Shop Etsy

Quit Your Day Job: DyeForYarn

Nov 14, 2013

by Susannah Bradley

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Tell us about your shop and the idea behind it.
DyeForYarn stands for hand-dyed yarns of the highest quality in unique colorways. We dye small lots of no more than six skeins, which are often one of a kind. Our yarns are mostly lace weight, suited for elegant shawls and stoles, fine cardigans and light sweaters.

Everything began with the shop name, DyeForYarn. We came up with it in a matter of minutes, and then had the idea of giving each colour a personality by naming it. To suit our dark humor, we chose synonyms for dying based upon Monty Python’s famous parrot sketch. In this sketch, John Cleese tries to persuade a pet shop owner that the parrot he just bought is dead. The synonyms for dying he uses are hilarious. Naming colours is still one of the most important creative parts of our weekly shop updates.

Tell us about your previous working situations and how you discovered Etsy.
In our “old life” we were working together as scientists for biology and molecular medicine at University Erlangen-Nuremberg. We were finding it a rather unsatisfying business, so we started knitting lace shawls in our free time. This led to a need for lace yarns, which weren’t available in Germany at that time.

We came across Etsy during an online search for materials and got inspired to dye our own yarns. A new hobby was born that soon became a passion. After a while, we were producing so many new skeins that we decided to sell them. In the beginning of 2010, Cordula opened our first Etsy shop, DyeForYarn, where we still sell our silky yarn bases. In October of 2010 Nicole opened our second Etsy shop, DyeForWool, where you can find our woolly yarn bases.

What steps did you take to prepare for transitioning into full-time Etsy selling?
Circumstances were working in this direction long before we realized it. In our academic career, a change of working situation was necessary anyway, so we kept looking for alternative jobs. In the process, we took classes in business administration, which were originally meant for improving our chances outside academic research.

Yarn was crowding our homes and dyeing yarn took up more and more time (and space) in our lives. One night, Cordula dreamt of having a brick-and-mortar shop, so the next day we went looking for one. This was the final spark it took to change our lives. We decided to work together, uniting both Etsy shops under one label, DyeForYarn. We rented a brick and mortar shop and founded the German equivalent to a Limited company — DyeForYarn GmbH.

What is your favorite part in the process of dying yarn?
Deciding which colour to dye next, and knowing that our yarns are used for crafting all around the globe.

What’s been your most popular item or line to date?
Our Tussah silk lace yarn at DyeForYarn and Merino/Silk sock yarn at DyeForWool.

What do you enjoy most about not having a day job?
Being our own bosses, working creatively and being authentic.

What are your best marketing tips?

  • Selling online is all about good pictures. People must feel the need to click on your item.
  • Creative names help to accentuate your item.
  • Have a story behind your items.
  • Develop your own style and keep it.
  • Specialize, don’t get sidetracked.
  • Have excellent customer service (think as if you were your own customer). It’s crucial to show the customer how important he is.

What tool or technique has been the most effective in getting buyers to your shop?
Authenticity. Our hobby is knitting and we use our own yarns for almost everything we knit. We’re our own best customers and people can see this on Ravelry, the world’s largest online knitting community. There we present our current knitting projects, moderate our own group and publish patterns.

What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
Being responsible for every last detail. If you forget something, nobody else will think of it.

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar path?

  • Be passionate about what you do. Think it through, but don’t worry too much.
  • Choose your shop partner(s) well.
  • Read the Quit Your Day Job series on Etsy. It helped us pluck up our courage.

Anything else you would like to share?
People told us that doing business with a good friend wouldn’t work. We do have different personalities, but the things that unite us are more important — our passion for our products, being perfectionists, tolerance and appreciation for each other’s opinion, and of course, knitting.

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Thanks for sharing your story, Cordula and Nicole. Check out their items below.

Seller Handbook | Quit Your Day Job Series

40 comments

  • creativehistory

    Creative History from CreativeHistory said 6 years ago

    What a lovely read! Your yarns are absolutely gorgeous (I love the idea of naming the colours after Monty Python XD), I wish both of you the best of luck both on Etsy and with the bricks & mortar shop!

  • FeralSphere

    Holly James from FeralSphere said 6 years ago

    Great marketing tips, thank you. A lovely read and has inspired my day :-)

  • sunflowerknit

    ash alberg from sunflowerknit said 6 years ago

    i've been in love with dyeforyarn since discovering them at loop in london! my mum has notoriously sensitive skin when it comes to yarns, so it was the perfect option for her xmas gift that year :) so glad to see this fabulous business featured!

  • brijitelouise

    Brijit Elouise from BrijitsDigits said 6 years ago

    I love your yarn so much! It's so nice to see the story behind the shop :)

  • BadgerandBulldog

    Liz Badger from PaperHausPress said 6 years ago

    Amazing colours. I dont know what they do (skeining?) but the winding contraptions look rather interesting.

  • cathpaperart

    Cathy from SeaMeadowDesigns said 6 years ago

    The most wonderful range of colors! thanks for sharing your great story and tips - inspiring! :)

  • taliladesign

    Talila from TalilaDesign said 6 years ago

    love your yarn so much! beautiful colors :)

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 6 years ago

    Beautiful creations. Huge congrats!

  • SixSkeins

    Steph from SixSkeins said 6 years ago

    A fabulous read, well done ladies on your fantastic achievements! It gives me hope!

  • jewelflip

    Chrysalet from Chrysalet said 6 years ago

    That is some beautiful work and some great advice :) Your work looks incredible.

  • jizbasusan

    Susan Jizba from TheWeaverOfWords said 6 years ago

    Such a wonderful story, I love how Cordula and Nicole were able to turn a passion into a profession! Such lovely colors of yarn, so well done!

