by Martha Coons
Green Mountain Knitting Bags is my business and I love it. Each bag is made of tapestry and upholstery fabrics and crafted by me personally in my Vermont studio. New bags are uploaded to my website every Thursday evening: they sell quickly and are sent all over the world. I often get asked who my “target market” is, and the answer is: women who value their own handwork and want to carry it in something they find beautiful. They're knitters and I know them because I'm a knitter, too. I spend time with them because we're drawn to the same thing. We value what knitting brings to our lives. My work is an extension of that love: it's who I am. What resonates with me resonates with my customers.
To work doing what we love is so fulfilling, yet generating income is often a question. This is where marketing comes in. Marketing is fascinating to me. What makes us buy what we buy? Other than life's necessitates, why do we choose the clothes we do, the shoes, the style? I believe it’s because it says something about us, it's an expression of who we are, our identity. Or maybe it just moves us and we have to have it. Whatever it is, like attracts like.
Because my bags are made in Vermont, I often show glimpses of the beautiful scenery, and my life in it. The bags naturally speak of a slower way of life. A calm, more peaceful lifestyle where quality in a handcrafted item is valued. People who want this in their lives are drawn to it. It's a knitting bag, but it's more.
Many knitters like myself shop online, but find it important to also support our local yarn shops. These shops give us something tangible an online shop can't. The tactile feel of fiber, the face-to-face connection with people who share the same passion, a blending of ideas and an appreciation of the artistry in others. This local Mecca helps to feed my fire and fuel what I do. Fiber events, classes, even just getting together to knit keeps me in tune to the knitting world. This community feeling now has a large presence in our cyber world, so when wanting to promote the business, that's where I go: where my knitters are. Again, like attracts like.
By remaining involved in both local and online knitting communities, I see what's new in the knitting world and I am able to get a strong sense of what people want. This can be challenging sometimes, as I've found myself focusing more on what they want as opposed to what I do and what my aesthetic is. Unless I stay true to that, I know can't effectively market it. Knowing what is important in my work keeps it honest for me. That integrity is valued by my knitting customers. There's a great saying in the business world: "People don't buy what you make, they buy why you make it." So as new ideas and products emerge, my customers know that what's important to me can be found in every piece I make, and they value that.
Who are your knitters? As coaches, how can you reach them and what can you offer?
Martha Coons is a 55-year-old woman who lives in Burlington, Vermont. Green Mountain Knitting Bags is her eight-year-old online business. She loves to knit, sew, spend time with her family and is working to be a certified yoga instructor.