Episode 42: In Conversation with Brandi Harper
Brandi is very happy. She runs her own business, designing knitwear for men and women, and loves using natural fiber. Her brand called purlBknit, is based in her native city of Brooklyn, where she works from home in her own little studio. Brandi started knitting as a teenager, inspired by the crocheted blankets that her grandmother sent to her family from Florida every year. When she was fifteen she started working at a yarn shop to support her fine yarns habit, and went on to teach knitting and help draft patterns at yarn shops in the city. After college, Brandi launched purlBknit on etsy in 2012, and she still thinks etsy is a great platform to run a business (her tips are make a lot and post often). She also teaches NYC Craft Entrepreneurship, a 5-part class created by etsy that covers setting expectations, branding and marketing, photographing product, pricing for profits, and taxes. We are hoping she will come back and teach what she knows here in Grand Rapids…
Marlee and Brandi talk sales and promotions, taking innovative product photographs, selling wool knitwear in the summer, and being a badass businesswoman. Brandi makes most of her sales in person, working two to three craft fairs per month in New York and Brooklyn. Her favorites are the ps321 Holiday Shop (a school fundraiser in Park Slope), and Renegade Craft Fair. Like most creatives, Brandi experiences bouts of self-doubt, and she recommends sweeping the floor to break a creative block- letting your mind wander and end up somewhere new.
Words of wisdom:
“I think it was being here and being around such amazing people, that I’m like: Wow- this is my life? This is the life I get to live?! I feel like we all look for problems, and there’s going to be problems if we look for them. But there’s so much love and goodness surrounding us, and I feel like I have that- and sometimes I forget.”
Projects at Have Company:
In residence, Brandi spent ten days being an artist and pulling out all the stops. As soon as she arrived she re-organized the entire shop with her savvy styling know-how. She worked on photographing items in the shop to promote other Have Company makers. Her event in the space, “A Day in the Life of an Artist” was an entire day of conversation and visitors. Brandi taught participants how to hand-knit her Spring Fishnet Scarf, cooked everyone an amazing dinner, and performed a series of songs she wrote about being an artist. Her energy continued at the weekly knit night, and she was so happy to meet Lake Michigan on her beach day. Brandi also spent time proofing her Shawl Collar pattern, as part of her new pursuit of releasing her patterns for sale and download in a tutorial format.
Things to be excited about:
- Artist Residencies! This being her first residency experience, Brandi is excited to research and apply to more artist residencies, to bring her work elsewhere.
- Hot Yoga! Brandi lives in a city that never stops and she is always hustling, but she recharges with Bikram Yoga, practicing at her local studio with a community of creative entrepreneurs
- Zines! Inspired by the many health and apothecary zines in the shop, Brandi wants to incorporate more herbs and healing tinctures into life. She was moved in particular by The Kitchen Witch zine, Creating and Herbal Pharmacy, and Our Stories in Other Voices by Atiya Jones- a powerful workbook to look at who you are and how you see yourself in the world through writing prompts.
- Making a Zine! A knitting book felt like Brandi’s next step, and being at Have Company she realized that she can take the DIY route and put out her own zine.