As knitters, collecting yarn isn’t the hard part. The challenging part is organizing your yarn. And if you’re planning on traveling with your knitting, there’s the added pressure of figuring out how to carry all the essentials — the yarn, needles, pattern instructions, stitch counters, etc. — without it being overwhelming. That’s where companies like Jordana Paige come in. For ten years, JordanaPaige.com (founder Jordana shown left) has been designing pretty (and practical) yarn totes and yarn accessories for knitters and crocheters alike.
From just one look at Cézanne yarn tote, you can see what all the fuss is about:
And after you explore Jordana’s full collection of products on her website, JordanaPaige.com, you’re bound to fall in love!
Since Jordana’s company has met a milestone this month (a decade in business!) we were lucky enough to sit down with Jordana and pick her brain about her successful company. Read on to learn how she got started, what inspires her and what exciting new products she’s planning for next year.
Q: How did your company start?
A: While in high school I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. I enjoyed sewing, designing and garment construction. A friend was knitting a scarf as gift and I was inspired to add knitting to my knowledge of fashion design. I asked my mom to teach me how to knit and she picked up the craft herself again after years of hiatus. As with any hobby, accessories and accoutrements of one’s craft always make it more fun and as a result, we were searching for the perfect knitting bag.
A little over a year later, I was reading an article in Vogue Knitting about the rise in popularity of knitting among young women. It all came together for me. I was certain other women must be looking for a stylish and functional knitting bag—the type that didn’t scream, “I have my knitting in here” and that could be pulled off as a daily purse but enable one to have her knitting with her at all times.
I was a freshman in college at the time. I had absolutely no idea how to start a company or run a business. But ignorance is bliss, right? I dove straight in, designing my first knitting bag, resourcing materials, researching the world of manufacturing and taking the big step of launching my business.
Q: Tell us about your knitting bags and what sets them apart from the competition?
A: When designing a bag I focus on two elements; aesthetics and function. I believe great, classic design is found in simplicity — clean lines and minimalism. I stay away from too much hardware that’s only going weigh a bag down. Why add another an unnecessary piece of hardware when you could put that weight to use by carrying another couple skeins of yarn? I also try to stick to classic shapes and colors. Our bags are made to last. I don’t want a bag to go out of style before the life of the bag has been reached.
No, an aesthetically pleasing bag is not new to the marketplace. There are countless beautiful bags to choose from. Most of these though, are big black holes. They offer a single zippered pocket and you have to practically dive into the bag to find what you’re looking for. All of my designs offer numerous pockets of different sizes, types and functions. There are special pockets for your yarn to prevent it from tangling, needles, glasses, keys, business cards, wallet … you name it, there’s a spot for it.
Q: How has being a knitter influenced your designs?
A: Being a knitter has enabled me to truly connect with and understand the needs of my customer. I understand that when you drop a stitch, you need to be able to easily find and grab a crochet hook to pick it up. I get that a knitter wants to be able to knit directly out of her bag so she’s not chasing her ball of yarn down the isle of an airplane. And, I completely understand the desire to sneak a project into that boring business meeting or class. It’s this connection with my customer that has given me the ability to create products that do what they need them to do.
Q: You also design knitwear. How did you get started in that?
A: I once read that a great way to market oneself is to become known as an expert in her field. I’d been knitting for a couple years, clearly, I thought, that would be enough to be an “expert.” I saw a call for submissions for designs by Vogue Knitting. Not thinking I would ever receive a response, I sent in a design. A couple weeks later I received a call that my design had been accepted. I had one month to knit the sample and write the pattern, all while going to college full-time and running my business. I had never written a pattern before! I was in a bit of a panic. It was time to become that “expert.” I pulled it together and when the magazine arrived with a photo of my design I was ecstatic. I couldn’t get enough and kept designing, learning more and more with each design. I’ve had patterns published in several magazines and books which has lead to being a guest designer on Knitty Gritty and teaching opportunities across the country.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Life. That’s a really broad answer, but it’s the best summary. My designs are very much a reflection of me. Often when I design knitwear it’s because I have a void in my own wardrobe. I walk into my closest and don’t have the right outfit for a particular event so I decide to design something for such an occasion. I connect my bag designs with events in my life and give them names that represent those events. My name is on each bag which is only appropriate in that they are so much a part of me.
Q: This June you celebrate the 10 year anniversary of your very first sale. Did you ever think you’d make it to this day?
A: Yes and no. Why start something if you think you’re going fail? Sure, I’ve doubted myself at times and hit bumpy roads, but I’ve always had the drive. From the start, I’ve passionately chased after my dream of a lasting business and have been encouraged by my family through it all. I’ve had the confidence that I could do it, yet it’s still mind-boggling to realize that I’ve made it ten years.
Q: In your ten years of business, what has been your greatest accomplishment?
A: I don’t think I could pick just one. Every stage is an accomplishment in and of itself; selling my first bag, placing a second order with my manufacturer, moving out of my garage and into a real office and warehouse, becoming a published designer, receiving favorable reviews by the press, hiring my first assistant, raising over $25,000 for charities by selling imperfect bags and I could go on. Growth takes time and is a culmination of all the small stuff. It’s important to recognize and be grateful for each step.
Q: What’s up next?
A: I’ll be releasing my anniversary bag this fall. I’m very excited about it. It’s big and beautiful! I’m just finalizing the fabrics now and hope to be able to release some sneak peeks very soon.
Next year I’ll be expanding the product line. It’s an entirely new type of product…well, still a handbag, but a completely new concept. That’s all the teaser I can give for now, so keep checking in with us for more details.
Tell us: which Jordana Paige product are you dying to try?