On October 1st 2013 Yarn Over Coffee was registered as a company. So why not let it feel like a celebrity for a day and do an interview?
Q: Why have you decided to start Yarn Over Coffee
YOC: About two years ago I was looking at my career and thinking that I’m too old to work for something I don’t believe in and for somebody who doesn’t believe in me. I wanted to spent more time with my children and do something I could be proud off. I was lucky to be able to take redundancy and to have a very supportive husband.
I have always enjoyed knitting, it’s a great way how to be creative if, like me, you can’t draw or paint. There has been a lot of research done into the benefits of knitting and crochet and there is definitely interest in handmade items, so it seemed like the perfect idea to teach and share my passion. Crochet came on board a bit later. But there seems to be even more demand.
Q: Was the first year as you expected it?
YOC: No not really. I like to look at it as a long market research and preparation time. When I was told that I would need to prepare business plan and forecasts a year ago, I had no idea what to put in it, how to make those figures up. I now feel much more confident that I know how long things take and how much they cost. Luckily I didn’t have large start up costs so I could afford to do so.
I thought that the hard part will be giving good lessons. Now I know that that’s the easy and fun bit. The hardest part is letting customers know about me.
Q: What were the best bits?
YOC: Definitely meeting different people, hearing their stories and seeing them discover passion for knitting and crochet.
Being ‘everything’ in the company. Even though learning about business, social media and web page design has been very frustrating at times I absolutely love it. It feels like an achievement when my blog finally works the way I want it, when people like my Facebook page or when I balance my books. I hope that it’s similar to the feeling my students get when they make their first garment.
Q: And the worst?
YOC: Registering Yarn Over Coffee too soon. I believed that I had to do so as soon as I started planning and mostly testing the idea on others than my friends. I should have waited another six months. This way I have been trading for a year now, but only taught for several months.
I have a very love and hate relationship with social media. I love it when things work and I get lots of responses but there is also lots of things I don’t like. Please don’t get me started on those here, if you would like to hear my experience let me know and I’ll happily share.
Oh, and saying too much during lessons. Anybody who can cast on, knit and cast off can knit a scarf or a simple blanket. However after that there is a lot to understand about different yarns, where to get affordable patterns from, or the fact that there is a difference between american and UK crochet. I want to explain as much as I can to my students, so they don’t end up making mistakes and loosing interest in knitting and crochet. So I just try to cram it all into one lesson.
Q: What have you found to be the most difficult?
YOC: As mentioned before, understanding social media and getting figures and details for my business plan.
Q: And most rewarding?
YOC: My children being proud that their mum is a knitting and crochet teacher and seeing what my students have made.
Q: Have you managed to achieve life work balance?
YOC: Yes and no. It allows me to build my working life around my children and be here when they come from school and playgroup. Holidays is our time together. However, on a daily basis I find that sometimes I’m thinking about Yarn Over Coffee while cooking dinner or going to the park. I need to work on this and learn to switch off completely.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
YOC: I have lots of plans for the future. I’m planning daytime lessons for both adults and children. These will probably start in my house, but I’m looking for premises where we could have bigger groups.
I have commissioned a new logo for Yarn Over Coffee which should be ready very soon. I’m very excited as Katie from Blue Butterfly is a very talented artist and I’m looking forward to seeing her picture on all my promotional materials.
I would like to offer some different lessons for those who already know the basics but would like to try something different. At the moment I’m thinking about knitting and crochet with wire, with beads or using recycled materials.
I’m planning changes to the website. At the moment I get my website hosting for free. Which is fine but a little bit limiting so I hope that converting to a paid version will allow me to improve both the feel and the functionality.
As far as content of the website goes, I’m planning to start a ‘What’s on ‘ section listing local and some further afield activities from the world of knitting and crochet. I would like to also write a series of beginners’ lessons to help and as a reminder to those who attended my lessons. As well as articles about my experience with knitting, the business, what’s on, etc.
Most of all I would like Yarn Over Coffee to become more of a knitting and crochet community for people around Bristol and Bath, where my students and others can share pictures of their makes, ask question and find crafting buddies.
Q: And the short term future?
YOC: We are crocheting and knitting flowers on 14th and 15th of October to celebrate my wedding anniversary. There is a Halloween theme crochet and knitting (party) on the 21st and 22nd. And as some like to do things for others we are looking at crochet and knitting for charities on the 7th and 8th.
Q: And your dream?
YOC: I would like my first fully booked lesson, then my first over booked lesson.
… and lots of relaxed new knitters and crocheters.