Seat of the Pants Small Business Creation

I am not wealthy. Whatever money I have, I cannot touch without a penalty. Still, knowing I wanted a change in career and to be able to subsidize my life’s mission in the Church, it seemed wisest to set about building a small business. The question was, in what? The answer, naturally enough, in something related to weaving.

Since I find the price of yarns can be ridiculous sometimes, I set about researching the prices of linen, wool, silk, cotton, and other fibers of interest. When you want to weave, you should have access to plenty with which to do it. The end result was that I found vendors for most of what I wanted, and I began ploughing almost every penny of my pay into buying and shipping yarns home.

Business had begun to pick up when it was suddenly ground to a halt when my partner, my sister, fell ill. My cousin in another state was willing to pick up the slack but she and her husband were too busy. So, I decided to purchase yarns, stockpile them in the studio, and continue to search for reliable and trustworthy vendors.

Having thought about it somewhat, I made a decision to purchase undyed yarns. In this way, future customers could buy and do their own dyeing. More importantly, I would buy dyes and do my own dyeing to get the colors I wanted. As a tapestry weaver, there is a great deal of frustration in wanting a particular color and not finding the exact shade the mind conceives. Doing my own dyeing means I’d have to find a dye vendor who would sell wholesale at the volume at which my business would purchase. Not easy. Still, I persevere and make arguments, fruitless so far, to persuade the dye merchants that money from a small enterprise is as good as money from a big one.

So far, I’ve been fortunate in my quest for yarn vendors. Not every vendor wants to do business with a small enterprise. Some vendors have required kilo purchase amounts; plus, there is some wastage when they have to sell at the volume at which I buy, especially if they are putting together an order just for me. All of this means that because my purchase volume is small, my price is a bit higher than would be paid for a larger kilo order. That’s the price of doing business, I say. The most difficult to secure have been the wool vendors.

Since I’m new to wholesale yarn buying, I wanted samples. At first, the vendors’ skepticism transmitted itself via email. Some said they did not give samples, and I’m sure, they were unsure about my intentions. They didn’t know if I was serious. So, I plugged away, had friends talk to the vendors, and tried to establish relations that would last.

By next week, at the latest, some measure of success with the wool vendors, I should make my first order of 100% undyed, white Australian wool.

With this, I’ll have laid the foundation of a small business that, in years to come, I can look at and say, I BUILT THAT! It won’t be easy, but, struggle and all, it will be mine.


Last year, before returning to China, I vowed to my friend Ingrid that I would learn to weave something besides tapestry. Keep that promise, since I’d not traveled with a loom, resulted in the purchase of an Ashford 32″ RH, followed by a second heddle kit.

Diligently, I wove scarves for friends here, and a long sampler which I cut in two to make to wall hangings. It was a good learning experience, not yet completed. Nevertheless, through it all, the heart yearned and the fingers desired to pluck at the warp on a tapestry loom. My friend didn’t want Wa Thongo, so it remained unfinished on the small tapestry frame with no inclination to undo it.

After the last scarf was completed, I warped the Ashford for tapestry. Oh my, the Ashford didn’t like that one bit. Weave, undo all the way down to the hem, start again, weave, undo everything, weave, undo…. The Ashford wanted what it wanted, and I wanted what I wanted. So, I got a 9″ Mirrix.

The project that was intended to be done, woven large, on the Ashford, is now on the Mirrix. The Mirrix is happy.

Though my heart is firmly fixed on tapestry, I want to have a well-rounded weaving studio to pass on the art of weaving to others. So, I decided to go back to school. Two schools, no less. TAFE in Australia, and Haywood in the USA. Then there is an upcoming workshop with Marilyn Rea-Menzies in New Zealand later this year.

Afterwards, I’ll go ahead and fulfill two life missions: to the Church, primarily, and to weaving, secondarily. There is boundless joy at the prospect of the first, and tremendous satisfaction at the thought of the second.