Friday, September 14, 2012

An Interview with...Andi Javori

Andi wearing a one of a kind piece.

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

You can find Andi here and here on Ravelry. All of the patterns are available here.

Where do you find inspiration?
The answer to this is quite simple, the materials. I would often find myself seeking out yarn and craft shops at home, or abroad while on vacation (to the dismay of my husband and two sons), and perusing the shelves for unique yarns and materials. Today there is such a wonderful variety of yarns to choose from. Upon seeing and feeling the materials, most of the time my project ideas will come to me on the spot, then I would later work out design variations at home in my studio. These variations are then further influenced by my experiences, travels, and architecture. That is why you will often find my designs named after cities.

For example, my Verona Necklace kit that is presently featured in the “What’s New” section of Vogue Knitting Magazine’s 30th anniversary issue Fall 2012. That design was inspired by my visit to Verona, Italy, and the city’s architecture and colors.

What is your favorite knitting technique?
I hate to provide you with a boring answer but I really can’t say I have a favorite knitting technique. I always apply a technique that I feel is essential to the design and look I’m going for. I do like to combine yarns with different textures and colors.  I have become known for my knitted jewelry that applies the technique of knitting with beads.

How did you come to focus on hand knit accessory designs for your own business Javori Designs?
For years I knit garments and accessories that over time left me with a desire to seek alternative ways to have a little more fun with it. I started by incorporating different objects such as rings, glass beads, pendants, wire, and chain, into my projects, and that seemed to work best with knitted accessories. I then took it one step further and started experimenting with knitted jewelry. My designs drew attention, which eventually led to international collectors, and the formation of my own knitting pattern and kit company, Javori Designs. With my knitting patterns and kits, I share some of my ideas and techniques so people can create unique knitting projects in their own homes.

Could you tell us a little about your work for the Tahki Stacy Charles yarn company?
My relationship with the Tahki Stacy Charles yarn company initially began when Stacy Charles invited me to design for him.  Since then I have been designing my “specialty” for his pattern books and website, knitted accessories and jewelry. I frequently used their high quality yarns for my knitted jewelry prior to that, so it was a perfect match. Stacy and Diane Friedman demonstrate a high level of professionalism and integrity that is reflected by all of the departments and employees of the company.  It is truly a pleasure to work with them.
Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?
I have been occasionally reading knitting publications for years and becoming a designer has not prompted me to stop. It is impossible not to look at another designer’s work, it’s everywhere. I admire and appreciate beautiful design. But I never let it influence my own work.
If anything, I find looking at other designers’ work hinders my design process because I do not wish to replicate something I have seen.  What I do look for are the newest trends and colors, and I find myself reading fashion publications more than knitting publications for that information. 
How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for knitters?
I don’t have a problem with designers wishing to simplify patterns. Knitters of all skill levels should be able to have the ability to find a pattern they are comfortable with. I hear from my colleagues complaints of having to change a design to reduce the number of pages a pattern is written on. That is unfortunately the effects of economics on the freedom of design. Luckily, due to their size, I do not run into that issue often with my accessory patterns.

Did you do a formal business plan?
Yes.  I did have a general outline of the steps I was going to take, and how I was going to try to market my designs.

Do you have a mentor?
My husband, he is a very good businessman but unfortunately not a knitter.

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
The Internet had a HUGE impact on my business. I have found the Internet essential for locating material sources for my designs and kits, to the ultimate sale of the products, by the retailers that carry them, and by myself on my website and .  I couldn’t imagine functioning without the Internet.

Do you use a tech editor?
Yes.  My knitting patterns and kits are sold online, and in yarn shops and online retailers around the country. My name is on it, so I sleep better being 100% sure that my patterns are correctly written.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?
With great difficulty.  My studio is in my home, and my i-Pad travels with me to manage my business, therefore work is always around me.  But I have to admit I do enjoy it, otherwise I wouldn’t be involved in this business. That being said, I try to allocate specific times for work, home, and play. Having 2 sons, 15 and 12, a husband, and a demanding cat…family time is important.

How do you deal with criticism?
I actually entertain all types of opinions. When I create a design, I do like to hear honest opinions and critique.  I try to take criticism constructively, everybody is entitled to their opinion.  In the end, you will never please everybody. Therefore to be a designer you have to have a thick skin.  I am so grateful for all of the positive energy I have received from the people who have knit my patterns and kits over the years, and fortunately that has outweighed the negative.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I have had the fortunate experience of being able to support myself in the first year.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in knitting?
I hate to sound cliché, but you truly have to love what you do to get anywhere in any business, and the same goes for knitwear design.  With the presence of Ravelry, Etsy, etc., anyone can post a pattern and call themselves a  “designer”, so there is a lot of competition.  But in the end, the cream rises to the top. You must be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort, and it is necessary to learn how the industry works. Persistence is key.

1 comment:

  1. I have had the pleasure of meeting and taking two knitted jewelry classes by Andi. She was warm and patient with this beginning knitter. It is good to see her doing well and getting the recognition she deserves.