When the opportunity to take over Stash presented itself a few years ago, Veronica immediately jumped on it. With her background in visual arts and the non-profit gallery and museum environment, she knew she had the skills to be an entrepreneur. She quickly recognized that Stash’s class-based model provided them with a real competitive advantage. The focus is on offering a large variety of intimate classes so that customers can advance and customize their skill sets, while at the same time purchase products to grow their crafting “stash”.
Taking the first steps
Moving from a world of being an employee to being her own boss spurred Veronica to reach out for help. She completed the provincially funded self-employment program offered by MNP in Calgary. The program was beneficial to her, as it helped her create a genuine business plan and the speakers shared really valuable experiences. During her planning process, Veronica reached out to us for support and guidance with market research. We helped her to find hard data around her target market, to confirm her suspicions that this business would succeed.
Weaving the community together
There is a huge community around knitting and crafting, and Veronica is proud that her business has been able to support that community. Stash carries so many unusual yarns that inspire people and get people excited. Whether you’re new to knitting or a seasoned crafter, Stash prides itself on helping the crafting community one-on-one, offering the perfect yarn, accessories, and classes for anyone.
“You wonder all the time is this actually going to work? Once you start seeing the results of all your hard work and labor you can finally take a deep breath and proceed with confidence.”
While she’s had great success offering a range of products and services that many people are interested in, Veronica has also found some challenges unique to a retail business. One of the biggest challenges for her relates to cash flow. She’s learned that having a high level of cash flow is really important for a store that has high inventory levels. She shared that if you don’t have the correct inventory on hand and continually have new items that inspire people, they won’t keep coming back. Paying attention to what your customers want is so important. Don’t be afraid to get rid of the products that aren’t working, and concentrate funds on things that do pay the bills. In other words, don’t worry about “frogging” something if it will turn out better in the end.
Getting down to the knit-ty gritty
With a few years of owning a retail business under her belt, Veronica had some amazing tips to share with others looking to start their own business:
A business plan is very important for getting things off the ground. You need to know your startup costs. If the math doesn’t add up, you can’t start the business. A business plan will help to separate dreams from the realities.
You have to understand who your ideal customer is. You really want to imagine that individual, maybe write a mini story for them, and then figure out “how do I reach this person”?
You want to be a good negotiator. You have to push and ask for more and more and more, to keep all of your costs low.
Spreading into other markets
Veronica recently opened her second store, 28 Blankets, just a few doors down from Stash. 28 Blankets sells finished goods like blankets, mittens, hats and scarves. Veronica found that customers were coming in to Stash who weren’t knitters themselves, so this business was an obvious solution to be able to serve a new but related clientele.
Over the next few years, Stash is expected to grow just as fast as a crafters stash. They are already pretty tight on space in their current location, and Veronica sees them getting bigger and bigger as time goes on.
Veronica’s passion and expertise are easy to see, and we can’t wait to see how things unravel for this entrepreneur. Keep updated on everything Stash and 28 Blankets are creating by following them on social media!