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Featured Shop: The Velvet Acorn

Feb 16, 2017

by Karen Brown

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

“I am self-taught in everything that I do,” says Heidi May, owner of The Velvet Acorn, a shop featuring luxurious, nature-inspired knit and crochet patterns. “I grew up showing horses, and remember figuring out how to make saddles and bridles from my grandpa’s leather.” Now a mother of three, Heidi channels that same ingenuity to develop clothing and gear for her kids when she can’t find what she needs ready-made. “It all started with my son. When he was little I made a backpack for him so that he could have exactly what he wanted,” says Heidi. “Then when I had my first daughter, I started designing for her. When I took a closer look at what I had made, I thought other people might like to have the same thing—that’s when I started my Etsy shop.”

A few years and nearly a quarter of a million orders later, Heidi’s cozy, modern knit and crochet patterns are a hit with shoppers around the world. “I am beyond thankful,” she says. “My business comes from my soul. It doesn’t feel like work, I love what I’m doing that much.”

Read on to learn how this single mom grew her successful pattern business from the ground up and shop the collection

You got your start designing things for your children. What made you decide to turn that into an Etsy business?

When I started to design in knit and crochet, I stumbled across Etsy and just thought I’d give it a try—it was more of a whim than a strategy. I didn’t have any friends or know anyone personally on Etsy, although I knew there was an amazing community of sellers. It was a lot of trial and error, but I would complete one task at a time and then move on to the next. And if I had to go back and adjust something, I would. My mom says I have a tenacious spirit.

Most of your pieces are designed for children and adults. Where did you get the idea to build in that flexibility?

Sometimes if I design something for a child, I think, “That’s so cute, I want one!” And if I want one, maybe other people do too. I try to design things that are timeless and classic, and keep things versatile so they work for everyone.

yarn shelf
Your pieces are very luxurious, but they also have some whimsy. How do you maintain that high-end feel, and also bring some humor along?

I have a bohemian nature, and I try to embody that in my home and in the pieces I design. But I also have what my mom calls my “fancy” side. So one of my biggest goals was to design things that look amazing but aren’t expensive to make. Sometimes high-priced materials can take the fun out of making, especially for beginning knitters and crocheters. That’s one reason I love working with bigger yarns. That warm, cozy, luxurious look can be hard to capture using finer yarns.

Looking over your shop numbers is impressive—The Velvet Acorn has over 238,000 orders and 17,000 five-star reviews. How did you get to this stage with your business?

I can’t say that I’ve had a precise plan, but I work hard every single day. I’m a single mom with three kids, so I break up tasks throughout the day to get everything done. Customer service is at the heart of my business, and my customers and followers are extremely valuable to me. I really, really strive to do whatever I can to make everyone happy.

When I first started selling on Etsy, business trickled in, and then at some point it really started growing. What sells can be very unpredictable—once I released a pattern, and it just sat in my shop for about a year before it suddenly became very popular. You just never know!

I notice you offer assistance if someone needs help with a pattern. Do people contact you often?

Absolutely. I know it can be daunting when you’re working on something new and you have questions. I respond to people’s emails two or three times a day. And I always have my phone with me, and try to respond within 24 hours.

Do you do a lot of promotion?

Not really, just the basics. If I’m developing a new design, I post it on Instagram before I release it, then again after I publish it on Etsy. And I post on Ravelry and my Pinterest board, but that’s about it.

How do you primarily see yourself, as a designer or as a patterns publisher?

It’s funny. I do everything, and I wear several hats. The designer side is the most fun; I love drawing pictures and experimenting with yarns and needles. Then I write out the patterns. Another big aspect of running the business is book work. Luckily, back in school I always wanted to be an accountant or architect because I enjoy numbers so much!

You mentioned your love of nature and the outdoors. Describe how that influences your design process.

I’ve loved being outside since I was a little kid. I have true, true love for the mountains, the beautiful clouds, the water. I don’t take an ounce of it for granted, ever. Plus it’s a real benefit living in Washington state, because about 75 percent of the time you need some sort of hat or coat. It’s great inspiration for knits. My kids and I love it—rain is our favorite weather.

Your models are extraordinary—are those your children?

