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Something BIG is coming!

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 26, 2014
Updated: Thursday, June 26, 2014

Now in its second year, Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals compete to see who can spin the most yarn in a week! While the event itself is set for Oct. 6-12, TEAM REGISTRATION ENDS JULY 14. 

TNNA members, this is a great way to connect with hand spinners — and help them make some noise in the yarn universe and beyond.  

To host a team, you must be a member of TNNA's Spinning and Weaving Group. Once you have registered, you will receive a welcome packet full of information about how to make the most of this unique event. For more information, visit Spinzilla's Host a Team page at 

Get regular Spinzilla updates on social media with these hashtags: #spinzilla #handspinning

Tags:  contest  spinning  Spinzilla  weaving 

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Business Best Practices: Are You Ready for Your Close-up?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The mother-and-daughter duo of Sherry Cody and Bonnie Varney, co-owners of Needlepoint This! in Dallas, recently appeared on a local TV show called Good Morning Texas. (The segment is available online here.)


After a commercial break, Bonnie was able to demonstrate a basic ribbon embroidery stitch (available for viewing here).


Sherry and Bonnie agreed to a Q&A with TNNA to share their experience with fellow members:

TNNA: Congratulations on becoming TV celebs! How did this on-air appearance come to be?

NT: Thanks! One of our customers, Shannon Powell Hart, works for Good Morning Texas. The producers from the show had been brainstorming segments, and the topic of needlepoint came up. They realized they had never featured a needlepoint shop before, and because Shannon knows us, she called and asked whether we would be interested. Naturally, we said yes.


TNNA: How long of a process was it from the initial "Sure, we can do a segment" to the actual airing?

NT: Not long at all. They contacted us on a Thursday afternoon, and we appeared on the show the following Monday morning.


TNNA: How did you decide on what to say, and even on what to bring down to the TV studio?

NT: We tried to feature a variety of artists, threads, stitching techniques and finishing options. Most of what we brought were our samples from the store, but we also asked customers and friends to help us out. We did try to prepare what to say but — live TV! — we did end up answering many questions off the top of our heads. 


TNNA: What has the response been like?

NT: We have had quite a few phone calls, and new Facebook friends. The yellow Voila! bag with the Zecca strap we featured (pictured below) has been especially popular. Hopefully it continues to boost not just our business, but business for the shops across the country.


TNNA: Looking back on the process, do you have any advice for your fellow association members interested in doing something similar in their local market?

NT: As long as you feel comfortable in front of the camera, go for it! If you don't think as quickly on your feet, maybe try for a pre-taped segment instead of a live shoot.

It has been so nice to hear, not just from our customers (old and new), but from other retailers and designers, that people have enjoyed the segment or learned something new. It was a fun experience that we would encourage anyone to go for if they have the chance!


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Tags:  advertising  business  counted thread  craft  Dallas  embroidery  marketing  merchandising  needlearts  needlepoint  needlework  outreach  retail  stitching  The National NeedleArts Association  TNNA  TV 

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Hart answers TNNA attendee questions

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 16, 2014

India Hart WoodAt last weekend's TNNA Winter Trade Show, India Hart Wood of Hart Business Research answered questions at the TNNA booth, and gave presentations on the new business tools and market summary from TNNA’s State of Specialty NeedleArts 2013 study at the group meetings.

"I exchanged ideas with a lot of designers, retailers, and suppliers, and posted the answers to a few major questions on Hart’s blog, based on some quick additional analysis of the study’s survey data,” Wood said.

Visit the blog for answers to the following: 

Wood gave information and got back ideas and inspiration, noting that, for example, "One brave at-home mom, whose husband recently died in a car wreck, was planning to start a yarn store in March and had already taken college and TNNA business classes to maximize her success. We talked about startup retailer challenges and TNNA study data that would help her business grow. Talk about 'leaning in'!”
TNNA members can access the full TNNA State of Specialty NeedleArts 2013 industry study at
TNNA is pleased to be able to offer to its members a resource like Hart Business Research, which has 12 years of experience in marketing research for the needlearts and other creative industries. The Boulder, CO-based firm is also a partner in TNNA's Business Innovation Awards program.

Tags:  crochet  cross-stitch  Hart Business Research  knitting  needlepoint  TNNA 

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Business Best Practices: Competition, by Design

Posted By Administration, Friday, December 20, 2013
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By Chuck Wilmesher

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.

Chuck Wilmesherskacel 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 others.

The Fiber Factor LogoThe 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 addi brand;

· build sales for retailer customers; and ultimately,

· sell more needles and yarn!

Beyond, 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.

Screen shot

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.

Tags:  business  contest  crochet  Designer/Teacher Section Chair  Fiber Factor  Hart  knitting  needlearts  reality TV  retail  skacel  TNNA  Wilmesher  Wood 

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Business Best Practices: Taking Window Displays to New Heights

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 1, 2013

By Theresa Swiecicki

Note: Theresa Swiecicki owns Homestead Needle Arts LLC, 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.

Earlier this year, Homestead Needle Arts moved 1 mile from its more than 20-year-old location to the Grand Ridge Galleria in Grand Blanc, MI. One of the attractions of the new location was that the new storefront is made entirely of glass. Including the doorway, the suite is fronted by 20 ft. of glass. In addition, there is an existing 9x18-in. ledge left by the contractor in front of the 14-ft. window.

The new shop opened during late February, 2013. A coffee and bagel shop is located to the north side of it and an upscale Italian restaurant on the opposite side. With plenty of walking traffic, I knew I needed an attractive window display — PRONTO! My husband, Mike, is very handy, but this innovation can be done by anybody with minimum carpentry skills willing to spend some time on it. A shop owner can also contract out the minimal building portion and will also need a catalog for store hardware.

