Leanne’s guest today is Chris Barnes, owner, and craftsman at Brittany Needles. Chris grew up in the business of knitting needles having taken over the business in 2013 from his parents who started the business 41 years ago. Chris’ model is becoming rare in the industry, so today we are chatting about the unique challenges of owning a family-based manufacturing business. Listen in to hear more about sustainability, business models, and social causes. Chris does just about everything the old fashioned way, except when it comes to yogurt!
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#1 Let’s give our listeners some context about Brittany needles and tell us a bit about your company and values. [2:10]
#2 How many employees do you have? [6:10]
#3 You’ve firmly held onto the idea that the brick and mortar retailer is the only customer you will sell to. How do you stay so solid in that choice? [8:40]
#4 Can you tell us about your decision process to sell to the independent retailer? [13:45]
#5 Another pain point for crafty entrepreneurs is pricing… especially with a hand-crafted product like Brittany needles. How do you determine a fair price for your products? [19:20]
#6 Do you see or experience people valuing artisanship with your product? [26:08]
#7 You are dedicated to producing an environmentally green product. You’ve got a new black walnut needle that is sustainably harvested. How did that product come to life? [30:33]
#8 Do you feel like moving towards environmentally conscious business is easier these days? [35:49]
#9 You also told me you’re very involved in social causes like Knitted Knockers– an organization we support at Stitchcraft that donates knitted prosthetics to mastectomy patients. Tell us about your donation to the programs in Rwanda and Kenya. [42:20]
#10 One of the questions I like to ask guests is to share one thing they still do the old-fashioned way. With you, I already know one thing you make is other cool things from wood– like making your own wooden boats! Tell us about that. [46:22]
#11 What don’t you do the old-fashioned way, or by hand? [51:53]