Yes. I have a son who is 19, a daughter who’s seven, and my youngest will be five in March. My eldest daughter is very interested in what I do, and I imagine she might have a business of her own someday.

Do you do your own photography?

I do. The funniest part is that if there’s a photo of me, my kids took it. My five year-old even took the photograph of me for this feature! I love that she is developing so many skills so young. I can’t imagine where I would be now if I had that kind of coaching when I was really little.

Do you have any advice for other Etsy sellers?

Don’t be scared to work really hard for what you want. Have faith in the people who have faith in you. My Etsy followers and customers are such wonderful people. It only takes one or two people like that to keep you thinking, “Yep, I can really do this.”

Follow The Velvet Acorn on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Photographs by The Velvet Acorn.

Shop The Velvet Acorn

KNITTING PATTERN - Benton Hooded Blanket (x-small, small, medium, large and x-large sizes)
KNITTING PATTERN - Benton Hooded Blanket (x-small, small, medium, large and x-large sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
Knitting PATTERN-The Elmy Wrap (2/3, 4/6, 7/9, 10/12, 14/16, Adult Small, Adult Medium, Adult Large sizes)
Knitting PATTERN-The Elmy Wrap (2/3, 4/6, 7/9, 10/12, 14/16, Adult Small, Adult Medium, Adult Large sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
CROCHET PATTERN - Bronson Hooded Blanket (x-small, small, medium, large and x-large sizes)
CROCHET PATTERN - Bronson Hooded Blanket (x-small, small, medium, large and x-large sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
Crochet PATTERN-The Eden Wrap (2/3, 4/6, 7/9, 10/12, 14/16, Adult Small, Adult Medium, Adult Large sizes)
Crochet PATTERN-The Eden Wrap (2/3, 4/6, 7/9, 10/12, 14/16, Adult Small, Adult Medium, Adult Large sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
CROCHET PATTERN-The Mabel Set (2/5, 6/10, teen, adult s/m, adult large sizes)
CROCHET PATTERN-The Mabel Set (2/5, 6/10, teen, adult s/m, adult large sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
Knitting Pattern - Azel Pullover (2, 3/4, 5/7, 8/10, 11/13, 14/16, adult S/M, adult L/XL sizes)
Knitting Pattern - Azel Pullover (2, 3/4, 5/7, 8/10, 11/13, 14/16, adult S/M, adult L/XL sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
CROCHET Pattern - Aura Pullover (2, 3/4, 5/7, 8/10, 11/13, 14/16, adult S/M, adult L/XL sizes)
CROCHET Pattern - Aura Pullover (2, 3/4, 5/7, 8/10, 11/13, 14/16, adult S/M, adult L/XL sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
Knitting PATTERN-The Ziyon Hooded Scarf (12/18 months, Toddler, Child, Teen, Adult sizes)
Knitting PATTERN-The Ziyon Hooded Scarf (12/18 months, Toddler, Child, Teen, Adult sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
Crochet PATTERN-The Zolta Hooded Scarf (12/18 months, Toddler, Child, Teen, Adult sizes)
Crochet PATTERN-The Zolta Hooded Scarf (12/18 months, Toddler, Child, Teen, Adult sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
The Essential Bag
The Essential Bag
Thevelvetacorn
$22.00 USD
KNITTING PATTERN-The Madelaine Set (2/5, 6/10, teen, adult s/m, adult large sizes)
KNITTING PATTERN-The Madelaine Set (2/5, 6/10, teen, adult s/m, adult large sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD
KNITTING PATTERN-The Brink Sweater (2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12, S, M, L sizes)
KNITTING PATTERN-The Brink Sweater (2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12, S, M, L sizes)
Thevelvetacorn
$5.50 USD

53 comments

  • PrimCountryCurtains

    Francine from HomespunHeartofMine said 4 days ago

    Your designs are stunning, Heidi...and you have the most adorable models!!! What a great feature story!!! Congratulations and many blessings for your continued success....you must be such an inspiration to your little girls!!! :D

  • mipe76

    Michela from LilyandFern said 4 days ago

    Great story and wonderful shop! Congrats :)

  • DecoUno

    DeUno from DeUno said 4 days ago

    Very inspiring story! Great achievements! Congratulations on the feature!

