Dear friends, this year I will have been running Tangled Yarn for 12 years, and what started as a simple passion for knitting has become a small and very successful independent business that I am incredibly proud of. Like everyone starting a business I’ve faced a few challenges, but I’ve also learnt a huge amount over these past twelve years and today I want to share how that knowledge has influenced how I run my business.
One of the joys of running Tangled Yarn is getting to know my customers and striving to bring them the best possible products and shopping experience. Another is connecting and nurturing relationships with the wonderful companies I work with. These past twelve years have given me a real appreciation for other people who also run small businesses, and it's here that I've found myself contemplating the concept of 'sustainability', and what that means for Tangled Yarn.
The word 'sustainable' is heard a lot these days, and it's easy to become overwhelmed as to what it means. This one word seems to contain a plethora of topics, and that's just within the fibre community alone! That's why I wanted to write today to share a little insight as to what it means to me at this point in my Tangled Yarn journey, and give you a little more insight into running my business.
As Tangled Yarn doesn’t produce products the core of my sustainability strategy focuses on where I source my products from, and where and whom I do business with. I choose to only spend my money with businesses that share my values.
That’s why I mostly work with amazingly talented, independent businesses with purpose. From the outset, it has always been my preference to lend my support to other female-founded independent businesses, where I can, and that hasn't changed. But as I learned more about the yarn-making process I started to see areas that I felt were important to consider when it came to selecting products to stock.
From animal husbandry to a passion for more sustainable operating practices and care for those in their supply chain, I actively seek out progressive businesses that can evidence their standards at every stage of production and who of course sell wonderful products that I know you’ll love.
Here’s a little about what matters to me at each stage of wool production:
The breed of sheep dictates the wool it produces, and how the animals are treated throughout their life is where it all begins. There have been numerous undercover reports revealing poor practices in large-scale wool production, such as the barbaric practice of museling in the production of merino wool.
I only work with those who can provide evidence of good animal husbandry. I want to source from businesses that care about the flocks and the people who look after them. One way of doing this is to seek suppliers who have achieved GOTs accreditation (Global Organic Textile Standard) which means that standards at every stage of production from sheep to skein can be traced and meet the highest ethical standards.
While seeing this credit makes my job much easier, it's important to note that the GOTs assessment process is quite involved and costly, so it's not always financially accessible for a lot of small businesses to attain, despite them operating within the GOTs criteria. This is why I like to take the time to build relationships with my suppliers, so I get to really know them and what they stand for.
Cleaning & spinning
Is mostly a mechanised process but this still requires people. I want to know that the people cleaning and spinning the wool that I source for you have work that they are passionate about and they are treated fairly, properly compensated and work in good and safe conditions.
The process of dying wool isn’t simple or straightforward, to produce some colours requires the addition of heavy metals and none of us want that. That’s why, where possible, I try to select products from suppliers who can demonstrate that they are taking active steps to reduce the use of chemicals and water in their dying process.
If there's one thing I've learned about sustainability in my business, it's that it is constantly evolving. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I am determined to keep my eyes and mind open so I can continue learning. There are so many factors at play when we talk about sustainability, and as individuals, it's not possible to be able to do all the things all the time, but I firmly believe that together we can make a difference and I’m passionate about playing my part.
To you, my wonderful customers, I am committed to making the right choices so that when you purchase from Tangled Yarn you know I have sourced the right products and you can buy with confidence.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this insight into how I run my business. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly at email@example.com