On Sunday afternoon, once we’ve been to a football match and eaten our Sunday lunch ( and everybody else has comatosed on the sofa) I get out my laptop and start writing my new small business interview. If you are new to my blog, my name is Katleen, and I have been writing this blog since 2009. As a new year’s resolution, I wanted to learn more about what’s happening with small business in my area, and have started to interview Small Business in the West of Ireland, to give them a chance to do their story and show the world their business.
Let’s get connected! Find me on Twitter : @ecotreasure, Facebook: www.facebook.com/workinglivingtravellinginireland Please share this interview with your friends and family, as that’s the way these small businesses will get that little bit more of exposure and will help them grow!
If you are a small business( or know a small business) in the West of Ireland and would like to get featured, please drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I am interviewing Sandra King from http://www.meetthewool.com . Sandra and I go back a few years now, as I featured some of her crocheted christening gowns when my then business was showcased on the morning breakfast show Ireland AM. Here is just a small clip of the christening gowns! They are fabulous!
Tell us a bit about yourself & where you are located in the West of Ireland.
I am located in Ballinruan, a small rural village outside of Crusheen in Co. Clare.. I relocated here in 2007 from North Carolina. I grew up in the city, but don’t think there is any way I could go back to city living.
Can you provide me with a description of your business?
I am a designer of specialty yarns that I dye and spin myself. The fiber that I use is sourced from my own sheep….2 Wensleydales(Daisy and Rose) and 1 Bluefaced Leicester (Hyacinth). I also spin some traditional yarns.
How long have you been in business? In this business? In other businesses?
I have been in this business for about 4 years. I have been in textile and non-textile businesses intermittently since 1986.
How did you get started in this business?
Because I have always been an avid crocheter and have a keen interest in textiles, spinning was a simple progression. In the past I have found it frustrating to find yarns of the desired colors, textures, etc. so I decided to get some sheep, a spinning wheel, and make my own.
Is this your full time job, a hobby or a bit of both?
It’s more a part-time job and a hobby. I run a boarding kennels, so sometimes my wool business is moved to the back burner for a day or two. However, most days I can find even a small amount of time to dye, spin, crochet or knit.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I am naturally an organized personality which I find very helpful in this business. The skills I learned from a very close friend who is a spinner and weaver and also from attending various workshops. Also, the woman from whom I purchased my Wensleydale sheep is a wealth of knowledge on both the animals and dyeing and spinning their fleece.
How do the social, economic, environmental, technological, legal and political environments impact your business?
For me, the biggest impact is technological. I find it very challenging to keep up with social media networking and selling from my website.
Do you know who your competitors are?
Yes, there are many hand spinners but the secret is to design a yarn which is unique.
How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business? Where can people find you?
I have my website: http://www.meetthewool.com which I developed last year. Orders have been slowly coming in.
I have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/meetthewool which gets a lot of interest
I recently started an Etsy shop,https://www.etsy.com/ie/shop/MeettheWool which I need to do more work with. I am a member of an Arts & Craft co-op since April, which has provided me with the most sales. I am on the steering committee of Creative Clare which is organizing to allow artists and craft workers the opportunity to network and market their products through events and studio trails.
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
This next year will see an increase in sales from the co-op and the web site. In five years time, I will have designed and successfully marketed a unique line of yarns internationally. In ten years, I just hope to maintain the status quo.
Do you plan to compete in the global market place? If yes, how? If no, why not?
Yes, through my website and social media.
How has technology, such as computers and the internet, impacted on how you conduct business?
It allows me to sell internationally through my website. I am now starting to network through social media.
What do you love about the area you live in/do business in?
I love being able to walk out my door, see the beauty of the countryside and work from home in my quiet studio.
Whom do you seek advice from for your business/ do you meet up with other business owners? If so, where?
I get some advice from my son, Gray, who is a CPA and who has a lavender growing business. Also, from personal contacts I have that are textile enthusiasts. I’m sure being a member of Creative Clare will give me many other contacts that I can draw from.
Can you describe your customers?
Anyone who knits, crochets or weaves.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
I spin 90% of my yarns from either Wensleydale or Bluefaced Leicester fleece, obtained from my own sheep. Fiber enthusiasts look for specialty yarns (which I spin) and which come from local sheep. I always include a photo of the sheep that their yarn is from. Each sheep has a name and this personalizes it for the customer.
What are the biggest challenges for running this business?
Being a one woman show, time enough to spin and dye enough product.
What keeps you going, when the chips are down?
My husband and my animals.
Do you support local charities? If so which is your favourite charity and why?
Any special things planned for 2016?
Getting the “Art in Studios” trail going and launching Creative Clare.
Any tips for someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Know that things will not always work out as you planned and have a Plan B!
What did you learn from this interview?
It forced me to think through some areas of my business and put them in writing.
If you’d like to read my previous interviews, you can check out :The Dutch Bakery, Dave Slaat, Ruairi Devlin, Founder of Micro Biz Awards, Jackie Queally from Earthwise, and my first interview was with Philip Gleeson from Quickest Fox Marketing.
Just a quick reminder, Please share this interview, as I’d like to start a small movement to highlight the brilliant businesses in the West of Ireland!
If you would like to be interviewed, please drop me an email to email@example.com and I’ll be in touch.
Have a great evening,