21 May 2020 11:12
31 January 2020 14:03
It isn't easy sometimes, to keep a collection of *really* sustainable yarns. Let me tell you about some of the challenges, and allow me to complain a bit in the process ;)
First of all, I have to make sure that the yarn really is sustainable, of course. As sustainability (happily) becomes more and more popular, we also see more and more greenwashing everywhere.
I can't always actually go and see for myself, and yarn producers - understandably - don’t want to give away all their craft secrets. So this in itself can be difficult enough. Still, I need a certain degree of transparency, and most eco yarn producers are happy and willing to tell more about their production process.
But even when the relationship is cordial and transparent, information about traceability, dyeing methods, animal husbandry etc can still be very difficult to obtain. It is a big and complex world out there.
This is also one of the reasons why it is difficult for me to work with indie dyers. As beautiful and artful as their yarns can be, small independent dyers usually buy their base yarn from one or two big wholesale businesses and can’t guarantee the sustainability of the yarn itself. This is not unwillingness from the indie dyers – this information simply is not available. And it will not be made available for small businesses like us or the indie dyer, insist as much as we like.
There is also the difficulty of working with other pioneering businesses in general. Most of them genuinely try to produce high quality yarns, as earth-friendly and people-friendly as possible. But small businesses are vulnerable. They usually need a lot of time to produce and deliver. All sorts of things can go wrong to delay or mess up the production process. Local circumstances may change with big and sudden consequences. They may have to change their products, or their prices, or some crucial part of their business strategy. They can suddenly be unable to keep to former agreements, which can have big consequences for me as their retailer. Because I too have a small business, and am vulnerable.
There are also situations when the difficulties arise from deliberate unwillingness. I am sorry to say that I have known it happen that producers knowingly and consciously undercut and back-stab their retailers. Because more money is to be made by selling directly to the public, or the business has grown and doesn’t need its retailers so much anymore. Sadly, sustainable production doesn't automatically also include integrity and good will, and fair trade doesn't always seem to apply to all partners concerned.
Like I said. It’s a big and complex world out there.
When I include a yarn in the Yarnz collection, this is usually a big investment. Not only in money, but also in time and spirit. So when I have to let go of a yarn, it is a huge loss - not only financially.
I try to build a good relationship with my yarn producers. Often, I am happy to say, this is very rewarding. Because there is nothing like growing together and working on something in which you truly believe, with likeminded people. And if you even get to play with gorgeous yarns... it doesn't get much better than that!
But it is difficult, complex and risky to run a social business.
Still, I wouldn't have it any other way (if only because I'm useless at anything else XD)
27 November 2019 07:30
We sell fair products for a fair price, all year round. So in general, we don't do sales. And we certainly don’t want to encourage the feeding frenzy this time of the year. People spending money they don't have on things they don't need or want... this is not our way.
I realize this sounds a bit strange, and it is somewhat contradictory. Because we're a shop. We sell stuff.
Of course I want you to buy it. The more, the better.
Well, yeeessss… but. A big but.
Yarnz is also about balance, about reducing our footprint as much as possible, about treading lightly and kindly, about spending your money wisely and ethically, and about being part of a community that values quality over quantity.
About buying less, choosing well, and making it last.
Still, it is nice to celebrate a special occasion.
So this is our compromise, inspired by other (small) business owners and out-of-the-box thinkers, we celebrate with a Black Friday alternative.
This is how we do it:
From Friday Nov 29 until Monday Dec 2 (midnight):
- Instead of discounts, we will donate 25% of profits to charity.
- Plus an Offer You Can't Refuse: Orders over €75 get a Tony Chocolonely chocolate bar! (If you want the vegan option (dairy free dark chocolate), just say so in the order comments or send me an email at email@example.com.)
- And an extra incentive: We raffle 5 Golden Tickets among all orders over €100. (Well, gold-ish tickets... well, a nice voucher anyway ;) Each voucher is worth €10 of shopping credit in our store. Use it on your next Yarnz shopping spree, or give it to a friend!
Two charities. One for people and one for the planet:
1. For people: ASHWA Uganda.
ASHWA supports the most vulnerable girls and women in Uganda, where menstrual hygiene and sex education are very much taboo.
Sanitary towels are unavailable or unaffordable. Consequence is that girls regularly miss school and finally drop out of school and become isolated.
ASHWA teaches about menstrual hygiene and how to make their own reusable sanitary pads.
