Owning a handmade business can be a wild ride.
Just ask Angela Smith, owner and creative director of the Houston, Texas-based craft supply business Purl & Loop.
In July Smith was celebrating the patent notification she received for one of her portable loom designs. Then in August she was riding out Hurricane Harvey with her staff and experiencing a bit of survivors guilt after the business and all their homes were spared.
“We all feel guilt for being OK while so many are suffering,” Smith said during the aftermath of the storm that hit weeks after she was initially interviewed for this article. “It was hard to fight the urge to go physically help versus run Purl & Loop. However, it is important to my staff that they have a means of paying their rent, mortgage, car payment, tuition and so on. If they were good and stable, they would be in a position to help their extended family, neighbors and friends.”
So Smith focused on getting back to work and keeping the business operating so her employees would continue to be paid. “But it is still hard to do when we see so much suffering all around us,” she said.
Fortunately for her small staff, Smith has an MBA from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, a strong business sense and the means to grow her business that sells a variety of laser cut weaving looms. The 46-year-old recently got a patent for her Swatch Maker 3-in-1 Weaving Loom that allows weavers to weave side by side swatches with 8, 10 on 12 ends per inch on one portable loom.
This versatile loom was created at the request of weaver Liz Gipson, who was working on a book project and looking for a tool to help her design faster.
When Gipson made the request in August 2015, Smith admits she wasn’t excited about the idea initially.
“Ironically, I almost responded right back to say, ‘No, I’m not doing custom work,’” Smith recalled.
Thanks in part to William Shatner, Smith reconsidered and said yes to creating a new loom that would lead her to her first patent.
Grab a project and listen to this episode of the podcast to find out how it all went down and pick up some helpful handmade business tips along the way. You can also read the profile I wrote about Smith in the Craft Industry Alliance Journal. (The story is scheduled to be published on 9/12/17.)
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