This month in Making Stories Unravelled, we’re talking about how Making Stories came about! We learn how Hanna Lisa and Verena met and made the decision to work together. Also how they came to create a company that not only promotes independent knitwear designers from around the world but also supports environmentally friendly yarn sources.
Life Before Making Stories
Both Verena and Hanna Lisa didn't begin their working life in the yarn industry.
Hanna Lisa had studied business administration, and worked in consulting for a few years before joining a small (50 people) Berlin-based online company. There she became COO and after a couple of years, decided to leave and figure out what she really wanted to do with her life!
That turned into freelancing for a while and gradually to work in the fibre industry with her project bag label and as a small business coach.
Verena had studied educational sciences, and was working in empirical educational research specialising in gender and social inequality.
At the same time, Verena had started her own business The Wool Club, now Sustainablist, and worked both jobs for a while before deciding to dedicate all her time to working on making everyday life more sustainable, fair and eco-friendly.
Hanna Lisa and Verena met via Instagram in 2015, they then met in real life a few short months later, at a knit night at their LYS Wollen Berlin! They hit it off and soon embarked on their first project together, a yarn crawl through Berlin.
Hanna Lisa had been interested in writing a book for quite some time, when she was approached by Anna, the dyer behind Gregoria Fibers. Anna asked if Hanna Lisa would be interested in writing a knitting book together. She loved the idea and suggested to add Verena to the team as a book sounded like quite the undertaking.
“I’ve always had a passion and soft spot for all things fibre, fashion & knitting, and I do love me a pretty book! So when Hanna Lisa reached out about her and Anna’s idea, I was thrilled and didn’t have to think twice.”
Sadly, Anna had to pull out of the project before the crowdfunding due to health reasons.
As the idea began to grow and develop, both Verena and Hanna Lisa agreed that they wanted to create a platform which would enable knitters to find sustainably, ethically, transparently produced yarns and for designers and yarn companies with similar values to find each other.
They both agreed that there was a large gap in the market. US-based yarn producers seemed to focus around transparency in their yarn production, companies like Quince & Co. and Brooklyn Tweed were clearly defining where their yarn was coming from and what their processes were.
With Europe having such a strong wool history, they felt there had to be companies doing similar things. However it soon became apparent that, they weren’t as popular and were quite difficult to find.
The Beginning of Stories
At the very beginning this little team of two sat down together and established how they wanted to work together.
“Our mutual respect for each other and our contributions to Making Stories, at least from my perspective, is rooted in our very beginnings, and the time and energy we spent to really define what we wanted this business of ours to be, how we want to deal with disagreements and so on. This has paid off a million times.”
“I think one of the most important things for us was to allow for a natural evolution of what we wanted to do. We set up the first book WOODS so that it could be a stand-alone project. We did this intentionally so we could see if there was a demand in the market for what we wanted to do and whether we would enjoy the publishing work and the work of building something like that together.”
They also had long conversations at the beginning about their values, and agreed that all decisions within the business should be rooted in these values. It’s something that has been essential to both who they are, and the company they are building.
This hasn’t been the easiest of roads, as they have discovered that there are not a lot of companies out there who are operating in the same way. Open and honest and respectful conversations and the trust in each other have been cornerstones and absolutely key in making Making Stories.
More practically, when they were creating the first book, coming to understand the budget and financials of print was really important so that they could figure out how to organise not only the business, but also the crowdfunding.
If you missed our introductory post about the Making Stories Unravelled series, you can read all about it here.
Next month we’re going to be diving in even deeper when we're looking at how Making Stories is structured and how we work with both yarn companies and designers. We really can’t wait to share that with you!!
Until then, Woolly Greetings,
From The Making Stories Team!