Freia and the Knitwhit

A Blog about a Dog with some Knitting thrown in here and there

Saying Goodbye – Dana The Intern – Week 8 August 12, 2008

Filed under: Dana The Intern,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 10:45 am

The most exciting 2 months of my life are coming to an end today, as I make my way back to Cleveland, Ohio this weekend.  I am leaving with a lifetime of memories, mostly good and some bad.  I have learned more about myself in these past months than I ever have before.  The one aspect of myself I thought I would have figured out by now is what I will be doing with my life when my internship is over.  At this point I have no idea, and it is very frightening!  I have met so many amazing people out here, who have made great career choices, and I know I want that to be me too someday.

This week Tina and I have been tying up loose ends in the studio.  We recapped all the projects I did to make sure they were complete.  We finished cleaning the studio, and made a Goodwill donation and scheduled a Salvation Army pickup.  We discussed more details about Stitches Midwest in Chicago, and I tried to help Tina pack boxes of merchandise to send to the show.  I always feel so badly for her when she is frantically trying to figure out what to take!  To this day I still do not know what to take to the shows.  You have no way of knowing if the merchandise you take might not be what people wanted, and the merchandise you do not even think to take is what could have sold.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to figure this out please let us know.

On Monday Tina and I went to a knitting group at her friend Bridget’s house.  I never knew these existed until this summer.  It is a lot of fun, because everyone sits around and knits and catches up on their day to day experiences.  If you are needing ideas on how to do certain knitting techniques there are people there as well to help you out.  I am going to join one back home if any exist.

On Thursday Tina and I met up with another designer, Maggie Pace of Pick Up Sticks, so I could see another aspect of the knitting industry.  I had a great time getting to know her, and taking a tour of her studio.  Her latest addition to her studio is an industrial yarn winder, which she says cuts a week’s worth of work into one day.  It has made her life much easier and I can see why when I saw the machine operating.  It was a great opportunity for me to meet another great designer who works hard and has a fabulous product!

My final restaurant recommendation for the blog would have to be Chevy’s.  Aaron took me there with some friends for my birthday, and we had a great a time.  Tina came as well, which was great because she got to meet some of Aaron’s friends.  We toasted to turning 27 with margaritas and ate some great Mexican food.  The Chevy’s in Emeryville sits right on the water and you get a great view of the Bay while you eat.

For my last paragraph I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for taking the time to read my weekly blogs.  I hope everyone has enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  Aaron has also been great to me the whole time I have been here.  He spent many days and nights driving me everywhere I needed to go, he made me feel welcome from the moment I arrived and included me always in plans with his friends.  Thank you Aaron, you’re the best.  I have to thank my family for supporting me through all my years of school.  They never doubted my abilities to achieve my goals, and without them I would never be able to call myself a college graduate!  Thank you for being an amazing family!  Lastly I want to thank Tina for taking the time to mentor me and take me under her wing and teach me the in’s and out’s of running a business.  She also spent much time teaching me to knit, making sure I was well fed, and listening to all my issues I encountered with my drunken roommate.  I have made another great friend, and have learned so much from her these past two months.

 

Seeing through the clutter – Dana The Intern – Week 7 August 5, 2008

Filed under: Dana The Intern,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 10:02 pm

I finally recouped from the Seattle trip, and this week was the week for reorganization.  Tina and I finished making the shelves to store her yarn and it was time for it to all come together.   

I separated all her yarn into categories by company. All the yarn is in one area by her work table, so she does not have to go far to get what she needs.  Everything is visible to where she can tell right away when she is out of a certain color; therefore she can place an order immediately.  There is now a shipping area where all her boxes, stuffing, and tape are together.  Now there is no more shifting things around, in order to find the right size box to send an order out.  Tina also has a section of shelves where all her left over yarn is.  That yarn consists mostly of discontinued colors, and she keeps miscellaneous accessories in there.  When we were all done I decided that she had too much scrap yarn that she needed to get rid of.  It was taking up to much work space, and she would never know it was gone.  It was like pulling teeth for “Little Miss Pack Rat”, but I got her to donate the scraps of yarn to a local middle school teacher.  She is going to use the yarn for teaching her students to knit.  What a great idea bringing young knitters into the world!

