Niche Down Interview: Anna Funnell

This week I’m talking a LOT about how finding your niche will help your yarn business grow.

 

I’m really excited to bring you the first of three interviews with Yarn People who have already identified their niche, how they came to this point and what they are moving on to next.

Welcome Anna tell us a little more about yourself, your business and how you found your niche.

1) What is your business name and website?

My business is called WombleKnits and I have an Etsy store at www.wombleknits.etsy.com

2) What is your core niche?

Eco-friendly, colourful knits. The eco-friendly part relates both to items made from biodegradable yarns such as wool and cotton, and items that are reusable replacements to single-use ones, especially plastic ones such as carrier bags. The colourful part is because I love strong, bright colours while a lot of knitted things, especially eco-friendly ones, often seem rather bland.

3) How did you choose this specific niche?

I have always been passionate about the environment. I was brought up to hate waste and single-use things – we had flasks of coffee instead of take-away, washable cloths instead of disposable wipes, basically anything you can wash and use again instead of throwing it away and buying new. I decided to try and combine this passion with my love of knitting.

I started out by knitting gift bags and sacks to replace single use wrapping paper (that often can’t even be recycled!), which can then be kept by the recipient for storage, or gifted on again indefinitely. Then I moved on to cotton net grocery bags and knitted washcloths, and now I do soap saver sacks too, which are great for keeping your soap bars safe and dry – and soap bars are a great way to avoid liquid soap and shampoos that come in plastic bottles.

Tied into this is a loathing of disposable nappies. My son (now 12) was in cloth nappies throughout his babyhood, and once I discovered that wool makes a natural, breathable waterproof cover for them, my life was complete! Obviously, using cloth is immeasurably better for the environment than disposables anyway (yes, there’s a bit more washing, but nappies last for years and years and that has to be better than all that non-biodegradable waste going into landfill) but if you can swap the plastic covers for wool ones, that’s amazing!

I’m also trying to use up the end of my stash of manmade yarns (acrylic, polyester etc.) on products that won’t be washed often or at all, in order to minimise the amount of microfibres released into the world’s water systems every time something is washed. I’m using this yarn up on things like gift bags, Christmas baubles and Halloween and Easter decorations, and when I run out of a colour in acrylic, I replace it with either wool or cotton so that eventually everything I make will be biodegradable.

4) How do you see your products benefiting your chosen audience?

Hopefully, my products mean people can replace cheap and nasty plastic products with quality, long-lasting replacements. They’re not cheap, but I like to think of it as investing in the future. You spend a bit more and get something that will last – and, even better, it won’t one day be floating about polluting the world but instead can be composted to help new things grow!

5) How are you standing out and leveraging your niche in your approach to promotion?

I’m still struggling a bit with this one, to be honest. I am an active member of quite a few eco-friendly and anti-plastic Facebook groups, which are obviously my target market, but hardly any of those allow direct advertising so I have to try to be sneaky and slip in suggestions and links where I can. Of course, as it’s also an area I’m passionate about anyway, I also post stuff just to help people without any ulterior motive!

I’m also trying to use my SEO to attract people who care about the environment like I do, which does seem to be working! My Etsy store gets quite a lot of hits based on eco-friendly phrases.

6) Do you have any key phrases which play to your niche?

I came up with the tagline “Putting colour into going green”, which I’m rather proud of – trying to promote the idea that eco-friendly yarns don’t have to be all beiges and natural colours.

I’ve been trying to come up with something with “Reduce, reuse, recycle” but “Reduce, reuse, knit” doesn’t quite seem to cut it!

7) How long have you been marketing to this specific section of your audience?

I only really worked out what my niche was about a year ago, when everyone started really becoming aware of the awful severity of plastic pollution thanks to TV shows such as Blue Planet 2, Plastic Whale and so on. I realised then that what I was trying to do was combine my love of knitting and my passion for the environment to create eco-friendly, reusable products to help reduce waste. That’s when I started directing my networking and marketing attempts away from the rather general “gifts” market (with which I could never work out who I was targeting anyway as everyone buys gifts!) and towards eco-friendly people, specifically eco-friendly people who don’t want bland and beige.

8) What are your social media profiles so we can link and share?

Shop: http://www.wombleknits.etsy.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wombleknits/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/WombleKnits/
Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/c9M3F1

You can watch a Facebook Live video about niches here.

Have you identified your niche? Share it with us in the comments!

Bye for now,
Babs

About the Author

The Founder of Yarn Academy Babs is all about inspiring others to find their creative juices. Babs finds it exhilarating to learn as many new techniques and skills as humanly possible and explore the entire world of yarn. Babs is always looking for the win win solution to any situation so we can all grow together in the wonderful world of fibre and colour.

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