Positive Yarn

January 16, 2009

Tips and techniques to help set up a children’s program

Filed under: Business marketing,Outreach — heathergooch @ 4:56 pm
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As I wander through the Web, looking at what’s going on in the industry, I’ve constantly amazed at the depth and breadth of the information out there. Case in point is Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘n Thread blog. You may have seen these posts when she originally published them this summer, but she offers excellent advice in both setting up and conducting an embroidery class for 7- to 9-year-olds. From creating a “place setting” so that each child sees everything he or she is about to use, to making sure there’s a cookie break midway through, I applaud Mary’s use of step-by-step photos and conversational tone (it’s obvious she’s a teacher by training!). In addition, several readers share their tips and insights in the comments section.

I’m a big fan of teaching children how to stitch, because it fosters a love of handiwork. Even if it goes dormant as school and other things take precedence, it usually pops up again as a creative outlet in adulthood. It also is a great form of “viral marketing,” inspiring parents, grandparents, siblings and friends to try it out, too.

The Children’s Healing Arts Project (CHAP) is a variation on the theme that crafts can hold kids’ attention and let them explore their creative side. As posted by Michelle Mach, editor of Beading Daily, an interview with CHAP Managing Director Lindsay Ross reveals how a beading program for patients at Portland, OR’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital has been so successful, it’s been adapted to “fit the needs of different areas and populations, including waiting rooms outside of surgery wards, oncology floors, monthly grief counseling meetings for hospital staff, and art days in the lobbies.” Again, the comments to the post confirm the benefits of beading and report similar programs in other areas.

Finally, the Craft Yarn Council of America offers not only a certified instructors program, but 10 tips from the pros regarding keeping kids engaged when learning crochet and knitting basics.

I’d love to hear the pros (and cons) of your experiences of hosting classes for kids, and whether you’d be interested in Positive Yarn offering a white paper on the subject.

On a final note, I hope all the TNNA attendees and exhibitors have a fantastic Winter Show, going on this weekend in San Diego. Please be sure to check out TNNA’s Needlepoint Group’s new consumer Web site, which is making its debut at the show.


January 14, 2009

Celebrating longetivity

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 6:52 pm
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I just came across this article in the Wilmette (IL) Pioneer Press. The profile of a needlepoint shop owner, who is celebrating 35 years at her store, is both comforting and inspiring. I love to see an independent shop thriving in this landscape of “for rent” signs, and love even more that the local media can celebrate it in print.

Profiles can often lead to the sharing of good business ideas, and Sally Volkert’s does not disappoint. Here are just a couple take-aways I gleaned from the article:

1. When Volkert and her late sister-in-law, Mary Gee, were running The Canvasback and raising children, they took turns watching the kids and the counter so that child care was never an issue.

2. Volkert teases that the shop has helped many women through their divorces. While I doubt that “getting you through your breakups since 1974” is on her business card, it’s a reality that many shops’ customers face, and it doesn’t hurt to be sensitive to that market segment. Maybe try holding Saturday night stitch-ins at your shop, replete with a kids’ corner where Disney movies are always on the TV. It can give customers something to look forward to besides another weekend at home. Some of the married customers might enjoy it, too! In a similar vein, I know some shops offer “wine and cheese nights” each month to build customer loyalty and attract some new people who are bored with the club scene and want to do something different and constructive. Of course, if Saturday nights are sacred, give something like the “Tuesday night singles club” a try!

3. Finally, Volkert is bridging the brick-and-mortar and online shops admirably. Her site welcomes visitors and conveys well what you might see when you open the door to her shop. Plenty of project photos and a consistent format regarding what classes are being offered when really makes me wish I lived closer! My only quibble is that the site is still showing a holiday sale that ended 12/31, but speaking from experience I know that it is no small task to stay on top of outdated pages.

Kudos to Volkert for allowing her shop to evolve with the times, and meeting customer needs. I wish her continued success.

January 7, 2009

Kids, yarn and kindness

Filed under: Outreach — heathergooch @ 4:13 am
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In a Jan. 6 Detroit Free Press article, one of the The National NeedleArts Association’s (TNNA’s) Needle Arts Mentoring Program (NAMP) projects was highlighted. About 30 students at Berkshire Middle School have knit nearly 300 scarves, one for each Special Olympics athlete participating in the events next month in Idaho. Needles were donated by NAMP Director Penny Stitler, and Coats and Clark’s Kathleeen Sams made sure there was enough yarn to go around.

It’s stories like these that make me hopeful about our future. Kudos to the students and their teachers. About a year ago, I had the good fortune to interview one of the program leaders, Judy Simony, and she and her team are doing wonderful things at the school!

Please let me know if you or one of your colleagues or customers are doing similar good deeds in the name of both generosity and handiwork. I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out to a national program that was recently profiled locally here, the Warm Up America Foundation.

And on that note, I should really close my laptop and pick up my crochet hook…

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