Remember the Yarn Affair concept?
The fledgling business idea didn’t get off the ground. The organizer just sent out an e-mail today announcing that they decided not to go forward, no reason given. But apparently she may be interested in allowing someone else to “take over” (does this mean selling the mailing list? domain name? suppliers list? licensing them?).
This started me thinking about other knitting-related money-making schemes that take advantage of a pre-existing personal relationship, like the local stitch-and-bitch. The big roadblock with with a Yarn Affair-type business is that at the outset, the person in the role of franchisor/wholesale distributor has to make a major cash outlay (or incur a significant debt) in order to provide products that are competitive with locally available goods. Otherwise, the local “consultants” have nothing to sell.
But why sell anything at all? Why design your business model to make money directly off the individual knitters? And why enter into competition with established mills, distributors, and retailers with their “direct from the mill” private label brands?
Don’t compete with ‘em, join ‘em. What I haven’t seen yet is an advertising feature that targets stitch-and-bitch groups directly. Imagine: one advertising coordinator sets up a biannual or quarterly print newsletter, and a pile of sample cards — preferably slightly in advance of the season — to sent directly to the coordinator of every stitch-and-bitch group, for free. The advertising coordinator sells ad space in the package to the distributors and mills. If they want to be included, they pay money and send enough sample cards or sample skeins to represent their yarn line. If the knitters want the yarn, they go to online or bricks-and-mortar shops that carry that line (a customized list of local sources could be included in each package), not a sales rep who infiltrated herself into the local group.
The value provided to the manufacturers by the advertising coordinator is the editorial content (bought, of course), and the mailing list — not just some easily-compiled e-mail list that anyone firing off cease-and-desist e-mails can grab, but real, physical, mailing addresses.
Yes, it’s a half-baked idea. What do you want? I’m supposed to be working.