Owner Katy Collin had an entrepreneurial spirit well before she even considered opening What a Yarn in Downtown St. Albans.
As a child, she learned to knit with her grandmother, and during her college years, she used knitting as a distraction where she found herself with others doing the same.
Following college at UVM, she moved to Breckenridge, Colorado. Wanting to keep up with her knitting, she found there was not a yarn shop in her community, so she took matters into her own hands and she set up a wholesale account with Brown Sheep Company to order the yarn for her and her friends. She started teaching others to knit, and these sessions became known as “Stitch and Bitch”.
After 15 years in Colorado, her and husband returned to her hometown to start a family, and she leaves the corporate world to raise their daughter.
Eventually, she decides to return to work and considers her options. Katy realized the community has a need in Downtown St. Albans.
What a Yarn Fulfills a Niche in Downtown St. Albans
Katy’s entrepreneurial roots and motivation fulfill the need for a yarn store in town, she’s found a niche, and she begins small.
What a Yarn started in Bayberry Cottage at first, a small space, but soon realized she needed little more space to grow, so she moved across the road to the Willow Tree. The Willow Tree, now closed, was where Katy would finally reside at 54 N. Main Street.
Seeing the big picture and fully believing the location was worth the effort, she would overcome the obstacles of taking over a large space and growing more rapidly.
Grateful for the support of the community, other business owners, and for her landlord, she’s thriving and has grown into the space that now exists. She offers needlework classes, various yarns and supplies, and a downstairs packed with antiques to the community and its visitors.
Making the Yarn Shop a Success
Crediting an old friend, Andra Asars, a yarn sales representative, as a valuable resource, Katy says:
“Andra Asars deserves credit for helping me start my business. When I reached out to her, she was willing to help me get started. She had a matrix that helped me to select a good balance of materials.”
She notes, “It is very easy to get distracted and have too much, or the wrong inventory for your market. The basics are what’s needed first.”
Today she relies more heavily on what her customers want and needs, so she is really offering unique supplies and services.
Knitting Weaves Communities
‘Stitch and Bitch’ started back in Colorado, so when Katy opened her store it only seemed natural to reignite that class and develop others. You can find more information about classes offered on her website.
If you’re interested in attending and joining this knitting community – sign up for class.
She does these classes because of the community it brings together. Working on a project knitters talk, share life experiences and views, and are always kind and helpful to one another. It’s an open invitation, regardless of your skills and abilities to attend the ‘Stitch and Bitch’ knitting classes.
The act of knitting is what bring people together, when people face challenges in their knitting they talk about it, they share successes and failures.
When your love, blood, sweat, and tears go into your art, you share that experience with others whether it’s in the accomplishment of a tough design or giving the gift of your labors.
What a Yarn’s Customer Surprise
Reminded daily of the surprises and rewarding experiences that come when a customer tells her what a joy it’s been to work with her and the service they receive is superb. Over time her customers have become her friends.
“I’m fortunate though, I have customers from all over Franklin and Chittenden County, Vermont; Northern New York, and Canada shopping in my store”, says Katy.
“My customers surprise me all the time. One of my customers brought in a big piece of her birthday cake and shared it with me! Why? Because she knows that I love Evelyn’s on Center’s cakes and to share that moment. I didn’t anticipate so many friendships would be created when I started this business.” ~ Katy Collin
They come into the store and ask for help with their projects, and she always helps them. Why? Because customer service is her focus. It’s just her nature to make things right for them.
She stays in touch with her customers through What a Yarn’s weekly newsletter that is sent to clients by email. Katy shares with them:
- What’s going on in the store
- New products
Mistakes and Challenges she facing in her projects
Katy is a genuine person and when she struggles with a project, she shares it, saying, “it’s mostly about her failures, and her experiences bring laughter to her readers – they get it. Knitting is personal, and my newsletter tries to bring that sense of belonging to a community”.
Check out What a Yarn today. Even if it’s just to share a laugh with Katy!
Authored by: Rachael Sink of Rachael’s Ink, LLC.