So you want to take your hobby indie dyeing business to the next level and start a handdyed yarn business. You want to become an indie dyer.
First, re-think this. There are a lot of people wanting to become an indie dyer. Do you really want to make this into a full on business? Would you be happy keeping it as a hobby business? Where you don't have a commitment to deadlines, you can dye as and when you want. Do you have a stable job that you don't hate? Is that your main source of livable income? Is that your only source, meaning you don't have a partner who makes enough to support the both of you?
Why do I ask this and am not all "Live your dreams!" I ask this because I have been running Pigeonroof Studios for over ten years now. I started the beginnings when I was 24, and I'm 36 now. I am an extremely right brained person. I also lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the most expensive places to live in the country, and I lived alone.
I didn't ever mean to make it a full-time business, it just kind of morphed into one. When I started, Ravelry didn't exist. (I know! Can you believe it?) Etsy had just come into existence. What was around was blogs. I started spinning, inspired by them. Hello Yarn and Spunky Eclectic were the main indie dyers around then. I'm not sure that word, indie dyer, even existed yet.
I started seeing people experimenting with kool-aid dyeing, and I thought, that's cool. I had taken a couple of textile classes in college, and I just started playing around with it. From there it was a small step to what became a life!
I've had fun, and enjoyed myself, but it's also been hard, hard work. Hard work that can take the enjoyment away. Making mistake after mistake, getting in over my head and then getting out, not being a smart business owner (I'll have some guest posts on the nitty gritty business side.), going through serious life challenges, romantic and otherwise, and always, always working, working, working....and I was just barely able to pay my bills. Granted, I've become wiser about my spending habits at this advanced age, but my point is that there was never any wiggle room. And it was exhausting.
That was the main reason for me beginning a teacher training program for Pilates about four and a half years ago. I needed some steady income, something I could count on, and there really wasn't anything else I could do. I have a major in Printmaking, for pete's sake. Such a useful degree.
So I became a Pilates teacher. I love it and I'm good at it. Can I survive on it alone? No. However, that, along with moving to Portland, OR, gives me breathing room. It helps me have time for a life. I've started making art again because I literally can afford time now. And, something I never thought I'd feel, I can see Pigeonroof Studios turning into something else down the road, something that isn't dyeing yarn. (I have no idea what yet) This blog is one step on the journey.
However, you have your own journey to make, and I have a lot of experience in this industry and an obsession in learning about social media marketing, and if you're determined to go down this road, I don't want you to go blindly. So this blog will have interviews with indie dyers who have been doing it for some length of time, and have managed to create a sustainability for longevity. I am a terrible business person, so I will bring in guest posts-- or get information from people who are good business people-- for the practical financial side. With Instagram and Facebook and all other social media platforms, marketing your work outside of Ravelry is possible-- and necessary. So there will be posts about that. There is also customer service-- many a dyer has crashed and burned because they handled it so badly.
Let's face it. The market is saturated. If you're going to sell in this market, you need to do it with intelligence and integrity. This blog, hopefully, will help. I don't have all the answers, but I think we can find them.
note: there are a lot of questions about sources for supplies. I'm putting together an e-book that will be available soon.