  • MountainMasche

    Barbara Schuetz from MountainMasche said 6 years ago

    Congratulations, ladies, on your success. Turning your passion into a living is like a dream come true. Your story is very interesting. Thank you for all the great advise! Weiterhin viel Glueck!

  • OncleHope

    Oncle Hope from OncleHope said 6 years ago

    Yeah! I love reading these blog posts! Gives me so much energy too keep on trying. Congratulations girls - it sure looks like lods of fun :)

  • 79blackcats

    Kristin from TheFunWithFelt said 6 years ago

    Hmm, knitting takes a lot of time and patience. Your work is inspiring!

  • makemedivine

    makeme divine from MakeMeDivine said 6 years ago

    Must be so satisfying! All those lovely colours.

  • woods2010

    Michelle Woods from PaperFolkGlasgow said 6 years ago

    Congratulations! Your yarns look gorgeous and what an inspiring story to go with them. Lots of luck to you for the future!

  • gwendahughes

    Gwenda Hughes from CraftyGwenda said 6 years ago

    Beautiful yarns! I found your Marketing Tips very useful especially the 'specialize, don't get sidetracked'. Well done on your success.

  • PaulSzewc

    Paul Szewc from PaulSzewc said 6 years ago

    Very nice blog!

  • LaNomRahDesigns

    La NomRah from LaNomRahDesigns said 6 years ago

    Fantastic. Nice work ladies! I love the pictures that give a glimpse into the behind the scenes process. I always love and appreciate seeing that. Also, the colorways are to dye for! (see what I did there?) lol

  • holdoutyourhand

    Marsha Oza from holdoutyourhand said 6 years ago

    I'm really glad you guys got an interview! Your yarn is always the stuff that other people ask about when sifting through my stash...

  • HandpaintedThreads

    Maureen from HandpaintedThreads said 6 years ago

    I am a yarn and fabric junkie. Your skeins are so rich in colour and beautiful. Much success with both your shops.

  • markreewensleydales

    Mary Cooper from MarkreeWoolCraft said 6 years ago

    Just love the colors

  • rosielb1912

    Rosie Bartram from LittleLaneCrafts said 6 years ago

    Thanks so much for the tips. I have popped bits and pieces on Etsy for a while but am now getting the hang of it and I hope to get better and better. I loved the comment about getting side tracked, I have struggled to decide what to make and in what direction to go. I am using the views on my items as a guide and my sales at craft fairs to guide me in the right direction. I think a new camera is needed and better lighting to help me present a better picture of my items and a real direction. I am hoping the new year will be the start for me. Thanks again for the brilliant advise. Xx

  • RealfaerySupplies

    Betti and Jeno from RealfaerySupplies said 6 years ago

    It is great to see supplies in the blog again, and reading your story is really inspiring! I love your colors!

  • abenakcreation

    Virpi Irene Bendandi from ABenakCreation said 6 years ago

    Great colours and absolutely beautiful knitting. I admire your courage to step out and do something different.

  • 88jules

    julie cheetham from Heartforms said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous colors, lovely story, inspirational.

  • 88jules

    julie cheetham from Heartforms said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous colours, lovely story, and great tips, I think some serious thought about images is required for my work. Inspirational, Thank you for sharing.

  • epicstitching

    Mel Ladner from epicstitching said 6 years ago

    I love that you went from very academic and driven jobs to dying yarn! That is exactly the kind of motivation I know many need (including myself) to realize a potential 'quit your day job' scenario. And perfectionism is such a great quality to emphasis. So many people say it's a bad thing but I think it just ensures amazing quality.

  • TheHouseofGarland

    Janet Law from TheHouseofGarland said 6 years ago

    Amazing work! The colours are truly lovely~ Thanks for sharing the marketing tips!

  • alterknitiveuk

    alterknitiveuk said 6 years ago

    Your pictures are so good it makes me want to buy all the yarns! And I love the names you come up with for them.

  • DerwentTextiles

    Rose Marie from DerwentArt said 6 years ago

    I love your colours , as an Artist i notice you are using Ashford Dyes, do you not mix up your dyes with procion powders alchemically then ? my hobby is knitting and I keep meaning to have time to dye yarns but i just NEVER get time really what with painting and running a family home. Thanks for your good advice, I might need to give up knitting and get back to dyeing and painting my tru love is COLOUR after all !

  • dyeing2meetU

    Idy from dyeing2meetU said 6 years ago

    Great story, dyeing allows to create unusual, rich and surprising colours... it can be fascinating ;)

  • happyaskingsshop

    Rachel Osborne from happyaskingsshop said 6 years ago

    Beautiful yarns! It reminds me of the yarn shop from the Wallace and Grommit movie, A Close Shave.

  • Lespetitsbuttons

    Sandrine from Lespetitsbuttons said 6 years ago

    Amazing work and story :)

  • smallfamilies

    Julien Martinez from POTOKandFriends said 6 years ago

    Thanks ! Encouraging story !! ;)

  • Axenof

    Sergei Aksjonov from BRROSSOnline said 6 years ago

    <<>>

  • Axenof

    Sergei Aksjonov from BRROSSOnline said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the Inspiration!

  • CreateTheCut

    Create The Cut from CreateTheCut said 6 years ago

    Great story guys! Well done

  • JennySaker

    Jenny Saker from JeniWrenJewellery said 6 years ago

    Brilliant Idea and like you say don't get side tracked . Thanks JWx

  • charlottevictoriana

    Charlotte Victoria Furness from CharliesCrazyCouture said 5 years ago

    What fabulous yarns you have ! Very inspirational and very helpful , thanks x

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