|Business in search of a hook|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Aug 17, 2012
Apart from breathing, crocheting is the most natural thing she knows how to do.
In the summer of 1992, nine-year-old Leah Eneas wasn't going to take no for an answer. For two years she pestered her grandmother to teach her the art of crocheting. She wasn't interested in dolls or toys. Instead, Eneas said she was always fixated on arts and crafts, and transforming one thing into another. Perhaps that's why some of her earliest memories are of her grandmother making clothing for the family, using a hook and fabric to create intricate and unusual items.
"She wouldn't teach me because she thought I was too young," she recalled.
"I first asked when I was seven. Then I asked again when I was eight. By nine, I told her I wasn't going to stop asking."
In this week's edition of "Da Plunge", the founder of Late Bloomer explains how that moment sparked a new fixation with the age-old technique. In keeping with the name of the business, Eneas said she has always felt like a late bloomer. She had been crocheting recreationally for 18 years before it donned on her to turn this hobby into a business.
"I started when I needed a dress for a wedding," she remembers. "It was cheaper to make one, so I did it somewhat out of necessity. Someone liked it, so they asked me how much I would charge them. I never considered that I could make money from this. It came out of necessity and people responded positively."
Since then, her company Late Bloomer has produced hundreds of items from crocheting, including dresses, hats, belts, bags and baby clothes. The clothing is always by order and custom made. She told Guardian Business her clients have been as varied as the clothing, including customers from different islands in The Bahamas, the U.S. and even as far afield as Paris.
In a typical month, Eneas produces up to two dresses, several bags, and "a bunch of hats and baby clothes". The process, she explained, is painstakingly slow, taking up a minimum of three days to produce a larger piece of clothing.
But she doesn't mind.
Eneas told Guardian Business that crocheting has also become a kind of lifestyle and state of mind.
"It is a very meditative state when I crochet. You think about everything, whether it be relationships, friendships, family or your schedule for that week. I don't have to focus on the crocheting too much anymore. It has become very natural," according to Eneas.
While still working out of her house, the company has become her primary source of revenue. The part-time actress and singer admits her cottage industry is not the most consistent paycheck, and with that in mind, she hopes to take crocheting to the next level. That could include getting her clothes into high-profile shops or enticing bigger clients, she explained.
Another crucial step is taking on an assistant and teaching him or her the technique to speed up production. Eneas is already collaborating with other artists, including people who can sew or produce handles for bags.
"We try to combine our skills to come up with a unique product," she said.
The 29-year-old budding entrepreneur hopes this is only the beginning of her foray into business. What she needs, so to speak, is a hook.