handmade & living wages

One of the great pleasures in making my career with Little Skein is being able to create a business that reflects my values. Even though you don't "see" the way a project bag or yarn is made, I believe the way a business operates, and the principles that drive it, add something intangible and important to the final product.

I think of a business' principles as something akin to the growing movement in the knitting community to support locally grown, locally milled yarn. To me, it's about using and enjoying a product that directly supports the people who are involved in making it. I love farmer's market produce for this reason. I know who makes the food I'm eating (or the product I'm using); I know they're doing something they love; and I love supporting that endeavor.

The values of fair compensation and creative support drive Little Skein, and I thought you might enjoy knowing how these values show up in the project bag or kit that arrives on your doorstep:

Creative makers are fairly compensated. Brooklyn Tweed has been a positive voice for the importance of compensating pattern designers fairly, and we've used their practices as a model. I pay pattern designers competitively for the rights to publish their pattern. We offer generous shared ownership terms. I pay illustrators for the commercial rights to their work when I commission an illustration for a fabric. And, I pay sample knitters to create the samples that are photographed for my kits. It's important to me that creative work is valued and compensated as the highly skilled and irreplaceable work that it is.

We pay a living wage for San Francisco. I live and work in San Francisco, and so does my sewist and studio colleague. It's important to me that everyone who works for Little Skein earns a wage that is competitive and meets living wage standards, which is more than what minimum wage law requires.

Go beyond what's required. I think critically about how to help everyone involved with Little Skein do well, be well, and be happy -- from myself as the chief maker, to employees and the designers I work with, and, most importantly, to the knitters who love our kits and products. I compensate makers as competitively as I can, set my retail prices at a point that, while still a luxury item, is do-able for most knitters, and adjust timelines and creative briefs to encourage, support and uplift my colleagues. It's important to me that we all do well together.

To read more on the topic of fair compensation for makers, and the approaches of others makers who inspire me, check out:

1 Response


March 05, 2017

Anne, your article is so inspirational and exactly why I love supporting independent businesses such as Little Skein.
Wishing you all the success!

Leave a comment