As part of my ongoing excitement at being featured as Crochet Designer of the Month in the June Yarnbox, I asked Hannah to be interviewed for this website and for a magazine I collaborate to… wink, wink! Here is that interview.
When did yarnbox start & how did you grow it from scratch?
Yarnbox sent out our first shipment in May of 2013 — technically work began on it in February of that year, when Michael approached me about becoming the creative director for the idea he had. We wanted to approach the yarn subscription from a different angle, so our first real step was getting our name out there. We bought ads in magazines to generate buzz, and talked about it through a Facebook page and to our personal connections. We had 150 members for the first month, and almost instantly went on a waiting list for the following months.
How many subscribers can Yarnbox currently boast of?
We are about to send out our June box to over 1500 subscribers. We will definitely hit over 2000 by the end of the year.
What has been the most rewarding thing about it?
I think that the most rewarding thing about Yarnbox is to have so many people trust you to pick out something for them, and then seeing everyone light up and get excited about seeing what has arrived. Each month generates a lot of excitement, and by generating that excitement, we get pumped about the shipment too. It’s a huge mood-booster when all of the boxes start arriving and people are excited.
How many people work at yarnbox?
We have two employees. Michael, who worked as a yarn sales rep in one of the largest territories in the US for over 20 years, and Hannah (me!) who has worked various creative positions for a number of wonderful yarn companies. We also hire local help in Schaumberg, IL when it’s time to pack the boxes, but for the most part it’s just the two of us. I live in Iowa and Michael is in Illinois.
How much time / work is involved in 1 month?
A ridiculous amount of work goes into these boxes, but also into the customer service portion and community parts of the business. I work probably between 4 – 6 hours a day on answering emails, communicating on Ravelry, designing graphics for the boxes and our website, photographing and editing photos, filming videos, all sorts of things. Meanwhile, Michael is busily packing boxes, sorting out the shipping details for the companies we work with, managing the timelines, answering more customer service questions, and when we get close to shipping time, his work increases exponentially. But it’s fun work — we don’t mind doing it!
Is it a full-time gig or do you work outside the home?
I believe Michael does Yarnbox full time. He is our company’s President. I am a contractor for Yarnbox as the Creative Director, and I work additionally for a few other companies as a freelance writer, project coordinator, and social media generator. But I do work entirely at home, and everything I do relates to yarn, so I am not complaining! I like having different companies and personalities to work for and interact with — I am the type of person where too much of the same thing can start to drive me crazy, so it’s nice to have variety.
And perhaps a little bit about you personally : where you’re from & where you’re located, family, pets, favorites and peeves.
I am originally from the Southern US — I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and have lived all over the place — Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia. My family lives in Iowa, and I’m currently living there while I wait for a few other things to line up, helping my mom run her yarn store, The Sheep’s Stockings. I live in an old craftsman style house with my parents (it’s not as bad as it sounds!) We have combined 3 cats and a huge dog, a Bernese Mountain Dog named Sasha. She’s a goofball. My sister lives at home but is headed back to school in the fall to major in Chemistry.
I started in the yarn industry in 2007, around the time that I joined Ravelry. I became an administrator for the Malabrigo Junkies group and eventually got to know the guys running Malabrigo — Antonio and Tobias. They gave me my first real ‘in’ to the industry when they invited me to intern at their company for two months in 2009 — I lived in Montevideo, Uruguay for the time. Afterwards, I kept working with them on a contract basis, and helped with Book 3 as a stylist, and Book 4 as creative director. Shortly afterwards I was invited to come on board at Premier Yarns as Creative Director — after awhile working there, I realized that while the big-box yarn market was a lot of fun, my heart was in working with smaller companies, so when Yarnbox was offered I jumped at the chance. I also work for Shibui Knits and Zen Yarn Garden — it’s a lot of fun.
One of my favorite things to do is to knit, obviously — I have been knitting since I was 8 years old. I am teaching myself to crochet and a few years ago I learned how to spin my own yarn on a wheel, so that has become my more ‘relaxing’ hobby. Sometimes I dabble in design, but often I don’t have time for it. On the weekends, you’ll probably find me sneaking in work between episodes of cooking shows on Hulu. I have a horrible addiction to Chef Gordon Ramsay and have watched almost everything he’s been in. I love cooking and am trying to teach myself to be a better baker.
I don’t really have many peeves! I keep to myself a lot, maybe that’s why 😉
I also write this blog: www.handmadebyhannahbelle.com
Have you received your June Yarnbox? =)