Yurika Kotze runs AfriYarn selling the very best of South Africa's yarns.
Introduce your shop
AfriYarn is the proud little corner of Etsy I've claimed as my own, selling the very best of South Africa's yarns... Hand dyed, some hand-spun, all natural fibers. My own crochet patterns have also slowly started to go up in the shop, which was a huge milestone goal for me!
When did you turn your craft into a business?
By trade, I am a wildlife researcher for documentary films, but then, when we moved to a new town last year, I found myself idle and between film projects. Naturally, I started crocheting to keep myself busy. That, and browse Etsy.
Out of curiosity, I opened an Etsy shop called AfriHooked to sell some some crocheted items. But every time I went searching for high quality yarn, I kept thinking what a shame it is that so few people outside South Africa get to buy our yarns.
Then, when Etsy announced their plans for Etsy Studio, I took the opportunity and cemented deals with the very best boutique yarn suppliers in South Africa. Then, finally, I opened my second shop: AfriYarn.
How did you come up with a name for your store?
I love Africa, and I love yarn. Also, I'm selling South African yarns, so...
Do you talk to your customers? Do you run your website or blog, social media?
I do! I have a newsletter, as well as a group on Ravelry where customers can chat to me, or discuss my yarns/patterns. I also actively reply on Instagram and facebook. I am still working on a website and blog...
What’s your most favorite product?
That's tough, because each yarn is different. I love the mixed fiber yarns because every ball is unique. I also loooove working with the cotton yarns, as they are really soft and they show off my crochet stitches so well.
What are your future goals?
I am learning to spin yarn at the moment, with the idea of bringing out my very own brand of hand dyed, hand-spun yarn. I have a one year timeline for this, and I'm also sharing my progress on social media.
What’s your process from an idea to a finished product?
Usually, my ideas come to me late at night, just before I fall asleep. Patterns and ideas tend to develop quickly in my mind at that time of night, for some reason. I then lay awake for hours, figuring it out in my head. Then, the next morning, I add it to my design queue...
Where and when do you find yourself most creatively inspired?
I absolutely love texture, and my eyes are always pealed for any interesting motifs. I gain inspiration form atmospheres, too. My Safari Cowl pattern was inspired by early morning game drives in South Africa's national parks - the cold, the excited zig-zag searching for animals (hence the motif)...
Any other thoughts?
A note on my fantastic suppliers: All small operations focused on helping and building their communities. I found a wool supplier who teaches handspinning to single moms and widows from the rural areas of the Karoo. Another supplier, this one mohair, keeps their operation on the strictest of green standards, hand dyeing everything and using a process that puts only pure water back into the ground. I have found mom and daughter teams, excited staff who get to design their own color combos, and fellow 'yarnies' who are mad about what they do.