I ended up making reservations at the Extended Stay Hotel in Emeryville, so I would have a place to stay the last week of my internship.  What an ordeal it was trying to check into that place.  I decided to stay there, because of the reasonable rate, however I definitely got what I am paying for.  They over booked all of the non-smoking rooms, so when I checked the only room available was smoking.  I was exhausted from packing and moving all my things that I did not argue I just smiled and said okay.  When I entered the room the horrible smell hit me like a ton of bricks!  There was cigarette burns all over the bedspread, and the room felt dirty.  I could not stay there!  Aaron agreed the room was disgusting, so he let me crash on his couch that night.  I do not know what I would have done had he not let me stay there.  So we loaded up all my belongings in his car, unloaded them at his house, and then the next morning packed the car again and unloaded it all at Tina’s.  That afternoon Tina took me back to the hotel with all my stuff and we made sure that I would be placed in a non-smoking room.  Needless to say the room was non-smoking, but it still had a musty foul scent to it.  I am looking forward to being in my own place, and not having to live out of a suit case for a while!

This past weekend Aaron’s sister Jenny and her boyfriend Marc came for a visit from LA, and we spent some time at the wineries in Napa.  That is my favorite place to go, and I had not been there this summer.  We had a blast at this winery called Luna’s.  The guy pouring our wine was hilarious, and he does his job well, because we left there with a few bottles of wine in hand!  He was so nice that Jenny and I could not leave without taking a picture with him.  I think he enjoyed our company for the short while we there.  Napa Valley is my place of recommendation this week.  Anyone that has not been there needs to go see the beautiful wineries, and taste the excellent wine.  I have been to several wineries and the best ones to experience are right here in Northern California.

It has been a great being able to share my stories on this blog.  Next week will be my last one, and I am sad to say I will be making my journey back home to the Midwest.  My time at the Knitwhits studio and the Bay area has been a great experience.  I have been able to make lasting friendships with great people, and have a mind full of spectacular memories.  I hope that other PiPN interns take this opportunity and make the most of it.

 

Dana The Intern – Week 6 – Whatever happened to Baseball? July 28, 2008

Can I Come Too?

Can I Come Too?

Week 6 at the Knitwhits studio was spent organizing and packing for the Northwest Needle Market in Seattle.  It was difficult deciding what to take, and what not to take.  We only had so much room, and we wanted to make the most of it.  Tina put me in charge of merchandising the room, therefore I had to plan what samples to bring, what props I would need to set the kits up with and what tools I needed in order to display visuals properly.  I was completely stressed out by the time Friday rolled around; I could barely function and pack my personal belongings.  I realized when going through security that my carryon bag contained all of my toiletries.  What an idiot I was thinking I could carry on more than 3 ounces worth of liquid on the plane with me.  Next thing I know I was running through the airport trying to check in my carryon bag, make through security again, in order to catch my flight in 20 minutes.  Needless to say I made it, and I was never so happy to be on that airplane.

Eggs Get Cornered

Eggs Get Cornered

This year the tradeshow was slower than we would have liked it to be. 

(ETA – yes, a lot of the bigger and the regular accounts from that area went to TNNA or are waiting till the season really kicks in to place their orders – we didn’t see the stores from Alaska, Canada and US states further a field such as Utah and Montana that have attended this show in previous years.)
The number of retail shops visiting was just slightly down from the previous year. Customers were definitely there for the cash & carry aspect of the show, so saving themselves some money and were less interested in placing any orders.  I have to wonder if the current price of gas had anything to do with it!  However, we did get some complements on our displays, which leads me to believe I did something right.  One interesting fact regarding this show was that it was all new customers that made the purchases. That speaks volumes for Tina, because interest in her designs continues to generate new accounts.  

Tina and I took some time to do a little exploring while in Seattle, so we journeyed to the Grand Re-opening of the Westfield Mall in Tukwila.  I was amazed to see the number of people shopping, and the line to check out in some of these stores was unreal.  It makes it hard to believe that the recession we are experiencing with our economy is having any negative effect on the consumers in this area.  My favorite discovery was a store called Gilly Hicks.  This is a collection of intimates and loungewear for girls and boys.  It is owned by Abercrombie & Fitch, and I assume they are trying to target males and females in their teens and early 20’s.  As of right now they are 1 of 8 stores to make it into the malls, so they are trying to test the market right now.
(ETA – My favorite was “Buckle” (how cool are these T-shirts?? – I need to get out more.. – and I’m also now in love with Ed Hardy Shirts – but yowza.. pricey…. )

Light the Night Walk

Light the Night Walk

I am extremely excited about our latest promotion we are doing with the Purl Packs.  I am a team captain for the Light the Night Walk in Cleveland in honor of my Mother.  It is a fundraiser that The Leukemia Lymphoma Society puts on for cancer research.  Tina is donating $5 for every Purl Pack that is purchased by retail stores now until the day of the walk on September 27th.  This is a great opportunity to raise money for a great organization, and to reflect on the importance of finding a cure cancer.  I am a huge advocate for promoting this, after seeing what my Mother has gone through being diagnosed with Lymphoma.  If there is one thing I would love to see, it is people not having to suffer from invasive cancer treatments.

