Featured Maker: Knotzland
Operating an independent business is a journey, and no two paths are the same. We welcome you to meet the folks behind some of our favorite businesses as they share their stories, the fuel behind their craft, and the passion that keeps them making.
This month, we are so excited to introduce you to Nisha Blackwell of Knotzland!
Nisha Blackwell. Photo courtesy of Nisha Blackwell.
Q: Tell us about how Knotzland came to be.
A: While studying nursing, I was let go from my part-time job at my favorite coffee shop just as my friend’s beautiful baby girl was soon to turn one. As a special gift for her, I wanted to plan something fitting for the occasion. She had already been experiencing motherhood with a beautiful teenager with Cerebral Palsy who was 13 at the time. Knowing that having a second child and a second perspective on motherhood meant so much to her, I wanted to do something special. My problem existed in the intersection between wanting to give her something thoughtful and beautiful while also not having any funds (pretty much none) to splurge on a gift. I remember going home, scanning my apartment for ideas, and stumbling upon the Brother sewing machine I had bought earlier that year, some craft supplies, and a bag full of thrifted clothing that ended as unfinished projects. From there, I taught myself how to first turn on the sewing machine and then sew well enough to make a few stitches! I made a few sets of cute little hair bows and took them to her. The rest of the story is herstory!
How Knotzland started and how it's going. Photo courtesy of Nisha Blackwell.
Q: What does a typical day or week look like to you?
A: Whew! Depends on the week/day of the week!
If we are looking at a Monday, I begin pressing a couple snoozes and waking up to a nice hot cup of coffee. Then, I begin preparing for a weekly meeting with the team at the Creative Business Accelerator where I support the team and businesses in ORIGINS to both grow and positively impact our region. From there, I head over to Radiant Hall Susquehanna for my designated "Design" time. This isn't always spent on design-only activities but also any creative work like researching, photographing collections, and building our campaign materials and newsletters.
Tuesdays are typically for Knotzland team meetings where, at 9 am, I virtually meet with our VA, Roanne to discuss wedding clients and accounts. Then at 10 am, a bi-weekly meeting with either our Social Media Intern Dana, who is studying and implementing cool insights into our social and helping us revise and update our unique messaging and sustainability report for her capstone, or on off-weeks, I meet with a team of 6 CMU Consulting Students helping us to build out a long term strategy for the growth and expansion of Knotzland.
On Wednesdays I typically meet with our showroom Production Manager Nicole and Production Assist Meg to discuss project status, new projects and reprioritize out tasks. From there we roll up our sleeves and make beautiful products Wednesday through Friday!
Custom wedding designs. Photo courtesy of Nisha Blackwell.
Saturdays are typically days designated for wedding consultations, or if there are none, designing wedding orders in preparation for the coming week.
Q: Is there any interesting trivia or a fun fact behind your brand you'd like to share?
A: Our first name was Have Knotz as a play on the "haves" and "have nots" and the stark difference in growing up in Homewood (as I knew it) and it being a walking bridge from the Point Breeze neighborhood.
Nisha's workspace at home. Photo courtesy of Nisha Blackwell.
Q: Can you divulge your secret to staying energized and inspired?
A: Coffee and working in new environments and sceneries. Even when in my house.
Q: What’s your advice for overcoming challenges in the independent biz space? Is there any advice you'd give your younger self starting out?
A: Advice: keep going. I've never really had the words for it but I was watching a Tik Tok-er the other day who said (paraphrased) "there will always be trouble, there will always be problems in life but the secret is to still enjoy life while you are going through it." I'd also say that would be the Tik Tok knowledge I'd share with my younger self.
Q: What do you feel sets you apart in the independent biz/maker space?
A: My passion and drive to build a world-changing business starting right in my tiny piece of the planet that I occupy.
The Sewcial Network in action! Photo courtesy of Nisha Blackwell.
Q: We really admire the Sewcial Network you founded—can you share more about it and how people can get involved?
A: Thank you! This is an ever-evolving space in Knotzand. When I started the business, I was working full time, 8 hour shifts, and all I remember is wanting to be home working on my business. The Sewcial Newtork consists of a community of women who work and volunteer for us while also pursuing their own creative passions and journeys. This "work" can mean anything from actual sewing the products, leading workshops for the public, and helping us fulfill projects that require additive aspects like printing and embroidering. We go to the Sewcial Network to source these things before going to the public. We also have meetings through the year to connect, build community, and discuss what we are working on. Most folks have gotten involved by reaching out along with word of mouth!
Q: Anything else you'd like the readers to know about you and/or your business?
A: I'm grateful <3
About Nisha - and, go!
Q: What’s your go-to coffee and/or tea order?
A: Black, hot coffee.
Q: Markets or Online Shop?
Q: While working/making: Podcasts, Playlists, or Streaming?
Q: Early Bird or Night Owl?
A: Night owl
Q: Instagram or TikTok?
A: For work or leisure? Lol.
Q: Summer Markets or Holiday Markets?
A: Holiday markets
Where to follow Knotzland:
Are you a maker or small business owner interested in being featured in a future maker story? Contact us!