So many people start their business because they have a hobby that they’ve fallen in love with. But just because we love something doesn’t mean it’s always going to be a good market fit. 42% of businesses fail due to “no market need” and this can be a very big hurdle for anyone looking to build a business from their hobby. It can turn into a solution looking for a problem.
So Forbes reached out to the co-founder and CEO of We Are Knitters, Pepita Marin, to ask her how she and her partner successfully turned their hobby into a business.
A big business.
Over 8 years ago, Pepita and her co-founder Alberto Bravo were inspired by a cool woman knitting on the subway in New York City. In Madrid, where they are from, knitting was the exact opposite of cool – it was something more traditional and for grandmothers to pass the time. So they taught themselves to knit using YouTube videos and the idea of a DIY business evolved from there. “We wanted to launch it online because we wanted to reach knitters from around the world. Today, We Are Knitters is a community over 1 million strong on social media. Last year, we hit a new milestone – fulfilling 130,000 orders from around the globe with over $13.5 million in sales.” says Marin. “They say do what you love, and the rest will follow! This is certainly true of our company and we are blessed to do what we love for a living every single day!”
Here are Marin’s top tips for turning your hobby into a business.
Brainstorm All The Ways You Can Monetize Your Hobby
You may need to do more than one thing to create a financially sustainable business. For example, We Are Knitters expanded from knitting to crochet, petit point, and even arm knitting. They also have kits for women, men, children, babies, and home decor. Everyone loves a handmade gift! In addition to knitting kits, they sell supplies, tote bags, t-shirts and even subscription gift boxes and yarn dying kits. It is important to have vision behind a real business opportunity and to figure out all the ways you can monetize your offerings.
Build An Engaging Brand Around Your Core Consumer
Marin and Bravo wanted to bring knitting to a new generation of younger millennial knitters. To do that they kept their branding youthful, fun and cool. Their patterns are not old frumpy sweaters (unless you want them to be), they are fresh, off the runway styles and always on trend. Think crochet bikinis and cropped sweaters with extra long sleeves. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Some of our marketing slogans include, ‘Knitflix and Chill’, ‘I like big balls!’ and ‘Knitting is my cardio!’” Your brand is your business identity and what you’ll be known for.
Build An Online Presence
In today’s world, every business needs an online presence to generate activity. This means creating and maintaining a website and social media profiles that have engaging content and are consistently updated everyday. We Are Knitter’s Instagram currently has 524K followers and growing everyday. They even have our own branded GIFs for Instagram that people can use to tag them.
Network And Collaborate
The world of knitting is vast and wide. So to build their network, they connect with people through word of mouth, knitting clubs and parties, knitting conferences like Vogue Knitting Live, and local knitting groups. They also make sure they are connected to top knitting and crochet influencers like Jonah’s Hands, Alexandra Tavel of Two of Wands and Jessica Carey of The Hook Nook, as well as collaborate with celebrity knitters like Krysten Ritter, who has done 3 collections for them.
Treat It Like A Job
The final piece of advice is to treat your hobby like a career. “Not everything is fun and know that it will take a lot of time and work. Carve out time to work on your hobby business, read about the industry, enroll in an accounting class, learn about sales and marketing, and dedicate yourself to steady improvement. Dive in head first and submerge yourself in this new business.” says Marin. Like every other job you’ve had there are deadlines and spreadsheets. So make sure you set some expectations that if you want your hobby to be a business, not every single part of it will be fun.
Turning a hobby you love into a business that thrives is totally doable. Follow these steps and enjoy the ride!
Photo Source: Pepita Marin/Stephanie Burns