About this project
Please Help Me to Create a Beautiful New Bricks and Mortar Yarn Shop to Serve Our Community!
If you’re a knitter or crocheter, or have one among your friends or family, you’ll know how hard it is to find a really fabulous yarn shop. One that offers a wide range of quality yarn that isn't going to break the bank. One that is up to date with the latest trends and technology, offers a welcoming atmosphere and can give specialist advice, amazing customer service and is open hours that suit you.
Baa Baa Brighouse is an online yarn shop that already offers all of this but now I need your help to take my business to the next level. I plan to offer customers a bricks and mortar shop alongside this where they can sit, knit, browse yarns, patterns and accessories, chat, take classes and more by turning the living room of my house into a yarn emporium.
I currently run my online business from home but because my house is situated in a semi-commercial area, surrounded by independent shops and businesses, it is a natural and cost-effective progression to accommodate a bricks and mortar yarn shop right here where I already own the property.
Since setting up Baa Baa Brighouse three years ago, rarely has a week gone by without potential customers knocking on my front door asking, "Is this where the wool shop is?" They wander into the shops and businesses adjacent to me to ask for directions and I've even found customers in my dining room wondering where all the wool is! When we attend yarn festivals and shows, I cannot tell you the amount of people who ask where my bricks and mortar shop is but it is in the hundreds. My point is, I know the demand for such a shop exists.
I already have great community ties, having set up two popular knit and natter groups in the area, supporting local charities and projects and forging links with other Brighouse based craftspeople and designer/makers.
Baa Baa Brighouse is growing every year and because I have not taken a salary from the business, all profit has been reinvested to grow my stock and promote my brand. Last year I launched my own range of hand dyed yarn and this year added to it with a second range and expanding colour palette. As well as top name brands, I am now at a stage where I have more than enough existing stock to comfortably fill a shop.
Take a look at a little video I compiled of the Baa Baa Brew DK range when it first launched:
So, here I am asking you to put your faith in me and support my project. In return, I pledge to work around the clock and only pay myself a living wage when the business is in a position to do so, investing all profits back into the business.
I have the passion, experience and motivation to provide a wonderful, friendly, professional, inclusive service that promotes wonderful crafts that our community badly needs. Nobody gets rich selling wool, believe me, but this project will provide a satisfying and sustainable creative environment for myself and to all those who use it for years to come. I created Baa Baa Brighouse following a prolonged period of post-natal depression and because I am also registered as partially sighted, knitting and craft has opened up so many doors for me. I have come to understand just how many people rely on it as a lifeline to deal with disabilities, mental health issues or simply as a way of navigating the pressures of everyday life.
Take a look at the list of rewards available and you’ll see that you can receive some gorgeous items in return for pledging your help – not to mention my eternal gratitude for putting your faith in me.
Risks and challenges
The living room of the property I wish to convert is in a Grade II listed building dating from 1604. The living room itself has 400-year-old oak wood beams and a stone fireplace so gaining consent for change of use and the building alterations needed will be my first hurdle. I have already spoken with the architect responsible for building work to a residential/commercial property adjoining my own and he is confident that the planning department would pass the plans he would draw up as the property is already in a semi commercial area and we do not intend to make any alterations to the protected beams and stonework. It would also be lovely to give people the opportunity to be able to view this little piece of local history, particularly given that the building was actually a wool shop around 60 years ago and offer regulars to our Knit and Natter events a place to indulge in their craft.
Wool shops come and go. There are two in the neighbouring town that I know of that have not survived. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, a lot of them are started by people inspired by a sincere love of knitting rather than of retail. Having a wool shop means long hours of being boss, staff, salesperson, shelf-filler, buyer, sample-knitter, PR and marketing person, negotiator, complaints handler, cleaner, book-keeper, filing clerk, Saturday worker, social media campaigner, events organiser and a lot more besides. Much of this work is unpaid, and leaves scant time for your own knitting. You can see why people throw in the towel but as I've explained, I have been fulfilling these roles with Baa Baa Brighouse online for the last three years. Secondly, there’s very little profit in selling wool.
So why do it? Because I love designing, I love being creative, I love yarn, I love knitting, I love fashion, I love colour and I am good with customers. After careful planning and budgeting, and taking expert advice, I know I have a business model that is viable – not massively profitable, but certainly sustainable as well as giving me a lot of personal satisfaction.
Kickstarter works on an all or nothing basis – if we don’t hit the target, we don’t receive any of the pledges.
Architect fees, planning, building and remedial work to the front door will cost an estimated £3,000, replacing the internal floor will cost £1,000, electrical work will cost £1,000 and then there will be the cost of replacing the internal door which will connect the shop to our house, complying with fire regulations, signage, decorating, shop fitting and necessary retail sales equipment to pay for with us doing as much of the manual work as we can manage ourselves.
Rest assured that the firm of architects we are dealing with is very familiar with the property, knowledgeable about the locality and experienced in planning law. If, in the unlikely event planning were refused, we would firstly exhaust all appeals processes and avenues open to us, taking into account any recommendations or modifications to our plans as necessary. Only then would we look at the possibility of another location if it becomes clear that it is impossible.
A yarn shop in my proposed location will be a real addition to the immediate community of independent businesses and shops that already surround it. It will enhance the area and it will also genuinely enhance so many people's lives.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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