Creative Chats ~ Louise Tilbrook – Knitter, blogger & designer.
We have had some wonderful creative businesses enrol on our online course and come along to our Pinterest Workshops. We have so enjoyed connecting with them online and in person and thought it would be great to share our creative chats with you here on our blog!
We have reached out to these artists and makers to share their small business story with us. Details of their creative process, where they find inspiration and the highs and lows of running their own business.
First up in our Creative Chats feature is knitter & designer Louise Tilbrook:
Do you have a favourite creation, one that you’re most proud of?
My favourite thing to create would have to be handknit socks – ideally in colourful hand-dyed yarn. Sock yarn which is created to make its own stripes is such fun to knit and really addictive. There’s nothing that beats the feeling of satisfaction when you cast off and slip your feet into fabulous hand-knit socks. In the online world, my pride and joy is my Everyday Knitter Facebook group. It’s a closed group for knitters which I set up about 18 months ago now and I run with a team of 4 moderators. We have over 20,000 knitters from all over the world. It’s a really fun and vibrant community to be part of.
What’s in your creation toolbox?
A heck of a lot of yarn! I’m a bit of a magpie and love to collect unusual and beautiful skeins of hand-dyed yarn. I’m also never without a notebook. I love to bullet journal for pattern notes and designing. I always have a notebook somewhere about my person.
Tell us about what you enjoy about running your business and find easy?
I love the flexibility of my business and the fact that I can fit it around my day job. I love chatting to customers and fellow knitters online and in person about their makes. Sharing a common interest makes it so much easier to break down my natural introversion tendencies and connect with people.
What don’t you enjoy and find difficult, what are the obstacles?
I don’t like the admin and accounting side of things but they are a necessary evil. What I find really difficult is promoting and speaking about my work. I always shy away from anything that looks or feels like a ‘hard sell’. The reality is that I often don’t say anything at all.
Who is your perfect/ideal customer and what do they value from you?
I think most of my customers like to buy patterns that are simple but effective. They like to support independent hand-dyers and other small businesses. They like to feel as though they are part of a community and among friends. They may knit alone but they can share their hobby with friends online.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
It normally starts with the yarn and I go from there. I’ll try out a few designs until I find something that works well with the yarn and then knit up the sample. It then usually goes to a tech editor (who does the pattern layout, corrects my maths and suggests edits for clarity). After that, I often use a few volunteer test knitters who knit the piece. They use their own yarn and give feedback and suggestions for any improvements.
Do you work on your own and where from?
My design work fits in around my family life and my day job. In practice that means that I always have a tote bag with me. It is stuffed with a few of my latest projects and the associated notebooks and yarns. My family joke that my knitting comes everywhere with me. I even have an emergency skein of sock yarn and needles tucked in the car boot – just in case.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
I holiday a lot with my family in the Lake District. I take a lot of my inspiration from nature and the amazing scenery there. I prefer to design pieces that are fun to knit. If I’m not enjoying knitting something then I don’t expect others to. Many of my designs look complicated but are actually deceptively simple once you get the hang of them.
Do you have any work in progress you’re excited about and you like to share with us?
Summer is usually a quieter time for me but I usually use it to go through old notebooks for ideas and inspirations that I jotted down over the past months. At the minute I’m planning a big cosy blanket for autumn – we knitters are always working a few months ahead – although I can’t bring myself to think about Christmas just yet.
Passions and interests?
I love to read and my Kindle comes everywhere with me. I do love the feel of a paper book and still buy way too many but having a Kindle means I can knit and read at the same time – I’m all about multitasking. Away from knitting, I love to walk. As a family, we do a lot of hill walking. I’m recently taking baby steps into the world of dressmaking, but it’s proving to be a very steep learning curve!
What was the biggest take away from doing our Pinterest course?
That it really is about the long -term picture. Small incremental steps taken every day or week which really do add up into measurable results over time. We are so used to the immediacy of Instagram likes and comments, that Pinterest seems like the slow lane. But really it is incredibly powerful and once you treat it as a longer-term strategy for driving traffic to your website, that’s when you start to see things really take off.
Would you like to learn more about how to use Pinterest to grow your creative business? Check out the following:
Find out more about Louise here:
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