We’re excited to restart our Yarn of the Month series by talking to our friend Hanne Solhaug, who runs Garnkurven in Blystadlia, Norway. Garnkurven is a web-based shop selling an array of different knitting products. We discussed the inspiration behind the business, as well as the future of knitting in Norway.
What was the inspiration to opening Garnkurven?
A love of knitting, combined with coincidences. I registered my own company and domain originally to sell knitted accessories. When I spoke to my first supplier of yarn, they asked if I wanted to register only as a maker, or if I was also going to sell yarn to consumers. I decided on the spot to sell yarn as well. This was back in 2005 or so and there wasn’t many web-based yarn shops around.
How popular is knitting/crochet in Norway?
Very. It has always been a part of art classes in school, so most people have learned it at some point, but the last 10-15 years have seen a large growth. It is not uncommon to see people knitting on the train or the bus.
Since opening, how far has the business developed?
Quite far. When I started, I mostly sold mittens and baby booties at fairs, with the occasional online order. While I still have a day job, I now spend a couple of hours a day on the business.
The development of the online world has, of course, helped to develop the business, making it so easy to launch a good web shop and market it successfully. When I started, I created my own web page, with the help of my husband who is a web developer. I don’t think I could have done it without his help at the time, but now anyone can start an online shop.
What is the secret to your success?
The combination of being one of the first online yarn stores, being genuinely interested in yarn and knitting, and actually enjoying the work. I only add products and brands that I like.
I find marketing exciting, and I do accounting as a day job – that makes it a lot easier to run the business.
How has HiyaHiya helped your business to flourish?
I am not trying to replace the local yarn stores, but to be a supplement. To do that, having yarns and needles outside the most common brands is essential. HiyaHiya is more known in Norway now, but not common in most yarn stores. The short delivery time, broad range and access to product images makes it easy to keep in stock and to sell. And of course, many people really love the needles and tell their friends.
What do you love most about your line of work?
That I can do anything from knitting, browsing new product online and do the bookkeeping in a day’s work. The variation makes it fun, it doesn’t get boring.
What trends do you see happening in the craft industry in the future?
I believe the focus will be more and more on sustainable products, with people looking for quality rather than quantity. Not only in the craft industry, but in general. I also think we will see even more of handmade clothing, accessories and interior.
What are your plans for Garnkurven in the future?
To keep growing, without loosing the personal feel of the business. I am always looking for new products that fit in with our vision; to provide quality products that can’t be found in any store, with focus on customer service and sustainability. I would like to visit more knitting events, as it is always a lot of fun to meet customers in person.
To visit Garnkurven’s amazing website, click here.