We've all noticed it's getting chillier, right? It's not just me? The trees are getting bare and the scent of dried leaves and woodsmoke hangs in the air. I love this time of year because we get to cuddle up into our cozy sweaters and warm socks once again, and pull out our favourite toques that have been hibernating since last year.
One Saturday last month, I bundled up and headed to the Maker's Pop-up Bazaar as the first rogue snowflakes swirled in the air. One of the talented local vendors at the show (who launched that same day!) was T's Crochet Shoppe, and I fell in love with her beautiful snuggly pieces right away. Tanya (aka "T") whipped up a custom order for me in a jiffy and I loved it so much that I had to share her little company with all of you. Folks, meet Tanya!
Tanya and I work together in our day jobs and it's such a treat that our paths are criss-crossing outside the 9-5. Tanya's been using every spare evening, weekend, and lunch break to build up her business and create inventory, and I'm thrilled to annouce that her Etsy shoppe is now fully operational.
She crochets gorgeous toques, beanies, cowls, and infinity scarves, and is a whiz at custom orders too. This week I sat down with Tanya to find find out more about her awesome local business.
AMYIN613: Hey Tanya! When did you first start crocheting?
TANYA: My mom first taught me to knit as a little kid, and I can remember helping her make slippers. She's had her own handicraft business my entire life and I always wanted to help out. Although I loved to knit, I struggled with tension and dropped stitches, so I eventually stopped. But the moment I picked up a crochet hook, I fell in love. For some reason it just came naturally and I've been crocheting ever since. Ironically, I often prefer the look of knitted patterns and products as they are sometimes more modern and trendy. So that encourages me to work hard in bringing the "knitted look" to all of the crochet items I have in my shoppe. This is not your grandma's crochet. :)
The past few years I've really focused on building my business and I finally launched T's Crochet Shoppe earlier this fall. I was extremely nervous at first (I can be a bit of a perfectionist), but am so proud that I finally did it.
AMYIN613: The wool you use is incredible, it’s so soft and luxurious. Is there a particular kind you swear by?
TANYA: Thank you! Well, I grew up in a small town called Listowel, which is home to a large yarn factory outlet. My mom operated a small handicraft business out of our home, so I was always surrounded by lots and lots of yarn. She taught me about the different types, textures and weights of yarn and why some are better to use than others. Over the years I have experimented with A LOT of yarn. Everyone has their own preferences, but I definitely have my favourites. I also have a hard time wearing wool, so I offer a lot of acrylic options for women like me. I do make some of my accessories out of wool blends, but never more than 20% wool.
Another thing I look for and test with my products is durability and weight. Some yarns look beautiful, but don’t hold up well over time or are very heavy. I offer a wide range of options from the beautiful and more delicate yarns (such as my Luxe cowl and glitter Brooklyn beanies) to more durable yarns that you will see in my "everyday accessories" like the Rayna scarf and other toques.
Finally, I make my products exactly how I like to shop for myself: a great quality product for a reasonable price. I want to offer luxe accessories to women that are affordable and wearable. The faux fur pompoms are another great example of that. I've tested a number of different ones, but in my opinion, the large ones I put on my hats are the best ones on the market. And they are ridiculously popular. I've gone to great lengths to keep these pompoms in stock. :)
(That's our gorgeous coworker Sara modelling a few of Tanya's pieces. How awesome does she look?)
AMYIN613: Tell me about your limited edition #MyOttawa toque. It looks so perfect for us 613 sports fans! How many are you making in this run?
TANYA: I'm a HUGE sports fan and I know you are too. I came up with the #MyOttawa toque so we 613 sports fans can cheer for our Ottawa teams all winter long! This red and black toque is soft and cozy, and is topped with the popular black faux fur pompom. And the timing couldn't be more perfect. The Ottawa RedBlacks are in the playoffs, the Ottawa Fury FC have advanced to the NASL championship final, and the Ottawa Senators and 67s are just getting their seasons underway! Why buy four toques when you only need one #MyOttawa toque?!?
This toque will be available in limited quantities and I currently have just 20 in stock. It is now available in my Etsy shoppe and I will also have some for sale at the 613 flea at the Aberdeen Pavilion this Saturday. Come by and say hi!
THE #MYOTTAWA TOQUE:
AMYIN613: So you just recently launched on Etsy, which is awesome. Are you doing the local craft show circuit too?
TANYA: Yes! I'm still building my Etsy shoppe, so if customers don’t see what they are looking for, I'd love for them to follow me on Instagram at @tscrochetshoppe. On Instagram I'm always posting photos of new ideas, product development, custom orders, and more!
I'lll be at 613 flea this Saturday and I am also a vendor at the Be An Angel Christmas Bazaar on November 28th. I'm trying to add one more show this fall so follow me on Instagram or my Etsy Shoppe for updates. I can also be reached at email@example.com.
I've got one of Tanya's very limited edition #MyOttawa toques and you can win it! To get your hands on one of her cozy red and black toppers, here's what to do:
1. Follow T's Crochet Shoppe on Instagram.
2. Like Amy in 613 on Facebook.
3. Post a comment below telling me your favourite design from her Etsy store.
You've got til 8:00pm on Friday to get your entries in, so get to it!
We've got a winner! Congratulations to Chelsie Smith, who's won her very own #MyOttawa toque. Hope it keeps you warm at the Redblacks' playoff games, we're going all the way to the Grey Cup!
A big thank you to all who entered and who posted such kind comments about Tanya's work. You can meet her (and check her cozy pieces!) on Saturday November 14 from 10-4 at the 613 Flea at Lansdowne Park, inside the Aberdeen Pavillion. And if that doesn't work for ya, go check out her Etsy shoppe.