I recently shared a blog post about how I became a dyer, which was a fun trip down memory lane. (You can read that post Here.) This week marks the fourth birthday of Sew Happy Jane as a hand dyed yarn business. Some of you may remember when SHJ was a sewing business and I made and sold all kinds of useful, pretty things for the home. When I started my business I had no idea that I would soon abandon sewing to become and knitter, followed by a spinner, followed by a dyer. I've evolved, but the name still makes me happy, so it stuck.
I certainly did not see the path winding its way to full time independent yarn dyer when I dyed those first, precious skeins of yarn at my kitchen stove back in 2015.
Fast forward to March 6th, 2017.
I remember sitting at my kitchen table getting ready for my very first webshop update. I was so nervous. I had a small pile of yarn and my hand made logo printed on regular old printer paper to wrap around my skeins. I had made a website on Big Cartel with about five or six colorways of sock yarn and the best (terrible) photos I could muster. My friends were cheering me on. I was certain I would Launch that update at 9am MST on a Monday morning and no one would buy my yarn. I knew there were approximately 3000 other independent yarn dyers who were far more popular and far more experienced than me. Who exactly did I think I was?
I took the leap anyway. After all, I had a job I loved, and I knew that I would continue teaching music to my beloved students whether or not people wanted my yarn. What did I have to lose? What did I have to gain?
As it turns out I did not have a "sell out" website update. Not even close.
But I did sell some yarn, and those sales were so precious to me. I cried as I saw the orders come through. (I cry a lot. I mean, really, a lot.) Once I was over the shock of selling my first precious skeins I realized I had no idea how to actually ship them. I ran around town trying to find shipping bags before I realized that people order them online. I don't even remember how I solved that problem, but I do remember that because I had wrapped the yarn in brown paper and sealed each order with washi tape I couldn't see what was in each little parcel as I was packing orders, and I criss crossed two of the orders.
Hand dyed yarn shoppers are the most gracious and kind humans known to man. Both parties were so understanding.
Over the years I've learned an awful lot. My business has evolved slowly. I remember thinking I should give up on many occasions because the competition is stiff, the learning curve is steep, and my maker heart is tender. I am constantly questioning myself, though admittedly less and less as I gather more and more experiences and lessons to store in my basket of wisdom.
In this, my fifth year as an independent dyer, I am able to call this a full time job and earn a full time living.
For that I am endlessly thankful.
For you I am endlessly thankful.
The learning will continue, and the lessons will be challenging. I'm pretty sure that's the thing I love most about this work. It's never final! I can grow and change and follow my whims and feed my maker soul as I travel this winding road.
I thank you from the bottom of my soul for being a part of the journey.
XX, Heather Jane