Welcome to week four of NCM Maker Stories! Last week we chatted with Alexandra Tavel. In case you missed it please check out the YouTube video we went live! It was such a great conversation, Alexandra shared some invaluable tips for designers on marketing and selling, be sure to check it out.
Today I will introduce you to Julie Sarah Desjardins, founder, of ACCROchet a passionate crochet designer, ambassador, teacher, translator, and mentor whose mission is to rule the w… deepen worldwide love of crochet.
As a French-Canadian, it was important to Julie that her business bring French-speaking crocheters and crochet designers together in communities that value and recognize the artists’ talent, time, and tools; communities of people that want to surround themselves in those same luxurious elements.
Julie has been published in online and print crochet magazines, as well as in a book (soon to be two), and self-publishes her designs, crochet tips and more on ACCROchet.com
Parallel to her crochet career, Julie has been working in advertising for more than 15 years. Her curiosity and desire to always be learning have both served to perfect her knowledge of general trends in advertising, as well as deeper truths.
Her philosophy that the rising tide lifts all boats is at the heart of her founding of a collective of French-speaking crochet designers, Francrochet Le Collectif through which she seeks to share everything she has learned, is continuing to learn, and will learn.
Julie Sarah Desjardins
Deveter: Julie, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. I love your goal of bringing French speaking crocheters and crochet designers together. Maker Stories is my way of doing that as well. Aside from making the connections what makes your work unique and special? What is the mission of your business/ art?
Julie: My business is three-fold: I speak to crocheters, to crochet business owners, and to women entrepreneurs – but in all cases, my mission is to give the people I am in contact with permission to be themselves and to make a living doing what they love. When I got into the business, crochet was on shaky ground. It was looked down on, and it was seen as almost shameful to ‘only’ crochet. That script is flipping/has flipped. The beauty of crochet and of crochet people is present in all circles of the industry and that’s a great thing.
I have a background in marketing and communications, and I love to learn and to teach, so I’ve been able to use all of this experience and knowledge to help other women lean into their creativity to build something for themselves. It can be to build a crochet habit, or a business, or something in between – but I’m like, a cheerleader and I want everyone to succeed.
To me, other people in crochet are colleagues, not competition. I can’t make all the things, so I’d rather send someone to a colleague who does a thing I don’t do, than deny their existence… does that make sense?
Deveter: That make absolute sense. What an inspiration! I am new to the ‘crochet world’ and I can certainly see how it has been looked down upon to ‘just’ crochet. You are really helping so many people, thank you! How would you describe your style? Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
Julie: My crochet hero is Doris Chan. Her foundation stitches were a game changer to me as a beginner way back when. I have all of her books and one of my prized creations was made with a pattern of hers (the Zen jacket). I am very happy to have gotten to meet her at a Crocheters Guild of America conference a few years ago.
I like to think that my designs are colourful, versatile and modern. I used to write patterns for everything I crocheted from scratch, but with time, I’ve become a lot more focused on crochet socks, and on Tunisian crochet pieces. I crochet all sorts of things, but the time and work that go into designing are better spent on those two types of projects/techniques in my own business.
Deveter: Your focus on socks is time well spent, they are beautiful! What sort of things are inspiring you right now? Where do you look for inspiration?
Julie: I’m currently inspired by the first signs of Spring – when you have 4 very clearly defined seasons like we do in Québec, there are moments in the year that you notice: the first few days of leaving the office and it being dark outside at the start of winter, the first afternoon in the sun without a winter coat… and between the two, the distinct bird song and sound of melting snow right before the weather finally warms. The air even smells different. It’s a great time to take long walks and stock up on vitamin D and inspiration.
I also get inspired just with the yarn I play with, and the gorgeous crochet projects from all over the world that I have on my Pinterest and Instagram feeds.
Deveter: Great big YES to Spring! All the signs of it represent life to me. What unexpected benefits has crocheting brought to your life?
Julie: Connection with a bunch of wonderful women from around the world.
When I started crocheting, other than the friend (Hi Heather!) helping me via e-mail, it was a hobby of one. I eventually started giving classes and met a lot of wonderful students. I started designing and made friends online. And I started going to events and meeting other like-minded women (for the most part) and staying up (too) late talking about all the things.
A few years ago, I founded a collective of French-speaking crochet designers and creators. So through my collective and through my social media presence (while the planet is in virtual mode), I connect everyday with women who love to crochet, women who have a crochet business, and just women in general. We get to commiserate, help each other and collaborate. We also share about our lives outside crochet. It’s been an amazing ride in that sense. I thought I was a loner, and I’m apparently not.
Deveter: I love how adaptive human beings are, connecting to people is so important and over the past year we have certainly learned to adapt to this virtual world. I’m glad it’s working for you! Julie, what five words would best describe you?
Julie: Loyal, unabashed, colourful, determined and respectful rule breaker. (that’s 7, but I do have rule breaker in there so…)
Deveter: I think most crocheters are rule breakers! Finish the sentence … “If I couldn’t crochet, I would … “
Julie: Embroider? Paint? Sew? Felt? I would definitely be doing something with my hands. It’s something I need, now that I’ve found it. It helps me stay focused and calms my mind. Yeah, I’d be finding another craft for sure.
Deveter: Well we are happy that crochet is your main craft because your patterns are divine! Now you know I have to ask; what is your favorite Furls tool?
Julie: I’m a huge fan of the Candy Shop hooks – which reminds me I need to complete the set. They’re not only beautiful, they’re also really amazing hooks. They’re light, ergonomic, and they glide superbly through the stitches.
My first hooks were Alphas, and I have Odysseys, Streamlines, Swirls and Tunisian Furls hooks, but my favorites remain the hooks from the Candy Shop collection.
Deveter: You are a true Furls Hook connoisseur! We live in a mass-produced, buy-it-now society. Why should people continue to make things by hand?
Julie: Because mass production isn’t sustainable, because making things is stress-relieving, and mood-boosting, and because we can. That simple.
Deveter: Just that simple! I totally agree with you Julie! Thanks so much for chatting with me today.
Furls Fans I hope you learned something new about Julie and have been inspired by her story. Be sure to like, follow, share and download from her! She’s a master crocheter and you need her patterns in your life.
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