On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about growing a weaving yarn company with my guest, Sarah Resnick.
Sarah is the founder of the weaving yarn company Gist Yarn, and their newly launched sister brand Zollie. Since 2017, their small, creative team has been making yarn, patterns, and projects that weavers and makers are proud to bring into their homes. Sarah started her career as a community and union organizer, and made the switch to small business when she helped to launch a sewing factory in 2016.
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Handwoven projects by Amanda Woods, for Gist Yarn’s Weave Quarterly Subscription Box.
We recorded this interview in person in my studio because Sarah also lives in the Boston area, not too far away from me. We began by talking about what Sarah was like as a child. She says she was rather anxious and wanted to be a writer from an early age. Sarah went to college in Toronto and it was there that she first became interested in weaving. She’d had a job at a farm and noticed a weaving loom tucked away in the corner of the barn. Although she wasn’t able to put it together at that time, she was intrigued and when she got to college she enrolled in a weaving class in the city.
After college, Sarah began working in community organizing. What she loved about this line of work was developing relationships with different constituents. Later, she got a job helping to open a textile manufacturing company, Good Clothing, in Massachusetts which she describes as very challenging but also eye-opening. Sarah realized that she wanted to open a company that partnered with manufacturers and that was when the idea for Gist was born.
Sarah explains the meaning behind the name “Gist” and how she got started opening a weaving yarn company. One of the biggest successes was pre-selling new products before they were made. This was a strategy Sarah employed right from the start and still uses today. Sarah talks about Gist’s unique aesthetic as well as the team she’s built as the company has grown.
New Zollie Kits incorporate Gist Yarns into crafts for beginners such as this one focused on making friendship bracelets.
Gist has expanded to include subscription boxes and Sarah talks about how she thinks about these. More recently, Gist has created a sister brand, Zollie, which focuses on craft kits for beginners and uses Gist yarns. Sarah was nice enough to give me a Zollie kit for cross stitch which is beautiful. Gist will also be launching a set of color cards that designers and makers of all types will find useful. These will be coming out over the next few months.
Finally, we talk about Sarah’s other business, Advah, making tallitot (Jewish prayer shawls). We also discuss Gist’s remote artist-in-residence prorgram.
I ask Sarah to recommend great stuff she’s loving right now. Sarah recommends:
- A color-picker browser extension
- washi tape, origami paper, and scissor when crating with children
- Flosscross, a free cross stitch pattern maker