Thursday, January 23, 2014
As a third-generation crafter, Jennifer Huinker has developed a knack for knowing what other crafters are looking for.
When she and her husband Paul started Ribbons and Bows Oh My! a decade ago, no one else was selling ribbon online. As RABOM grew into a multimillion-dollar business, they felt it was too complicated for them to manage, and decided to sell.
After taking a year off, the Soddy-Daisy residents are now focusing on another crafting material with their new business, Over the River Felt.
“I was always fascinated with felt, even when I was in the ribbon business,” Jennifer Huinker said. “Felt’s a great item because it’s a beginner’s fabric — it doesn’t fray or fall apart and it’s easy to work with. That’s why a lot of kids like it — you can make something halfway decent without much skill.”
She said felt is becoming a trend in the crafting world, which is apparent from Over the River’s success since its launch last month on etsy.com.
“The market’s definitely there,” Jennifer Huinker said. “Crafters understand this quality of felt can’t be found in stores and these colors can’t be found in stores.”
Most of the felt available in fabric and craft stores is made in China, mainly from acrylic instead of wool, she explained.
Over the River gets its felt from a company in the United States that has been in existence for more than 100 years, Paul Huinker said.
The business offers felt in a variety of sizes from full bolts down to 6-by-6-inch sheets with same-day shipping. The Huinkers add in extras such as little button packets, they said.
While they currently sell their felt on etsy.com, they plan to have their website (overtheriverfelt.com) up and running soon. They eventually plan to offer felt shapes as well as patterned felt, they said.
In addition to their felt business, the couple also started a crafting blog, Over the River DIY (overtheriverdiy.com). It features all kinds of projects — not just those with felt. Projects could range from how to can your own vegetables to how to refurbish a table, they said.
Jennifer Huinker said she would eventually like to offer classes on do-it-yourself projects if she and her husband decide to open a storefront for Over the River.