Made in New England: Meet Christina Pardy of Sh*t That I Knit
While most college students spend their leisure time at frat parties or binge-watching Sex and the City reruns, Bostonian Christina Pardy was busy knitting. What started as a blog to share her love for knitting, Sh*t That I Knit eventually blossomed into the successful Boston-based knitwear company it is today—with products ranging from “fom fom” beanies to cozy ponchos. We got to chat with founder Christina to discuss life as a female entrepreneur, their hardworking team of artisans in Peru and the importance for asking for what you want in business (and in life, for that matter).
R.K.: What made you start your brand? How did you first get the idea?
C.P.: I started the brand after joking about it for a few years. My sisters were making fun of me in college for knitting so often, and one of them said, “You should make a website called Sh*t That I Knit” so I did! It was always my “fun fact” in my early twenties that I had a knitting blog called Sh*t That I Knit.
R.K.: I know sustainability is important for you. Can you tell me more about your sourcing standards and how you source your wool?
C.P.: We source our wool from Arequipa, Peru. It’s all 100% merino wool and baby alpaca. Using materials like this avoids plastic, which is obviously good for the earth, plus they last a long time and are really warm and soft! This also means it’s more expensive.
R.K.: What about your process and people? Hand-knitting each piece must take a lot of time!
C.P.: All of our accessories are hand-knit or machine knit by our team in Lima, Peru. We have a massive network of artisans who can produce a lot of knit sh*t. That said, it does in fact take a long time. When we run out of stock of a certain item, we have to go to actual human beings to create it. The turnaround time is pretty long but worth the wait.
R.K.: What did you have to learn the hard way in your business? Any particular challenges along the way?
C.P.: Everything! I could write an entire book of all the things I’ve learned the hard way. There have been a lot of tears through this process—both the happy kind and the ugly-cry kind. One example would be going to a trade show when I started out, and not understanding that buyers were there looking for spring and summer items. I had winter hats.
R.K.: Has there been a benefit to starting your business in the New England area that you don’t think you’d get elsewhere?
C.P.: For starters, it gets really cold here! People here legit need our hats, whether it’s for walking to work or during apres at one of the nearby mountains.
Boston has also been incredibly supportive of me as a growing female entrepreneur. Bostonians take pride in whatever is “born” here, so people are very loyal to our brand.
R.K.: What other local New England brands are you a fan of?
C.P.: There are many local brands I love, whether it’s for their products, their founder or both! Some of my favorites are Artemis Design Co., Alice Walk, Follain, Dudley Stephens, ChappyWrap, M.Flynn Jewelry and Brinker & Eliza.
R.K.: Who has been the greatest influence or role model in starting your business?
C.P.: I have been very lucky to have lots of mentors and lots of help along the way as I started the business. I tend to check in with my mentors at least once a quarter to keep them updated and get advice on new issues.
I love listening to How I Built This. I tend to prefer listening to female entrepreneurs’ stories; some of my favorites are Sarah Blakely (Spanx), Katrina Lake (Stitch Fix), Jenn Hyman (Rent the Runway), Bobbi Brown, Lisa Price (Carol’s Daughter), Alli Webb (Drybar) and Stacy Brown (Chicken Salad Chick).
R.K.: Do you have a favorite quote or business mantra?
C.P.: My dad always says, “No asky, no getty” and I live by that. I am not afraid to ask for things and that’s gotten me a really long way. Worst possible thing is someone says no!
R.K.: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next two years?
C.P.: Oh, we are growing! A lot. With four people full-time now, we are full-steam ahead. Expect big things, lots of new products and new locations for STIK.
R.K.: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
C.P.: Don’t quit your day job until you have traction! I’m so glad I waited a few months to go full-time. There’s a feeling of urgency and excitement that comes with a fresh new idea, but I guarantee that it won’t be fun if you aren’t making money and are basically shouting into a trashcan about your idea.
Take your time and set things in motion so that when you’re ready to jump off the deep end, you at least have something there. While you’re at it, ask for advice and help! Take people out for coffee and talk them through your business idea. Ask them for other people to connect with; create a network of people who are invested in your success and want to help you.
R.K.: At WELL, we believe wellness comes in all forms. What does wellness look like for you?
C.P.: Wellness for me is finding fulfillment in whatever you do. I am so much healthier and happier now that I do what I love. I find that it transcends into other parts of my life—like only surrounding myself with people who make me happy and feel loved. I’ve cut out “shoulding” myself, whether it’s a social engagement or something everyone else is doing. Do what makes you truly happy!
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