Today’s Limelight features Dawn and Kelly, from Namaste, Inc, a family owned and operated business. I know how much you all love their bags and accessories, because we keep shipping them out and ordering more. (I am such a bag person and I will admit to having a Peacock Laguna, an Eggplant Zuma, and a red Vintage bag from way back when. I love their bags. Seriously, one needs many bags for many projects, right?)
I met Kelly and Dawn at my very first TNNA show, before The Loopy Ewe was even up and running. I happened to walk into the “Sample It” room for retailers and saw that the booth near the doorway was overrun with people. Everyone was grabbing a bag, so I picked one up to look at it and never put it back down! (Good thing, as it was one of the last ones. They sold out of them in less than an hour. Each shop is allowed to purchase one sample and they just flew out of there.) Consequently, we’ve had Namaste bags here since we first opened and it has been fun to watch them expand into different styles and colors along the way. Plus, Kelly and Dawn are two of the nicest people you’d ever want to work with, which is just a great bonus! I know you’ll enjoy learning more about them. (And watch for another big Namaste update here at The Loopy Ewe in about a week.)
Loopy: Hi Dawn and Kelly! You know we can’t seem to get enough of your beautiful bags and accessories. Tell us about your company- how long have you been going, and what made you start it up in the first place?
K & D: WOW!! Thank you so much! We’ve been up & running for a little over 5 years now…time has really flown by. When we went to our first TNNA show we brought our original glass knitting needles and some homemade accessories that we had sewn ourselves. After learning more about the industry and our audience, we recognized a void in the marketplace for handbags and accessories that were stylish, well-priced, and functional for the knitters & crafters in our industry… so we did our best to fill it. We’re family owned and operated and have been since the start. Everybody helps out around here!
Loopy: How do you decide on new styles and new colors? Are you very involved in that process or do you have designers bring you ideas and you pick?
Kelly: Dawn and I design each product from concept to completion (which can be be a LONG process!). Regarding color selections, Dawn & I choose the general palette, but customer requests are very important to us and play a large part in the color selection process. Our most recent color addition, Eggplant was actually “voted in” by Ravelry members. The Ravelry color vote was really fun for us and we hope to do something like that again soon!
Loopy: The Eggplant addition was a great one. It’s hard to keep that color in stock! You have moved from glass needles into mostly bags and accessories at this point. Any plans to add more fun things in the future? (We won’t tell…)
K & D: Of course! We’re constantly brainstorming for new product ideas to add to our line. We listen to the feedback from the needlearts industry…what kind of products customers would like to see, what products they need, and we respond to their call! You can look forward to new products for the June show, but if we told you what they were ahead of time……well, you know the rest ;o) !!
Loopy: Well, it was worth a try. 🙂 What is the best part of your business? And the not-so-fun part?
K & D:
– working with people we love (family)
– getting to bring “the crew” to work each day. We share Namaste headquarters with our fur & feather friends :o)!!
– having creative control
-connecting with people all over the US and the world daily through our customers.
-chasing bad payers/ collections
-wearing so many hats you’re not sure which one you’ve got on at any given time
Loopy: Your dogs are cute and they must all get along well to be at the same workplace each day. Tell us what you did before you started up Namaste?
Dawn: Believe it or not, I was a pharmaceutical sales representative. A HUGE career change for sure, but I’ve never been happier!!
Kelly: Before doing this, I was working as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. I loved working with the kids and still miss them, but this is a whole new adventure for me!
Loopy: I’m sure those industries miss having you involved, but all of us knitters are sure glad that you made the change. Who are the knitters/crocheters in your family? And how long have you been knitting?
Dawn: My great-grandma, grandma and mom have crocheted some very beautiful pieces, but unfortunately (and I’m not sure why?!?), this family tradition wasn’t passed along to me. As far as knitting goes, Kelly taught me how to knit about 6 years ago (just before Namaste began). I wish I had more free time to knit so I could improve and move on to more advanced projects—I’m basically stuck in the basic/easy category as far as projects go. I have been awed by many of the completed projects I have seen worn and displayed at our trade and craft shows. I could definitely learn a lot from our very talented customers and friends!
Kelly: I’ve been knitting as a basic knitter (with a few dog sweaters mixed in there) for about 6 years. I used to knit a lot more before starting Namaste! My mom and sister can knit basic things too, like scarves and hats and my grandmother is a very talented crocheter.
Loopy: Do you have a favorite thing to knit, when you get the time?
Kelly: Dog sweaters for Lola (because she’s only 2.5 pounds so they knit up fast!), and scarves (hey, it gets chilly in soCal!).
Dawn: Scarves, because I can actually complete them :o), but I would love to find a great dog sweater pattern to give it a go. (That’s not to say that there aren’t any great dog sweater patterns available, just that I haven’t had a chance to look for one. Dog sweater designers, I’m on the search!)
Loopy: With so many different colors and styles of bags in your warehouse, what bag do you use for your own personal knitting projects? I’m sure you completely test out each one before going into production, so maybe you never use the same one? (As someone who loves bags, that would be one of my favorite parts of your job…)
K & D: You’re spot on about testing, Sheri! We’re both using “yet-to-be released” bags right now so we can put their functionality and durability to the test before moving forward with production. And yes, it’s always fun to try new styles!
Loopy: New styles of bags in the works?? Of course you know that you’d have a lot of volunteers for testing bags if you needed them. 🙂 When you’re not working or knitting/crocheting, are there any other hobbies that you enjoy?
Dawn: Again, I wish there were more time in a day! Hobbies have been on the back-burner for quite some time now, but I really enjoy making photo books, scrapbooking, horseback riding and enjoying pretty much anything that involves the outdoors & sunshine.
Kelly: I like crafting in general- love making holiday decorations, cooking & baking, gardening, traveling, camping and being active outdoors.
Loopy: If you had the time, what would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Dawn: With my husband and kids, enjoying a beautiful day at the beach.
Kelly: Making a big breakfast at home, then taking the dogs and bird for a hike with my husband Clint.
Loopy: The bird goes on hikes, too? How funny! Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer our Limelight questions, you two. Anything else you’d like to add?
K & D: We would like to send a HUGE thank you to you, Sheri—it’s truly always a pleasure. We appreciate you and the fabulous Loopy Groupies more than you could ever know!