Positive Yarn

November 20, 2008

Just like child’s play

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 3:26 pm
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Hey, wanna have kids?

Professionally speaking, of course. In this tight economy, it makes sense to appeal to all demographics — and where there are children, there are bound to be parents following close behind, opening their wallets to their darlings’ whim.

I know, because I am one of the wallet openers. And while my husband and I take great pains to ensure we keep our daughters from being spoiled rotten, we have certainly done our fair share of shopping for them.

We also shop — a LOT — for children’s birthday presents for the parties to which we are invited. This weekend alone, I need to buy a gift for my best friend’s daughter and another for the neighbor’s little girl who’s having a roller skating party. In fact, I’ve been to a myriad of interactive birthdays. The celebrations where a couple friends from school come over and help blow out your candles in the dining room is sooo passe. We’ve been skating, golfing, go-karting and bowling, jumped on inflatables, painted ready-to-decorate ceramics, baked cupcakes in a professional kitchen, and the list goes on.

So, why not grab a big piece of that birthday cake? Joanns does it, and so does Michaels. Host a party on otherwise-quiet Sunday afternoons, where a group of 8 to 10 kids can crochet a little purse, bead a keychain or stitch a bookmark. Even boys can get enthusiastic about it in a group setting — peer pressure can be used for good, not evil when it comes to overcoming their reservations about trying out something that seems so “girly” at face value. In fact, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts troops would appreciate a chance to spend an afternoon at your shop. Make sure birthday guests know you’re available for troop events, and make troops aware of your penchant for parties.

Kids’ creativity never ceases to amaze me, and to introduce children to the needlearts is definitely rewarding. My fourth grader has crocheted leashes for every single stuffed animal she and her sister own, and has made bracelets and necklaces for all of her friends. (I hope to eventually interest her in progressing beyond the chain stitch, but for now, she’s happy.) Both girls also took full advantage this fall of the Stan Hywet Needlework Guild’s children’s booth at the annual Ohio Mart festival, where they learned how to stitch on plastic canvas for free and took home two very cool ornaments:

OhioMart1 OhioMart2

The best part about children’s parties is if you hold them in the back room, the parents will tend to wander out front. And when they see their child really enjoying the project, it gets the wheels turning about what they can buy to sustain the interest. Try making an endcap all about kids — the Disney patterns, the brightly colored threads and yarns, the plastic needles. Show they can not only make and take, but if the next party happens to be held at home, you can supply the parents with enough activites to keep the kids occupied until the pizza arrives. In fact, just last weekend my fourth grader went to a slumber party and came home triumphantly with a new elastic necklace and a silk poinsettia wreath she made by herself (with the help of the birthday girl’s mom and her glue gun). They beat the heck out of a goody bag, because she wears the necklace nearly every day, and the wreath is pretty enough we can display Christmas after Christmas.

Similarly, the look of pride and accomplishment on my first grader’s face when she finished her Dora the Explorer “Begin to Sew” finger puppets a couple weeks ago is one I’ll never forget. These are memories I want to make again and again.

If your store has reached out to the under-10 set, be it birthday parties or otherwise, please share your experiences by commenting below.


October 24, 2008

Trying to spin a positive yarn

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 6:14 pm
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So here I am, ready to take Gooch & Gooch (my half, anyway — my husband can keep on plugging away) into a new direction and focus on helping people in a field that I love. I’m scared to death, but I just got back from a COSE conference and feel emboldened.

Based in Cleveland, COSE is an acronym for the Council of Smaller Enterprises. I’ve just spent two days with some fantastic small-business owners from all over Northeast Ohio. We’ve done a lot of talking about new media and how to harness it. Now it’s time for me to file the business cards away, quit talking about what I want to do and start doing it.

I’ve spent 13 years in business-to-business media, the majority of which has been spent on covering the professional pest management industry. But as great a group as the pest controllers are — Joe the Plumber seriously pales in comparison when it comes to being down to earth, loyal, patriotic and er, licensed — I want to shift my focus toward things that interest me personally. I want to write about, and help publicize, professionals who design with and/or supply the pretties I love so much: beads, yarns, threads, fabrics. What can I say? Sites like Etsy.com and IndiePublic.com were practically designed with me in mind!

Business Directions Owner Sherry Mulne, an absolutely fantastic person and a marketing communications consultant for The National NeedleArts Association, took a chance on me last year as her part-time assistant. I am delighted to report that working for Sherry has been great, and has been a wonderful introduction to the business side of the needle arts (defined as crochet, knit, embroidery, counted cross-stitch and needlepoint; tattoos are merely a matter of personal preference). While I hope to continue fulfilling assignments for Sherry, I want to start taking on additional clients involved in needle arts and related crafts. I want to help build a brand for an independent retail shop. I want to spread the word about some wonderful patterns someone has designed. I want to get someone’s handmade item into everyone’s Christmas stocking.

Want, want, want. I guess I should first pull back and identify the needs.

That’s where you come in. What can I do to help build your business, and in turn, help build mine?

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