Featured Entrepreneur / Lady Dye Yarns, LLC – Diane Ivey



Entrepreneur Profile: Lady Dye Yarns, LLC

For the last decade, Diane Ivey has been a knitter. In 2010, she turned her passion into an eco-friendly yarn business that creates vibrant and colorful hand-painted yarns and accessories that are inspired by street art. Diane was a finalist in the 2013 Sandbox Summer Accelerator. Since then, she been up to some pretty big things including launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Read more below!

What inspired you to start Lady Dye Yarns?

I started Lady Dye Yarns because I realized what was out there as far as yarn goes just wasn’t creative enough for me. I took my love of street art and used that as an inspiration to dye my own yarn. It wasn’t until individuals in my knitting community started asking to purchase my yarn that I realized that I had something in the knitting community that was needed. I knew I could make this into a business and that’s when I started Lady Dye Yarns. I have been a knitter; a crocheter, spinner and dyer of yarn for nearly ten years and I have been teach knitting classes and workshops for the last 8 years. I believe if you are going to do anything in life, that is should be something you are passionate about. Yarn is my passion!

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Why is there a need for eco-friendly yarn?

Many yarn companies use chemical dyes. I believe these chemical dyes contribute to the ongoing issues we have with our environment. I also believe it does damage to the health of the individuals dyeing the yarn. Most have to wear industrial masks in order to work with these dyes. Being a small business in the textile industry, I believe we all need to be socially conscience of what we are doing to the environment and ourselves when it comes to dyeing yarn with chemicals.

What have been some challenges for your business so far?

The biggest challenge I have with my business is working capital, which is a challenge for any small business. The time and cost that goes into purchasing raw materials, dyeing yarn, labeling, marketing and getting it on the store shelves does cost money. It’s not just a one-woman show anymore; there are other people on the team. I feel confident this year will generate more revenue streams as I have put in place several benchmark goals and so far I have been meeting those goals.

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Why did you join the Sandbox Accelerator and what did you get out of it?

When I joined the Sandbox Accelerator Program, my business was already up and running for two years, but I was stuck in a situation of how do I move my business from local craft fairs and events to a larger audience? 

Joining the Accelerator program was a great opportunity for me to work in a small group setting with other entrepreneurs and to be paired with a business mentor who helped me tremendously through the process of reorganizing and strategizing my business. Through the Sandbox program, I decided to move my business to a wholesale model. Being in the program was so beneficial because we had expert individuals in all aspects of running a business speak to us. Also, being with everyone and talking about our success and challenges really helped me understand where I wanted to go with my business.

Talk about your new Indiegogo Campaign. Why did you launch it and what do you hope to get out of it?

As I mentioned before, I am moving to a wholesale model. The National NeedleArts (TNNA) is a huge association and twice a year they have a trade show where thousands of people attend. This Indiegogo Campaign is to raise the funds for my team and I to attend the event. In order for my business to grow and to be successful, Lady Dye Yarns needs to be in Indianapolis in May of this year to attend this event. I am ready to showcase my yarn to a large audience. As stated before, this Indiegogo campaign is to raise money but it’s also about marketing and branding. The exposure you get with doing a crowdfunding campaign can be tremendous if done right.

What is your long-term vision for Lady Dye Yarns?

I have three main goals:

  • To be a leading manufacturer in one-of-a-kind yarns focusing on street art
  • To become a major source for urban inspired knitwear designs
  • To engage street artists and yarn bombers in the work we do and continue the conversation on street art