Today marks five years since HipStrings made its first sale on Etsy.
Creating the business was supposed to be a way to justify a membership at TechShop - to be able to pay for the access to laser engravers and other exciting micro manufacturing tools that are out of the price range of most makers. I never thought it would become what it is today.
At the time, I was a stay at home mom to a 4 year old and a 2 year old. Nik and I ran a wedding photography business on the side - capturing 6-12 weddings a year. We had just moved to our current home, closer to Nik's work and closer to the city. As a rare date, we took the class at Techshop to use the laser engravers and afterwards came up with the idea for the supported spindles. We tried out prototypes in acrylic and wood, and the acrylic ones blew me out of the water. I shared some videos with friends on Ravelry and people were eager to buy them. At the same time, we came up with the design for the Spinner's Control Card. I made a handful of spindles, basing the whorl diameters on traditional supported spindles with flat whorls. We released them to the world on May 15th, 2013.
Thankfully we had supporters and I decided to add fiber to the mix shortly after - mainly fiber that complemented the spindles we were selling - cotton and luxury fibers.
As time passed, we added new products - sometimes from our own lack of finding what we wanted in the marketplace and sometimes from requests from customers. I started dyeing yarn and fiber because I couldn't reliable buy from other indie dyers because of my dye sensitivities.
Eventually we shut down the wedding photography business and focused on HipStrings. In 2015 we started creating our Signature Blends. In 2016 we had the chance to move into an affordable commercial space, which has allowed for a lot more growth and the ability to interact more with our local community (which is my favorite part of having an accessible studio space)! In 2017, we added our first custom milled yarn - Buoy, started our podcast, as well as took over the management of Pittsburgh's Indie Fiber Arts Marketplace - Indie Knit & Spin. We've been featured in magazines, online blogs and podcasts, and have sold spindles, tools, fiber and yarn across the world. It really is amazing when I step away from the nitty gritty of running a small business.
We've met so many amazing people because of HipStrings. I am so grateful to run a successful business that permits me to be at home with my kids (or take them to work with me!) and contribute financially while having a creative outlet. I have so much gratitude for the fiber arts community.
We're just getting started.