Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in handicrafts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Janis Frank, Owner of KweenBee.com, located in Grande Prairie, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a designer and writer of knitting patterns. I also make and sell finished products, but the majority of my sales are of my patterns that people, mostly women, knit themselves. From what my stats reveal, unsurprisingly, my most common customers are women 55+ for the patterns. Finished knit slippers and fingerless gloves are for a much younger age range, but still mostly women.
Tell us about yourself
I've always been creative and knitting and crocheting since I was very young. I recall crocheting a cousin a pair of cowboy boot slippers when I was 10 (I was a different kind of kid). Many years later, I made and sold a number of slipper designs I had created on a handmade marketplace (Etsy), which I still sell 10+ years later. Making the same slippers was no longer fun, so I wrote out the patterns and started selling those through Etsy, too. That just blossomed into other patterns for fingerless gloves, mitts, etc. I tend to stick to designing things for hands and feet. These are quick to design, as compared to a sweater, let's say, and the sizing isn't as specific.
I'm very intrinsically motivated to do what I do. I am always coming up with new things I want to make. Sometimes things work out, and sometimes the design never fits quite right. I never publish the ones that don't look right to me. This is my art. The money I make is definitely a plus, but I would be designing patterns and posting them on my website regardless of the financial reward.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
This is a tough question and not one single thing. I think it would be the accumulation of all my hard work. From creating, launching, and maintaining a successful website, there have been many iterations up until this point, from my Etsy shop to now placing my patterns in brick-and-mortar bookstores; it's all of it. I came in knowing nothing about everything. Slowly, I've kept plugging away and trying different things until it's become what it is today.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Single word - Karens. Yup. Some of the most entitled people feel the need to berate literally everything. Even if it is free, people will still complain about it. Because this is something completely created by me and from me, it is very dear to my heart. It takes a lot to put yourself out there to the public, and sometimes people love to second guess or belittle my work with personal attacks, questioning my ethics, etc. I have developed a thicker skin, but since I'm the owner/manager, I can respond. And I do. If I'm left a negative review, I also review back. What's the worst thing to happen? They won't use my pattern? Cool beans. Yes, Cool beans. I haven't told anyone to f*ck off yet, so props to me for that.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be patient.
- Stop the grind. If it's all you're doing, it's not worth it.
- Be open-minded to different approaches to marketing, selling avenues, social media, and the like. If you don't like it or it doesn't work for you, ok. But you won't know if you never tried.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I'm very disheartened by social media these days. It had such potential. And it was great 7-8 years ago to help me grow my business. Now, it's such a disappointment. Whether it's the cost to have legitimate followers to even see a post or how nasty people have become, it seems like it's such a waste of time, both personally and professionally. I wish there was a better way to connect with people that could use my patterns or want to learn how to knit themselves.
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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