The Lion Roars:The Rebranding of an American Yarn Companycomments (2) October 19th, 2008
During the past few years, this 130-year-old American yarn institution has taken the knitting and crochet market by storm. Often dismissed as a chain-store commodity, Lion Brand has completely overhauled their image without compromising their core values of providing a wide range of basic yarns that are affordable and widely available. Taking the company into the 21st century took a multidisciplinary approach to revamp their yarn line, co-launch a knitting magazine (Knit.1 targeting the 20- to 35-year-olds), launch a robust electronic media platform, and open a Lion Brand Studio flagship store in New York City.
Family-owned and operated, the fifth generation of the Blumenthal family’s love of yarn is a common bond with all their associates, which they claim is their secret to Lion Brand’s success. Lion Brand Yarn Studio manager Patty Lyons (yes, that is her real name) remarked that everyone associated with Lion Brand including the owners and associates are passionate about yarn crafting and dedicate themselves to sharing the love following the principles of “Inspiration, Education & Innovation.”
Lion Brand offers more than 45 yarns comprised of mostly easy-care synthetics and blends in a vast color palette. For you fiber purists, seven yarns are comprised of 100% natural fibers of which two are organic cotton priced far below the competition. By adding more natural fibers and updating the color story, they are in stride with current fashion trends. Keep an eye out for more exciting yarns soon to be launched.
Knitters often gravitate to a yarn brand because of the inspiration they garner from the yarn company’s pattern support. Lion Brand has been a pioneer in providing free patterns on their yarn labels and have taken it to the next level by providing almost 2,000 free patterns in addition to the more than 600 patterns you can purchase for $3.95 each on their website. These are not corny patterns for boring pullovers. These are patterns that would rival anything you would encounter from top knitwear designers, beautifully styled and executed. I bet you have noticed that their patterns are being featured in top national knitting magazines and books recently.
Lion Brand is doing a terrific job fostering a sense of community among knitters and crocheters alike. A robust electronic media platform includes a website that has tons of info and provides links to their super-active blog Lion Brand Notebook and chatty podcast YarnCraft. Sign up for their free newsletter and you will be in line for an abundance of news, free patterns, and special offers. The company facilitates charity knitting and will hook you up with appropriate patterns and the contact info for the organizations to direct your projects to.
The much-anticipated Lion Brand Yarn Studio grand opening is on November 18 in New York City. Located at 34 W. 15th Street in the Union Square area bordering 5th and 6th Avenues, the Studio will offer a variety of groundbreaking services. Lion Brand will offer innovative ways to satisfy the hyper-visual, tactile yarn lovers. A yarn sample wall will allow customers to unspool a few yards of their choice of yarn to knit up a swatch, allowing you to try before you buy. Every Lion Brand yarn variety will be swatched both in knitting and crochet so you can actually see and feel the resulting material it produces. Every color that Lion Brand produces will be displayed, eliminating computer monitor or printed color card guesswork. To further advance your success at matching a yarn to a pattern, you will be able to use computers in the store to access their extensive pattern library. In addition, use the computer to place orders for yarn that is not in stock at the store and they will send it directly to you with free shipping!
The NYC knitting community will be the lucky recipients of a ton of yarn craft activities including classes (starting January ’09), workshops, special events, fashion shows, knitting circles, movie nights, and book signings. I predict that this store will serve as a model that will inspire not only knitting/crochet crafters but also will motivate yarn stores and yarn companies to step up their game by providing above and beyond services like these to enthuse existing yarn crafters and engage new ones.