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Guest Blog – Setting Up My Creative Business

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I’m going to start off with a lovely photo of wool – put us all in a good mood ey?

These past few months have been a bit of a shock to me – there I was working in a dead-end call centre job, boozing at the weekend, knitting away happily, teaching lessons here and there and generally farting about and enjoying life. Then my local yarn shop (LYS) closed and all that was left was John Lewis.

As you’ll know John Lewis is ridiculously expensive but in terms of yarn the choice it’s very limited; you can either have Rowan, Rowan, Rowan or Debbie Bliss. I’m going to talk about this later but I have issues with expensive yarn brands so this certainly wasn’t for me. My LYS closing also meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to teach knitting lessons any more which is something I adore doing and a good, easy way to pay for a night out… It also meant that I didn’t have somebody who remembered all of my projects and that I could bounce ideas off. The Rowan staff at John Lewis are lovely but they’re too busy to remember little old me – an LYS is all about personal connection and I missed it.

I attend a knitting club on a Tuesday night and I love it there. The people are nice, the place (Lee Rosy’s) is nice, the atmosphere is nice, the tea is nice – I could gush about it all day although I might have to vary my adjectives a little… I love it too because that’s where I met my business partners. While my old LYS was still open a few of us talked about what we’d do if we owned a yarn shop – not that the LYS wasn’t lovely but there’s always something you’d do a little differently.

When she shut down her shop the talk got serious, one person dropped out and another joined in. It was scary and exhilarating to think that within a few weeks we could be doing what we’d been talking about for months – a really odd feeling maybe akin to getting married. There was a huge amount of discussion, you’ve never met three people more able to rabbit on that us and so many ideas thrown around that we’ve probably only put around 10% into practice nearly a year later! That’s a good thing though because I’m too run ragged at the minute to get mega creative with ideas.CN1

I’m proud to say that I was the partner who found the shop. The original idea had been to open in Victoria market like our previous LYS. Mostly, there’s always been an LYS in the market and at the time they had a deal for startups whereby you’d get 50% off the rent for the first six months which we thought was pretty mega. We applied and were accepted and that was going to be that. Until I went boozing one day on Mansfield Road – boozy nights out are where all my best ideas come from! I happened upon the shop as I was just around the corner from the Golden Fleece and fell a bit in love. I couldn’t see much through the grilles but it seemed perfect – nice and small, a simple shape, some lovely little rounded steps leading to the back and what looked like a storage area. So I took the number and arranged a viewing. Here’s a little photo of pretty much what we saw – though we’d moved in by that time so the ‘stuff’ is ours. You can see the cute round steps, aren’t they lovely!?

When we got in there the place was massive! The shop is tiny, but we have a little toilet, storage downstairs which is about three times as big as the shop and the best bit?! We have a CAVE!!! Ha! We had all sorts of ideas for this little cave – it was christened the Bat Cave and we thought we might, variously, store booze (of course…), dye yarn, have a TV and a sofa, a side business in bondage and much much more… It’s not come to much though, we mainly have the previous shop’s carpet and a few boxes in there. Maybe one day we’ll make it nice…

So that’s how the discussion started, all very creative and idealistic. Putting the ideas into practice was a little different – we had to be steady and controlled to make sure that we got the best deals for phone lines, electricity, rent etc. etc. – all the boring stuff. Luckily, I’m so tight we barely pay a thing. I think a lot of creative businesses fail because it’s all about the ideas, community, a little charity, a place for artists to get imaginative but not about being a successful business. It might go against an artiste’s ideals but I’m in this to make money – not tonnes – I don’t want to be Bill Gates but I do want a successful yarn shop for the good of the local crafters and it’s not in their interests for me to go bust. I wonder if that’s because what we do is craft rather than art? I define 027craft as making beautiful things for a purpose rather than for the sake of being beautiful. Utility is the key.

Now there’s something to ponder. With that I’m off – the next installment will be about moving in and what a nightmare it was (and I promise there’ll be more colourful photos)!

Eleanor,

Owner and Manager at Knit Nottingham.