Hello Furls Fans
I’m Deveter Brown the Marketing & Wholesale manager here at Furls. I joined this amazing company in August of 2020 and am so excited to be here. In my role, I help create marketing opportunities that cause customers to click and buy. I also manage the wholesale sales for the company, making sure our friends who are authorized sellers around the globe have all the stock they need! I LOVE my Ebony Streamline hook and named it “Ebony Princess”. I have been crocheting ‘for real’ since 2012. I was laid off from my corporate job and needed to keep my hands busy! I picked up a hook and some yarn and made my sister a blanket for her baby shower. The rest as they say is history. I now have a crochet business named after my daughter, who is my muse. When I’m not, crocheting, placing big orders, and marketing for Furls I enjoy spending time with my three children and husband, recording my podcast with my daughter, reading, and watching a lot of TV. Please follow me on IG @leahsimonedesigns, FB Leah Simone Designs, and check out my Podcast Let’s Chat with Leah & Deveter.
Over the next four weeks I will be sharing my interviews with four different makers of color. Although they are not new to the scene, my hope is to possibly introduce you to some you may not have met before, or to allow you to get to know the ones you have even better. Please stop by weekly on Wednesdays to learn something new.
Today I want to introduce you to Toni Lipsey the creative genius, crochet designer and instructor behind TL Yarn Crafts.
Through her printable patterns and cheery video tutorials, Toni strives to make crochet accessible to makers of every skill level. Toni learned to crochet as a teen but honed her skills after graduating college. She was bitten by the entrepreneur bug in 2013 and began TL Yarn Crafts as a finished product business. Designing became the focus shortly after and she was able to quit her day job in 2017. At present, Toni spends her time nurturing her community of over 300K makers across platforms by offering approachable crochet patterns and handmade business wisdom.
Deveter: We are so excited for this opportunity to chat with you Toni. As you know it’s Black History month and we are highlighting makers of color. We are so inspired by your journey and would like to start by asking: As a person of color, how has crocheting impacted your life?
Toni: Crochet has helped me find my voice and my community. Before crochet, I was content living a normal life - home, family, work. But with crochet, I can live out loud, express myself, and show up in places I never thought I'd be. I can encourage and influence others, not just in the area of yarn crafts, but regarding culture and politics. Crochet has given me a platform to let my voice be heard. It also allows me to lift up others and collaborate with other talented artists.
Deveter: It’s amazing how much this craft can impact the lives of so many. What unexpected benefits has crochet brought to your life?
Toni: Crochet has helped me connect even better with my mother. She taught me to crochet when I was a teen but I didn't really keep up with it. Now that I'm immersed in the crochet world, I can use that common ground to draw closer to my mom. It's especially important since we live so far from each other.
Deveter: Crochet as a bridge builder between generations, that’s beautiful. Aside from your joy in connecting with your Mom and collaborating with other talented artists, what is the number one reason that you crochet?
Toni: I crochet to encourage and empower others. To help them harness their self-confidence and have that "Wow, I can really do this!" moment. Since I teach virtually, I'm not always present for that moment. But the sweet emails and DMs I receive let me know that people are learning from the content I provide.
Deveter: I see that impacting the lives of others is a top priority for you. What if you couldn’t crochet? Finish the sentence … “If I couldn’t crochet, I would … “
Toni: "Not know what to do with myself" But really, if I couldn't crochet, I'm sure I would find another art. I have to have my hands busy and I also need to feel productive. I've always been interested in ceramics, embroidery, and watercolors. I hope to explore those more in the future.
Deveter: Still using your hands to create. That’s awesome and makes plenty of sense. I’m sure you will pick up those skills quickly. What makes your crochet unique and special? What is the mission of TL Yarn Crafts?
Toni: My designs are special because they are easy without being boring. I design things that I'd want to have in my closet. That means they're wearable, comfortable, and unfussy. I like the idea of a wardrobe where you can mix and match pieces for several cohesive outfits. I design for that aspirational capsule wardrobe and the home that you'll find it in. My mission with TL Yarn Crafts is to encourage and inspire crocheters of all skill levels by design, educating, and engaging with my audience.
Deveter: Spending this time with you has certainly inspired me! I can’t wait to download some of your patterns! Now you know I have to ask, what is your favorite Furls crochet hook?
Toni: That's an easy one. Cookies & Cream Swirls, 5mm. That's what I like to use for granny squares, and I made a lot of those in 2020.
Deveter: 2020 was certainly a great year to crochet! I love that hook myself! I’ll have to look for one of your granny square patterns and use mine. Finally, in honor of Black History Month, if you could give any advice to a person of color looking to start a fiber-based business or hobby in 2021, what would it be?
Toni: Don't be afraid to reach out. Every person you admire started from somewhere and grew from the connections and relationships they fostered with other makers and businesses. Email that company and DM that maker that you look up to. You never know where you'll find your next opportunity or mentor.
Deveter: That’s great advice! Thank you again for your time today Toni.
Video Interview with Toni & Deveter