Friday, February 24, 2012

An Interview with...Maryna Shevchenko

Once a week I post  interviews with interesting knitting professionals about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of them makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world. 

You can find Maryna's online store here.

Tell me how you got into the business of running an online yarn store?
Probably like most owners of a knitting store – knitting’s been my passion since my sister taught me how to knit when I was 7. The freedom of creating my own yarn line was a secret dream of a life time for me and when the opportunity came I simply jumped into it.

How long have you been in business?
Feels like a decade but really the business was registered in September 2010. That means we’ve been working for a year and a half.

Do you run the store by yourself or do you have employees, if you do how many people work at your online shop?
Mostly it’s my husband and me. When needed we hire experts in some specific fields like marketing or web programming.

How did you choose the yarns that you carry?
I love natural fibres and the fact that they usually require special care makes them even more special to me. But still I am a working mom of two and prefer to deal with washing fast and easy, that’s why superwash merino wool was my no.1 yarn choice. Then I added pure wool, lustrous bamboo and some exquisite mink and yak yarns to the line. Generally I listen to our customers, they are usually very generous with ideas, plans and wishes. I just do my best to make some of their wishes come true and bring quality yarn at a very good price.

What is the biggest lesson running this business has taught you?
Listen to your instincts and don’t waste time, every minute of every day counts.

What is your favorite part of what you do running the shop?
I love everything about my job, but the best part is to be able to knit almost anything in almost any color and texture. Recently I even turned to knitting with wire and enjoy it a lot. There are some knitting with wire kits available in our store so you too can give it a try.

We’ve seen many cycles in the yarn industry of the market increasing and then falling again. What are your thoughts on where things might be headed now?
World is so integrated now that we all depend on numerous factors we don’t even know about. One of them is constantly increasing Australian and British wool prices. We cannot fight it and we cannot ignore it but it’s not a reason to get scary and shut knitting business altogether. If the company is friendly and fair, it will keep working. It is especially true for knitting industry, because knitters are happiest and friendliest people on our planet J

Do you have a mentor?
There are many people I admire and learn from but I don’t have a formal mentor.

Did you do a formal business plan?
I did a lot of planning and calculations but I never put it in a form of a multi-paged business plan.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
Business model is only a model. You can’t walk somebody else’s path. It’s like a sweater – even if you like the design and have a pattern, for perfect fit you need to adjust length, probably add some shaping here and there. Running a business is making your own sweater.

Did you take any courses in how to run a business before you opened?
I am a trained accountant but more importantly I’ve been a business owner for almost 10 years before starting Knitca. I used to work with educational toys. That’s probably why I like to pack everything in an appealing box.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
Working from home helps me be there for my family when they need me.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in running an online yarn store?
Do a lot of planning, make customer service your top priority and don’t get obsessed about money. They say: “Do what you like and money will follow” and it’s absolutely true.

Maryna sent me some samples of three of her yarns that I am interested in using. I did swatches with a cable with each. Her worsted Woolly Warmth is a sturdy 100% wool. It has good stitch definition and would make excellent garments meant to be worn as an outer layer. Her Delight line is a DK, 100% wool. If you are a fan of Zara, which was a very popular yarn when I worked in my LYS you would love it! She also carries Lovely, DK, 100% bamboo. It has a beautiful sheen and good stitch definition as well. I've only knit with 100% bamboo once before, I love the feel of it and this yarn seemed to be a superior version to the one I used in the past with a stronger twist and a little less of a tendency to split while being worked. All three yarns come in a wide range of solid colours. I'm planning to buy all three of these yarns for myself.

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