Rebecca Hart’s “silly idea” is about to celebrate its third anniversary.
Hart was becoming disenchanted with the corporate world and her job doing business analytics and data work when her passion for knitting began to take over. The idea of starting her own business had been in the back of her mind for years, but, she said, it “felt like a crazy dream.”
“I’m good at making things efficient, and I can work with spreadsheets, but that’s very different from running your own business,” she said.
She countered her doubts by taking advantage of local resources for small businesses and by taking a class at Wake Technical Community College on how to make a business plan work.
Still, launching her plan to open Warm ’n Fuzzy in downtown Cary’s Ashworth Village was a leap of faith.
“I knew I had to support myself, and this is not necessarily known as a business that makes a ton of money,” she said.
The shop lives up to its name. A cozy sofa and chairs invite knitters to stay awhile amid the floor-to-ceiling shelves of colorful yarn.
On a recent afternoon, customer Gail Spryer was busy working on a project.
“I started knitting seven months ago, and now I can’t put it down,” she said. “I was intimidated when I first came in, but it’s not like that at all. Everybody is really helpful.
“It really is warm and fuzzy here.”
That’s just the kind of atmosphere Hart works to cultivate. She hosts knitting groups three times a week in addition to the classes she teaches. Her customers, many of whom are regulars, often seek advice on what to make next.
“People want small-scale projects that have the feeling of luxury,” she said. “Most things that can be draped around the neck are popular.”
That luxurious feel can be achieved with the soft, hand-dyed yarn that’s available to today’s knitters. Hart orders from small suppliers in the United States and from around the world.
“That’s where I’ve made my niche,” she said.
Years back, yarn came in solid colors and tended to be scratchy. That’s a far cry from today’s offerings.
“It’s like a really good wine,” said Tina McClancy, a Warm ’n Fuzzy customer and veteran knitter. “Why in the world would you go back?”
Hart said it’s constant work to keep up with industry trends and strike a balance between influencing customers with what she thinks they will be interested in and what they actually choose.
Although there are men who knit, the majority of Warm ’n Fuzzy customers are women. That can present its own challenges when it comes to newcomers, Hart said.
“I know it might sound sexist, but women are often afraid of trying new things,” she said. “They are afraid they can’t do it. When kids come in, they jump right in because they are used to learning. Women need a push when they haven’t done something new in such a long time.”
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About Warm ’n Fuzzy
Location: 200 S. Academy St., Suite 140, Cary
Contact: 919-380-0008, www.warmnfuzzy.net, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday