What to do when you have a two-year-old in tow and a 7 month pregnant belly? Well, you launch your own online business of course!
Meet the woman who has single-handedly knit stitch after stitch, scarf after scarf, all the items in stock of Knits ‘n’ Bits.
I meet Jessica a few weeks after the launch of her new website, myknitsnbits.com. In just a year, she has managed to turn a few balls of wool into a full-blown online shop.
She uses all the time possible to build up each unique piece. While her two year old is at nursery she dedicates her full attention to the business. “Then every now and then, when the little one’s at home, I get to knit here and there, even if it’s just five minutes. For me this is the perfect balance between being a stay at home mum and having a career”, she tells me. “It still feels like a hobby to me, it’s not a chore, not yet at least.”
“It just comes so natural to me. Once I see or think of something I like, my mind goes on a roll – I think yarn, size – I don’t put it down on paper, I literally go home and put it down on needles.”
What motivates you?
“As is promised on the site, I put up new items weekly, so I give myself weekly targets, it makes me feel good to know what my objectives are. Some weeks are busier than others and it becomes harder to reach what I aim for but I’m lucky to have a very supportive husband. They go out for some father-daughter quality time and I get to finish.”
Investing in the right people
As she spoke, I noticed how passionate Jessica is about the people she chose to collaborate with from the creation of the KnB buttons, to the photos and the design of the website.
It took a while to find someone to go through with her idea of the buttons. She wanted them to be roughly finished and attached, with KnB that looks handwritten. “I want people to see that my items are handmade genuinely from the heart from start to finish, until the last sown stitches on the button.” At first all the big companies turned down her idea, then by pure chance, she made contact with a student. “He was away for a month, so I thought he wasn’t interested either. Then he got back and the day he saw my email, he replied and told me he’d work on it that same night and he’d buy some new equipment to make it happen. This is what I was looking for,” she said, “a can do attitude.”
The photos are taken by a talented woman who works in design and does this for a passion. The website was created by another stay at home mum who runs her own business from home. “If I pay someone, I’d rather invest in people like them.”, Jessica told me.
The biggest challenge so far is selling the items online. It would be much easier for people to understand the quality of each item when they get to touch a scarf, for example and try it on – get that original handmade feel first hand. The items sell themselves but of course it’s hard to show this on screen.
Then of course, if it booms, the next challenge would be finding the time to knit a bigger amount of items – small items take hours to make, and most of the other items take me days. Instead of disheartening her, she chimes in, “I can’t wait for the day I’ll need to put an advert up – Knitting Companion needed! It’d be great to be able to give this opportunity to other stay at home mums.”
She explains to me how hard it is nowadays to find someone who is interested in handicraft. Jessica’s father is Sicilian and having lived there for the first 10 years of her life, she recalls how needlework was part of the curriculum in Italy. Today’s education is moving away from handcraft and more into academics. Most people her age, have no idea of how to sew or knit. You could find a mother, or an aunt or a grandmother who can but the tradition is not passed on, so the art is dying out. Jessica would like to revive it with her products and also hopes to organize classes for children in the future.
“I still remember my Nonna Agata, in her house in Catania, knitting socks for me and my brother, to run around home in. I figure, if she could find time for knitting with nine sons and a husband, I can handle all of this.” Sweet nostalgia crossed with determination, I think to myself.
I went to meet the woman behind the business, the wife, the mother and then I realized she’s managed to amalgamate everything nicely – the thread of family and that of her business, knitted patiently and smoothly, one stitch at a time into a pretty cosy blanket.
More by the author – www.denisecassar.com