Today, Laurie Gonyea of Knit Outta the Box has graciously taken time out of her busy day to be interviewed on Knit1fortheRoad. I first met this dynamic designer at StitchesEast this year and bought one of her portable kits. We LOVE all knitty things portable! Gather round the knitting couch with your needles and java and enjoy!
Q. When did you come up with the concept of Knit Outta the Box and what inspired you to start that incredible journey of owning your own business?
A. The idea for
You are right in saying it’s an incredible journey! Everyday I’m learning something new about running my own business.
Q. Many of us are small business owners and we all have to learn how to juggle the responsibilities. What aspect of the business do you find the easiest for you and what part challenges you the most?
A. That’s an easy one. I find the creative aspect of it the easiest – surprise, surprise. Coming up with the packaging and patterns, was great fun. I loved researching for suppliers. I have met some wonderful people, many who have been more than generous in helping me launch my business. I don't love bookkeeping, so I've learned my lesson and hired a bookkeeper so that I can focus more on the design and marketing aspect of the business.
Q. Two of the qualities I admire most about your product and designs are your sense of color and clean design. Many of your designs have been featured in books, magazines and most recently, Interweave Knits. You’ve also gotten a much coveted write up in the What’s New section (page 13) of the Spring/Summer 2009 Vogue Knitting. When you see your kit or designs in print, what emotions do you feel?
A. I’m telling you, it is the biggest thrill! When Eunny Jang, from Interweave, called to say they would like to include my pattern in their Holiday Gifts issue we had a bad connection. I didn’t know who I was talking to, so I had ask. When she said, Eunny Jang, I just about died!. The call I’d been waiting for for months finally came and it sounded like I didn’t even know who they were! I was so embarrassed.
As for the Vogue mention, I had no idea! A friend of mine told me about it. Of course I immediately ran out and bought enough copies to send to everyone in my family.
Q. How thrilling! Many of our readers would like to know how you balance being a designer and business person. Do you have any techniques that you use to keep it all together?
A. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t been designing that much lately. This business has been pretty much all consuming. My family would probably take issue with the “keeping it all together” part, but I try to work only when my kids are at school. One thing I try to do every day is take a walk. I know that sounds corny, but I get a tremendous amount of thinking done on my walks. I always seem to have a million different ideas floating around in my head, and the walk helps me to prioritize.
Q. Who are your favorite designers and/or mentors? Do you have one of their projects on your needles right now?
A. I would have to say that my favorite designer is probably, Cheryl Oberle. I have attended her retreats out in Taos, NM for the past two years and they are amazing. She is an old soul who has an amazing gift of passing her serenity on to others. If you ever get the chance to attend one of her retreats, do it.
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t have a project going right now, but I did just finish the Whisper Cardigan, by Hannah Fettig, that was in the spring issue of Interweave. It’s a great pattern.
Q. Have you found that people in the knitting community have reached out to you along the way and offered advice, help and encouragement?
A. Yes! Annie Modesitt, bless her heart, passed my name along to a woman who was blogging about knitting kits. It turned out she is a small business consultant and we are now doing some work together. I also have a very close friend who owns, Woolwinders, a yarn store in Rockville, Maryland. I have used her as my sounding board from the beginning. She is the one who really convinced me that I had a great idea and that I should run with it. I keep telling her, after I make my first million, I’m going to split it with her!
Q. What inspires you most about your business to jump out of bed and get going?
A. Knowing that every day I’m one step closer to putting knitting in the hands of those who need and want it. I really want these kits to be in every hospital and airport in the country. I want them to be like chewing gum or a candy bar – when you need it you can easily find it!
I find it amazing that I have accomplished what I have in such a short amount of time. I’m not sure if I mentioned this to you, but I have only been selling my kits for 6 months and only came up with the idea at the beginning of last year. In fact, you were one of my first customers at Stitches in Baltimore.
I have to put a word in here about my family – my husband and my daughters, Callie and Gigi. They have been incredibly supportive, even though the Knit Outta the Box World Headquarters has taken over our basement! I certainly wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if I didn’t have their support. When I needed to stuff 1000 boxes, Callie called all of her friends over for a “stuffing party”. All I had to do was supply the pizza. That’s what I call cost efficient!
Q. Laurie, do you have any goals, new information, or dreams for your business and designs that you would like to share with the readers?
A. Actually, I’m in the process of introducing two new products to my line. One is a baby sweater kit and the other is a baby hat & booties kit. I find new inspiration for kits and products everyday, but you'll just have to wait and see!
I started this all as a way to fund my daughter's college education and everyday I say how lucky and blessed I am to be doing something I'm really passionate about.