Boston Bosses: Christina Pardy, Founder of Sh*t That I Knit
Balanced Hustle is launching a monthly panel series for bad-ass entrepreneurial woman who want to connect and meet like-minded people. We’re digging deeper than traditional networking events and connecting a strong community of Boston women. Each week, we will be featuring Boston Bosses in the community and asking the hard questions and getting insights that will help you succeed.
Christina Pardy is the founder and CEO of Sh*t That I Knit (STIK), a knitwear and accessories brand based out of Boston, MA. A long-time knitting enthusiast, Pardy started Sh*t That I Knit in 2012 as a blog to share her designs with friends and family. In 2015, Pardy launched direct-to-consumer brand, Sh*t That I Knit, with products across categories for women, men, and children. Today, STIK sells handcrafted beanies, mittens, wraps, earrings and bags on www.shitthatiknit.com, through pop-up shops, and in more than 50 boutiques across the country. In addition to its team of seven women in Boston, STIK employs 170 women in Peru to handcraft all products from sustainably sourced materials, enabling these women to earn a viable income to support their families. Christina was awarded a Tory Burch Foundation fellowship in 2019, and aside from being the STIK’s CEO, she spends her time mentoring inspiring entrepreneurs across the country. Christina currently resides in Boston with her husband, Alex. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from Skidmore College.
How many years have you been in business?
What is the problem you’re solving?
We’re not solving a problem per se, but we are offering our customers the opportunity to support women artisans and female-founded businesses. As the company scaled, I made the decision to outsource production to a female artisan group in Lima, Peru. This was absolutely essential in keeping up with orders and quality control and growing the business. We were already purchasing our merino wool in Peru, so it made sense from a supply chain and carbon footprint standpoint to outsource production to Peru as well. I’ve always felt strongly about using my company and platform as a way to do good, and it felt right to work with this group. Visiting the team in Peru cemented in my mind how important it is to hire these women – allowing them to stay close to their families, knit from home, take care of their children, and bring in a real income. So while we’re not solving a specific problem, we are inviting our customers to purchase a sustainably sourced, ethical product that they believe in. And of course – will keep them warm and cozy in the winter, and fashionable in the summer!
Who’s your customer?
Our customer is anyone who appreciates hand-knit sh*t and wants to own the warmest beanie they’ll ever wear!
Why are you different? What sets you apart?
As cheesy as it sounds, I believe authenticity is what sets STIK apart from other fashion brands. When I started the Sh*t That I Knit Instagram in 2014, I hadn’t even officially launched any products yet. Instead, I focused on creating the brand first, and the product second. I spent the first year of STIK connecting with a network of people passionate about hand-knit accessories. This community shared anecdotal feedback and helped me measure traction. I continued to grow STIK by being extremely true to who I am as a person – and ultimately what I wanted the brand to stand for. To me, this meant talking to my community like they were my friends, and not taking myself too seriously. How could I with a name like Sh*t That I Knit? My advice is to always be open and honest with your customers – let them into your ideation process and value their feedback. And most importantly, don’t try to be something you’re not.
What is your biggest business challenge and how did you overcome it?
Manufacturing a hand-knit accessory both sustainably and at scale is not an easy feat. Many companies would choose to outsource production to China, or rely on machines to mass-produce their products to keep up with inventory demands. I’d rather lose a couple of dollars on our margin and employ these incredible knitters in Peru, who are really like mini entrepreneurs and who rely on this income to support their families. And I’d much rather know where our materials are coming from, source them sustainably, and produce quality products that I know will withstand the inevitably long winters.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
My favorite quote is something my dad has always said to me: “No asky, no getty.” I live by this quote, and it’s gotten me very far in business. I’m not afraid to ask for something – the worst possible thing that will happen is someone will say no! If you don’t ask – the answer is always no.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Turning your hobby into a business can take all the fun out of your passion, so don’t do it if you’re not fully confident that you’re ready! Instead, start your business on the side to gain traction. Take a week off from your “day job” to focus on your business — and make sure you actually like working by yourself, for yourself. I’m so glad I waited a few months to dive full-time into STIK. While fresh ideas come with feelings of excitement and urgency, it was important to take time to set things into motion and build a strong foundation. While you’re at it, ask people for advice! Take someone out to coffee and walk them through your business plan. Odds are, your connection will know other people who can help you. I can’t stress how important it is to create a network of people who are invested in your future.
Interested in hearing more from Christina? Christina will be speaking on a panel at our first Balanced Hustle Kick-Off Event on March 9th. Get your tickets here.
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