“If you have a vision and nothing to lose then go for it – it may not always be easy, you might not quite know what you are doing half the time… but the feeling when you realise that others believe in your vision is magical.”
Brilliant new guest blog with Kate Sayer, Founder, Creator and Designer at Little Knitted Stars now live.
Design your life. Find your quirk. Break the rules.
I’m Kate and I run a small business called Little Knitted Stars, designing and making contemporary pure Lambswool machine knitted items to wear and for the home. I sell them on Not on the High Street, Etsy and at craft markets, and I also supply a number of independent retailers.
Before Little Knitted Stars, I lectured in Textile Design at The University of Manchester. In fact I ran that course that I studied on as a student! After I’d had my second daughter I was finding the commute into Manchester and back out in time for school pick up very tiring, and I was always in a rush. I really wanted the chance to use my design skills more and I had the idea that there must be something I could do with my knitting skills. I also wanted to be there for my small kids and do something that fitted better around looking after them. So I left my career, and set up Little Knitted Stars, initially making small crocheted items and a few machine knitted cushions. I didn’t imagine how things would progress.
I made my first knitted snood because I wanted one for myself, and after showing the image on social media I soon realised that they might be popular. I made a few and they sold, and they are now my most popular product! I’ve now expanded into hats, scarves, and mitts for women, men and kids – sampling ideas until I’d come up with something I was happy with, and often other people seem to like them too.
The first time I took part in a craft market I didn’t know what to expect. I had a couple of baskets of clips and hairbands and one or two cushions, and sold a couple of items, just about covering my stall cost. It now takes me an hour to set up all my knitted items, and I usually do much better (although it’s not unheard of to have a very bad market day!).
Getting onto Not on the High Street was a good example of winging it. As a curated website, you have apply to be a partner on the site. I had applied previously via the web, and had not been accepted. Then my good friend encouraged me to go to a ‘Pitch up’ event in which you had 10 minutes to have a interview with NOTHS staff. My initial reaction was ‘No Way!’ I’d already been turned down via the web, why would I put myself through a face to face rejection? However after some quick reflection (the deadline for applications was imminent) I decided that I was confident that my product was strong and I had nothing to lose, so two weeks later I put on my dungarees, striped top and red lipstick and headed off on the tram. I was accepted in under 5 minutes and an hour later I was back on the tram with the biggest smile on my face.
Running a knitted accessories business is very seasonal, very much weighted towards selling items in October – January. It can be hard to keep the faith in the quieter months, and to spend time creating new ideas and making stock out of season. For me, I now know that luckily there is a real demand for my knits and that I need to keep believing in this throughout the spring and summer months.
So my advice for anyone thinking about going it alone: if you have a vision, an opportunity and nothing to lose then go for it – it may not always be easy, you might not quite know what you are doing half the time and it might not always go as you planned, but the feeling when you realise that others believe in your vision is magical!
Find Little Knitted Stars at:
All images: Little Knitted Stars