Can you tell us a little about yourselves and your background?Lou and I are best friends, and have been since our teens back in the 90’s. Lou has spend many years in project management in the charity and education sectors, and Helen worked in recruitment in the technology sector. We’ve used a lot of our experience from those past careers to help form Meraki - shared skills in management, design, education, and a love of creativity. When we're not wearing our Meraki beanies, Helen is a ski instructor in the Scottish Highlands, and Lou is a Divemaster and advocate for marine conservation. Keen hikers and sheep admirers too, both of us have a deep appreciation for the environment, and we love the outdoors: the requirement for lovely woolly outfits brings great opportunities to show off our knitting skills (diving aside, although Lou wouldn’t rule out trying a knitted wetsuit; she’s definitely got plans for future shark-related knit patterns).
How/why did you come to be a yarn shop owner?We both yearned to run our own enterprises - something we talked about years ago in Greece on a backpacking trip in 2000. Our shared love of giving and receiving lovely hand made things turned into a deep desire to be part of the current resurgence in popularity we are seeing in hand crafts. Our mismatch in skills (Lou has knitted for years, and Helen invented upwards knitting whilst learning - she really did!) meant that we were ideally placed to see how to bring this to the market.
What do you think you'll enjoy most about running the shop?In Greek, our business name Meraki roughly means ‘doing something with love and creativity’, and we chose it because it summed up what we want people to experience through buying something from us - the pleasure of creating something either for themselves or to give to someone else. While of course we are looking forward to seeing how the success of the retail side of things unfolds, we’re more excited at hearing the positive stories that will hopefully come back from people who buy or get given our kits. We’re aiming to make it as easy as possible for people to pick up a pair of needles and make something with absolutely no experience - hopefully with our kits, specially designed patterns and lovely yarns, people will be able to learn something new and achieve beautiful results quickly, giving them a real sense of achievement and the confidence to carry on their knitting journey.
And what’s been the most challenging aspect involved with it, so far?As fits our business name, we had a desire to learn as much as we could from the process and have done almost everything in our business setup ourselves - the creation of patterns and resources, photography and design, and the building of the website. There have been lots of technical things that have been a learning curve, but that’s been part of the challenge, and of course the ‘Meraki’ and satisfaction of seeing things come together! We recognise that we’ll need to evolve and change with what our customers want, and will be actively inviting feedback, suggestions for improvements, and pattern ideas.
Will you run any classes or groups?
Once we’re a bit established, we're planning on running some local knit clubs in the Scottish Borders and the West Midlands. We had a taster session in our Scottish venue, the Humbie Hub, in Humbie, East Lothian back in March. Our youngest attendee was 2 years old. He loved it!
How do you decide what to stock - do you have to be sensible or can you follow your heart?
It's got to be top quality yarn and accessories. To make it easy for beginners we have a selection of yarns to choose from for each kit. There's no point in busting a gut to make your first baby bootie only for the achievement to be massively underwhelming because of scratchy yarn. We've deliberately chosen each yarn for its quality, feel and how well it fits with the patterns.
Is there a key focus for your shop?At the moment our main focus is on knitting kits using high end yarns, alongside detailed patterns and some starter help resources. We’re actively interested in supporting British companies where possible. We’re planning expansion into other areas later on - but that's for us to know and you to find out! Finally, what are the links and social media that we'll need to visit the shop and see you online? merakiboutique.co.uk is the website (and very lovely it is too - V) Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/merakiuk/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Meraki_Boutique Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themerakiboutique/