  • babsfsu

    Barbara Gable from CrazyLovely said 4 days ago

    Your shop is amazing! You're an inspiration. And your girls are adorable :)

  • olga11223

    Olga from LinenAndTailor said 4 days ago

    Great story! Congratulations on the feature!

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 4 days ago

    Great to see you featured! Congratulations!

  • dominna

    Katrina Dzerkale from Dominna said 4 days ago

    Such beautiful article !!! Thank you !

  • handpaintedwoodgifts

    MiMi from HandPaintedWoodGifts said 4 days ago

    Gorgeous shop, and such a beautiful story. Inspired by all your hard work. Love!

  • LadyLunarCat

    Irina Shapoval from LadyLunarCat said 4 days ago

    Very cozy and cute

  • petalalley

    Laura from PetalAlley said 4 days ago

    As a fellow bohemian, I love your patterns Heidi! I am in awe of you as a single mom with three kids. Congrats on all the hard work. :)

  • emileemanley1

    Emilee Manley from YarnOverHookByEmilee said 4 days ago

    Love your work Heidi! Congratulations!

  • DivineOrders

    DivineOrders from DivineOrders said 4 days ago

    GLORIOUS! Congrats on the feature. Thank you Heidi for sharing your love of nature, amazing arts and beautiful family with us. - Peace.

  • jackieturgeon

    Jackie Turgeon said 4 days ago

    I stumbled across one of your patterns on Ravelry and boom ... I was hooked! I have purchased many patterns from The Velvet Acorn and I am never disappointed! Thank you for your wonderful designs. Thank you for always responding to my email when I'm stumped or confused with a pattern. I have referred several of my knitting friends to your shop and they've expressed their love for your designs. Congratulations on your success and I wish you a lifetime of future success! I'm always watching for your next design release. **Your models are beautiful** 😉

  • rodriguezjuly

    Julie B. from JoyfulYarn said 4 days ago

    Congrats!!! What a beautiful interview! You are an amazing girl with some many talents! Thank you for your beautiful work and for being an inspiration for all of us!

  • tlpjenpierce1

    Jennifer and Gary Pierce from LoftAtticEarth said 4 days ago

    What an inspiring story! Love your earthy tones and soft fabrics. Hard work and following your dream is great advice. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Best wishes as your business grows in 2017 and beyond.

  • perchlake99

    perchlake99 said 4 days ago

    Heidi You are awesome, the girls are beautiful! Congratulations on your successful life!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 4 days ago

    Beautiful work! Congrats!

  • TreasuredMemoryLane

    TreasuredMemoryLane from TreasuredMemoryLane said 4 days ago

    Wow! Such great patterns and such a beautiful story. Congratulations on the feature!

  • truthbeautyandlove27

    Colleen O'Neal from truthbeautyandlove27 said 4 days ago

    Amazing designs, you are right about adults wanting the same pieces because I love some of these for myself! Congratulations! You do have the cutest models!

  • GUtSSY

    Kasia Bourke from NoandEl said 4 days ago

    Heidi you are an inspiration as a designer, knitter, business woman and mother. So excited to finally read an interview with you. Best of wishes! Xxx

  • lanie2613

    Marie D from Laniecrochetcorner said 4 days ago

    You have some great designs no doubt, but you might be able to attrack more customers if you give a discount for a day or two when you come out with a new pattern.

  • ClassicMemories

    ClassicMemories from ClassicMemories said 4 days ago

    Beautiful items and lovely shop. Congrats on the feature.

  • ButterflyFeetShop

    Sherri from ButterflyFeetDigital said 4 days ago

    Wow, you have a crazy number of sales! Your items and models are adorable, congrats on your success!

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis said 4 days ago

    Your story is an inspiration! Beautiful designs, adorable little models! Congrats on the feature and best wishes for achieving all your goals and dreams :)

  • freeflower51

    Barb Baetz from RosenLilyCreationz said 4 days ago

    I'm so happy to learn more about you, Heidi. You are a creative genius!

  • Etrennes

    Etrennes from Etrennes said 4 days ago

    Wonderful talent, beautiful designs! Wishing you all the best for continued success!!!