Front-window flooring

First, I took Mike to a store that had a floor near the window so he could see the type of area I wanted. I asked him for an 18-in. wide floor approximately 18-in. high. He decided to cover the existing 9x18-in. ledge rather than remove it, and built a "box" that covers that ledge that included three panels to access the space within. This way, I could store small holiday decorations or other rarely used items. I say "small" because I only ended up with about 9x18 in. of 14-ft.-long storage space!

We painted his creation white to match the woodwork in the shop, and we covered the top with a large strip of leftover carpet remnant. Mike braced the "flooring" so that I could stand on it when arranging the window display. It also meant the flooring was safe if a visitor (especially a curious child) attempted to sit or stand on it.

This innovation is simple to recreate by purchasing plywood and building boxes of it that will fit under your shop windows. Simply measure the area you want the flooring, making sure that the height will be proper for your window. Keep in mind what kind of items you'll be displaying. For example, a miniature Christmas tree will not look good near the bottom of a window. If you usually set it on a table, make sure that your flooring is large enough to support that table in front of your window.

Although my flooring had to stretch the length of the shop, many shops could have smaller windows and could create small "boxed floors." You might want to make the boxes removable so that you can change your display. Mine are actually fixed to the walls. If making them removable, you'll need to be sure that they are sturdy and safe.

Covering it with carpeting to match the shop floor makes the front display blend in on the inside of the shop. We used double-sided sticky carpeting tape to hold the carpeting to the plywood. It's a two-person job to get it straight when you have 14 ft. to cover!

If you don't have carpeting, paint or cover the wood to match your existing flooring. You can cover it with a heavy fabric. Because plywood tends to snag items, I'd suggest you cover it with something rather than just painting or staining it. If the front of your "box" is left open, you can store plastic bins or odd-shaped items under it. Because I have a couch facing this area, however, I didn't want it left open. As seen in the photo at right, each of the three white wooden panels open to reveal storage space behind it. Simple hardware clips hold the panel in place, and each panel completely removes for access to the storage space.

Front-window wire merchandise racks

I had been researching store hardware catalogs, and showed Mike that the existing wire racks I use for merchandise on the walls can also stand on their own to display merchandise. Hardware is available to turn the racks into stand-alone units, but Mike wanted to build the "feet." We turned my extra wire racks into store window displays just by flipping them vertically and putting feet on them!

The racks and all hardware can be purchased locally if the shop owner has an available store supply warehouse in their area. If not, they can be purchased online — although you will want to ask about shipping costs. When buying just a few, shipping can usually be done via UPS. I've used both local suppliers and an online vendor, My local store supply warehouse has used supplies, which can help keep things budget-friendly.

I can easily lift the window racks up and down from the window flooring to change the window display every two to three weeks. After all, browsing customers like to see a fresh window display.

The merchandise is not harmed by sunlight, as the glass was already tinted by the previous building owner to prevent sun fading and they only hang there for two to three weeks. It's also not harmed by the hanging, as it is hung for display in the same way on the walls: with simple clips. Because it is so easy to change the window display, minor holidays can now be celebrated with decorations in the window.

At this time, I have four window racks. The side of the rack facing the shop also has other merchandise hung on it. This has increased the amount of available merchandising space in my shop:

• Framed class pieces are hung on the racks with a simple S hook.

• Class information is easily hung on the racks.

• Finished and unfinished tote bags, purses and belts have been hung.

• I even featured a chair stitching stand and project to show exactly what the needlepointer's set-up looks like.

Getting noticed

Pedestrians slow down to browse the window display regularly, and I’m finding that several have come in, joined our mailing list and even signed up for classes. Our March 2013 income stayed steady compared to March 2012 income. Within two months of the display, our revenue had increased by 18 percent and continues to grow.

The owner of the Italian restaurant has taken the time to tell me that the window displays are "very attractive," and he really appreciates having me for a neighbor. My new landlord has repeatedly told me he loves my window displays and that my shop is "exactly what he wanted in his mall." I'm thrilled to have a great working relationship with my new landlord, and also thrilled to know he appreciates having me here. It feels great to know that my neighbors want me here, too.

Many of my regular customers take the time to browse the window display before coming in. A recent display charmed one of my regulars so much she asked me to take it out to purchase. (I was happy to oblige!)

I'm making sure to ask new shoppers what drew them into the shop, and many of them have told me that it was the display in the window. They don't see all of it at once, but if they see something that catches their eye, they are likely to visit and find out more information. Because this is typical of the way people browse a window, I like to put several different topics in the window when I do the displays.

The class information in the window does not seem to attract as much attention as the painted canvas does. Even the finished projects attract less attention than the painted canvas. However, once the person comes in the door, classes and finished projects play a central role in keeping their attention.

In fact, "Do you have classes?" is the No. 1 question I hear from people who decide to come in and take a look. As a result, class participation has increased dramatically. Beginner classes in particular are turning casual window shoppers into bona fide students and regular customers.

Overall, I'm thrilled that the window display grabs the attention of passers-by, especially when so many of them follow up by entering the shop. The minor improvements to the front window have paid off daily, as people come in and ask questions, take a class schedule flyer, sign up for our email newsletter and browse the shop. Any time I can talk to a potential customer about needlepoint is a chance to make a new customer.

I firmly believe that any shop owner with windows in their shop should be able to create a vibrant and easy display by building boxes to raise their floor level to window or visual height. Using simple racks covered with merchandise is a great way to capture attention regarding your shop, especially when the merchandise is as eye-catching as a needlepoint painted canvas.

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Tags:  Business Innovation Awards  display  Hart Business Research  Homestead  marketing  merchandising  needlearts  needlepoint  retail  Swiecicki  The National NeedleArts Association  TNNA  window 

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