Hobby to jobby: how Instagram allowed one entrepreneur to quit her day job

99designs Team

Behind every great design is an even greater story. Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Fagan, founder and CKO (Chief Knitting Officer) of the Boston-based knitting company STIK.

By turning to her Instagram followers for knitting production and 99designs for branding, the 25-year-old was able to gain a 30X increase in production and transform her hobby into a booming business. Read on for her tips on creative outsourcing.

Christina

The STIK story

Though Christina has always loved to knit, she’s never been particularly fond of giving things away for free. So while still in college, she launched a website to sell her high-end, hand-knit pieces.

Demand quickly accelerated. When Christina ran out of inventory during the last holiday season, she needed production help but wasn’t sure where to turn. On a whim, she asked her Instagram followers if any of them would want to join the STIK team. Her inbox was flooded with applications within a few days. Today, a community of 30 knitters plays a central role in the company’s success.

With her business taking off, Christina knew it was time for professional branding—but with a limited budget, she didn’t know where to start. A friend recommended outsourcing to another creative community, 99designs. Turns out the collaborative process was just the right fit. She loved being able to submit her rough, hand-drawn sketch as inspiration, and then work back and forth with a handful of creative designers to develop her adorable new logo.

So what’s next? Although the company started simply as a way for Christina to move her knitted inventory, it’s grown into a full-fledged business on a mission to share more than just high-end accessories. “We want to inspire others to pick up the craft and fall in love with it as much as we have,” Christina tells us. “Let’s just say you’re going to see a lot more knitwear, knitting needles, and yarn on the streets in the next five to ten years.”

Christina’s top tips

The Chief Knitting Officer has three pieces of advice for anyone looking to turn a passion into a business.

  1. Expand your network
    Outsourcing lets you grow your company while staying nimble, so connect with others who have the talent you need. In Christina’s case, that meant finding knitters to amp up production and designers to make her branding ideas a reality.
  2. Control quality
    With 30 different ‘knittas’ working for her, Christina needed to ensure a level of consistency in the finished product. With her team’s help, she implemented a system of quality control that still allows for subtle variations in each piece.
  3. Look professional
    A polished logo can make the transformation from hobby to business official. With her adorable new logo in place, Christina was able to quickly extend the look and feel to notepads, hang-tags, labels and banners.

Advice for young entrepreneurs

One of Christina’s mentors shared a little-known fact that resonated strongly with her: 99% of people never come up with an idea to go out on their own and start their own company. Out of the 1% of people who do come up with that cool idea, only half of them actually go out and do it.

“You are probably reading this because you are in that 0.5% of people,” she says. “Go you! Go us! Keep it up! It’s really hard. People will tell you it’ll never work. You will feel incredibly alone and, at moments, agree with those naysayers. But I know that I’ve never been more fulfilled, happier, or more excited to get to work and that makes it all worth it.”

Wouldn’t ‘knit’ be nice…

To make a business out of your own hobby? Go for it—we’re here to help!

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