Twinkie Chan and how she’s made crocheting her business…


Remember MySpace? I loved MySpace, it’s where I developed my first business, as a freelance photographer and got my name out as a pin-up and burlesque photography in the North of England, being on MySpace also helped me develop friendships, learn HTML code and write my first ever blog posts. It was also a place where I found a lot of awesome and cool people who I’ve continued to follow to this day: Frankii Wilde who I ended up shooting for my Photography dissertation, Jeffree Star who now has a successful make up business and Twinkie Chan who is THE go to lady for kawaii crochet, always has been and always will be! It’s been awesome to see these people develop and how their social media followings have helped them get to where they are now back when we didn’t even know the term social media.

It’s our absolute pleasure to share with you an interview with Twinkie (that’s not her real name unfortunately, but let’s do with it for the sake of nostalgia) you can read another interview with this cutie on my personal blog too.

PinkCollage2

Can you tell us a little bit about what role social media and blogging has played in your career?

I’m a crochet artist/designer, and crocheting can be a very slow process. When Etsy became popular, one of the tips you’d hear for getting more traffic to your shop was to post a new item everyday. This was not something I was able to do, but I did see value in having regular and new content for people interested in my brand. That’s when I started to blog, and other things like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram started to roll in. For my brand, it was important to me to share parts of my life and my personality, and not just focus sole-ly on products and/or sales. I wanted to create the feeling of a fun lifestyle, and blogging/social media definitely helped build that universe.  I’ve ended up working with companies in ways that I had never planned, like promoting clothing, accessories, or craft supplies. All that additional fun stuff is all due to stepping outside the crochet box and sharing more of my world.

Did crochet and knitting come naturally to you? How long did it take for you to realise that you could make your craft a business?

I learned to crochet at a young age, but of course I had no intention to turn it into a business at that point. I’ve always been a very crafty person, dabbling in all sorts of media. My boss at my former day job was very encouraging and told me I should sell items in a store or have a store of my own, but I felt like my crafting was all over the place and not at all focused. In 2005, I re-discovered my love for crocheting. Around this time, everyone started building personal websites for various projects, and I wanted one of my own. I decided to make a dozen scarves and throw them up on a vanity site for sale. To my complete surprise, other people were tickled by my quirky food-themed scarves. They sold out in a week. I was approached by a few magazines for features. Some business inquiries came in as well, one of which ended up being my long-time business partner. It was all actually very random and unplanned. I was very lucky!

Did you have a ‘normal’ job before you could live off your craft? If so, how did you transition from full time work to running your own business?

Yes, I worked for a decade in book publishing. There was a moment in time – that I’m actually pretty fond of – when I’d go to my day job, then come home, study for the LSAT for a few hours (because I thought it was time for a change and that I wanted to go to law school), and then crochet late into the night for my website. Some things changed at my day job, and I was able to work 3 days at the office and 2 days at home. However, I felt like I wasn’t excelling enough at either day-job or crafting, so I made the decision to try crafting full-time for one year to see what would happen. Honestly, I’m not the best business person. I make decisions based on gut-feeling and kind of follow where life’s adventures happen to take me. I’m also an extreme workaholic and grab at every opportunity that I can and do my darndest to give 200% to everything. If I’m not working, I’m probably thinking about working.

Do you run your business solely on your own? What tips would you give to small business owners thinking about hiring staff for the first time?

I have a few crochet helpers who assist me remotely with some production, but I still handle all the design, the shipping, and social media and all the other business stuff. For a while, I was really pushing my licensed brand, Yummy You!, and I had a business partner and licensing agents for that. Letting go of any part of your business can be really scary. I didn’t start working with my business partner formally until 3-4 years after he first approached me. In the meantime, while I was learning more about my craft and the creation of my products, I made a huge leap and tried out having one crochet helper. I got really lucky, because the first person I tried out was an amazing crocheter and a lovely person, and she ended up working for me for many years. It’s okay to take baby steps. If you’re hesitant to hire, just start with someone part-time, or hourly, and just give them little jobs at first to try out their skill and temperament. Ultimately, you’re still running the show!

MP14-768x949

What do you think is the most important thing to maintaining a small business in today’s digital world?

Never rest on your laurels. Keep giving it your all, keep innovating, and keep being the best you. Always be open to the next thing, whatever it may be. The digital world allows us to share and spread ideas at a lightning fast pace. On the one hand, this can be great for business. On the other, it can also mean that your ideas are copied immediately. So that’s why you always need to keep moving forward with new, great ideas.

For someone thinking of setting up a creative business now, what tips would you give?

I always encourage people to find their own special niche, to put something new into the world that we have not yet seen.

I’ve been saying I wanted to learn how to crochet for YEARS and I actually learnt some basics this weekend! If you want to find out more about Twinkie, you can find her @TwinkieChan on most social networks and find out more on her awesome website.  If you think you need a Kitsch.inc touch to your biz or project, give us a shout, we’d love to hear from you!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *