July’s featured entrepreneur is Makenzie Pearson of BQueen Collection. Makenzie and I first met when I became completely smitten by her yarn box dye kit. I had my first yarn dye experience with Safflower and wrote all about it in a blog post. Check out that yellow! I’m still not completely over it, and I’ve probably used this photo in ten different places, including a Facebook profile pic. Can you blame me?
As Makenzie grew her business and began to introduce new yarn-dye products, she came up with the idea to create custom dye boxes, working one-on-one to suit the maker. Of course I had to get in on it! And so Makenzie contacted me personally to discuss my color preferences, and she was able to come up with a really gorgeous palette of dye stuffs for me. (Side note: This careful attention to the customer might be my favorite thing about BQueen!)
Read about the natural materials used and the beautiful resulting yarn in my custom dye box blog post. Just try not to drool.
The yarn dyeing is really something, but I think what most people picture when they hear BQueen Collection are those absolutely gorgeous handmade hooks.
I was immediately wowed when I saw the behind-the-scenes video of Makenzie’s business partner (and husband!), Brian, making the famous wooden hooks. And then the fact that Makenzie carves and shapes the tapered head is absolutely incredible. Check that before and after in the photo below. When you teach people more about your process, it makes owning the final product so much more special. Love that personal touch!
Recently, my relationship with Makenzie grew from B2B to crochet buds when I asked her if she would be interested in testing patterns for me. What an exciting day it was when she came on board as a member of my Tester Tribe! I’m pleased to announce that she has worked up a sample for the inaugural issue of a very special upcoming project. Stay tuned for that!
In the meantime, BQueen has been busy introducing crochet patterns into its repertoire – pssst, go look at the Aven Square – and now it’s time for me to test a pattern for Makenzie! Squeee! Small businesses supporting each other is the bees knees!
The coaster pattern that I tested has my heart right now. I was going to make just one, but then I found myself hooking up a set of six. And if I’m 100% honest, I absolutely could not resist… I might have accidentally designed a sweet lace join to use the coaster pattern as a blanket motif. I couldn’t help it you guys!!
For now, take a peek at this beauty, made in Scheepjes Catona (affiliate).
The beautifully written pattern and supplies + more will be included in a specially curated collection of goodies that BQueen calls the Black Box. Peachy is the theme of the newest box, and you can buy one starting Wednesday, July 26, 8AM through July 27, 8AM. That’s right! Just 24 hours to be one of the lucky 10 recipients. Run, don’t walk for this exclusive experience!
And now, let’s meet Makenzie! She’s a Colorado-based mother of two whose dream of running a successful business has taken her craft to new heights. Say hi!
I sat with Makenzie over a cup of coffee (okay with about 600 miles between us) and picked her brain. As someone who is working on building a crochet empire, I wanted to know more about BQueen Collection as a small business. Here are the details of our coffee talk sesh.
Q In the Crafting section of your About Page, you mention you’ve been knitting for two decades and crocheting for just six years. What made you pick up the hook, and how did you learn to crochet?
A I think I finally just thought, I am going to learn this, and so bought some very cheap acrylic yarn and a cheap hook and just made myself learn. My very first project ever (and I mean, before I knew how to work in rows or even chain), was the Snowflake Afghan. I had to look up every single abbreviation and then learn that specific step, using YouTube videos. It took me about five attempts to get one snowflake correctly done – but I really enjoyed the challenge and how different it was from knitting.
Q What ignited the spark in you to evolve your hobby into a new business venture? How did the idea for BQueen Collection come about? Also I’m curious which came first: the natural fiber dyeing, or your stunning handmade hooks?
A Like many others, I dabbled in the selling of my handmade items for years – mostly to family and friends. I tried to have a successful shop on Etsy, but I just couldn’t compete with my competitor’s impossibly low prices and I struggled to be unique. I knew I wanted to sell, but I just couldn’t find that one product that made BQueen Collection stand on its own. Then when I was pregnant and my husband bought a lathe, I convinced him to try and turn a crochet hook. He was sure they wouldn’t sell, and so we made a bet that if we sold two within a month we’d switch BQueen to crochet hooks and develop a niche. What is confusing probably to people is that although he makes 75% of each hook, I run the business and do everything else and he’d prefer to just make the hooks. So – it’s always me on IG, answering emails, etc.!
I’ve actually only been dyeing fiber for a little over a year. I came up with the Dye Box subscriptions before I even knew how to dye, and then learned right before the product launch. I love it – I love working with color and bare fiber and just experimenting. I am still such a beginner, but just like any other artwork, you really can’t make a “mistake” – it’s all art. I love my huge 100 qt pot and playing with the natural dyes. I’m not a super “natural” person – I like a good ol’ 409 manic cleaning, but something about natural dyes with yarn is what I’ve stuck with.
Q Your website and blog are very stylish and vogue, which is not so common in the world of crafting and fiber-works. Why do you feel this is important, and what is your inspiration?
A Oh gosh, vogue? I don’t even hardly know what that is – isn’t it a magazine? LOL. I am not “hip” or “trendy” in any way. It’s not like my home matches my Instagram feed – I have gross throw pillows that still need covers and crayon on the walls and I step on a toy at least once a day. BQueen is much more organized and cohesive than my life! I try to balance the “behind the scenes” but still maintain professionalism – but I really enjoy even the work that goes into branding. I think packaging, branding, etc., are sometimes more important than the product. The customer is buying an experience, not just an item.
Q What are your favorite aspects of being an entrepreneur, and also what sacrifices have you had to make to be successful at what you do?
A I love having my own business, making the rules and following any creative aspiration – that’s the best. I struggle following leadership and I need creative outlets. Brian and I sacrifice a lot of free time for our business, but we’d rather be doing this business than any other. It’s hard – sometimes sales are low and you’re stressed or too high and you’re just overworked. But providing income for your family that is from your own artistry is empowering. It’s also hard to sometimes find enough time for all of your ideas – there just isn’t enough time in a day! So, prioritizing is a must.
Q What are three key pieces of advice you would give someone who is just starting down the path of evolving from Casual Crafter to Crafty Business Owner?
A 1) Find your own brand – take your time, plan out your logo, packaging, brand image, and style. Find a way that makes customers know it’s your package in their mailbox before they even open it. Find a signature for your brand, and make sure it matches the essence of your product. 2) Don’t undersell. Yes, someone probably already sells what you make for a lower price – you have to let that go and not drop to that price point. Charge a fair price for you because “just covering the cost of materials” is not a successful business. 3) Give. Your. Product. Away. Find influencers – people you admire, the “untouchables” on social media that are in your niche, and pick their brains, send them your products for reviews, etc. Make good connections – put in the effort for the positive friendships/business relationships on social media and let go of the negative vibes. We owe all of BQueen’s success to the relationships we’ve built on social media – connecting with the right people can greatly impact your business success.
And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed this dive into the entrepreneurial endeavors of BQueen Collection with fabulous owner, Makenzie Pearson. Be sure to follow on Instagram and Facebook, and sign up for the newsletter to see the latest and greatest from BQueen.
Tune in next Month to read about another amazing handmade business!