So its "officially" winter now, which means even those of us stuck down south have begun to trade our shorts in for scarves. And amongst the piles of flannel and fleece and wool, usually lies a few die-hard staples that makes braving the cold a little worth it. Sometimes the best of these pieces are those handmade, locally, from friends or family.
Handmade, tightly woven, heavy knitwear holds the key to our frozen hearts every wintertime. It's a reliable source of warmth which will last you years and essentially never go out of style. Thus making it a glimmering market for crafters and a well chosen hobby for knitters. Some of us are lucky enough to have a local shop, good friend or sweet grandma on lock for our knitwear needs; others must face the turbulent sea of Etsy. Which lets face it, usually takes hours and hours to navigate (hurts so gooood).
But here at Bloom we care, and are going to help you save those precious hours, to say, refine your seasonal cocktail recipes. Because we've found the PERFECT knit beanie and scarf that'll last you years to come (seriously, my scarf is like six years old and still in perfect condish). PLUS you get to support a small, handmade business. Not a large, corporate department store. Enter: Rachel Fixed Handmade scarves, hats, and headbands, all customizable, in any imaginable color. All pieces are hand sewn by Rachel Bennett: A Florida bred, Brooklyn based babe who enjoys southern comfort, her cat Jolene, Dashboard Confessional (pre-Vindicated of course), and could probably kick your ass in a game of bowling *tall single cute boys need apply*.
While Rachel's craft is more for pleasure than profit, girl's been in the game for quite some time. Her hats and circle scarves are heavy, well woven, and oh-so-warm. Whether you're buying for yourself or someone else, def check out her shop this holiday season. For inquiries on customizable goods, email her at [email protected]. Really we could just let her beautiful knitwear do the talking, but couldn't pass up the chance to ask Rachel a few questions about the bizz, and making buzz in the competitive world of crafting.
How long have you had your business? I started out buying yarn because it was pretty and my boyfriend was like what are you doing with all this? So I taught myself how to use a knitting loom first, and then took a class on how to knit. This was in college around 2007. That's when I started my Etsy, and also sold on the FSU campus at the craft tables in the ... Quad?? Haha...
Where do you see ‘Rachel Fixed’ in next year, or even in the next five years? Or is this just solely a hobby? I would LOVE to stay home and knit everyday. If I sold enough to have to stay home and knit I would be thrilled. I would move back down to the south and sell online, and then in the winter go to craft fairs in NYC. Unfortunately, everyone is talented, a "crafter" and Etsy is sooo popular and there are so many people out there doing this and pricing things so cheaply.
Who are some of your favorite crafters, Etsy shops, inspirations, etc.? I have to admit that Yokoo is crazy awesome. I like prints on Etsy by Leah Goren, and other shops like helloharriet, Poison Apple Printshop, and redcruiser... I like mail art/sticker people too! Omg!
What opportunities has living in such a huge creative city as Brooklyn/New York City provided you and your crafting? Yarn is NOT affordable in NYC so I order online, but there are affordable classes to take to learn more & the craft fairs are amazing because Brooklynites and tourists are great customers for me- ESP in winter. I would love to get away and come back for just fairs. Also, I had the awesome opportunity to volunteer with Visions (a vision impaired facility in Chelsea) where you can teach them how to knit! I've volunteered there quite a few times and it's awesome! They're way more talented than me...
Aside from knitware, what other products do you make or would like to make? I make embroidered shoes on Etsy too and seem to be selling quite a few! I get the Maryjane style flats in all kinds of colors and then embroider things on the toes. It's fun! Especially when someone has their own unique idea, but I never get tired of embroidering cats!!
What is it like balancing a *highly necessary* day job, and your creative work? I'm not so big on going out so I don't mind knitting at home when I get off work, or on the weekends. It gets a little stressful when I'm leading up to a craft fair because I'd rather be home knitting than sitting at my office job. And the subway is too packed to knit on the train :( when there's a guy I like- I hardly ever get any knitting done. Haha!
Hobby or not, what advice would you give those out there interested in starting their own craft shop? Find something that no one else does because if you search "beanie" on Etsy there around about 7281949392 shops that come up and how is someone going to find you? Marketing yourself helps. Craft fairs are amazing venues. And never undersell your work because you take the time to buy all of these things- spending your money- and your time finding and purchasing the materials, and then making it. I don't keep track of how much I spend vs make because I think it will make me sad haha but if you want to be successful you gotta keep a handle on it.