You are currently viewing The 30-year-old turned his side business of yarn sales into a 6-figure business: “It’s no cake”

The 30-year-old turned his side business of yarn sales into a 6-figure business: “It’s no cake”

Sometimes it takes a major life event to push you in the right direction.

Last April, I spent my 29th birthday fighting Covid-19 in my bedroom. I had to take time off from my full-time job as a speech-language pathologist at a hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, to quarantine myself. The experience forced me to think about my future and what really made me happy in life.

While I loved my job, what I loved even more was working for my odd job, Kenyarn, which sold hand-dyed yarn.

With the pandemic pushing more people into crafts like knitting and crochet (as a way to reduce stress), sales on Shopify were skyrocketing. Gross sales have gone from $ 20,000 in 2019, when I started the crush, to $ 125,000 in 2020.

I loved engaging with customers and the community of knitting enthusiasts who also hand dyed their own yarn. So I continued to rethink my priorities long after recovering from Covid.

Finally, in January 2021, with three months of living expenses saved, I decided to quit my job and work full time on Kenyarn.

It turned out to be a smart move. I’m on track to achieve $ 200,000 in gross sales by the end of the year. The prices for my products mainly range from $ 28 to $ 35 – and I get 200 to 500 orders of varying quantities per month.

As with most successful side activities, it was not fun. Here’s what I learned as I turned my passion into a profitable full-time business:

1. Never say “I don’t have time”

If you’re not ready to put in the hours, don’t expect to make a ton of money from your side work.

When I started Kenyarn, I used to dye yarn in my kitchen every Tuesday and Saturday – the days when I wasn’t on shift in the hospital. Eventually, I found myself doing it on my way home from work. During working lunches, I sat in my car updating the website with new photos and product listings from my phone.

Kenyarn’s unique colourway Summer Sherbet is 75% Superwash Merino Wool and 25% Nylon.

Credit: Kenyarn

I posted on social media at least three to four times a week and spent each day networking and cultivating friendships in the knitting community on Instagram. I also sent weekly subscriber emails to announce new articles and upcoming events.

Some people make the side hustle seem so easy, but you get what you put into your business. And as you start to see the growth, you will work harder and smarter. Be prepared to make sacrifices, too; late nights and missed social outings were common in the early days of Kenyarn.

2. Be experimental and don’t resist change

At first I had a clear image of my product – a consistent batch of standard solid colors available to customers at all times.

But it didn’t last long. I found that because the DIY yarn dye industry was so crowded, people had their favorite dyers. So I tried to create things that would stand out, like having a “giant speckle,” which is a large pattern of color splashing on the wire.

Kenyon’s yarns have what he calls a “giant spot” – a large pattern of splashing color on the yarn.

Credit: Kenyarn

As I played around with different creations, I found that there were higher sales for the limited edition models, especially the ones with the theme of fantastic genres and exciting pop culture. For Halloween this year, I’ll be posting a line called “Bad Girls Club,” which features villain-inspired threads like Ursula from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”.

3. Find your audience and network with them

I am constantly in contact with other creatives who sell similar products and create similar content on social media.

Whenever I meet another dyer, either in person or online, I always make a point of comparing their business structure to mine and building a relationship. It helps to know your competition, but having a community of like-minded people is just as valuable as it can lead to wonderful opportunities and lasting friendships.

Kenyon says his yarn business is on track to achieve gross sales of $ 200,000 by the end of 2021.

Credit: Kenyarn

When Kenyarn was still a side activity, I had set up stalls in several farmers’ markets and organized trunk exhibitions. Being in the local craft scene and connecting with people face to face has helped build brand awareness. I also met some local yarn store owners, who now sell my products in their stores.

4. Be authentic

In just two years, Kenyarn’s Instagram following has grown to almost 17,000. This played an important role in driving sales.

How did I do it? At first, I bonded closely with popular thread bloggers, who featured me on their websites and tagged me on Instagram.

I often share stories and posts on Instagram to give people a behind-the-scenes look at my dyeing process. I am very transparent about what it is like to run my own business – the successes and the challenges, and even my flaws.

Your voice should always be genuine. Customers want to know where their money is going and what the person behind the brand stands for. Every year, for example, I organize a fundraiser for charities focused on the queer community.

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love while giving back to causes that matter to me.

Jake kenyon is the founder of Kenyan, a hand-dyed yarn company. Follow him on Instagram @isthatkenyarn and visit their website at

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