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Marketing to the Generations

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, October 11, 2018

With today’s needlearts industry appealing to all ages, marketing to everyone is vital for a store’s success. There are certain marketing techniques that appeal more to Millennials than Gen Z, while others resonate more with Baby Boomers than Gen X, and so on. We sat down with Shelley Brander, owner of Loops in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to talk about how she approaches marketing to multiple generations.

How does Loops market across generations? Any successful tactics you are willing to share?

Shelley: I learned to knit at 16 and remember feeling so isolated, not knowing anyone my age who knit. I then started Loops at a relatively young age (in my 30s), when I was a crazy-busy mom who didn’t have time to linger in yarn shops for hours, trying to find something stylish to make. From the day we opened, we created a “Hot Loops Wall” with a bunch of curated, on-trend projects all photographed and organized in a unique (copyrighted) way to make it easy to get inspired, grab and go! We’ve become known for the “Hot Loops Wall,” which now extends to online shopping. We have a VIP party to debut the new wall each season. All ages really love it.

Do you find it more difficult to market to younger or older generations?

Shelley: Facebook makes it easy to target older generations because, despite everyone’s efforts, that’s still where most of the knitters are! But we never give up. We know it’s so critical to nurture the younger generations and always be “making new knitters and crocheters.” The older I get, the more I work to stay on top of trends and involve newer, younger knitters on our team. We had two interns this summer (including my daughter) who provided lots of ideas for keeping things fresh.

Have your marketing tactics shifted in the last few years? If so, how?

Shelley: My marketing tactics have shifted in the last few days! My background is in branding and I’m endlessly fascinated with finding new ways to reach yarn lovers and make an impact in the world. Our mission is to “Knit the World Together™” and we’ve started incorporating that into everything we do. It’s also 100% crucial that our marketing is as authentic and “real” as possible. These days you’ll see us using a lot of Facebook Live videos, Instagram stories or “behind the scenes” stories to connect and inspire our online community.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities in terms of marketing to different generations for those in the needlearts industry?

Shelly: Whatever the latest social media craze is, email will always be critical. It’s the most personal place to reach someone — their inbox. And I don’t believe the local yarn store will survive unless we embrace online marketing and transcend the scarcity mindset. We need to collaborate, innovate, and stay positive and inclusive.

Any predictions for the future of marketing in the needlearts industry as Gen Z comes of age?

Shelley: I believe that the needle arts are an ideal antidote for the digital age. The more digital our word becomes, the more we crave something real, slow, handmade and lasting. That is everything that knitting is! For the companies that aren’t afraid to embrace that and keep adapting, the sky is the limit.

Tags:  business  business tips  TNNANews 

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Fall 2018 Trends Your Shelves Should Reflect

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, October 11, 2018

Autumn is here. From my desk in the mid-Atlantic, leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and everything is coming up pumpkin spice. At the TNNA Summer NeedleArts Trade Show in Cleveland, vendors showed off their fall and winter goods, allowing retailers to get a jumpstart on stocking their shelves. Did you attend the show? If not, it is a great opportunity to preview upcoming trends and to get a front row seat to everything NEW! Here, I’ll share some trends I noticed while walking the trade show floor.

Back to Basics

Simplicity is trending, and it’s been happening for some time. People are trying to return to a more minimal lifestyle, which is a consumer trend across all industries from tech to fashion to crafts. What does this mean for the needle arts? It means classic yarns, simple patterns and straightforward elements.

Yarns in rich autumnal colors and comfy-cozy sweaters dominated the runway. Loose-fitting, simple silhouettes that focus on wearer comfort continue to be paramount when considering garment style. Ponchos and oversized sweaters will keep you wrapped in warmth all winter. When choosing a yarn, designers and yarn companies are opting for classic wools with just a touch of luxury or bling. 

Pantone’s fall/winter 2018 palette. (source: Pantone.com)

Kits 

Kits were HOT at the summer show. End consumers love them because there’s less guess work. A kit allows your customers to walk into your shop and have fewer choices to make. With pre-curated colors, patterns and supplies, kits make choices easy, fast and fun!

If you are not already buying kits ready-made, could you make kits from existing inventory? How about matching patterns and supplies to help your customers make speedier decisions? Have a special event coming up? Consider collaboration! Wholesalers, retailers and designers can come together to create kits for special events (I’ve even partnered with some great collaborators on these Small Business Saturday kits). These limited-time, unique items are often coveted by shoppers — everyone wins.

