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