My favorite excursion this week in San Francisco was a trip to AT&T Park to watch a Giants game.  Aaron and I spent Thursday at the stadium, and then took a long walk to North Beach.  Of course I was exhausted after the long trudge through the city, when reached a local park we took a much needed nap in the sun.  I have to say was not impressed with the Giant’s stadium.  I felt as if I was at a carnival with all of the commercialized interruptions throughout the game.  It seemed as though the fans were more entertained by the trivia games played between innings, and all of the Giants paraphernalia they could buy.  Whatever happened to going to a baseball game and cheering for your home team, or actually watching the game?!?

PacBell Park

PacBell Park

 

Dana The Intern – Week 5 – Many Hills to Climb.. July 22, 2008

Filed under: Dana The Intern,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 8:05 pm

How do you sell a new idea to your customer, and what actions do you take in order for people to understand what you are promoting?  When I leave here in 3 weeks I want to feel as though I came up with or assisted in creating a marketing strategy that worked.  I think Purl Packs is a great idea for our wholesale customers to restock on their patterns quickly and painlessly. 

“How easy it is to go to the website, click on the pattern pack you want, and instantly you have 18 patterns arriving at your shop in a few days.  The Purl Packs only consist of new patterns or our best sellers, so we know they will sell fast once they are on the shelves.  What a great way to sell yarn as well!  Pair your favorite skeins of yarn with a great Knitwhits pattern, and you will be reordering yarn in no time.”

For the past two weeks I have been tossing ideas around on how to promote Purl Packs.  I have to do more than send monthly newsletters that talk about these pattern packs.  This is just one challenge I am struggling with, where I have to think outside the box. 

Creating a company around a concept, and trying to make a go of it, requires you to think outside the box.  The hardest part I have learned about running your own business is that there is a lot of trial and error.  You have to be mentally prepared to realize some of your best ideas may fail, and you have start all over again with new ones.  You never know what will work until you try to make it work.  Sometimes I think to myself, what keeps Tina going?  You have to have a passion for what you do, and her passion is design and knitting.

Tina and I will be in Seattle this weekend for the Northwest Needle Market.  This is my first “working” trade show, and I am anxious to see the outcome.  We spent time planning out what products we need to take, hoping to have the right mix that will all sell so we don’t have to bring it back.  I asked Tina several times “How do we know it will sell”?  She would say “You don’t, you just have to try an educated guess and hope that it will”. (Yup.. I pretty much operate on a wing and a prayer! 🙂 ) We know we want to bring some of the best sellers, but we also want to showcase the new products too.

The View from the Hill

The View from the Hill

This past week Aaron to me to the Legion of Honor, a fantastic art museum in San Francisco.  They had several pieces by August Rodin, and some other highlights were seeing paintings by Monet and Picasso.  After the museum, Aaron needed some stimulation so we went to Buena Vista Park.  We walked to the top of the hill to see a beautiful view of the city.  It took me a while to catch up to him as we hiked up the hill, he had to stop a few times and wait for me. 

Waiting for me at the top of Mt Everest

Waiting for me at the top of Mt Everest

I swear it felt like I was climbing Mt. Everest!  I am so glad he made me do it, because the view of the city was spectacular!  That night I was exhausted, needless to say I hit the couch when I got home.

I also got to experience the great shopping in the city on Sunday.  My friend Allegra took me to Westfield in San Francisco, and we ventured to some great stores around Union Square.  Some of my favorite stores were Barney’s, Bloomingdales, and Zara!  We were gone for 9 hours, and my legs and feet were numb when I got home.  That is one of my most memorable shopping experiences I have had, and I think everyone should endure that once in their lifetime!

I had a great week 5 at the Knitwhits studio and in the Bay Area!  It is sad to realize this will all be coming to an end soon, but my memories will last me a lifetime.

