiful range of knitting patterns, as well as finished hats and purses for her very appropriately named knitting business, nonstop knits.
Ruth first started selling her creations at local Bazaars where her hand-knitted items sold very well. She had discovered one of the keys to success in selling hand-crafts, which was to make her knitted products unique and different. By using interesting styles and colours, and adding knitted flowers and decorations to her work, she presented knitted pieces that people could fall in love with and desperately want to own.
She then started taking custom orders, and it wasn’t long before her knitting business grew. Most of her sales are still local, driven by art sales and word of mouth. She also sells knitting online through her etsy.com shop at www.nonstopknits.etsy.com
A profitable knitting niche by accident?
Ruth found another knitting niche market by chance one day when she created a knitted hat for her son to wear to Ice Hockey. "My intention was that Adam would have a cool knitted hat," she says. He started wearing it to the rink and a coach commented on it, so she made knitted hats for all the coaches. Then, parents started requesting knitted hats for their kids, and suddenly she had a whole new income stream!
How did her knitting business evolve into knitting pattern design?
Ruth didn’t aspire to become a knitting pattern designer either. She started getting requests for her knitting patterns when visiting yarn stores with her daughter, who often wears her mother’s original knitted designs. After many requests for knitting patterns from other parents, she was lucky enough to get the support and encouragement of a local yarn store owner who said she would sell her knitting pattern for a felted purse if Ruth would write it down.
This apparently gave Ruth the push she needed, and she hasn’t looked back. Ruth had hit on another niche market with her knitting patterns. They are appealing to both new and experienced knitters because the projects are quick to knit, and the directions are very detailed. Her knitted hat and purse patterns are made using circular needles and don’t require expensive yarns. If someone knows they need a couple of gifts, or want to whip something up quickly, many of the projects can be made in an hour or two.
Looking back, Ruth says she is glad she finally picked up the pointy sticks. "I love that it began as something within my family," she says, "I have on my knitting patterns that I’m a home-grown business, and that couldn’t be more true." Ruth says the experience has also made her a more avid supporter of other local businesses and connected her to other creative people. "That’s been a really enriching thing, to bump into other knitters and discuss what we love to make".
Ruth’s advice to up and coming Knitterpreneurs:
‘Many of my knitting patterns are for small fast projects, which is a great way to begin. A hat on circular needles is easy to hold and a fun way to knit, you can make a range of sizes, you only need to purchase limited supplies and you can experiment with color changes as you go. Projects with no seams make for nicer finished products as well.’
‘I am on a steep learning curve as I make my knitting hobby and passion into a business. I constantly try to keep my focus on doing what I love. Designing, creating and fitting art into life is the edge where I like to work. If you want to sell your knitted items, my advice is to listen to the comments people make about your work and watch how they react to your products. This will show you where your marketing opportunities are.’
If you would like to see Ruth’s knitting patterns and products, have a look at her etsy shop at www.nonstopknits.etsy.com If you have a knitting or crochet success story, we would love to feature you here as part of our real live knitting success series! Just drop me a line at [email protected]