Humanitarianism

Help people feel good. Support a charity or cause, help your community, or raise money for a local group, fund or organization. Fair trade goods are hot right now for the same reason. People have limited funds and when they do spend money, they want to know that it’s going to a good place, to good people and to good causes. Do you carry local artists? Fair trade supplies? Consider highlighting these items in your store or catalog. Though there are many companies navigating this space, some examples that stand out for me include Fairmount Fibers/Manos and Fibres of Life.

The 2019 TNNA Winter NeedleArts Market is fast approaching. Join us in Portland, Oregon to for a sneak peek at emerging spring/summer 2019 needle arts products and trends.

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Spindles of the World

Posted By TNNA Editor, Tuesday, October 2, 2018

By Robin Goatey

Making fiber tools and bringing ancient tool forms back to life for the Fiber Tribe is always full of interesting surprises. A seeming random conversation in-person at a festival or via Instagram DM – or email – can lead to a research thread that very often leads one to the archives of the British Museum online, early Smithsonian Anthropology reports or Norse Grave Goods inventories from the Oseberg Ship Burial. All with the intention of finding lost or especially misidentified early fiber tools. The “ring distaff,” in particular, was misidentified as a “stirring stick,” and Kim Caulfield in her research on distaffs and spindles has helped rectify some of these oversights.

Dating all the way back to the Old Kingdom in Egypt, turned items for use by the Fiber Tribe are legion. Showing amazing variation in form, material and function, fiber tools are ancient indeed. The “Spindles of the World” class that I teach at festivals across the Midwest covers the three basic forms of the “support spindle:”

  • the Single Stick Russian form;
  • the versatile Tibetan form (pictured above); and,
  • the very large, unusual ‘Navajo’ form.

Within these three basic forms are the primary supported spindle types that were created over and over again in prehistoric cultures. In their native form, all of these spindles have a characteristic of use based on the flicking point and, for the purposes of the class, each has been modified with a hook.

What people don’t realize is that the question is not “Can you learn to spin?” but rather, “What do you want to make?” Everyone can learn to spin. What to make is the thing that will guide the selection of spindle type. For example, lace on the Russian form, multiple weights on the Tibetan form, or heavy singles and art yarns on the Navajo form.

Take a look at a Tibetan spindle with a wooden whorl. Change the whorl to clay or stone and that is the diagnostic whorl type found along the length of the Andean Cordillera or the Middle Eastern cradle cultures. Change the whorl type to lead and that is the type found in Roman context and is diagnostic of the Celtic La Tène culture in Western Europe.

The three basic supported spindle forms, though, are just the beginning and new tools are coming to light all the time. A tool form that has largely been forgotten is the distaff. Look at any ancient depiction of spinning activity and there is always a distaff. My favorite early illustrations of spinning and distaffs are on Etruscan Redware and have the most amazing style.

The Ring Distaff, The Oseberg Distaff and the Spinning Spoon are all recent additions to the list of ancient fiber tools I am making.

Know of a forgotten fiber tool? Let me know where it might be from and when. Bringing these ancient tool forms back to life is a true passion of mine and you can never have too much information.
________________________________________________________________________________________________

Robin Goatey of The Dancing Goats is a periodic John C. Campbell Folk School instructor, woodcarver, woodturner, broom maker and folkways instructor, and a student of folklore, metallurgy, spinning, tapestry weaving, glass making, ceramics and lapidary work. He is a Past President of the Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois and an award-winning craftsman participating in the global marketplace for handmade goods. He and his wife established The Dancing Goats in 1987 and brought the business online in 2000. Find more from Robin and The Dancing Goats on Etsy, Amazon, Instagram or YouTube

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#NeedleStoresoftheWorld: Fuzzy Goat

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, September 27, 2018

Where in the world are all the needlearts stores? Right here! For an all-new #NeedleStoresoftheWorld highlight, we head to Georgia and learn about Thomasville’s Fuzzy Goat.

 

Describe what Fuzzy Goat does best.

Owner Cadence Kidwell has built Fuzzy Goat as a welcoming destination for local (and non-local) makers to get cozy. The shop has free Wi-Fi and is decorated as a lodge, inviting its community to come, gather, and make.

 

 

What makes Fuzzy Goat unique?

Fuzzy Goat’s eclectic, lodge vibe is one-of-a-kind and its luxuriously appealing yarns are sourced from independent U.S. vendors, with an emphasis on the Southern region. The store also focuses creating a memorable experience for visitors that reflects its downtown Thomasville historic district and its 100+ year old building of residence, which Kidwell and team renovated to reflect the Southern maker adventure. Their motto? “Happy happens here.”

