Tag «knit picks»

Episode 34: How to Source Yarn (Inexpensively) for Your Business

I’m talking about ways to source yarn inexpensively (or for free) for your yarn-related business in this week’s episode. This topic was suggested by Beate from Patterns Tried and True.

Getting your yarn for less (or for free) can have a huge impact on your profits as a yarn related business! In this episode, I’ll be sharing 4 ways to source your yarn for less money.

The 4 ways are:
1) Establish a wholesale, maker, or professional crafter account with a yarn company
2) Apply for yarn support for your crochet and knitting patterns
3) Shop for discounts
4) Use discontinued yarns

Not every one of these ways will be right for your business, but hopefully one or more is!

By the way, I know nothing about the world of spinning (sorry spinners!), so I don’t share any resources for fleeces or roving. If you’re a spinner and know more about discounted options, let me know so I can update this page!

Establish a wholesale, maker, or professional crafter account with a yarn company
Many yarn companies will establish wholesale, maker, professional crafter, or teacher accounts with indie businesses who aren’t yarn shops. There may be a lower order minimum for these smaller vendors than for a yarn shop, and the yarn prices will be substantially below retail..

In general, your business will need to have a tax ID and permission to collect sales tax through your state to take advantage of these discounts. If your business isn’t already formalized and you are located in the U.S., you may want to check out the Small Business Administration Learning Center or contact SCORE for advice and mentoring.

If you’re a dyer, you may want to check out Henry’s Attic. Although I haven’t worked with them directly, I’ve heard good things about their yarn. (Full disclosure: I previously worked with Galler Yarns, which is owned by the same family.)

Red Heart’s contact page has more information about establishing a professional crafter account. You can also reach out to your favorite yarn companies through the website contact page and ask if they provide discounts to makers, teachers, dyers, or whatever your type of business is.

Apply for yarn support for your crochet and knitting patterns
Yarn companies will often provide “yarn support” to designers/authors who are creating samples in their yarn. Typically, the company will provide the yarn at no cost (or at a substantial discount) in exchange for being listed as the only yarn in the pattern and/or on Ravelry.

Some yarn companies will only provide yarn support for patterns that are published by third parties (i.e., magazines or traditionally published books), while others also provide yarn support for independently published (i.e., self-published) patterns.

If you’d like to pursue yarn support for upcoming designs, reach out to yarn companies and ask about their process for requesting yarn support. Some companies have a form to complete while others want to see a magazine-style design submission with a sketch, swatch, and description. There are also companies comfortable with just a description of the design and a link to your Ravelry designer page. Knit Picks has a great webpage explaining their Independent Designer Partnership (IDP) Program. If you like working with independent yarn companies, check out the Yarnie/Designer Connection Thread in the Designers group on Ravelry.

To maintain your relationship, remember to notify the company when your pattern is published. It doesn’t hurt to mention the company when you announce or share the pattern on social media, either.

I maintain a spreadsheet with contacts at the different yarn companies that I have worked with (or plan to work with in the future) for yarn support, and I include notes on whether they support independent designs, too, or only third-party publications.

Shop for discounts
If these formal methods for sourcing yarn inexpensively don’t work for you, another option is to shop for discounts. Perhaps your business isn’t formalized or your portfolio is small. Shopping for discounts on currently available yarns is another way to save money. Sign up for the email lists of big box stores and local yarn shops in your area, as well as for the major online yarn sellers, like WEBS, Jimmy Beans, and Loopy Ewe. Although you are still paying retail prices, you will be still be able to buy the yarn at a discount.

Use discontinued yarns
Discontinued yarns are often available at a substantial discount. While some designers may find that pattern sales will suffer if their samples are made with discontinued yarns, makers may find that their customers aren’t concerned about using a yarn that is no longer in production. Another challenge of working with a discontinued yarn line or color is that you may only have access to a limited range of colors and it can be difficult to match dye lots. Smiley’s Yarns is a shop that specializes in selling discontinued yarns at a deep discount.

Do you have other ways of saving money on yarn costs for your business? Leave a comment at http://creativeyarnentrepreneur.com/34, Tweet me at @cyeshow, add me to your G+ circle and send me a note, or leave a message at 646-713-8973. (You can call me for free through the Contact page.)

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