At first glance it might look like all a good knitting project requires is a pair of knitting needles and some yarn. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll soon find that it also includes a lot of little extras. Where does it all go when not in use? Either it makes its way down to the bottom of your bag or it ends up lost. Which happens to be the same problem Barbara when she was getting started.
Sure that there had to be something better, she soon took to the internet in an attempt to find some sort of ‘kit’ that would combine all of these necessities. When she didn’t find what she was looking for, she made one. The Knit Kit was born.
Tell us a little about The Knit Kit and what inspired it.
I started knitting about three years ago when the recession hit hard because I wanted to be able to knit gifts for my friends and it was a great creative outlet to stay at home rather than spending so much money going out. Each time I learned something new in knitting my knitting teacher would have me buy a new accessory like a crochet hook, tape measure, stitch markers, etc. I always had everything at the bottom of my knitting bag and could never find my things especially that darned crochet hook. So I went online to find something more organized in which to keep my things. I looked high and low online trying to find something. I searched for about two days and asked around at all my local knitting stores if something like this existed. It was the “Ah-ha” moment of every entrepreneur’s life when I discovered it just hadn’t been done before.
What is included in a kit?
The Knit Kit contains the eight essential knitting accessories including: crochet hook, row counter, thread cutter, scissors, point protectors, tape measure, stitch markers and a darning needle.
In what ways has the kit evolved since you first came up with the idea?
I drew my idea on a napkin in an oval shape with the accessories coming out from it kind of like a swiss army knife. I then knew I had to find a prototype maker so I went online and found a prototype maker who had done all the prototypes for the NBC show American Inventor. I figured if he was good enough for NBC he was good enough for me. I bought all the existing accessories and my drawing and flew to California to meet with him.
How long did it take The Knit Kit to go from idea to launch? What was that
process like for you?
It took about a year and a half to get The Knit Kit from drawings, to CAD drawings to prototype and plastic molds for assembly. The process was really tough as I had never been in the business of inventing anything. I had to learn all about plastic injection molding, manufacturing, trademarks, patents, website creation, trade organizations, the knitting industry, branding a product and I could go on and on.
Were there any resources (books, advice you received, etc) that helped you during that time?
The best advice I received were from veterans who were involved in the knitting industry. I would pick their brains for information and suggestions. For that matter I never stopped asking questions from people that had anything to do with the different elements of this process. If you just ask people are more than happy to fill you in on what they do. I felt like I got an MBA and Engineering degree in a year.
Any plans for new kit types?
The Knit Kit has already re-invented itself twice by adding new features and will add an additional feature in 2011. The Knit Kit is at present in 760 retail yarn stores across the United States and 10 countries. It was also featured on The Martha Stewart Show on March 9th. I am also in the process of launching The Quilt Kit which will debut in October at the Houston Quilt Show.
Have you always been inventive/entrepreneurial?
Yes I have always been an entrepreneur. I have owned preschools, a restaurant, renovated condominiums and resold them and now invented something.
What helps you balance your time between the business and your personal
For me exercise especially yoga helps keep me grounded and in good shape. I can’t forget about knitting it is a great stress reliever. As far as my personal life I have a eight pound Yorkie-Poo named Moxie. When you own your own business it really takes over your life but I am still looking for that special person.
What are some of the lessons your business has taught you?
Listen to others that have gone before you. Find people in the areas of expertise you need to learn about and ask questions, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be patient and grow slowly so as to avoid as many mistakes as possible because there will be mistakes.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with fellow entrepreneur/
inventors that are just getting started?
Don’t be afraid of failure and don’t ever give up. If someone were to have told me that at 48 years old I was going to finally going to make my millions in the knitting and craft world I would have told them to jump off a bridge. There was not the remotest idea in my head ever that I would end up in this industry.