 

Share a fun fact about your store.

The team at Fuzzy Goat’s favorite fixture in the shop is their beat up (actually “shot up”) SERVICE sign, announcing that our purpose is to serve.

 

Bonus Fact: One year after opening the shop, Kidwell herself renovated a 1,000-square-foot house that was built in the 1850's — just four blocks from the shop!

 

Address

223 W. Jackson St.

Thomasville, GA

 

Connect with Fuzzy Goat

Facebook | Instagram

Tags:  #NeedleStoresoftheWorld  TNNANews 

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How to Get Your Miles During Spinzilla 2018

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, September 26, 2018

By: Weaver Nancy of The Woolery

Despite the current popularity of the blending board and the fascination that fiber photographers have been showing for colorful rolags, I still see relatively few spinners actually spinning woolen; most spinners are spinning with a worsted or at best semi-worsted draw. Now, I will be the first to admit that at heart I am a worsted spinner myself, and it stretches my comfort zone some substantially to spin woolen for long periods of time; still, generations of spinners have been spinning miles of yarn a lot faster when they spin woolen with a long draw. For a contest where the goal is yards (and yards and yards), it makes sense to look at the long draw, or if one is hesitant about it, at least the supported long-draw. And if you are going for miles, and spinning for as much as you can in a solid week, what better excuse is there to just practice; sit there and keep doing it until you get good at it (which a very few hours of practice is guaranteed to do for you). 

Set yourself up with the books on tape, a podcast, a good playlist of music or binge watch old Downton Abbey episodes — whatever your jam is. Indulge in making or buying the prettiest rolags you can of a nice springy wool, and go full-on woolen. Woolery has its annual Spinzilla special on this year with Dorset Horn, a wool that will do woolen yarns beautifully. Take advantage of all the planets coming into alignment to just go woolen, and pile on those yards!

 Remember, stay safe and practice safe spinning too; repetitive motion injuries are no joke, such as “rotator cuff draw” long-draw. Be sure to take breaks. Spinners are notorious for obsessive behavior (who, US?), but fight that urge and make sure you get up and at least stretch, at least once an hour. Remember, winning is no fun if you have to be carried off the field. Let’s all come out of this Monster of a Spinning Week as more versatile, more skilled and better spinners than when we walked into it.

Contact Weaver Nancy

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What I Learned Attending 2018’s Craftcation

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, September 12, 2018

By: Angela Smith of Purl & Loop

As a creative small business founder and owner, I am always searching for ways to connect and be part of a creative business tribe. This is challenging in my business’s physical geographical area (Houston, TX) as I often find artists/creative types and business folks separately, but rarely do I find a combination of both. When I do, they are pulled in a million directions just like me and finding time to connect and bounce ideas off of one another is virtually impossible. Yet, when I attend conferences, such as TNNA, I am surrounded by people who are trying to be successful in a small creative business or who are just trying to grow as artists. Regardless of the ultimate goal, we are all striving for something in the creative universe, and that feeling of camaraderie is sustenance for me… I am constantly seeking more.

Liz Gipson of Yarnworker, mentioned that she had signed up for Craftcation: Business + Makers Conference 2018 during a casual email exchange. Since Liz is a trusted friend and collaborator, I immediately researched and signed up for one of the quickly sold-out spots.  I followed my LOF (leap of faith) and CYF (cross your fingers) life strategy for trying the unknown and boy was it worth it!

Craftcation is a glorious long weekend (Wednesday–Sunday) of constant craft and creative business classes, panel discussions and loads of socializing opportunities. Almost all of these are covered by the enrollment fee. I say “almost” because I am certain there were a few opportunities that came with a reasonable cost. In the months leading up to actual event, we received information about the class sign up process and sneak peaks at the classes being offered. For me personally, I was really only interested in business-focused classes and workshops.

We eventually received access to the schedule along with tips and worksheets to help us plan our experience. The offerings are intense and incredible so planning is key, and the actual sign up and enrollment occurs about six weeks before the event and requires a special access code.  Therefore, it was very important to have your plan in place and back-ups in case the class you want is full. Luckily for me, most of the business classes were drop-in and the size was not limited.

I signed up for many classes but will focus on the ones that became real game-changers for my business. Those were:

From Adrienne, I was able to build upon my existing wholesale knowledge with new tips and ideas. For example, twice a year, I stress out for about one month solid worrying about creating a color, 4-page line sheet and having it printed at a significant cost. Adrienne suggested that oversized postcards could be a great alternative option, since people have so much paper to carry around already. Bam! A mountain of stress reduced to just a week or 2 of stress generating unique postcard creations.

