The Story Exchange, Laura Zander, Jimmy Beans Wool, Yarn Shop, KnittingYour Name: Laura Zander

Business Name: Jimmy Beans Wool, an online yarn retailer

Type of Business: Craft

Business Location: Reno, Nevada, United States

Twitter @jimmybeanswool

Reason for starting
Necessity! In 2002, after 2 years of marriage and a life-changing move from San Francisco to Truckee, CA, my husband Doug and I emptied our savings account and I opened Jimmy Beans Wool. We both had worked as software engineers during the early dot com era, but when the bottom started to fall, we opted to turn our Tahoe vacation home into a permanent one. I had learned to knit just 6 months prior and became obsessed. While trying to figure out how to make a living in a mountain town of 14,000 people, I secured a job creating a website for a nearby hand-dyed yarn company, Lorna’s Laces. Lorna acted as my first advisor and encouraged me to combine my newfound passion for knitting with my passion for creating a market-leading business – a yarn shop!

How do you define success?

Biggest Success
Our biggest success came in the year 2005 when our business was generated enough income that it allowed my husband, Doug, to quit his full time job. No other “success” that we have experienced has been quite as life-changing.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My biggest challenge has been of a personal nature: family. I am wired to work 80 hours a week. For 10 years, I enjoyed working 60-80 hours a week and supplementing those work hours with running, skiing, and spending time with my husband and our 2 dogs. That changed 3 years ago when Doug and I had a son. I now try to fit 80 hours of work (and ideas) into a 40 hour work week. To say that it’s a challenge is an understatement, but it is something that I am getting better at every day. I have learned to be more efficient; I have learned to entrust many of my responsibilities to other people; and I have learned to communicate more effectively so that other people can be successful in taking on those responsibilities. The end result is a better business, but the journey has been a challenge.

Who is your most important role model?
Yikes! There are so many! Danny Meyer, Tony Hseih, Norm Brodsky, Jay Goltz, Chip Conley, and Mindy Grossman – just to name a few.

WATCH Laura’s exclusive profile on The Story Exchange.