I know the founder, Eric Omondi, personally. I am absolutely convinced that they are making the difference in many Ugandese communities and have been a proud supporter of them for years.
These guys are absolute rockstars when it comes to empowering (young) women.
The world needs many, many more courageous men and women like them.
Half of our Green Friday donation will go to ASHWA Uganda.
2. For the planet: Trees for All.
Every year ten billion trees are lost. With disastrous consequences for people, animals and climate.
Trees for All plant trees, protect and restore existing forest and raise awareness about the need for trees. Both here in Holland where I live and also further away, through sustainable forestry projects in developing countries.
Half of our Green Friday donation will go to Trees for All.
4 November 2019 17:17
We cancelled the yarn festival Handwerkbeurs Ghent.
I am so truly and deeply sorry about this. Because I was really looking forward to seeing our Belgian friends again, to meet new people, and to see other yarnshop friends.
Events like these aren't just about selling stuff, they're just as much - or even more so - about feeling the connection, sharing the love of crafting, about inspiration and making it happen together.
Still, I have to cancel. Because of personal circumstances.
Usually, this means something very sad. But even though one of the consequences is sad, because I really don't like to cancel the yarn festival, in this case the "personal circumstances" are actually quite happy!
Because... I am expecting a baby!
Me and Mr Yarnz are over the moon...XD
Only the temporary downside is that I am feeling sick as a dog and have been for weeks... I had hoped I'd feel better in time for the event, but I don't.
A yarn festival is already a very intense event for "normal" people.
Right now I just can't cope!
Sad, but true. I wish it were otherwise, but I have to take care of myself and my going-to-be-little one...
So it's good news with a sad consequence.
What do we do, be happy or sad?
Can we be both?
To make it up to you: 10% discount on November 08 to 10.
We don't usually do sales. (You can read more about our pricing strategy and the how & why of this here: https://yarnz.eu/about-yarnz/about-prices-and-discounts)
So this is a big exception. But I reckon such a big disappointment / such great news deserves a treat. I know I need one... so here goes!
A "celebratory" No-Show Sale: 10% off on November 08-09-10. No coupon needed. Valid on everything (except items that are already on clearance sale).
Hope you will enjoy!
18 October 2019 07:58
We're going to change and simplify the shipping rates and the "free shipping threshold". For most countries, this means an increase (though for some countries only a slight increase, and for others even a decrease).
I will tell you why.
We need to keep our business healthy.
Our quite low shipping costs are just no longer feasible. We get more and more small orders of 1 or 2 skeins of yarn, that need to be shipped as a parcel.
At best, we break even on such orders, but mostly we lose money on them. That's fine if it happens only once in a while, because not everything always has to be only about making money. But it's happening too often.
An all time favorite: one or two skeins of Bio Shetland or Bio Balance.
With shipping costs going as low as €2,- in Holland, this was perhaps not surprising.
Yes I know, it seems the consumer gets all the responsibility these days. And the guys who can really make a big difference, like the governments and bigshots in charge, seem happy to keep this responsibility focused on ordinary people.
There is the cost in resources and transportation to consider. Very small orders require more of everything, related to large orders. More time, more packaging materials, more gas for transportation, etc.
By raising the shipping rates, I do hope to nudge customers to consider carefully. Either to get some more yarn or notions in one order (an extra project/gift for someone/thing you covet but hesitate to buy) - or to think "well that's really too expensive, it can wait".
And if you really want it, it's still possible to order just that one skein, of course.
Shipping actually costs much more.
Nice to know: we do not make money on shipping itself. The actual costs are higher than the amount that we charge.
The charm of a small business.
Yarnz does not have millions to burn. We want to be independent and healthy without big loans from banks. We believe that, in a healthy economy, there must also be room for smaller players. Because it's good for innovation and sustainability if people can choose. (And not only between the big companies, whose investors determine our course only based on quick money.)
We want to be healthy and contribute to a healthy, fair economy.
So go on and fill up that parcel! Or postpone your purchase until you know a destination for 4, 5 or 21 skeins of yarn.
New shipping rates
Per Oct 21
Shipping costs €4,50 (free shipping on orders over €40,-).
Belgium & Germany:
Shipping costs €6,- (free shipping on orders over €50,-).
United Kingdom, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Sweden:
Shipping costs €8,50 (free shipping on orders over €70,-)
Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain:
Shipping costs €10,- (free shipping on orders over €75,-).
Rest of the world:
Shipping costs €20 (free shipping on orders over €100).