I entered Mallory Whitfield’s class with some ambivalence because I did not have any clue how Pinterest pertained to me and, therefore, I did not know what I did not know. Within minutes, my brain was exploding with ideas and value recognition, along with regret regarding how I had been missing out. The number one takeaway was that Pinterest is its own search engine and by not utilizing this search engine, I was missing out on loads of opportunities. She also provided valuable information about the importance of naming your photos. I implemented her suggestions and saw the number of daily hits to my website grow exponentially.

All of my objections to social media were eliminated by Jennifer Priest in her “Social Media in 60 Minutes a Week” class. She explained how business owners can generate and schedule content, assuming it is content we ourselves created, via a social media scheduler, and explained why she uses Tailwind and showed us how it works. I learned I can use Tailwind for both Pinterest and Instagram and the system has kept my social media marketing on track. 

I recognize that I could get a lot of the information I learned from an online course or webinar from the convenience of my own home or office; however, the questions, ideas and conversations generated in a room full of people with situations similar to my own is not replicable remotely.  

If you think you’re in need of a change of scenery or new ideas, learn more about Craftcation or one of TNNA’s upcoming Winter Market

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The Craft Yarn Council Launches 'Humans That Yarn"

Posted By TNNA Editor, Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Check out the Humans That Yarn Youtube playlist to see the five yarnists who have already been featured. Follow along, and tag your posts for the rest of 2018 on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest using #humansthatyarn and #yarnist. Learn more about the CYC campaign here

 

Tags:  TNNANews 

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Get Rid of Your Scrap Yarn And Feel Good About It!

Posted By TNNA Editor, Tuesday, September 11, 2018

As a needlearts professional, you are definitely using your fair share of yarn, but that means you are also generating a lot of scrap yarn and yarn that you may have bought with the intention of using, but has just sat in a basket. Luckily, there are some ways you can get rid of your scraps and feel good about it!

Donate It

There are numerous places that can benefit from your old scraps of yarn - and get great use out of it. Think about your local schools, art centers and senior homes as viable options. These places in particular may not have it in their budget to provide a ton of art supplies. Your scraps of yarn can be turned into beautiful art and also work in conjunction with various art therapy programs within senior homes. 

Sell It

Do you have an extremely rare type or color of yarn that you know is valuable to other needlearts professionals? Think about selling your scraps of high-end yarn on Etsy, eBay or Craigslist. Be sure to include the dye lot in your posts though. You may have the exact skein someone needs to complete a project. 

Swap It

Make your scraps into a social gathering. Hosting a swap night is the perfect way to ensure your extra yarn will be put to good use, and may also help you obtain your friend's beautiful skein you've been eyeing for the past few months. If you're really trying to clean up your yarn stash, you can host but just give away rather than take any yourself.

Tags:  TNNANews 

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#NeedleStoresoftheWorld: The Yarn Stop

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, August 23, 2018

Did you miss our #NeedleStoresoftheWorld highlights? We’re back with an all-new feature as we continue to showcase all of the amazing stores TNNA members (that’s you!) run. Continue reading to learn all about Michigan’s The Yarn Stop.

 

Describe what The Yarn Stop does best.

Owned by Sam Gill and Mike Brunck, The Yarn Stop is a recent local award winner and offers a variety of yarns along with a supply of knitting and crochet accessories, as well as classes.

 

What makes The Yarn Stop unique?

The Yarn Stop offers strong competition to big box stores and the internet, with attention to personal service and creating a sense of community in the store. When a customer walks in the door, staff greet them and they see gorgeous skeins of yarn, of every hue and color. You almost HAVE to touch the yarn when you see it.

 

Share a fun fact about your store.

During our classes, we regularly have "dance breaks.” Our customers will stand and dance or “chair dance” as they knit or crochet.

 

Address

25 S Main Street

Clawson, MI 48017

 

Connect with The Yarn Stop

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Tags:  Needle Stores of the World  TNNANews 

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Branded Content on Facebook: Policies and Pitfalls

Posted By TNNA Editor, Thursday, August 9, 2018

By Sandi Rosner, Stitchcraft Marketing

In April 2016, Facebook rolled out its branded content tool as a way to streamline the collaboration between content creators and business partners. When this tool is used to tag a sponsoring brand on a post, both the creator and the sponsor are able view reach and engagement statistics, run the post as an ad, or boost the post. Over time, Facebook’s policies regarding branded content have evolved. In this post, we’ll look at how the current branded content guidelines apply to crafty businesses.

