Tell us a little bit about yourself and your brand.
I'm Gianna, a student and knit & crochet designer in my 20s. I am from the North Shore of MA and I have been knitting and crocheting since elementary school, giving me 15 years of experience in both of these art forms. Rather than work off of patterns, I have always preferred to think up an idea on my own and pick up my yarn and get right to work. I really enjoy conceptualizing an idea and bringing it to life straight from my imagination.
Lately, over the past few years, I have been knitting and crocheting clothing garments and accessories, and the design-to-completed process of these is especially challenging and rewarding since it requires an understanding of clothing construction that I have been working on perfecting. Last year in March 2020 I leaned into my design process for a classic cardigan design and opened up my shop to custom orders for this item. I have now made dozens of this design by hand in the last year, and with each one I enjoy honing my craft. Since I am a self taught designer, I make notes with every version and revision to the pattern, and work off of them the next time to improve the garment's fit, construction, and production efficiency.
What inspired you to start your brand or craft?
I was taught by my grandmother to both knit and crochet, and later joined a knitting club in elementary school where one of my teachers helped me to practice the basics after school. I have been practicing and creating throughout the years, and then in August 2018 I took the leap to make a business out of this pastime. I wanted to share my creations publicly with the initial goal of recouping enough to cover the cost of my supplies. Nearly three years later I have loved connecting with other businesses on Instagram and Etsy, the primary platforms for my business, as well as connecting in person with other businesses in the Boston area.
How did you come up with the name of your company?
I began my business by doing a mix of bracelet making and knitting, actually! I have loved making clothing and accessories side by side since childhood so it made sense to name my business something with both "knits" for knitting and yarn work and "strings" for bracelets. Now, I am mostly working with yarn but that name still feels applicable as I often crochet with very thin "string"-like yarn. Even if I am not always making bracelets anymore, the name still fits!
What does an average day look like?
I typically work on 3-4 projects in a given day. There are days when I dive into one project and get completely wrapped up in a new design I am working on, or a custom order if I am meeting a deadline, but I really do try to keep my work varied so I don't get bored working on one design over and over! In fact, to do this most effectively I always try to have at least one knit and one crochet project going on at the same time so I can switch back and forth. It helps keep me engaged with it and also prevents any overuse for the muscles used to either knit or crochet.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I enjoy the physical knitting and crocheting the most of all, as it keeps my hands busy, acts as a relaxation activity, and provides me instant gratification when I see a project grow or be completed. Over the past year, I also grew to really enjoy developing my social media presence and engaging with other businesses and makers on Instagram, and I have enjoyed making meaningful connections with other customers and creators digitally as well!
When you’re creating do you have a person in mind?
I make all things that I would and do enjoy wearing! Whether it is a light summer top or a chunky knit sweater for winter I like it to be comfortable and have a bit of drape as that is the style I am trying to achieve. That being said, my vision is not hyper-specific so I believe that any person of any style or body type would enjoy wearing my pieces and look great wearing them.
When was your business founded and how has it evolved over time?
This is similar to my business's name evolution, but I began making more jewelry and now work almost exclusively with yarn. Another change my business has undergone is that in August 2018 I began by selling exclusively pre made items and in early 2020 I transitioned over to accepting more custom orders. Now my business is largely centered around custom orders for my designs made specifically for a customer's measurements and specifications. I really enjoy working with customers to create their vision, so these custom orders have quickly become my favorite!
Are there any challenges that you’ve had to overcome?
It was challenging at first to find the place that my business fit, especially in the world of the Instagram crafty community where there are several niches. Especially when I was making jewelry I was trying to fit into a niche of affordable, pre made jewelry and over time I realized that this was neither what I enjoyed making most, nor what would be most successful for my business. Now I am very happy working on these custom order clothing pieces based on my own designs and the process of working with customers and creating something that they have designed and love is incredibly fulfilling. Realizing that my products and business model were not for every customer was challenging at first, but once I poured my efforts into focusing on my true niche--custom, made by hand, clothing-- I have found more success and much more happiness making what I love!
What is one piece of advice you have for a female entrepreneur just starting out?
Keep putting yourself out there! Whether it is attending markets to try and promote your products or sell in person, or beginning a business on an online platform like Instagram, keep posting and your audience will find you.
Let us know where we can follow you.
You can find me on Instagram and Etsy, at @knitsandstringsshop for both! Heading into the fall I will be releasing more home accessories so stay tuned for that!