TL Yarn Crafts creates handmade crochet goods in Columbus. This Ohio Made small business has grown a large following on Instagram & YouTube over the past 4 years. Owner, Toni, also hosts workshops and runs community groups which empower others. We find her live Instagram videos very inspiring! Meet TL Yarn Crafts at our 2017 Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart on December 3rd, 2017!
Tell us about your local business.
I'm Toni, the TL of TL Yarn Crafts. I started my Columbus-based business in 2013 as an outlet for my creative energy, but it quickly became my way to connect with the crafty community in Ohio and worldwide. My product line offers crochet accessories like slouchy beanies and lofty infinity scarves in a woodsy color palette, reminiscent of Ohio in the fall. Shoppers can also find crochet patterns and maker gifts for the creative person in their lives. Outside of my own products, I also do online and in-person crochet workshops and I'm 1/3'd of Maker Strong, an online group providing encouragement and education to fellow knitters and crocheters.
What drew you to your craft?
My mother taught me to crochet when I was 13 years old. We would play with yarn together for hours, making giant (hideous) blankets and scarves for family and friends. When I we went to college, I got a little too busy for my hooks and string, but I picked it back up shortly after graduating and getting married. Most of what I made at the time were gifts and little things for my home. It wasn't until everyone I knew had a slouchy beanie made by me that I decided starting a business was my next step.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
My favorite thing I've ever made is my Mega Pom Beanie. It is the very first pattern I designed for myself, and still my best selling handmade hat. Before I started designing my own patterns, I would buy lovely patterns from other designers that I'd found online and via social media. I spent about a year looking for the absolute perfect beanie pattern. I knew exactly what I was looking for, but hadn't found it after searching for what felt like forever. Out of utter frustration, I starting crocheting the idea that was forming in my head. After ripping it out about 20 times, I finally came up with the beanie if my dreams. It was slouchy, textured, and had a huge, happy pom pom. Designing the Mega Pom Beanie was my entry into pattern creation. I now have over 20 unique designs.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
My career aspiration changed a lot over the years. When I was a child, I wanted to be a princess and part time taxi cab driver. That evolved to referee, pilot, and finally dentist. I entered college in 2004 to pursue a chemistry degree. I quickly found out that math just wasn't my thing and changed my major to psychology. I went on to get a Bachelor's in Psychology and a Master's in Public Administration.
What is your creative process?
Just a few short weeks ago, I left my public sector job to become a full time maker. Now that TL Yarn Crafts is my primary source of income, my creative process has completely changed. Each day is planned out, with time scheduled for finding inspiration, sourcing materials, communicating with customers, and making all the things. My favorite outlet from what tends to be a pretty isolating activity is connecting with crafty friends. I go live via social media at least once per week, I help out at my local yarn store a couple times a month, and I've just started planning "play dates" with other makers during the days.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Start saving money right now! 10 years ago, I was unconcerned with things like student loans, buying a house, or starting a family. Adult life is expensive and seems even pricier when you quit your job to follow your dreams. A bit more of a cushion would have been nice. But I knew that time was of the essence and couldn't imagine working for someone else another day.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
Supporting local means that you care where your gifts come from. Not only do we make gorgeous and unique things, but we do them with our whole hearts and years of expertise. There is a story behind locally made goods that can be shared with family and friends, to help the receiver connect with the giver and the wider community.
Why do you love doing what you do?
There's something magical about creating something that didn't exist before. Turning a ball of yarn into a cozy sweater or blanket makes me feel a bit like a magician. But the greatest joy that comes from being a maker is all of the friends I've made over the years. Many of my mentors and best friends are fellow makers who truly understand what I do and what I do it for. They offer endless inspiration and encouragement when I need it most.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own businesses?
Just do it. Jump in feet first with your head held high. I'm living proof that you CAN create have a sustainable living by doing what you love. With a bit of planning and a lot of passion, you can live your dream.
What is your favorite thing about Exploring Ohio?
I grew up outside of Ohio, so I feel like I still have so much of this amazing state to explore. What I've seen so far is a vibrant culture that embraces makers and those who support them. There's just something for everyone in Ohio and I can't wait to find more of it.
Meet TL Yarn Crafts at our Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart!