Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Louis Mensinger, Founder of Club Crochet, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Club Crochet is a subscription service for hookers! Get new crochet tutorials monthly, access to a full library of tutorials, and even monthly kits mailed to your door with all the materials you'll need to crochet the newest addition to the library! Members can also join in on our weekly crochet-along live streams where we'll be making something new each week, get 1-1 feedback and help, and generally chat about whatever and relax and crochet together!
We offer a variety of crochet tutorials, from complete beginner to professional hooker-level designs, all of which are filled with creativity and customization. Whether crocheting a reversible frog, a secret spy pigeon, or a dinosaur board game, Club Crochet always has something new to keep crochet fresh and interesting month to month!
Due to our playful designs, the expert-level tutorials (each of our designs gets its own full-length video tutorial!), and the variety of options, our customers range in age, gender, and culture! We have families learning to crochet together, school children looking to impress their friends, young adults starting their new crochet business, and, of course, grandmas looking to make something new for their new grandchild! Get hooked with Club Crochet!
Tell us about yourself
I got started crocheting in high school. I started by making toys and beanies for friends and got addicted pretty much immediately. Originally it was for gifts and ways to ask girls out, but I quickly saw the business potential and began selling my crocheted creations to friends and family. Around graduation, I realized my business model needed to change in order to grow into a full career; there were only so many things I could realistically crochet in a day's time. I had been designing my own work from the beginning but decided to go into patterns and video tutorials while I went into college. During college, I cultivated a library of tutorials, each for sale for a small price point.
After college, I launched a Kickstarter for a new project, Crocheting 101. A series of how-to-crochet tutorials for beginners that slowly ramps up in difficulty and offers new projects after each chapter so you can put your new talents into practice! I'd also launch it as a free series and put it all at Crocheting101.com. Riding the wave of the successful Kickstarter, I decided to bundle it all together into a new business, and the spark of Club Crochet all came together in one slightly tangled website. Over the years, it's just gotten bigger and bigger, both in the library and in memberships, as well as growing in other ways! We now have three full-time employees and a series of freelancers and part-time winders creating the kits.
My motivation comes from a lot of different avenues, from my friends and family to the members and customers, but the biggest influence is my consistent drive to create the flurry of ideas that fills my head every night when I go to bed. I mean, seriously, it's never-ending. I haven't even been able to touch on some of the more outlandish ideas for the business yet, but it's so nice to know that the business model thrives on creative consistency. As long as I've got a paycheck each month, I know I can make whatever I want because, in the end, it all leads to a more profitable business, happier customers, and a more fulfilled art.
I absolutely love crochet (if you haven't been able to tell yet). You can create anything! It's thread-y printing, and I'm so excited to see where this string will lead to. I'm just along for the ride.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment so far has been creating the opportunity to offer my friends a job doing what they do best. I always knew I'd make crochet work for myself one way or another, but I never thought I'd grow a business big enough to wrangle in some of my best friends to work with me! How cool is that?! Not only have they been an enormous help with keeping the business running and growing, but I also am able to allow them to thrive in the ways they want to. It's just so cool, and I'm so grateful for that; it's extremely motivating.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Organization and focus for me are challenging. With my creative dial turned all the way up, it can be difficult to hone in on one idea, venture to perfect, or focus on it fully. Luckily I have my best friend and business partner, Nicole, to help me stay in the lines to get the important tasks done before I go and color in the whole page!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure the business you're starting is a passion of yours. I cannot imagine not being passionate about this and being in it primarily for the money, it would drive me crazy, and I would likely feel pretty crummy in my day-to-day. The best part of starting a business is you get to do what YOU want. There are so many ways to make money if you really want to, but making money doing what you actively love to do is now more achievable than ever!
- Never give up on it. I never really felt like I had an option to give up internally. I always knew this was what I wanted to do, and I would make that happen regardless of the nay-sayers and skeptics (and, of course, those come in droves). Humans are capable of nearly anything we put our mind to, but that doesn't mean a successful business will happen overnight. It takes effort, time, and a bit of luck, but most of all, perseverance, which is why my first point is so important. It's going to likely take a second for this to work out; at least make it something you enjoy doing a bit!
- Keep your survival job while you get your business on its tracks, but never forget that it's just your survival job. I don't mean you need a backup plan for if everything falls apart (although that's nice too, of course), but a source of income to fall back on while your original plan germinates in the corner. I worked a full-time job for six years in motion graphics design and marketing while cultivating Club Crochet on my side time, and without it, I never would have been able to survive. It wasn't until I was certain I could safely pull the plug on my job and replace it with Club Crochet that I finally went full-time with the business.
Just do not ever get complacent; that is your SURVIVAL job, and you need to pay the bills, but it's not your end game; always remember that. As long as you keep that in the back of your head, you don't have to worry as much about promotions or workplace drama because, in the end, this was only there to help you get to where you wanted to be. Also, talk about your business with your bosses and coworkers if you feel you can; if they are good people, they will be rooting you on because, in the end, they likely all have dreams about quitting one day to do what they want.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and consider me interesting enough to interview! I know I've come a long way from the nerdy shy dude that crocheted in the corner of English class, but I think it will always feel like I have so much more to do before I ditch this imposter syndrome.
Also, crochet is ƒ*¢#ing awesome, and you should totally learn to crochet. You can make ANYTHING; it's not just blankets, beanies, and costers; you can make toys, tools, ponchos, and puppets. It can be meditative, challenging or simple, practical, or fantastical, but above all, rewarding and creatively fulfilling. I highly encourage you to give it a shot, and I bet you'll be absolutely hooked after a few projects.
Thanks again for reading, and happy hooking!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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