How to Make a Stand-Out Impression for Collaborations

In the Facebook group, Transform Your Yarn, I give members a chance to get their questions about knitwear design answered, via “Catalyst Call” live-streams, or in a blog post that I write—both on a weekly basis. If you are not in the group, click here to join. If you do not have  Facebook, but have some questions that you would like answered, just send me an email!

I also have mentoring spots open as part of my Patreon membership. For $50 a month (in addition to benefits you get with the $10 membership), you will get monthly one-on-one personal coaching calls, and access to my e-course Swatch Studio, as well as future programs. There are only 5 spots, so contact me if you are interested in this mentoring opportunity!

The topic for this week comes from Babs:

How do you approach indie dyers or yarn companies for business relationships?

I work a lot with indie dyers and yarn companies, for my designs. In fact, I can hardly remember the last design I worked on that was purely for fun and not in collaboration with anyone.

Actually, that’s not true. The last one was the Kakano hat made from YOTH yarns, but that’s been the first one in a loooooong time.

Honestly, I am the one who has been approached for collaborations, rather than the other way around. I think this gives me some unique insight since I can say what really impresses me and makes brands stand out. [Read more]

First, even if you do not know what to say or do, sending an email to ASK for yarn support, a collaboration or some other kind of relationship is so much better than doing nothing or waiting for people to come to you. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no?

I think we are scared of rejection because we are so used to rejections that turn personal. But when you are interacting with a company, it’s purely business if they do reject your offer, absolutely nothing personal. It’s a simple, “We appreciate your email, but we must say no at this time” or something along those lines.

We want our emails to stand out, because as you can imagine companies and brands receive lots of emails every day. Keep the headline, of your email, simple and to the point. The content of the email is more important:

1.         Introduce yourself, what you do (mission statement), who you serve, and HOW you serve your audience. This is your elevator pitch!

Example: My name is Francoise, a knitwear designer and teacher under the label Aroha Knits. My company’s mission is to help knitters transform their yarn into unique, hand-knit pieces to boost their confidence and creativity. How? I design knitwear designs to inspire and delight, wanting knitters to add their special touch, and I offer courses and books that transform knitters into confident designers. 

2.         State the purpose of your email: yarn support, collaboration, business relations, whatever.

Example: I have been following your work for awhile now and have been recently inspired to design a shawl using your yarn. I am reaching out to inquire about yarn support and possibly fostering a relationship for future collaborations, depending on how well this one goes.

3.         Let them know how your brand is going to provide value back to their company. You have to give back, too. Basically, how you are going to SERVE them.

Example: I have a combined social media and newsletter following of over 30k+*, and I can offer you a copy of the pattern for you to sell in your shop as a kit. We can discuss our promotion campaign together, in order to get the most amount of eyes and sales possible on our work.

*If you don’t have big numbers, that’s ok! Brainstorm ways you will be able to help each other. In fact, if you are just starting out, I would look into finding brands that are just starting out too. Help each other out!

4.         Mention your portfolio of work: Ravelry page, website/blog, social media followings.

Example: You can find my portfolio of previous collaborations at www.arohaknits.com. Talk to you soon!

Obviously, you’ll want to expand a bit more in some of these points, like the specifics of your design or your project, but this is a good outline to use, so you can start to really make an impression on companies.

P.S. This is a bonus tip—if you can make it to any of The National Needlarts Association (TNNA)  tradeshows, DO IT. This is the perfect place to network with others in the fiber industry. In-person meetings are so much more powerful than email. I cannot tell you how much freelance work I have obtained during those three days; how many new relationships I’ve made; and how many amazing people I’ve met. While I will probably expand on this topic much further on, I just wanted to make you aware of this.