Today, I'm happy to say, is DianaCouture Interview Day! Time to forget about snow, winter blahs and projects due. It's happy time here at knit1fortheroad. Gather 'round the knit/crochet couch, grab a grande mocha and get ready for an inspiring interview. I have to add that I have two of Diana's Owl project bags and it's crazy love for these adorable, well made and functional bags around here.
Q. Welcome Diana! I’m so glad that you’re taking time out of your busy day for this interview. We are all huge owl fans here, so please tell us about your fabulous Yarn Owl knitting project bags and what inspired you to make them?
A. Hi Marg, Thank you for your interest in my shop!
As a knitter myself, I noticed a lot of bags for knitting/crochet that didn’t seem practical. For example, with most yarn holders, the yarn cannot be removed until the project is complete or the yarn is cut. Several styles are made of hard plastic or stiff material which makes it difficult to throw a project in a bag and carry it along with you.
I wanted to make a yarn holder that didn’t hold my yarn hostage for the duration of a project or take up too much space. I developed the idea of the overlapping flaps. When the flaps are closed, I thought the top looked like an owl face and thus the name, Yarn Owls. As my yarn holders sit by me while I knit…and travel with me on a strap (like a pet)…it was easy to imagine them as having personalities. I like to think of my owls flying to their new owners via first-class mail and nesting in their yarn baskets. I always hope the new owner will love their Owl(s) as much as I do mine.
Those of us who knit on the go know the value of having a bag or a yarn keeper that is the right size for its purpose. The smallest Owl will keep a cake or small skein of yarn tangle free without taking up extra space in a bag. The medium sized Yarn Owl can hold larger skeins like the Patons Classic Wool, or is the perfect size for a small skein/ball and a sock or other small project in progress. The tall size is for longer skeins, but it also works as a project bag and provides great storage for small projects that are being worked up on longer needles.
Q. I like your thinking! One of the things I always notice with any Etsy shop, besides the wonderful items, is the shop feedback. Customer satisfaction is so key in any business. How have you accomplished this balance?
A. I love what I do! I love my customers! Making money, although extremely important for eating and buying fabric and yarn, is not the main reason I do what I do.
I treat my customers like I want to be treated when shopping on line. I guarantee workmanship and quality, strive to be accessible to my customers and always send an e-mail when an order ships. It is a pleasure to receive feedback or e-mails letting me know the Owls have reached their new homes and their new owners are excited to have them.
Q. Diana, your love of design and craftsmanship is so apparent to anyone who visits your shop. I noticed you have majored in fashion design. Is there a teacher or mentor from school or in your everyday life that really fuels your passion for design?
A. Thank you for the compliment! I am fortunate in that I teach part-time in the Fashion Design department at the University of North Texas (my alma mater), where I am surrounded by students and teachers who are passionate about design. Constantly thinking about design and craftsmanship and giving my students the tools to make their dream designs come to life is great fuel for creativity.
My former teachers (and now teaching mentors), Janie Stidham and Anny Chang, as well as Marian O’Rourke-Kaplan, set the bar high and encourage the pursuit of excellence and creativity in design. My children give me feedback, and my mother is very supportive. I have to mention my customers here also, as my desire is to develop highly functional and beautiful products that my customers will love as much as I do.
Q. It’s so inspiring to know that you teach others to develop their skills so that they can learn to create designs of their dreams. What was the turning point for you that led you to start your business? Do you have any quick tips for someone who wants to start an Etsy business?
A. I initially started selling handbags and handbag/accessory patterns on Etsy (patterns are currently only available on my website). Eventually I realized that by designing knitting bags I could combine my love for knitting and design by creating unique and highly functional products for knitters and crocheters. Currently I offer 5 styles of bags and yarn holders. I use all my products and love them, or I wouldn’t sell them.
Between teaching, family and my business, I am very busy. Etsy allows me to sell on line with minimal expense and time spent on listing and managing my shop. My advice would be to (1) find advertising opportunities or endorsements outside of Etsy to bring traffic to your site and (2) list new items frequently. There are so many sellers on Etsy, it is easy to get lost in the crowd – it is up to you to make your shop visible.
Q. Congratulations on your Yarn Owls being featured in Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Crochet Today Magazine. Did you do a happy dance when you saw your products featured?
A. Absolutely! I don’t crochet because, I am embarrassed to say, I can’t seem to keep my tension even and all my projects end up wavy. However, I am very impressed with Crochet Today’s style and the projects offered. My Owls and I are thrilled to be loved by the magazine!
Thank you Diana for reminding us all of the importance of passion for what we do, developing our skills, helping others reach their goals and believing in ourselves. This has been a very enlightening interview. On behalf of the readers, I'd like to thank you for coming by today and sharing your thoughts and insights with us.
Visit Diana Couture on Etsy, her website DianaCouture.com, on Ravelry as Idaclaire, and on Diana Couture Blog