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The Anzula story
Sabrina Famellos-Schmidt has the kind of story us working-for-the-man types shake our fists at.
She had this hobby (crocheting) that she parlayed into a home business (yarn spinning).
Then, she turned the whole thing into a full-time job — hand-dyeing yarn for Anzula Luxury Fibers, the company she started in a studio in the Cultural Arts District last year.
It's been a good year.
Her yarn — 12 fiber types in 48 colorways (that's industry speak for different colors) — is carried in 42 stores in 11 states and Canada. She was only in 8 stores last year.
Now, she's sending orders out every week. There's a giant board on the wall of the studio that marks what needs to go where and when, and racks of yarn drying out on the sidewalk when you walk by. She has even been able to hire a full-time employee, and together they dye close to 70 skeins a day, though there have been days it's been more like 100, she says.
“We're very close to making it,” she says.
You wonder what, exactly, “making it” means.
If it means continuing to grow the business, there's little question that will happen, says Norla Kitch, of Janna's Needle Art, which carries several colors of Anzula's sock yarn, along with a merino garment wool that was created specifically for the store.
For one, the company offers a quality of fibers that isn't available just anywhere, says Kitch, speaking on behalf of the store's owner Janna Mayne. You can't go into Walmart and buy camel fiber. And while hand dyeing is a big trend, but there aren't a lot of companies doing it on the scale of Anzula. Add to that Famellos-Schmidt's understanding of what customers are looking for. Yes, she has fun working with the colors, but she has to keep in mind the finished product.
Famellos-Schmidt is an example of the new generation of fiber artists, young women who are passionate and fearless, Kitch says. “Sabrina is a powerhouse.”
Here is a little secret us working-for-the-man types often forget. Just because you're doing what you love, doesn't mean it's not hard work. What she's doing, she learned from scratch, and for awhile, she was doing everything herself, including spinning her own fiber — from rabbits she raised.
As you can imagine, it was more than a bit of work.
But everyone wears clothes, she says, which is a “duh” kind of statement, until you realize that we live in a more/harder/faster world and most of us don't slow down enough to think about something as simple as a hand-knit scarf or pair of socks.
There's 20,000 stitches in a pair of socks, FYI, so if someone knits you a pair, that means something.
“There's not much more traditional than working with yarn.”