Grannies, knitting and standing out: my biggest business lessons

The idea for Grannies, Inc. came when I combined my love for knitting with wanting to stand out when I was on the ski slopes. I began knitting my own hats, and then hats for friends and the idea hit me:  a company specialising in ‘design-your-own’ knitwear, all made in the UK.

When I was first looking for knitters for the company I found most of them were from the older generation.  I had always wanted the company to be an ethical brand, promoting British wool and UK manufacturing, so having a team of grannies handmaking our products was a perfect fit.  Customers have the added benefit of knowing that their unique product will be lovingly handmade for them by an expert knitter and my grannies have the opportunity to earn some extra income from doing exactly what they love.

The first year of trading went by so quickly, the first four months I worked all hours to fulfil the 1,400 hats I’d sold.  Since then I’ve carefully expanded the range of products, launched knitwear collections, had my first book published and most recently launched a new initiative called ’The MarketPlace’, allowing grannies to sell their own knitwear designs to customers who really care about the story behind the product.

Running my own business can only be described as a rollercoaster, complete with ups and downs, loop-the-loops, thrills and nauseating moments! Here are the five most important things I’ve learnt in the past four years:

Being different is very powerful

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin’s book ‘Purple Cow’, which is all about being remarkable in business, and hopefully many of the lessons from this book can be seen throughout my business.  The grannies are my ‘purple cow’ -  they are what make Grannies, Inc. remarkable. They help us stand out from the crowd and they make people want to share the story behind their purchase.

Define what your company is in everything you do

I take great pride in being a British brand, so everything about my website, social media channels, press releases and marketing emails help demonstrate what makes Grannies, Inc special. It really goes without saying that I chose a website rather than a .com – it shows visitors that I’m British from the start and I think customers trust the site more because of it. 

Set regular goals and put them somewhere visible

Having a constant reminder of what I’m aiming for this day, week or month is a great motivator and helps me to keep focused on what is important. Be ambitious though: if your goals are too easy they won’t push you hard enough to achieve even greater things.

Measure everything

Regular reporting has revealed vital information that could have been missed. For example, I’m constantly watching what works on my website and what doesn’t. I get reports on which pages work the best, which are the least popular, which marketing emails work and which need tweaking. It goes without saying all these reports are used to improve and move my business forward – celebrating the achievements and then tweaking what needs to be improved.

Don’t be afraid to be creative and experiment

There are no rules to running your own business, so I’ve tried not to follow any! Every entrepreneur, industry and business is different. Don’t copy your competitors, but watch how and why they do things, and see how you can do it even better.


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