Business Owner Interview: Thread

I am starting an irregular feature where I interview owners of small craft business owners to learn from them, as well as spread the information around. Today I am interviewing myself, Thread. Other interviews will follow later.

What is your background in general?

After High School I trained as a nurse, and have been working in that field ever since.

When did you start making things, and what type of things? (personal life and business)

Growing up, my parents had to keep a tight rein on expenses, so Mom made clothes for all three girls. I learned at her side, and have made a good percentage of my clothing as an adult (using purchased patterns). Over the years, I also have made several of my purses.

The first product in my store was pot holders made of upcycled bath towels.

Do you still make the same types of things?

I still make a large percentage of my clothing, and all my purses. I also still make pot holders, and have added some sets of potholders and aprons.

What made you start a craft business?

I have a two-part answer to this question. First, after our last move to yet another area of the country, my professional hours dropped. I could work more hours, but we didn't need it, and most jobs in my field here don't match my expertise and interests.

Secondly, we started looking ahead to our retirement years. We decided that we do not want to spend those years sitting on rockers and watching the world go by. That seems like a good recipe for decay. So, we looked at options. We like to make things, and there is only so much room on shelves, etc., for things we have made. Having a business to sell things we have made seems like a good idea. With that in mind, we decided to start the business now and get experience running it before retirement.

What are some of your challenges in business? How have you solved some of those challenges?

Juggling my time between various commitments is a challenge. I still work professionally on a per diem basis. One state where I am licensed requires a certain number of education hours every renewal cycle, the other state requires that I work so many hours in their renewal cycle. Those requirements mean that I need to take the work when it is available. I am also active in my church, and that takes some time. Since Wood brings home the main paycheck, I'm the domestic engineer. And of course, I like to spend time with Wood, who is my best friend.

With my nursing background, I had only a tiny exposure to running a small business. I went to our local office of the SBDC, and used their services to legally start my business. I proudly pay taxes on all applicable sales.

What do you like about your craft business?

We decided that our business would have a variety of products. We both like using different techniques to make a variety of things. I weave on a floor loom, a smaller rigid heddle loom, and an inkle loom in addition to sewing, crochet, and braiding with a lucet. I don't get bored with the different things I do.

How does your background affect your style?

I'm a practical person, so the things I make can be used in everyday life. When coming up with a product I consider the maintenance of the object. Will it be washable, dry cleanable, or is it something that isn't likely to need cleaning? If the object is made of wool, for example, I try not to use techniques that cannot be dry cleaned.

What is your definition of success for your business?

To me success means making things that are good quality, as well as useful, and then selling them. I do not plan on taking over the world. Some businesses make items that do not require much time investment, and sell a goodly number of them. I often make items that take more time, so I am fine with "fewer" sales.

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