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Meet Lauren Tran of StrayKnot

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Tran.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I knit and crochet as a form of therapy. The methodical process soothes my soul. I’ve found that it’s grown to become much more than that, however, but I’m loving every step of this somewhat unplanned journey. I used to run through hobbies and call myself a jack of all trades but a master of none. I’d go through phases of things I’d be passionate about but upon finding something new, I’d eagerly jump on and start the cycle all over again.

This is the longest I’ve stayed committed to a hobby, and it’s truly my passion. Maybe it’s because I’m always learning something new as a maker, whether it be through one of the fiber arts or about myself as a small business owner or even as a pattern designer. I started knitting first and crocheting after. My sophomore year in high school, I bought a loom-knitting kit at Walmart and eventually wanted to attempt actual knitting. I taught myself by watching YouTube videos and had so much fun!

Little did I know, I had no real idea what I was doing, and wouldn’t really know until years later. My love for knitting was rekindled in college as a stress-reliever, and I began really learning the ins and outs. As for crochet, I only learned it so I could teach my younger cousin how to crochet her boyfriend at the time a scarf. I didn’t expect to love it so much! The more I dove into this hobby, the more I realized I was so in love with the process of making.

It’s truly such a beautiful thing to be able to create something out of nothing. The transformation from yarn to finished handmade item will never cease to amaze me. Deciding to sell my items was something that gradually happened.

During college, I’d always gotten questions about commissions or if I was selling my knitted pieces. I always vehemently said no because I didn’t think anyone would be willing to buy what I made! After the requests got more frequent and I started getting more prompts to open an Etsy, I started actually considering it. Why not? Getting to this point was rather difficult as I used to be a little embarrassed about my hobby and it took years of feeling isolated in my passion before finding the maker community on Instagram.

The maker community on Instagram, nestled in this wonderful little corner of the internet, was what truly pushed me and gave me the support and motivation to open my Etsy and start StrayKnot. In launching my Etsy, I was able to combine two of my passions–photography and creating. I’d soon learn that the pictures I’d post on Instagram would be another outlet for self-expression.

As my following started to grow, companies reached out wanting to work with me. I never thought I’d ever reach this point and still am in disbelief every time this happens. The companies I work with are ones that I genuinely love. This was also how I first stepped out into designing knit and crochet patterns.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has definitely been a tumultuous road getting to this point in my career as a maker. The biggest challenge I’ve faced thus far must have been accepting my hobby.

I used to feel so embarrassed about taking my projects in public. I felt super self-conscious, and it was an added struggle on top of me being a twenty-something year old trying to find out who she was as a person. This struggle dissipated as I grew older and became more comfortable in my own skin, caring less about what others thought.

I also used to feel so alone in my fiber-related interests, since it felt like I had nobody I could talk to who also knew how to knit or crochet. I truly felt like I couldn’t relate to any of my friends and likely vice a versa. I used to long for a local knitting group or anything of the sort so that I could bond with others about my crafts and share in conversation about my fiber-related woes.

Finding my place within this maker community has definitely helped me so much with feeling like I wasn’t some weird then-teenager with a hobby traditionally associated with older people. The support, encouragement, and friendships I’ve forged through this hobby have definitely helped me overcome this isolation and shyness I used to feel.

Through my multiple subject teaching credential program last year, I also met two lovely girls that I can now talk about anything fiber-related. I am so happy that they share my passion and I am eternally grateful to have them in my life! I didn’t realize until recently just how much I’d longed for friends like them.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with StrayKnot – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
StrayKnot is a small business on Etsy that specializes in cozy, handmade knitted and crocheted pieces. These range from beanies to scarves to bralettes and more. I also sell patterns for those who knit or crochet. I hope to branch out someday and offer other fiber-arts things I’ve made, like embroidery hoops and macrame pieces. As a company, I am the most proud of how far this business has come and grown.

Starting off as a hobby and deciding to take the leap into becoming a business was extremely difficult. StrayKnot taught me that there is so much more to owning a business (even online)–finding my way through marketing, establishing it as a brand, engaging in social media, packaging orders, and providing customer service are a few of the things that I’ve had to learn.

What sets StrayKnot apart from other shops is our dedication to our customers and our passion for what we do. While still a young and budding shop, I only hope that as I keep learning, StrayKnot will continue to grow as a brand and business. Each step of the process is deliberate and meticulous, and I believe that our customers can see the love and care that goes into every handmade piece.

Each piece takes countless hours to create, and if I didn’t truly enjoy the making process, I believe that StrayKnot wouldn’t be where it is now.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I hope for StrayKnot to become a business that also specializes in having more maker-friendly things available. I want to target a wider audience and also cater to other makers like myself. I really enjoy pattern designing so I would love to delve deeper into that, as well as offer a wider variety of fiber-related products into my shop.

I’m not planning for any big changes in the near future, but I recently bought a new camera lens… so we’ll see where that takes me and StrayKnot! I’m looking forward to reshooting my product pictures so that they’re better quality and more consistent.

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