Yarnpreneur Profile – Toni Lipsey

Her Website: http://www.tlyarncrafts.com/
Her Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/tlyarncrafts

JM: Tell us a bit about your business.

TL: I started TL Yarn Crafts in 2013 after tinkering with crochet and crafting for over over 10 years. In the 4 years that I’ve been up and running, the focus of TLYC has moved from finished accessories and home goods to crochet education through patterns, video tutorials, and workshops.

Some of my favorite pieces that I’ve designed are my State Love pillow patterns, the Queen Cowl, and my first love, the Mega Pom Beanie. My patterns can be found on my website, www.TLYarnCrafts.com, and on Etsy and Ravelry. My video tutorials are part of the new TL Yarn Crafts TV on YouTube, as well as my Skillshare channel.

JM: Why did you start your business?

TL: ​The easy answer of why I started my business is that my entire family had enough beanies to last a lifetime. But in all honesty, TL Yarn Crafts was formed to give me an outlet for creative expression and a chance to connect with others. By the time my husband encouraged me to jump feet first into entrepreneurship, I had been teaching crochet to my co-workers and making custom orders for a couple years already.

I started my Etsy shop, snapped some photos, and was on my way. But I didn’t get the fulfillment I was looking for until I started doing craft shows and joined local creative and business groups. I got to meet so many diverse artists and makers, each with their own stories and perspectives. The creative community was and still is a great source of inspiration and support for TL Yarn Crafts.

JM: What is your favorite thing about being a yarnpreneur™?

TL: ​I love the freedom of being a yarnpreneur. Being a crocheter or knitter already gives you infinite possibilities to turn yarn into anything, but adding the business aspect activated a whole different part of my brain. I’ve watched TL Yarn Crafts grow and evolve over the last few years into a brand focused on educating and encouraging those creative pursuits, all by marrying business and craft.

JM: What is your least favorite thing about being a yarnpreneur™?

TL: ​As with any creative profession, there are seasons of overflowing ideas and abysmal ruts. Occasionally, I’ll find myself completely uninspired, usually because I am distracted by some aspect of my business ​or my personal life. I might sit in my studio for a few hours, just staring at my yarn stash and willing a bright idea to come my way. It is a disheartening experience, but after dealing with this off and on since TLYC’s inception, I’ve found ways through it.

I usually will look through fashion magazines, do some discovery on Instagram, or visit a local museum or gallery. The best way out of a design rut is to find something that inspires you. I’ve gone so far as to make a list of things to do and places to visit that reignite my creativity me during these tough times.

JM: What would you tell (or what advice would you give) someone that wants to be a yarnpreneur™?

TL: ​One of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a creative business owner was to set clear boundaries regarding projects that I would and wouldn’t take on. In the early years, I had little focus, and was often requested to complete projects I had no interest in. At the time, I thought any business was good business. Now that my time is stretched a bit thinner and I have a clearer focus on my brand, I’m more selective with the custom orders I take on and the events I am part of. I find that I am much happier with TLYC when I am holding the reins. ​

JM: What do you wish you had done differently when you first started your business?

TL: ​I can’t say that I would have changed much about how I started TL Yarn Crafts – every step and stumble has contributed to where I am now. I do wish I’d incorporated the education aspect of my business earlier, as that is what is most fulfilling for me. ​It took some time for me to realize that, but I’m glad I did eventually.

JM: What’s next for you and your business?

TL: ​My largest project right now is building a library of resources on TL Yarn Crafts TV and my Skillshare channel. ​I find so much joy in seeing others share what they’ve learned from my tutorials. Aside from that, I continue to design patterns, teach crochet at my local yarn shop, and coordinate my new crafty meet-up, the Columbus WIP Society. It’s always a fun and exciting time at TLYC.


 

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