Hi Jo, can you tell us about yourself and what inspired you to set up your business?
My name is Jo Storie and I’m a Knitwear Designer. I am the owner and founder of Jo Storie, a knitwear design business.
I’ve previously had a successful career as a knitwear designer working for international fashion labels and prestigious stores. I’ve travelled the world for work, and lived in London and New York. However, having worked in New York for several years I realised I was beginning to feel burnt out and disillusioned. I was also unfortunate to experience 911 which cemented my decision to move home to Scotland, to start my family and create a business for myself that would let me continue to design and help me be the type of mother I wanted to be.
Knowing that my business had to be small, manageable and flexible, I created my first own label collection working with local manufacturers, home knitters and using 100% Scottish cashmere. My collection was a balance of hand knits and machine knits however it became clear early on that my hand knits were more in demand and this set me apart from my competitors, so I started to refocus my business. At the same time the craft market started to see a resurgence in handmade crafts and in particular knitting. I’ve always loved hand knitting, but found the market didn’t have the type of designs I wanted to make myself and thought this gap was an easy one for me as a qualified knitwear designer to fill.
Moving into the craft DIY market with my knitting patterns and kits was an easy progression and with the use of the internet I’ve been able to reach an International audience.
What tips would you give other women who are thinking about setting up their own business?
I’d advise any new start-up just to get on with it, but be prepared to make mistakes, learn from them and keep moving forward. I live by the mantra ‘feel the fear but do it anyway’. It can be easy to over think a concept when direct action could be the best decision you can make.
We love seeing all of your wonderful knitted items on instagram, it’s great to see them in progress and the finished articles – what are the benefits of the internet for your business?
The internet has given me access to a much wider audience, in fact 80% of my current sales are from The USA. I get a kick out of knowing that while I’m sleeping someone somewhere in the world is awake and downloading one of my designs. In the future I hope to be able to connect more with my customers through video, where I can share tips, answer questions and have knit and natters on- line.
What are your future plans for Jo Storie Knits?
Ultimately the end goal is to become the ‘Go to’ brand for all knitwear needs. Whether that’s for the DIY market or the Fashion industry. I’m planning to increase my current pattern design business by introducing 2 seasonal collections per year and having some of them translated into foreign languages. I’d like to publish books of my designs in print and as E- books and continue to offer Kits with new fresh packaging. I’d like to attend international trade shows and increase my customer base. I am also researching having my own branded yarn and would like to add exclusive knitwear related accessories and ready to wear products. Eventually I’d like to have a shop/studio and offer workshops and bespoke knitted products. I also have plans to create video tutorials and virtual workshops on-line which relate directly to my own designs.
Photographs by Rachel of RJM Photography.
Name of interviewee: Jo Storie
Business name: Jo Storie Knits
Business type: Design led knitwear business.
Location: Rothbury, Northumberland