When Barrie Turney was 15, her grandmother taught her how to knit. “I just took to it,” she says. “I had a hard time sitting still so knitting gave me a fun way to occupy my hands.” She kept it up as a hobby, even when she was working as a Harley-Davidson mechanic. “I knitted on my lunch breaks,” she says.
Last year, though, Turney decided to take her artisanal craft to another level. “There wasn’t a good yarn shop in the Rome area,” she says. “I saw a need for it, and I already had the passion for it.”
With assistance from ACE, Turney established Craft Yarn Company, turning her love for fiber arts into a successful business that is both colorful and cozy. She used the $19,000 loan for inventory and construction costs. “I did everything I could to reduce the start-up costs and make it work,” says Barrie, who added her father as a guarantor.
In a building that once served as a recording studio, she did some spiffy remodeling. “I could not have opened this business without the love and support that came from ACE,” she says. “Believe me, I called just about every day with a jillion questions, and everyone was so patient and helpful.”
Avoiding acrylics, Craft Yarn Company specializes in natural yarns – wool, bamboo, cotton, and cashmere. The shop works with independent, boutique yarn dealers who employ some dyes that are exclusive for Turney. “We have colors that you simply can’t get anywhere else,” she says, “and we sell supplies to get you started.” The shop has one employee, who teaches classes in knitting and crocheting.
Barrie has become a fixture in this part of town, which is gentrifying into an arts district with several restaurants and plenty of foot traffic. She conducts several workshops and social events, such as the “Sip & Stitch” networking series, and she serves as a donation site for Knitted Knockers, a group that provides comfortable prosthetics for women who have undergone mastectomies. She also sells yarn, knitting and crochet accessories through her website.
“So far, so good,” she says. “I stay very busy, and I’m living my dream.”