03 Apr Standing Out in a Crowded Crafting Community
Increased coverage of crafting’s many benefits has stimulated growth in the crafting community, which is a boon for business but may leave you feeling like you are drowning in a sea of similar offerings. It is critical to create a unique presence that enables your business to stand out among the throng so that consumers not only find you, but also actively seek you out.
Foundational components are integral to success. The first focus should be on discovering your business identity, then developing and strengthening the personal voice of your business so that you can effectively target your unique consumers. Once you have built this sturdy foundation, there are several tactics you can employ to fortify your business strategy.
Stay On Top Of Trends
Subscribe to relevant crafting blogs like Craft Gossip to keep abreast of the latest trends in crafting. With coverage of everything from sewing to scrapbooking to felting and quilting, Craft Gossip is a valuable resource for staying on top of trends.
Look to Pantone to discover the Color of the Year, as well their color forecasts for the seasons. Whether subconsciously or not, a lot of the color fads within the crafting community are directly affected by Pantone’s forecasts. You can stay ahead of these color trends and plan your offering to feature them, which will fit your aesthetic into the zeitgeist.
Keep an eye on Ravelry’s Hot Right Now list, which is an effective barometer not just of popular garments and accessories but also of trending designers. For example, right now Caitlyn Hunter and Andrea Mowry are two designers with large followings who consistently make the HRN list. They have both embraced bold, vibrant multicolor knits and crop-top silhouettes, which are some of knitting’s hottest trends at the moment. Another regular on Hot Right Now is Midori Hirose, a Japanese designer who champions boxy, oversized, drop-shoulder pullovers, which are also appreciating a resurgence in popularity.
As you’ll see below, trends—both those in the crafting community and the world at large—factor into several effective strategies and are potent tools you can wield to forge a striking presence that sets your business apart.
Mutually Beneficial Alliances
Once you’ve discovered your business identity, it’s time to seek out likeminded crafters to link up with. A mutually beneficial relationship can bolster sales for everyone involved, while also leading to additional exposure on both sides.
Bijou Basin Ranch paired their yarn bases with beloved indie dyers, creating custom yarns in exclusive colorways. It should be noted this smart strategy also employs our first tactic from above, as indie dyers are another hot trend in the fiber world. This past winter String Yarns developed a relationship with Artyarns that produced limited edition colorways in three of Artyarns’ most popular bases. For fans of these yarn companies, owning a one-of-a-kind skein is enough to encourage a purchase.
Mason-Dixon Knitting have made alliances a regular component of their business. Each season they produce their wildly popular Field Guides, which feature either a prevailing trend like stripes or colorwork or focus on a singular designer’s aesthetic, as with their recent Field Guide with Isabell Kraemer. They also have recurring blog features offering tips, advice, and insight from some of the best minds in crafting, like Patty Lyon’s Ask Patty column and Sonya Phillips’ monthly Wear What You Make series.
Aligning your business with a successful peer is a smart strategy for growing your consumer base. If the contemporary you join forces with is someone who is also sensitive to trends in the community, it fortifies both your efforts even more.
Catch Some Coattails
There is nothing wrong with riding on the back of a hot moment in the crafting world. Tiny Owl Knits’ Beekeeper’s Quilt is still one of the most popular modular blanket patterns on Ravelry, with almost 10,000 projects and counting. Worked in small scraps of Koigu KPPPM, it’s a great pattern for using yarn leftovers. When Jimmy Beans Wool witnessed the pattern skyrocketing up the HRN list, they immediately saw an opportunity. While many knitters were creating their hexipuffs from scraps, Jimmy Beans Wool smartly linked up with Koigu (see Mutually Beneficial Alliances above) to create Beekeeper Mini Skeinette Grab Bags. Each hexipuff requires only 15 yards of yarn, so JBW’s grab bags offered knitters an opportunity to play with several different colors without having to buy full-size skeins. They also packaged the entire project as a kit, with patterns, skeinettes, needles and finishing materials included.
Drea Renee introduced her Find Your Fade shawl in 2016 and it’s been a phenomenon in the knitting world ever since. She created the shawl using seven colors of Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles, but Miss Babs saw the perfect set of circumstances for her own unique brand of hand-dyed yarns. She carefully curated Fade sets of seven skeins each in her existing colorways, and also created special edition sets. Knitters can purchase her sets and relieve themselves of the pressure of choosing seven different colors of yarn.
Riding the coattails of a popular project in crafting is a smart method of heightening your consumer visibility and creates additional opportunities for aligning your business with beneficial peers.
Fandoms offer a direct line to consumers’ most cherished interests. More deeply rooted than a passing phase or trend, fandoms are often tied to a powerful, intrinsic sense of identity. Positioning your business offerings within a set of fandoms can reinforce your customer base.
For the last three years, the Yarnover Truck has paired up with indie dyers and designers to create “nerdy themed” Yarn Clubs. They curate several kits that each offer one knit and one crochet pattern, indie dyed yarns, and accessories. Their 2018 kits featured the Disney movie Tangled, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hamilton: An American Musical, Star Wars, Firefly, and Dr. Who. For 2019 they started with Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove, Sex and the City, and Star Trek. The scope of their fandom coverage is excellent and appeals to a wide range of crafters.
Indigodragonfly designed a similar Geek Club in 2016, which offered four yarn shipments for the year in four different themes: Dr. Who, Star Trek vs. Star Wars, Whedonesque Realm, and Pop Pourri. Jimmy Beans Wool created a similar fandom-inspired yarn offering via monthly, limited edition skeins of Lorna’s Lace Shepherd Sock Yarn, tying colorways to Downton Abbey, Harry Potter, Twilight, the Hunger Games, and even the Royal Wedding. It’s proven effective for them since 2007—the exclusive skeins consistently sell out each month.
Slipped Stitch Studios’ produces project bags, pattern holders, and other crafting accessories with focused themes. In the past she has offered sets celebrating Star Wars, Outlander, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Harry Potter, and Marvel Comics, but she also takes advantage of broader popular themes such as a love of cats, dogs, sheep, and owls.
Appealing to cultural touchstones helps create enduring fans for your own business. It forges an indelible link between your business identity and the personal identity of your customers.
If you need more information on how to make your business stand out in the crafting community contact Leanne at Stitchcraft Marketing here.