What's Up, Wool&Honey?
Wool&Honey equals Melissa and Liz, two women focusing on thoughtful yarn and knitting supplies – the ones that add their own stories to this kind community of ours. We had a chance to chat online with these busy bees, to hear their thoughts about the brave steps they've been taking.
1. What three words describe Wool&Honey?
Cozy, warm, home.
2. What inspires you at the moment?
So much! Inspiration is around every corner! We are endlessly inspired by fade combinations – we can't help but wonder if it's because they often mimic the subtle nuances and shading in nature. The biggest source of inspiration, season after season, is Lake Michigan. We try not to let more than a few days go by without taking at least a quick trip to the shoreline. It's pure magic. And centering, too, for when everything else gets a little too loud.
3. What is your favourite yarn at the moment?
Brooklyn Tweed. Every. Single. Yarn. It's pure genius. Liz is in love with a Quarry project she's been working on (the Byway Wrap by Jared Flood), and I'm plotting at least four projects with Arbor for the near future. My first sweater project of 2018 (I can't believe I'm saying those words!) is going to be a yoked colorwork sweater in Shelter. From Day One, BT has been a company that I've said is the ultimate wool shop yarn. We'd been on their waiting list for years – literally since the week of the company's debut – and to be a flagship store is nothing short of a dream come to life.
4. How do the seasons affect your work?
We live in such a tourist-driven area that our bricks-and-mortar shop operates almost exactly the opposite of yarn shops in the US. Our busiest time of year is the peak of summer: the end of June through Labor Day. There are so many people who come to visit Northern Michigan in the summer months (people who live in Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis) and they make it a point to visit our shop while they're on their yearly visit. The older I get, I find that I am very much affected by the seasons – most specifically, the sun – and while I would love to say that I spend the long winter months production-style knitting, churning out sample after sample for the shop, I tend to have most of my big ideas in the summer. Our goal this winter is to spend a dedicated amount of the work day on knitting. While our online shop and yarn club keep us busy as bees in the middle of winter, our storefront is rather quiet – we do need to factor some knitting time in to the equation, so as to keep our samples fresh and our customers inspired.
5. Describe the routine of a normal day for you.
A normal day can vary, depending on what time of the month it is (our club ships on the 15th of every month, and it typically takes us a full week to package our 325 boxes), but there are a few things we do every day. I get up extremely early most days, and on the best days can sit with coffee and knit for an hour (or even two!) before everyone in my house wakes up. I answer pressing emails, pay bills, start planning IG posts, think about the day's schedule and then get my girls (Sasha, 4, and Sienna, 1) ready for the day. I drop my older daughter off at preschool and then head to the shop with the baby, sometimes stopping off for a latte or to snap a quick picture at the beach. Liz takes her daughter (Cecily, 2) to preschool or one of her grandparents' houses and we arrive at the shop about the same time. We typically rattle off a long list of to-dos that are anything from emergent issues (tracking down packages, customer service) to sample progress and club colorway inspiratio., even long-range (3–5 year!) goals and product ideas. (Sometimes it's not much more than stream-of-consciousness... or the caffeine talking!) We open the shop at 10 am and spend the day with our customers: face-to-face, on the phone and via email, fitting in the other bits, packaging, shipping, planning, ordering, photo shoots, in between. When we close the shop at night, we've rarely finished our to-do lists, so we head home and have dinner with our families and often, after I put the girls to bed, I'll sit back down to write a newsletter or product description, where Liz will often tie up loose ends – finish orders, answer emails – and she stays up extremely late with Game of Thrones and her knitting.
6. What are your biggest challenges in yarn business?
Keeping up with it all. We are pulled in a million directions every day: with a storefront, a club and an online shop, we are basically operating three businesses. We have so many things to do on a daily basis that it's hard to turn it off when the door is closed. It's impossible, actually. On the flip side, it's amazing to have the flexibility to work at different times when life gets in the way of a 'traditional' work day – when the girls are sick or need extra care, we have no problem leaving each other at a moment's notice to tend to our families. And what other job can you bring your children to work with you?!? And of course there is the issue of simultaneously maintaining the business we have while needing to plan, prepare and project what the future holds – from next week to next season to next year and beyond. How we will continue to grow and change with the industry, which seems, is happening at lightning speed.
7. How would you describe the knit scene in North Michigan?
We are surrounded by a group of knitters who are fun and funny and love yarn as much as we do. Our shared passion for beautiful wool has created some deep, unexpected friendships. Some of our dearest friends – nurses, executive assistants, bus drivers, hairdressers, farmers – we wouldn't have met except through the shop and our lives simply wouldn't be the same without them.
8. What is the best thing in having a yarn shop?
Having a safe, beautiful place to meet like-minded people while sharing your truest passion is the luckiest thing to have in the world. To be able to talk about yarn all day, every day, to carve out a living alongside your sister, to be constantly inspired to make things with your hands – you couldn't dream up anything more fulfilling. We love it all.
9. What are your future plans and goals at Wool&Honey?
So many plans! Video tutorials, rounding out our basic pattern collection, special guests, more collaborations with designers and dyers, retreats, books....
10. What makes you laugh?
Each other, our friends, our husbands. We find ourselves laughing multiple times a day, rehashing silly memories from our childhood and school days.