Tuesday Feb 20 2018
Emily Dern didn’t start her career thinking she’d be the owner of a yarn shop in Gardner Village, but The Village was home to one of her first jobs. In high school, she worked for The Village Whites Shoppe. Of course, she never imagined at that time that she’d one day own her own adorable shop in The Village.
Like so many happenings in life, Emily came to own Willow Hill Yarn Company in a rather roundabout way.
“I worked for Kamille’s clothing store here at Gardner Village,” Emily said. “It was at that time, Kamille’s mom, Laura, taught me how to knit. I’ve been addicted ever since,” she laughed.
Falling head over heels in love with the hobby made it easy to transition from Kamille’s to an employee at her yarn store in 2011 when Kamille closed the clothing store. Of course, Emily made the move not knowing it would one day lead to her owning her own yarn shop in that very space.
“I was in college and knitting was something fun to do,” Emily recalled. “So working in a yarn shop was a great gig.”
Emily credits her mom (who makes all of the sweet wreaths found on Willow Hill's front door, BTW) for much of her creative influence.
“As a kid, I always loved crafting and putting things together. For me, knitting was a natural extension of that. As a teenager, I painted a bit. I don’t now, but my mom does. She even painted this picture for the store,” Emily said with a smile as she pointed to a sweet picture hanging over her desk.
Mom’s handmade touch is just one of the many lovely updates Emily has made to the store since purchasing the business from Kamille just over a year ago.
Emily also opened up the floor plan and introduced new events and promotions since taking over the shop, including the very popular Sock Knit-along, which is a quick class that teaches students how to make a different sock every month. If you bring your finished socks in to show Emily, she’ll give you a free stitch marker, courtesy of The Bead Farm, a former shop at Gardner Village. You can use it to mark your place in your project and/or add it to a charm bracelet. So cute!
While Emily naturally slid into the position of shop owner, she didn’t originally anticipate such a move when she started working for Kamille in 2011. But the opportunity presented itself and has proven to be a happy one!
“Honestly, it’s so crazy that my first year as the owner went by as fast as it did. It was good. I was incredibly surprised by the support and excitement from everybody. I’m very grateful for that encouragement. You simply can’t know how things will go when you start something like this, which was scary. Their support made it easier,” Emily said with gratitude in her voice.
Q&A With Emily
Q. What is your favorite thing about owning Willow Hill Yarn Co.?
A. The community. I meet a lot of people and get to know them by their first names and the projects they’re working on. It’s so fun to talk with them and meet others as obsessed with yarn as I am.
Q. What has been the hardest part about owning your own business?
A. It has been adjustment having to take work home with me every night, but I’d rather be working than not, so it’s actually a great thing!
Q. What is one of the first things you ever knit?
A. This elephant is the first animal I ever made. It was a gift for my mom. I also made this scarf for my mom, which was the first project I did that had a lot of detail.
Q. What was it about knitting that got you hooked and obsessed with the hobby?
A. The repetitiveness… The color… Using different colors… With knitting, you find a pattern and a yarn in a color you like, and you put it all together to make something all your own. I love that!
Q. What do you spend your time knitting now?
A. I mostly create samples for the store or gifts to give others.
Q. What is your favorite item you sell in the shop?
A. I love Simplicity yarn the most, because I love making little animals, and this yarn is perfect for that.
Q. What is your favorite pattern in the store?
A. I love pairing alpaca yarn with this hat pattern. I’ve probably made 10 or more of these over the years.
Q. What is your favorite memory from your first year in business?
A. My very first day. I came in expecting it to be rather quiet. I even had an IT guy to get my computer system up and running. But it was crazy from the moment I opened. People were coming in to see the changes I had made to the shop and were so excited for me. People were also calling to wish me good luck. Being the first day back after the New Year’s break, I figured nobody would be out and was shocked at how crazy it was. It was wonderful!
Q. What do we have to look forward to from you in 2018?
A. After the success of dying our own yarn to sell last October, we’ll be introducing limited quantities of our hand-dyed yarn again three times this year. Look for those with the Gardner Village Fairies displays in the spring, during our Yarn Shop Hop in July and again in October for WitchFest.
We're so happy your professional career has path has landed you here, Emily. You've always been a bright spot in Gardner Village! Here's to much success and continued joy in year two!
To learn more about Willow Hill Yarn Company events, classes, and specials, check out their website.