  • sharisalazar1

    Shari from ALDERnOAK said 3 days ago

    Wonderful article! 👌

  • Kashuen

    Kashuen Collectibles from Kashuen said 3 days ago

    I agree that you will not feel like working when you are doing what you love. You just want to keep doing it. I respect people who self taught themselves and made a successful business out of it. It takes a lot of courage and perseverance.

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 3 days ago

    I'm so impressed with your success! You have lovely designs and precious models! Congrats on the feature and best wishes!

  • JewelMeShop

    Georgia from JewelMeShop said 3 days ago

    Wonderful designs, great shop. Congrats!

  • rhondastubbs2

    Rhonda Stubbs from RhondaCorner said 3 days ago

    What a great shop and feature.

  • keniki01

    Niki from JandEdoodles said 3 days ago

    I've followed the Velvet Acorn for a long time and continue to be amazed by your beautiful work and designs. Your kids are pretty cute, too! :-) Congratulations on the feature - well deserved!

  • RebecaARTS

    RebecaARTS Flott from RebecaFlottArts said 3 days ago

    Its So beautiful! congratulations!

  • msbijouxbeads

    Cathy from msbijouxbeads said 3 days ago

    Beautiful shop, great feature, makes me want to pick up my needles

  • bonesbags

    viena bone from bonesreusablebags said 3 days ago

    Congrats on the feature, Heidi. I love how classic and timeless your patterns are. I really appreciate that you don't promote that much, also! Amazing. Way to go!

  • jacobswoodentoys

    Tim and Brigita Cornwell from jacobswoodentoys said 3 days ago

    Wonderful designs and presentation! Congrats on the feature.

  • handicraftafrica

    Jafeth Moiane from handicraftafrica said 3 days ago

    Beautiful work! congrats!

  • TropicalGarden

    TropicalGarden from TropicalGarden said 3 days ago

    Amazing shop and work! Congratulations on the feature!

  • bedouin

    Nicole from bedouin said 2 days ago

    Beautiful inside and out. Great article ~ So genuine and playful, the photo's look to be an extension of love, life and the quality in a craft well crafted !

  • SimplyPictures

    Molly from MollyHeyer said 2 days ago

    Chapeau! And congrats on the feature! You're one of my most favourite shops although I don't have children and I'm not even good with knitting, ha ha... Your designs are totally my style and your girls are so adorable. I'm deeply impressed...

  • RandMhandmade

    Renee from RandMhandmade said 2 days ago

    Congratulations!! I have been following you along time and have always admired all your knit and crochet items. So happy for you!!!

  • ArtyGirlz

    Deborah Stannard from ArtyGirlz said 2 days ago

    So happy you have been featured! I just finished a unicorn hat & it is completely loved by a 9 year old, whom even sleeps with it on! Many good wishes to you and your family for many continued years of happiness and success!

  • rachbing

    Rachel Bingaman from BingArt said 2 days ago

    These are such lovely designs! What a beautiful family you have as well <3

  • sukran

    Sukran Kirtis from SukranKirtisJewelry said 2 days ago

    so sweet comfy designs, Congrats

  • cardhugs

    Rosemary Lambert from cardhugs said 1 day ago

    Ah, to love what you do and work hard at it. Just wonderful! Keep it up. Lovely patterns!

  • infinitlit

    Farideh Nouri from FlairPaintings said 1 day ago

    very nice story and great shop!!!

  • BelkaUA

    Olesya Bagriy from BelkaUA said 1 day ago

    Very nice work! Congratulations on the feature!

  • GTDesigns

    renee and gerardo from GTDesigns said 1 day ago

    Gorgeous work!! Crafted with care!! Congrats on this feature!!

  • stickythings2

    Sarah from CoralVinylCo said 1 day ago

    I love your patterns! So excited to see you got featured!

  • ByBunni

    Bunni Russell from ByBunni said 1 day ago

    Enjoyable read, beautiful shop, best of luck to you.

  • suzanneartist

    Suzanne Urban from SmirkingGoddess said 1 day ago

    Beautiful shop, with a consistent look, your daughters are adorable too!

  • beachdaisy7

    Kim Cole from BeachDaisyJewelry said 23 hours ago

    Wonderful feature article! Congrats and continued success!

  • SallysVintageKitchen

    Sally from SallysVintageKitchen said 11 hours ago

    Beautiful shop! Congratulations on the feature!

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