This week I’m celebrating the launching into my new life by sharing the path that led me here. Follow along all week!
The crafty-ness started at home, then I went to college and learned to knit. Today, Debbie Stoller changes my life.
After graduation, I moved back to Ohio and got a job at the paint-your-own-pottery studio, just until I found something “French-y-er”. 3 months after graduation, I got married in a beautiful ceremony on a sunny day.
No matter how hard I looked and how many jobs I applied to, I wasn't offered a single job that required a BA. I was confused, frustrated and missing my friends.
I joke that I started to knit after a few months of marriage out of boredom. But it's not far from the truth. I didn't have any friends in town (I had moved to a different part of the state than I grew up in) and we couldn't afford to go out much. Jay's only hobby was video games, so I needed something to keep my hands busy.
In October of 2004, I heard the editor of my favorite magazine, Bust, was coming to the local indie bookstore. Debbie Stoller was going to talk about her new book, Stitch ‘N Bitch.
I went to the reading, as a Bust subscriber, but after hearing her talk about knitting, I decided to pick up her book (and have her sign it!) and give knitting another chance.
I went home that night and started reading, not knitting, just reading. By the next morning I had discovered Craftster, Knitty and the whole online knitting community.
Unlike my first knitting book, this one had clearly written instructions, not just pictures. And if I didn't understand something, I now had access to a zillion people who could answer my questions!
I was still working at the Kil'n Time and by now (3 months in) I'd become the Assistant Manager. The manager wanted to move on to other things and offered me the job. It was a small business with an absentee owner. The manager was responsible for EVERYTHING: financial reports, employee relations, buying stock, customer service.
I took the job and loved it. Everything about making the business better, more efficient and more fun was so exciting. After just a few months of management, I remembered how I loved selling those friendship bracelets. I started to think…maybe I loved this even more than French Lit?
As my love for & knowledge of business-y stuff grew, so did my knitting. By Easter of 2005, I had knit my first (giant, ugly, mohair) sweater and in March I started my first knitting blog to record my dyeing experiments.
By June I called my dyeing, knitting, designing work Blonde Chicken Boutique, after the nickname Jay's Poppa gave me before he passed away. Jay always teased me with it (so un-feminist, I thought!), and it seemed like an appropriately silly name. I opened a shop on Etsy (I was one of the first 100 shops!), but only listed 2 or 3 skeins.
In January 2006, I approached the local yarn store (there were two, but this was the artsy-er one) and offered to dye custom yarn for her shop, on yarn they provided. This way the start-up cost to me was only the dye and my time.
The owner jumped at the idea and, because one of her employees had just quit, offered me a job. (I took it, but continued as the manager of the Kil'n Time, too)
My custom-dyed yarn sold well in her shop and my job gave me insight into what other knitters look for in a yarn and the questions they have. I've always been a self-taught knitter, preferring to substitute yarns and knit my own designs, but the yarn shop taught me that very few knitters work like that. Many crafters want patterns and explanations and guidance.
I learned so much from the Kil'n Time, the yarn shop and the beginnings of BCB, but it wasn't enough to save me from the cubicle. Tomorrow, BCB gets a website, I move to TN and into cublicle-land.
PS. Don’t forget: I’m answering any and all questions on Twitter, today at 4:30 pm EST. Just put #AskTheChicken in your tweet (at any time) and I’ll answer! You can follow along and see all the questions and answers here.
PPS. The sale! Don’t forget there’s a yarn sale with discounts for both new and returning customers! Grab your yarn right here: http://blondechicken.etsy.com