All her life Laurie Gonyea has had a passion for knitting. She picked up her first set of needles at age six and never stopped (although she did have to “stay in the closet” during her feminist university days). In desperation stuck in an airport without a knitting project to sustain her, she came up with the idea for her own business – kits for the desperate knitter.
In doing a bit of research, Laurie discovered a large ($748 million) and growing market passionate about knitting. Her first products were all inclusive kits to be sold in places where knitters might feel desperate for a project: airports and hospitals.
But Laurie, ever compelled to create new and innovative products moved on to create a product aimed at the new mass of iPhone (and now iPad) owners. The iMitt kit solved the problem of keeping fingers warm yet accessible (iPhones are activated by body heat). Laurie then designed kits for a buttonhole (self tying) scarf and warm boot toppers to add warmth to the latest craze of colorful rubber boots. These fun, practical, innovative kits took off and Laurie found additional distribution channels through Uncommon Goods, SpoonSisters and The NPR shop.
But as her business was evolving and growing, Laurie was sensitive that others, especially in her home state of Michigan, were truly struggling with a continuing tough economy. So Laurie knit up a new initiative that she calls “Support the Mitten” (Michigan is often referred to as the mitten due to its shape). As much as possible, Laurie seeks to source suppliers and service providers from Michigan. While physical products such as wool, bamboo needles, etc. must come from other places, Laurie has been able to engage a local fulfillment company, two printers and her marketing firm. In this way Laurie feels she can do her part toward a positive, sustainable change in her beloved “Mitten” state.
Want to chat directly with Laurie Gonyea? Link here to the Knit Outta the Box Facebook fan page and maybe you’ll find some warm, innovative holiday gifts as well ;)
Your Next Best Three Steps:
1. Passion. If your business centers around your personal passion, you will get through good times and bad – and always be inspired to create.
2. Pioneer Products. Even if your product (or service) has been around for a long time, it must have a unique approach, an interesting restatement, or something to make others see your offering as unique. Innovation helps attract distribution and profits and creates a distinct brand for your business.
3. Purpose. At the end of the day, it is all about answering the “So what?” question. The tighter purpose and your business are linked, the more passionate you will be.
How has Passion, Pioneer Products or Purpose helped your business develop and grow? Answer in the Comments section below.