Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution states, in part, that species arise and develop through the natural selection of variations which increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive and reproduce. I think that today Darwin’s theories can be applied to the small business and how they evolve. The need to develop new ideas, a modern business sense and more importantly a digital presence are crucial. Many small businesses have become extinct in recent years as they haven’t learned how to evolve and don’t have the necessary traits to survive.
Wool Monkey has already gone through many transitions over the last few years, but now it’s evolving again and hopefully will survive and continue to grow.
It’s exciting to be honest, something new, the next chapter, whatever it may bring.
It’s been a long journey so far though.
I have been a knitter and a crocheter all my life, always enjoyed the escapism it offers and the chance to release my creative talents upon the World. It was only when I had my own children however, that I started to think about using it to make some pocket money. It felt like the natural thing to do, I was at home with my children full time, was doing more knitting and crochet than I had in years, (mostly for them of course), and got regular compliments and requests from friends and family for my handmade stuff.
So, I guess that’s where it started. A spark of an idea. Mulled over alongside many pints in the pub with friends, until eventually Wool Monkey was created and I started selling my wares doing craft fairs and local markets.
They weren’t always that successful to be honest. Standing in the freezing cold, eating bacon butties, with very few sales!
Sometimes, when I look back now I think that our tables often looked more like a woolly jumble sale than a handmade craft stall. But on the whole we had fun. Everybody has to start somewhere after all.
Naturally, this led to the desire to open a local yarn shop. I naively thought it was going to be lovely, selling yummy yarn all day long, meeting nice people, getting plenty of knitting done… Easy Peasy.
So, with help from some very good friends and family, Wool Monkey was turned into a bricks and mortar shop! Our customers were wonderful, (well, most of them), they kept me going on the bad days. We built up a massive stock of wonderful yarns and stock and after a couple of years I really started to feel like we were becoming established. We had strong links in the local community and our online presence was spreading. The reality of owning a yarn shop however, is nowhere near the romantic dream that most of us start out with. The numbers told a different story and there is only so long you can work without an income. I had two young children and a Mother in declining health to look after, with no financial support and no income. Something had to give.
I could give you a whole list of reasons and excuses, such as competition from the internet, the need to move to better premises, not enough time in a day to get everything done, etc., etc. But really, I think it was the financial pressure of no earnings for me that finally made me make the dreaded decision. Given a couple more years I think the business would have turned around completely, but I couldn’t afford another couple of years.
So, sad as it was, we packed everything back up again and we closed the doors on the Wool Monkey Shop at the beginning of the summer this year.
(I now have the world’s biggest personal yarn stash in my loft!)
Since then I’ve had a great summer with my kids, have restarted working as a bookkeeper and have been plotting the next step for Wool Monkey.
The Wool Monkey knit and chat groups are still going from strength to strength, I have started doing workshops in the local community again and my Etsy shop is also growing. I felt that it was time for something new. Time for Wool Monkey to evolve again!
Time to go digital.
I have learnt since closing the shop, that one of the things that Wool Monkey had that was appreciated most by the local people was the constant source of useful information, help and advice that we had to offer. The locals still hunt me down for help and the knit and chat groups still pick my brains on a regular basis, so I figured that this is where the future lies for Wool Monkey, if it’s going to survive. I never thought that I would become a blogger. To be honest, a few years ago I couldn’t even have told you what a blogger was. But here we are.
So, welcome to the new Wool Monkey!
Hopefully we will become your new source of inspiration, ideas, technical help and general knitting and crochet related entertainment. I have lots more work to do on the site yet, but we’ve made a start on evolving and have once more and joined the battle for survival of the fittest!