Today is a special chat with Pam of Fiber Crafty. Enjoy!
How did your personal fiber journey begin?
I have always been crafty - when I was a little girl I had a kid's sewing machine, a child's loom (which I only used once - I wish I had it now) and I cross stitched all the time. At some point my brother gave me a Coats & Clark booklet that covered knitting and in my early 20s I decided to learn. I went to my LYS bought a pattern, needles and 2 skeins of yarn (not enough for the pattern which I was cautioned against but I was a broke college student!). I went home and using the booklet, taught myself to knit. This was in the early 90's and there weren't online resources. I never finished the top but a few years later I picked up knitting again and it stuck! I still have that first yarn and 20 years later (thanks to Ravelry) I got 3 more skeins in the same dye lot!
Do you knit, crochet, spin, weave, dye yarn?
I am a knitter first - it's what I do every day and it is the most intuitive to me. I also crochet and have made quite a few projects but I have to work a little harder at figuring things out. If I am making something with motifs, I usually make one or two for practice before I actually get started. A few years ago I took some spinning lessons and I purchased a Lendrum DT. I love spinning but in reality I think about it more than I practice it. I have been trying to spin for short periods of time more often. Weaving is the next rabbit hole for me but I'm not there yet. Yarn dyeing is fun to experiment with. It's not something I feel versed at and I would never pursue it but it's enjoyable to play around.
What was your motivation to open FiberCrafty?
After working in the software industry for more than 20 years, I started to feel like my my soul wasn't satisfied. I began to investigate different careers I could have in the fiber community - which is what I am most passionate about. Along the way I considered dyeing, opening a yarn store, and becoming a yarn rep. I kept coming back to the idea of helping small indie businesses and while I realized there were other online selling platforms available, none of them were niche to our craft! The more I investigated, the more sense it made to me to create a platform that spoke our language and made it easy for shoppers to find what they are looking for, while supporting and helping the individual small businesses. Once the idea of FiberCrafty was in place it took about 18 months to map out my vision, determine viability, find a company to help me develop it, get it built, tested and launched. This was a long process - probably 4-5 years total.
How did you come up with the name?
That's a good question! I came up with LISTS of name possibilities. I had a few criteria which were that they be easy to remember, easy to spell and easy to understand audibly. I listen to so many podcasts and sometimes it's hard to understand the name of a business to be able to find it later. For a while I was using the name Wool Market but at some point I came up with FiberCrafty and it just seemed right! I checked for other businesses by the same name, URLs, hashtags and it wasn't in use at all, but conveyed the idea I wanted. We are all fiber crafty!
What kind of products do your vendors carry?
I have over 100 active shops now and they carry a wide variety of things! The primary listings are for yarn and fiber but there are also project bags, stitch markers, shawl pins, needle storage, spinning and weaving tools, greeting cards and a lot of other things. There are even some goats milk soaps! I know as FiberCrafty grows it will be harder and harder to search through the listings so we have fabulous filters in place. As we grow, we add new filters. For example, if you want yarn in a sport weight that is superwash, you can check each of those boxes to find the listings that match. If you want spinning fiber in a rolag form, you can filter for that as well. You can search by color family, fiber type, fiber prep and even color application such as Multi Color or Tonal Color.
Do you host events?
Not yet but I feel like you are tapping into my dreams! I would LOVE to host retreats one day or even fiber travel events. I have my hands full building FiberCrafty right now but one day!
What are your big dreams and where do you see this going in the future?
It's bold to say but I want FiberCrafty to be a household name in the knitting community. If someone wants to buy from an indie business online, I want to them to turn to FiberCrafty first. A rising tide lifts everyone and together we can do a lot for the industry while helping each other out. I also want FiberCrafty to be what the community wants. If shop owners or shoppers have suggestions that would help make it more useful to them, I want to hear about it to incorporate changes as we go forward.
Currently, FiberCrafty only supports US based shops. My original plan was to support international shops but it added a huge level of complexity (and expense) so I made the decision to postpone. I was disappointed but still think it was the right thing to do. I can't wait to be in a place where I can offer international shop support.
Finally, I would love to be able to give back by rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar. Collectively, a little at a time, we can help others such as by gifting Knitting Baskets through Heifer International. I really like organizations that help people help themselves.
Where can people find out all about FiberCrafty.
There are a couple of places on the website where people can read more or they can go to FiberCrafty.com and click Shop Now if they just want to see all the fabulous products available! Our About Us page has some links to articles and information about the company. Our FAQ page answers more specific questions. Of course if anyone has questions they didn't get answered they can contact me directly. I can be found on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest. We also have a Ravelry group but I am not as active there. I'm also excited to be joining KnittingDaddy Greg on the Unraveling Podcast (that's less about FiberCrafty and more about crafting!).
Bonus Question! Do you pick the pattern or the yarn first?
I think probably half and half! I used to make more spontaneous yarn purchases and then find the pattern to go with it. Lately I have been deliberate in choosing the pattern first! But I still succumb to the impulse purchase on occasion.