A very frequently asked question, that perhaps you currently have right now, concerns the idea of having a full time career, or traditional 9-5, while still running your own business simultaneously. Simply, how is it done? How are people doing it? How do you establish your studio while working full time? These are questions I personally cannot answer, so whenever I am chatting with someone who has that experience, I love hearing their take on it.
Turning a hobby into a business
Today on the show we have Jake Kenyon, owner of KENYARN to talk about how he took his hobby of hand dying wool yarn, and turned it into a business that grew to need its own workspace. I am excited to share that Jake has recently invested in renting an off-site studio space and he was wonderful in sharing how he’s making all of this happen with us.
Jake started crocheting in college to keep his “hands busy and mind quiet”. He says he has always been the kind of person who dives in head first to everything, so he set out to learn whatever he could about yarn. He wanted to learn the whole process and began dying in 2017, learning about color and the science behind it. He says he has always loved the technical side of color and color theory so it was a natural progression.
Growing an audience
He started out very small and simple, creating yarn for himself and selling to only friends and family. He slowly grew his equipment, knowledge, and business over the years into what it is today, with a thriving Instagram following and ecommerce website.
Jake started his Instagram as @jakekenyondesigns (not designing anything!). He then started his Etsy store and eventually linked the two becoming @isthatkenyarn. When asked about how he grew his following he says it’s all been extremely organic. “Running a business alone can be lonely”… don’t we know it! Jake craved community and friendship from like minded people and found this in the knitting community that exists on Instagram.
If you haven’t witnessed this yourself, there is quite a large and active community of knitted online, particularly on IG. He was able to use that to create connections and visibility for his brand, and kickstart his passion into profit. And what advice does he have for those of us who would like to do the same? His biggest advice is to not focus too much on your feed or story posts. “Bleed authenticity”, and you will most likely see a positive reaction. AKA, show up as your unique self.
why you need to establish a studio
When asked about managing his time Jake says he does have a full time job as a speech pathologist, on top of running Kenyarn. He says that he tries to be flexible, while also making sure to carve out 2 days a week for dying and 1 for clerical work and yarn prep. He has no plans to leave his full time job, but with work at the office and Kenyarn taking up two rooms of his apartment he was finding it to be difficult to have people over as guests. Set up and take down of his equipment took time, and while working with dye and chemicals he was always constantly worried. There was always the potential of hurting someone or damaging his rented apartment. This is why it’s so important to establish your studio while working full time.
One random night he decided to Google work spaces just to see what was out there (we’ve all been there, huh?). He didn’t find what he was looking for right away, but was able to figure out what it was that he needed. After months of looking he found a space that wasn’t necessarily the perfect fit, but the landlord was willing to work with him to make it what he needed. He insists it is not glamorous or perfect (and has a running list of things he needs to purchase still and work on) but it is functional and allows him to have some boundaries from work.
Something that Jake stresses is that the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” also applies to your passions and doing what you love. You already know self-care is huge, but let this be more evidence! You need to have some boundaries that allow you to take a break and refill your cup. You also need to do what you need to in order to run your business. There is no right answer here on what or how is the correct way, and you should never compare yourself to others on social media. Elevate your business your way and it will be the right way.
Take some time to visit Jake’s instagram where he is always sharing his process and work updates as well as some other goodies that are just for fun. Visit his website to see his beautiful yarns and keep up to date with the incredible color story collections he puts together.