 

Trials and Dinners – Dana The Intern – Week 4 July 15, 2008

Filed under: Dana The Intern,House and Home,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 8:08 pm

I cannot believe my internship excursion is half done, and that I will be leaving the Bay area in a few weeks! Week 4 was a week of sharing dinners with friends, being told I look like “Jessica Simpson” by annoying people in a bar, and having Dell tech support employees tell me I need a new operating system for a notebook that is 3 months old!

Believe it or not last week was the first time I spent Monday through Friday at the Knitwhits studio. Between all the traveling I was able to do the past few weeks I never spent a full week here. I was concerned by the end of the week I would run out of work to do, or that Tina and I would be sick of each other, but neither of those happened. This week I spent a lot of time perfecting the Kit Guide Book I was working on from last week. I began organizing the products into categories, downloading the pictures for each kit, and then inputting the items that belong in each kit. I also continued to work on the Pattern of the Week emails. They seem to be generating business and bumping up her web traffic, which is excellent. The theory is that the more people start browsing her website the more likely they will buy products off of it!

Stats

Stats

My goal before I leave Knitwhits is to boost her web traffic by 10% from last year! Hopefully this will be reflected in an increase in sales too. (Tina here.. hmm .. seeing an increase and lots of jumping around from last month.. something’s going on that’s for sure! 🙂 )

We started talking more about reorganizing the studio and went to several stores to get ideas on how to make the studio more effective. We are trying techniques to reduce time on making kits, and being able to see what yarn needs to be reordered instantly. Overall if we can find a solution this will save time and money in the end. And now Tina is introducing me to power tools. Never did I imagine I would be working with those during a Fiber Arts internship! She came up with this great idea to make peg shelves to hang her yarn for easy accessibility. Being the creative person she is, she decided we are going to build them ourselves. (Err.. we are? Nah, you’re the intern.. that’s what you’re here for!) If it were me I would just go to IKEA, and buy something that would do the trick, however Tina told me “In order to get exactly what you want, you create exactly what you want!” We went to Home Depot bought some 2×3 wood, screws, and a saw – we will soon be on our way.

The end of my week became a disaster when my computer crashed. Unfortunately Tina had to see my impatient side, a side of me I hoped she would not have to experience. My computer decided it was not going to connect to internet explorer, because of a family safety feature malfunction. At first I was calm about the situation, however by the end of the day when Dell told me I needed a new operating system I was outraged. Turns out they were too incompetent to research the problem, and decided not to call me back after we got disconnected. Tina took a lot of time trying to help me find a solution; but ultimately my amazing Father was able to figure out the problem (long distance from home!) and walked me through how to fix it. By that night my hair was sticking straight up from me pulling on it all day, but the computer was fixed and I was happy.  

3 gals at Rudy's

3 gals at Rudy's

Later on that week I met a friend of hers, Mia, and the three of us went to dinner at Rudy’s Cant Fail Café. Mia used to work for Tina at the Knitwhits studio, so we swapped stories all evening about living in the Bay area and working for Tina. The food was excellent of course; I have yet to eat a bad meal here. It is a great place to go if you are looking for a casual place to eat, and food on the menu that will please anyone’s appetite.

I spent my free time this week learning how to research information on Ravelry. I joined the PiPN group, and I am hoping to talk with other students about what they have learned so far on their internship. I want to share my experiences as well, and get some ideas of other things we can do before I leave. I think Ravelry is an awesome site to share your interests with others, and promote your products for your business as well.

Mark, Allegra, Aaron and I at Tamarindo

Mark, Allegra, Aaron and I at Tamarindo

Saturday night was another great night of dining and great company. Aaron and I went to dinner with some friends of his, Mark and Allegra, who are two people I always look forward to seeing when I come to the Bay area. We went to a place called The Trappist before dinner for some drinks, and then we had dinner at Tamarindo. This restaurant serves excellent Mexican food along with great margaritas! Poor Mark happened to eat a habanero pepper by accident, and was in some pain throughout dinner, but he did manage to recover from it. I always tell Aaron it is hard to come across great people, and I am fortunate that I have met Mark and Allegra.

I find it fascinating being able to meet all of the people that I have. The Bay area is a great place to talk to people who have a variety of interests and hobbies. One thing I know is not to judge a book by its cover, you can always find something good in everyone. I hope I can pass that trait on to others.