What is branded content?

Facebook defines branded content as content “produced by a publisher or creator for payment by a business partner, where the partner influences the content or is featured in it.”

Are you a publisher, a creator, or a business partner?

According to Facebook, creators are celebrities, influencers or public figures. Publishers refer to media companies and entities. Business partners include brands, advertisers, marketers or sponsors. So, if you are a yarn company working with a popular blogger to produce content for Facebook, you are the business partner and the blogger is the creator.

Must you use the branded content tool?

If you are receiving money or other compensation to post branded content, the simple answer is yes. As a creator or influencer, if you are being paid or if you are receiving free product in exchange for a Facebook post promoting a brand, Facebook requires you to use their branded content Tool to tag that post. Whether the post is a photo of your work in progress with a mention of the brand in the caption, an unboxing video, or a full-blown product review, if you’re being compensated, you must tag the post as branded content. Remember, an exchange of money is not the determining factor. If you are given free product with the understanding that you will post a photo on your Facebook Page, this is considered an exchange of value. That post needs to be tagged as branded content.

If you’re not being paid, and you weren’t given free product, then you do not need to use the branded content Tool. If you are a brand creating posts featuring your own products, you do not need to use the branded content tool.

If you are sharing content via your personal Facebook profile, you do not need to use the branded content tool. The tool is only applicable to Facebook Pages, or business accounts.

How does the branded content tool work?

You must first request access to the tool via the link here. You can only request access for Pages for which you are an administrator.

Once your access is approved (Facebook says within an hour), head over to your page and create a post as you usually would.

You’ll see a new icon at the bottom of the post that looks like a handshake: Click this icon to get a pop-up that lets you add the name of your business partner. You can also enable or disable your partner’s ability to boost your post or use it for an ad.

Your published post will look like this one, with the business partner’s name appearing after the word “with”.

Note that “Paid” appears next to the date/time stamp. If you boost the post or use it as a paid Facebook ad that Paid indicator will change to Sponsored.

If you are the business partner, you will receive a notification when you are tagged in a branded content post. Clicking on that notification will take you to the branded content section of your page.

You can review the post, share it on your own Page, view engagement and reach metrics, and boost the post if you like. You can also remove a branded content tag if you feel you were tagged in error.

If you tag a post as branded content, do you still have to disclose the business relationship?

Yes, you do. Use of the branded content Tool does not fulfil your legal obligation to disclose the commercial nature of a post.

How does Facebook enforce the use of the branded content tool?

Facebook’s systems scan posts for clues that branded content may be involved. If a post from your Page mentions that the content was “sponsored”, or that you were gifted the product, you may receive a notification like this:

“Hi,

A post shared by your page may go against our branded content policies. Our policies require that branded content is tagged using our branded content tool. Your content contains self-disclosure indicating that it is branded content, though it has not been tagged using our tool. If you'd like to post branded content, please tag your business partner using the branded content tool. Learn more about our Branded content policies here. If you think your content follows our guidelines, please let us know: Click here to appeal

Thanks, The Facebook Team”

Facebook won’t remove your post, but it will exclude it from users’ News Feed. It will still live on your Page. To restore the post to News Feed, you can add the appropriate branded content tag. You can file an appeal if you don’t think the branded content rules apply to your post.

You may also receive notification of a violation if your post does not comply with specific rules about the content of the post. Notably, you should not tag a Page or brand without their prior consent, and you must not accept compensation for posting content that you did not create and which does not feature you.

The pros and cons of branded content

As a brand, or business partner, the branded content Tool gives you easy access to data about how your influencer partnerships are performing. You can see reach and engagement stats for each post. You can easily repurpose the content as part of your Facebook advertising program.

As a content creator, the branded content Tool helps leverage your partnership with a company whose audience is similar to your own, and is likely to be interested in your content.

But the branded content Tool also gives Facebook more control over what content is seen and by whom. Facebook has two strong motives for clearly tagging branded content. First, branded content that is not supported by paid advertising may be displayed to users less frequently. Second, Facebook is in the midst of a campaign to regain users’ trust. As it tries to remind users of the reason they joined in the first place, branded content will likely take a back seat to videos of the grandkids’ birthday parties.

How can you make sure your content doesn’t get buried? Don’t be spammy. Be authentic. Speak to your audience as you would to a friend. The goal is to post content your customer thinks is worth sharing.

Stitchcraft Marketing can help you plan and implement an effective Facebook strategy as part of your overall social media marketing plan. Contact leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com for more information.

Tags:  Facebook  TNNANews 

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