Hello, Signature Needle Arts fans! I am Vicki Freuck, the Financial Manager here at Signature. Cathy has asked me to write a guest blog about our experience at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival earlier this month.
This was Signature’s 10th year vending in Maryland, and the 6th year for me, personally. Before attending the shows, I was always the one who stayed back and held down the fort while the others were away. I didn’t know what to expect when I was asked to work at that first show. I do not have any kind of background in sales, but when you believe in a product, it sells itself. It amazed me to hear existing customers give testimonials to others trying the needles for the first time. Our customers really are the BEST!
Usually, Paul, Laura and I attend this show. This year, Paul was unable to attend. Laura’s 15-year old daughter (and Cathy’s granddaughter), Katie, was a tremendous help to us at our retreat last fall, so we brought her out to her first show. She really breaks the stereotype of the next generation. After a long day of vending, she was still fresh and willing to make an extra trip out to the car, in the rain, for whatever needed to be done. She will be working at Stitches Midwest – come meet her there.
At many of the previous shows, our customers were asking about 9” circulars. Laura was able to fit them into our production schedule, and several prototypes were made. One of the great things about being our own manufacturer is that we have access to a machine shop. I was fortunate to be among the first few testers of the 9” circular prototypes.
It is always interesting watching people knit on our test swatches at shows. Customer feedback is one of the most important aspects of developing new products. While some knitters’ styles caused them discomfort while knitting with the shorter needles, we received an enthusiastic response from the majority who tested them. So many wanted to purchase them on the spot. As the test samples grew, we had an interesting observation. Normally, our test samples are a tangled mess of dropped stitches, short rows, and everything else you can imagine. These samples had the most consistent stitches we had ever seen. We continue to perform additional testing on these needles. We’d like to know what you like in a 9” circ. What do you love, and what makes using them difficult?