Gooch & Gooch, LLC
Note: Chuck Wilmesher is skacel Collection's director of new product
research and development. He is also the producer of The Fiber Factor, which was a
winner in the 2013 TNNA Needlearts Business Innovation Awards program. The
program is a joint project of TNNA and Hart Business Research.
Collection has created The Fiber Factor — the knitting industry's first online,
video-driven knitwear design competition. It follows 12 fiber-fueled hopefuls
as they attempt to win a series of knitting-related challenges in hopes of
claiming the grand prize: a trip for two to Germany to tour yarn production
facilities and the addi needle factory!
Showcasing how diverse the knitting population truly is,
diary-style videos allow website viewers a sneak peek into the lives, minds and
knitting talents of the 12 contestants who hail from all over the United
States. These "Official Swatchers," ranging in age from 21 to 56,
were selected and announced in early April 2013.
The contestants are quite diverse: One sings, another
designs lingerie, another is a student at FIT in New York, etc. But each is an
amazingly creative knitting addict with a real passion for design. Viewers are
sure to find these contestants both relatable and inspirational — and will
quickly begin following and rooting for their favorite Swatchers!
The contest was comprised of six challenges plus a final
challenge among the Top 4 contestants to determine the grand prize winner.
While the ultimate winner of The Fiber Factor will be announced in early 2014,
the contest will continue throughout the year with knit-alongs of the contest's
best designs. Over the course of the competition, skacel Collection's Karin
Skacel and Cirilia Rose have been joined in judging by such guests as Josh
Bennett, Cat Bordhi, Lily Chin, Nicky Epstein, Franklin Habit, Trisha Malcolm, Rick
Mondragon, Clara Parkes, Lisa Shroyer, Ysolda Teague, Stephen West and many
The show's tagline is "Will you swatch… or will you
watch?" With that in mind, viewers watching the competition unfold
(affectionately called "Watchers") can get involved by submitting
pictures of their knitted items designed in response to a challenge. An entire
section of The Fiber Factor's website is devoted to Watchers and their
projects, and prizes are being awarded to the best submissions. This way,
everyone can participate in The Fiber Factor!
It should be noted that there is no "loser" in the
competition, and no one is eliminated until after the sixth challenge. After
the sixth challenge, the Top 3 contestants compete in the final challenge.
Why we did it
Reality shows have grown in popularity, and for years people
in the knitting industry have been wishing for a knitting version of "Project Runway." We at skacel
Collection figured it was time to make it happen.
The purpose of the contest was multi-fold:
inspire non-knitters to start knitting;
help talented, budding designers gain exposure;
build awareness of skacel Collection and the
build sales for retailer customers; and
sell more needles and yarn!
the contest has a presence on several platforms, including Facebook,
Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Ravelry. The
participation on these platforms has been immense. Below is a voting page from
Facebook during Challenge 3, for example.
By having our contestants use addi needles and
skacel-distributed yarns, we are advertising in an entertaining and engaging
way. We are confident that we are introducing our needles and yarns to end
consumers who would otherwise be unfamiliar.
We have also heard from many "non-knitters" who
found out about the contest and are now fans. Our goal is to show non-knitters
how creative and "cool" knitting can be. By reaching non-knitters
with an entertaining, fun-to-watch contest, we are confident we will inspire
and reach an entire segment of new knitters, which in turn will grow the
knitting community, increase yarn shop sales — and increase sales for us, too.