Knitting - Amy Gaines
Amy runs her own business - www.purl.etsy.com selling fabulous knitting and crochet patterns and other handmade items.
Name - Amy Gaines
Location - Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
Family - My husband and I have been married for eight years, and we have a five year old daughter Audrey
What inspired you to start knitting?
My first attempt at knitting was when I was pregnant with my daughter, I purchased a magazine that had basic instructions to make a traditional yet simple baby set. However, I was so completely frustrated, that I set it aside thinking I would never learn to knit. It wasn't until my sister-in-law showed me how to knit that I was able to do it. For the next couple of years I knitted everyday, winter socks for the family, soft toys for my daughter and Christmas ornaments.
What is your background (previous career area?)
I originally went to college to study Microbiology, in hopes to go into the Medical field. I never finished and worked low paying jobs. I was everything from a waitress to a secretary, but never could find anything creative or stimulating enough.
Did you have specialist training in knitting or knitting/crochet pattern making? - if so what/where was your training?
I have never had any training in knitting or design, my abilities come from practice. Hours a day knitting and frustration with the knit toy patterns available. Once I got the hang of knitting, I stopped using patterns all together, or I would instantly manipulate them. I have just always visualized knitting like sculpting, or sewing clothing.
How did you go about setting your business up? (from a business perspective - initial funding etc) Did you have any professional help?
About a year ago, my husband and I sat down and worked out our family budget, and we realized we needed to generate a bit more money. I had designed a couple of patterns at this point and had considered seeking out publishing of them, yet didn't know how to go about it. While searching on-line I found Etsy.com. Etsy is a website that allows anyone to set-up a on-line store to sell anything handmade. There is no monthly fee, just a listing fee of $.20 and a small transaction fee.
So I listed a couple of my patterns that I would e-mail to my customers once they purchased them, and sure enough, by the first week I had sold a couple. Surprised, but excited I started designing more - not only knit toy patterns, but crocheted ones as well. Then after a couple of months, I submitted my first pattern to Crochet! magazine, and to my amazement, they wanted to purchase the rights to publish it.
In this last year, not only have I made money but I will have several patterns of mine published, and have a wonderful customer base on Etsy.com.
Where do you carry out your work now?
I work right in our living room, my poor husband has to walk around yarn at times, but I have a section in our apartment for all of my business things, and designs.
Do you need lots of specialist equipment?
No- that's the great thing, all I really need is my computer, some paper, wool and needles!
Do you make all of your items yourself?
Yes, I make all of my items myself - my daughter helps me with the photos and sketches, but I do all of the knitting and crocheting, though my husband keeps track of all the receipts and tax info.
What inspires your designs?
My daughter is my biggest inspiration. She will draw a character and tell me to make it - sometime I can, sometimes they don't turn out so great - but she loves them, and that is a wonderful feeling that you can make something that might not be perfect or traditional but is still loved!
How many hours do you work a week?
When I first started to knit, my daughter was a year-old, and I stayed home with her. Every nap time, I was knitting, and we went outside a lot so that I could knit also. She has just always seen me knitting, so she knows to be patient for me to "finish this row." And from this, she is now my greatest source of inspiration, she will draw me designs of animals and I will create them, and she knows she always gets the first one. My husband has also helped out a lot! He puts my daughter to bed so that I can also have a couple of hours at night to concentrate on my designs. Right now I work about 50 hours a week.
How does the job fit round your family life?
My greatest struggle has been to fit my knitting around the family. I think the best aspect is integrating it into the family. Not only do we all pitch in, but it has also been a great tool in teaching my daughter about money, and priorities.
How do you find clients - do you advertise?
Since we have just hit the first year mark, and I will be in several publishing's, we are now going to start advertising and branching out to other selling markets.
What is the earning potential?
As of now, we make about $800.00 profit each month, but that is not counting publishing deals. With certain published item I will be receiving royalties, and depending on the success I will make a nice size percentage. So with those we will probably make $20,000 profit this year. Though it is not much, it is just the first year, and with each design, I will increase that figure.
Is the job/running the business rewarding?
I never thought I would be able to make money knitting and crocheting. It has been the most wonderful thing, not only do I fill as though I am contributing to the family, but I am doing what I enjoy and I am able knit all day - its a dream!
Do you think it is a job that fits in well with being a Mum?
My job is the best job for me and my family. Not only am I able to make a little extra money, but I get to stay at home with my daughter.
Any advice for a Mum or Dad wanting to start knitting as a commercial venture?
My only advice is to find the best market for you - For me Etsy.com has been the key to my success. I couldn't afford to invest anything into my business, so I knew I needed help finding customers, and setting up an on-line shop, and Etsy is amazing for that. Also its a great community of crafters, and people that truly appreciate the quality of handmade products.