Knitter Turns Hobby Into a Multi-Million $ Business

The Story Exchange By The Story Exchange

By keeping an eye on the bottom line, Laura Zander has grown her tiny idea into a major success.

When Laura Zander started her yarn shop in a small town in California she was hoping to make $30,000 a year. “That would be great,” she thought back in 2002.

Laura and her husband — former software engineers who worked in San Francisco during the dot com boom-bust — sunk their modest life savings into starting Jimmy Beans Wool, a retailer of yarn and fabric.

The business challenge that has been the most difficult has been learning how to communicate with other people.

A little more than a decade later, Laura has parlayed her passion for knitting into an online retail business with sales forecasted at seven million dollars this year and Jimmy Beans Wool products being shipped to over 60 countries.

And she grew her business at a time when many Main Street knitting and sewing shops were closing their doors.

Read Laura’s thoughts on Finding Upsides in an Economic Downturn

Laura’s life has been challenging – she was raised by an alcoholic mother who divorced her father when Laura was three years old. So how did she manage to overcome a variety of challenges and build a company in a sector she knew virutally nothing about?

Watch Laura’s story and share your thoughts below.

Watch other video role models profiled by The Story Exchange

We learned about Laura after she sent her story to our website. If you’re a woman who has started a business share your story and it will appear on our site. We will use it to find candidates for our 2013 filming season and blog posts.

Posted: February 28, 2013

The Story ExchangeKnitter Turns Hobby Into a Multi-Million $ Business
  • Jennifer Connolly

    Such an inspiring story. I didn’t know the face behind the name. I’ll buy more from them! Great job.

  • Jan

    GREAT story! Thanks!

    May all your garden grow,

  • I can so relate to her story. Specially admire her optimism.

    Last year, when I started build kid’s educational apps, and made $60 in half a month, I was so excited. If I can make $100 or so a month with 1 app, I can make $1000 a month with 10 – I kept creating more. It’s been a year, and we are growing revenues much faster than I expected.

    It is good to see someone who persisted and can look back and be proud of all that she built. I hope to do the same someday.

  • Gail

    Women ROCK and Laura is a real rocker….you go girl. Nice to see the face behind the business.


    What a great story and so inspiring. I wish Laura all the very best.

  • I am so proud to say that I’ve known Laura from almost the very beginning of Jimmy Beans Wool. She is a wonderful role model for women showing that in spite of adversity she has done very well with hard work and an idea. With her success she has remained humble, approachable, and the best example of a genuine human being. JBW provides the most wonderful customer service. Continued success, Laura. I’m so proud of what you, Doug, and all the wonderful workers at Jimmy Beans Wool provide to us who love to knit, crochet, and sew.

  • Kathy Vala

    Thanks for sharing this video. I loved hearing your story. We met last year at Stitches in Chicago. I bought your book Knit Red and was delighted to have you autograph it for me. I read it from cover to cover that evening in my hotel room and was surprised to see you were the founder of Jimmy Beans Wool. I looked for you the next day to tell you how much I loved the book and how young you looked to have accomplished so much. I feel fortunate to have met you. Thanks for giving us Jimmy Beans Wool.

  • TF Beauty

    What a great story. She has given me a little inspiration on a day when I especially need it as a small business owner. Congrats Laura.

  • Helen Daganio

    Its great…so encouraging opening more my mind to know more about yarn on how to start a small bussines when im home in my country in the Philippines a yarn bussiness and crochet accessories please advice thanks