Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Rhonda Yerxa, Owner of Key Knits, located in Oakville, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business provides digital knitting patterns for knitters of all experiences, beginners to experts. My customers are knitters and makers from all over the world; they are people who love to create.
Tell us about yourself
I started knitting seriously just a few years ago because I wanted something that helped me meditate and handle stress. I suffer from ulcerative colitis, which gets worse with stress, so I used knitting to relax. The more I got into it, the more I fell in love with wool and pattern design, so I decided to share my patterns by building a small business for like-minded creators. I am motivated by other creators and really love the idea of keeping knitting alive, not only as a business but also as an ancient and practical art form.
Every day is a new opportunity to grow my business. I find myself combing fashion blogs and runway shows for the latest trends. I get ridiculously excited by new yarns and different textiles, and it's terrific to be part of the worldwide resurgence of homemade fashion that's come out of COVID.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I suppose my biggest accomplishment so far has been the initial leap out into the world. Honestly, I was more than a little scared to start, especially since I hadn't been knitting for decades like everyone's grandmother. However, I've realized I have my own fresh take on things, and because I'm not wedded to a particular style, I've been able to converge techniques from Japan, Germany, the UK, Australia, and others to make new things.
On the administrative side, it's been both challenging to rewarding to access markets through social media platforms, which is an ongoing journey. It's still a small industry for a knitter. As a sole owner of a nascent business, I think I will see many more rewards in the next few years as long as I celebrate all the small steps that got me here.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about owning my own business is waiting for it to grow. Regardless of what else is going on in life, I have to diligently put in the time every day. Although I love what I do physically (the creating/knitting), to make this work, I still have to do all unromantic things, like paperwork, designing my website, and putting my name out there. I'm often sitting up in bed, wrestling with a new pattern as I work to build up my inventory. But I wouldn't learn if I wasn't trying, so no regrets!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do something you love because you will be doing a lot of it, and your passion will be what gets you through the hard times. A new business is like a new relationship: there are ups and downs, great new experiences, and crushing mistakes. If you don't love this new life partner, it'll all end in tears!
- Swallow your pride. Understand you'll make lots of mistakes and you don't know everything. Be brave and humble enough to ask for help from people who may know more than you – and know that there's no need to always be the smartest in the room. In my business, I notice that even the most famous knitters are always pushing boundaries. I just know they make their fair share of mistakes along the way.
- Keep learning, read all the books, do all the projects, go to the classes, and exercise your brain as well as your hands. My business is young, but I think even successful mature businesses need to find ways to stay fresh and current. For me, in the fashion industry, that's more obvious with clothing trends, but I can't think of a business that can afford to stay static.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I suppose I just want to encourage people with a creative spark to take those first steps and get started on a new business. Regardless of your circumstances, there's something that will work for you – and being in control of what that is brings rewards that aren't available as someone else's employee. Yes, it can be difficult at times, but there are lots of supportive people and organizations that will help you along the way. Good luck! Oh, and do buy some of my patterns.
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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