Friday, August 8, 2014

An Interview with...Francine Hebert

Francine wearing Natalie Servant 's Khufu

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

You can find Francine here. You can find kits with yarn, a pattern and her shawl pins here. She is on Ravelry here.

Tell me how you got into the business of running a knitting related accessory business.
When my kids were little I needed a creative outlet.  Something that belonged to me that I could  nurture. I started showing up at my local LYS on knit night. I noticed all the beautiful gossamer lace shawls that all these talented women were knitting, and the only pin being sold were ones made of pewter and far too heavy for these shawls. It was an ah ha! moment….. All I would need is a circle and a stick; and then I went to work on creating something light and beautiful.

What is the biggest lesson running your business has taught you?

Running my own business has taught me to always believe in myself.

What is your favourite part of running the business?

My favourite part of running my own business is that I can start my work day at 4 pm, in my pyjamas and still be available to lend an ear to my teenage kids.

Tell us about your experience with Etsy and going to retail shows.

Etsy allows me to reach a wider audience, I like that. But it’s really about having a “storefront” on the web that I can point people to.  I also like how easy it is to add new items. I love doing retail shows!  There is such an adrenaline rush that  goes along with it. I’m pretty much a homebody and it forces to to go outside of my comfort zone.  It’s always fun to reconnect with other vendors and doing shows opens up the opportunity for networking.

Did you have a formal business plan?


Do you have a business model that you have emulated ?

No, I take it one day at a time, and ask my friends a lot of questions.  I learn as I go.

How do you maintain your life /work balance?

Well, life does have a habit of getting in the way, and I’m easily distracted. I usually procrastinate until I have to have inventory for a show or store, then I’m on fire.

How did you come up with the idea of using a chain to secure the pin on your shawls?

One day when I lost the stick part of my pin, I thought it would be great to attach it with a chain!

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?

It’s not the only income I have.  My business grows every year but I also work part time at my LYS and teach knitting there as well.

Could you tell us a little about your collaboration with Natalie Servant and Yvonne Leduc?
We all met at our LYS, became friends, and when our businesses started, it was a natural collaboration. Yvonne and I do all the fibre shows together and we bring Natalie Servant’s patterns with us. It’s a perfect fit - Yvonne dyes the yarn, Natalie designs shawl patterns, and I make shawl pins.  We always have kits made up at shows and they sell pretty fast.
Editor's note: my interview with Yvie is here. The interview with Natalie is here.

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in running a knitting related business?

My advice is to Network, network, network. Ask questions, listen to feedback and always think how your product can fit in somewhere.   

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