Lady Dye Yarns – From Crafts to Activism With WooCommerce
Diane Ivey, a long-term employee in the nonprofit sector, lost her job in 2011.
Diane saw an opportunity where others would see an obstacle. She turned a passion for handcrafted yarns inspired from graffiti art into a new career. Her company was inspired by the need for diversity in crafting and inspired to make a difference by global calls for change.
Diane worked hard to create the engine of change Lady Dye Yarns today.
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Five years of her time was spent as a part-time consultant for different art organizations. She participated in accelerator programs for business to improve her entrepreneurial skills.
Finally, she was ready and it was now time to create a website.
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There were many website-building options available to her. She chose WooCommerce and WordPress because they offered flexibility and long-term growth.
WordPress is for serious people. She says that WordPress is a serious website designed for real businesses. This was not a hobby for Diane. This was serious business.
The birth of “craftivism” and how to get started
Diane says that Diane was only dyeing yarn at the time she started. She then sold it to yarn shops and other outlets. This was my business model. The WordPress app was a great tool that I used a lot. I use it often on my smartphone.
Diane went along with her coach to attend her first trade fair in 2014. The National Needle Arts Association was her first show. She noticed that she was the only black vendor out of 300.
“That show was extremely, very popular. It was so exciting to be there. I felt like I’d made it. Someone said, “Diane, have you walked up and down this street and I can tell you that you are the only black vendor here.” I went on a walk, and it was true. “Well, that’s a problem.
She realized that she needed to do more to increase diversity in the crafting community. It wasn’t long until Diane took action — what she calls “craftivism”.
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After seeing Viola Davis’ speech at the Emmys she felt inspired to write a blog about the lack diversity in the crafting community.
“I heard a lot of people saying, “Diane, why would that happen when it could harm your business?” and I would just respond, “I don’t care.” The demographics are changing. The industry is changing. “How can you guys miss this?”
She was not afraid to speak out. She started to write more about the problems facing her community. This greater purpose was then incorporated into her product offerings. Her company is well-known for its partnerships with BIPOC companies in the crafting sector.
Diane fell in love with the subscription model after she purchased a clothing membership.
She says, “I was like this is so cool…like having a personal shopper mail me fancy clothes!” “And I realized I could do it the same way for the crafting community by creating pop-culture-themed crafting collection. My yarn is not the only thing I sell, but also specialty and artisanal products from other BIPOC companies.
Diane placed her first 73 orders in 2018 after finding like-minded companies to partner with her on her initial project boxes.
“I thought that was quite a lot. I sold yarn but the idea that you could combine all of these products into a single kit and people would purchase it was still very new to me.
Consistency is the key
“The need to be consistent was something I took a few minutes to realize. We have received yarn orders exceeding $50,000 from other large corporations in our industry. That’s an investment. One such company, KnitStars worked with us for over a year. Repeat orders were what allowed me to get an office and hire employees.
We are now able to invest into black and brown businesses. Someone said, “You’re sort of Robin Hood. You’re not stealing. But you’re taking money from other people. And you’re giving it back to other businesses through these clubs or collaborations.
What has made me stand out from everyone else is the infrastructure we have already built to enable us to create the type of clubs, products and collaborations we have. BIPOC is now the majority owner of 95% or more clubs and businesses that we work with.
“I had Square at the beginning but it wasn’t something I used a lot until my decision to stop using other payment processors.”
The final decision on the best payment processor came down to which WooCommerce tool was most compatible with it. Square won Lady Dye Yarns’ heart, not just because it was cheaper, but also because it is so easy to use for both vendors and customers.
Diane says, “I believe that products offering too many options can make it very confusing.” Square is simple and works well together.
Square also made it possible for her to access micro-loans.
“We have received six to seven loans from them and all of them have increased. They continue to increase in number. It’s easier because they recoup it via our store transactions. I have always paid the amount I owe within 60 days. I finish most projects within one month.”
Diane has found that Apple Pay is a great option for speed and ease of use.
It’s all about speed and not having to enter your personal information each time you make a purchase.
It is easy for her tell customers that they like it.
“Sometimes limited-edition products sell quickly. Often, within five minutes. Apple Pay is as easy as one tap. Then, all you have to do is click the button and your order is complete. Apple Pay allows us to quickly place a new box and within a few seconds, complete orders begin rolling in.
WooCommerce is the heartbeat at Lady Dye Yarns.
It’s so integral that Diane asks Is it compatible with WooCommerce every time she considers new software.
It’s my favorite thing. It’s true, I love it. Because I own my own small business, I am always interested in numbers and analytics. WooCommerce makes it easy for me to do this and understand the information I’m seeing.
A flood of people started following her on Instagram in 2019, only a few days after she had launched the year.
“I was like, “This is strange. “What’s the deal?” This was the tipping point in social justice, and people began to notice her work.
“Everyone was like, “You need to follow Diane at Lady Dye Yarns.” She was the first to speak out about the lack diversity.
Her followers now exceed 20,000, which is a significant number, especially in the crafting community.
Lady Dye Yarns rose to prominence in 2020 with the introduction of content collaborations. They now do as many as 3-4 per month. Instagram has been a place where Diane can talk about diversity and grow her business while supporting other BIPOC creators and artists.
Diane informed Isaac, her contracted developer that she needed a better email solution. He suggested Klaviyo.
“He loves WooCommerce and works closely with many WooCommerce clients. He is the reason I chose him, as not many people in the crafting community are familiar enough with WordPress to be able to use it. He was able integrate all of Klaviyo. So, when we send an e-mail, we can view all orders that result.”
Email has been a major driver of Lady Dye Yarns’ sales. Diane suggests that “I don’t know what other industries feel about email and newsletters.” We see it as an alternative for a Facebook group. There is a certain amount of toxicity in social media-based discussions about diversity and inclusion. We can’t just go back to knitting, we need to discuss these issues.
Diane found newsletters to be a great way to get people talking. People listen to. “Klaviyo shows you how many people clicked on our newsletter. Our newsletter is clicked on by about 50% of the people.
50 percent The average open rate was 19.66%.
“Yes, it clicks on 50% every time. We also get a few thousand sales every time.”
The future of craftivism
Diane says, “We have a great product and a great theme.” Diane is still focused on the future.
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“Business owners are often so focused on their businesses ( and the world right now) that they forget to ask the question, ‘What is this market going to look like in 5, 10, or 20 years?
How can we make the future we desire look better now?
It takes a lot of planning but also luck and the willingness to take some risks.
Lady Dye Yarns is helping to create a better future by making it easier for customers and businesses to support BIPOC.