The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Using Pre-Orders to Grow Inventory

Episode Summary

with Gist Yarn's Sarah Resnick

Episode Notes

Manufacturing your own goods is expensive, and can be even more expensive when you manufacture in the U.S. In this episode, Sarah Resnick, founder of Gist Yarn, tells us how she's used pre-ordering to fund our inventory growth.

Sarah started her career as a community and union organizer, and made the switch to small business when she helped to run a cut and sew factory in 2016.

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Episode Transcription

The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Kurt Elster: Man, one of the hardest things about eCommerce is cashflow, because you’ve got this strange machine that requires inventory. Inventory takes cash. And then I gotta sell the inventory to get the cash to buy more inventory. It is this terrible carousel of just burning through cash. So, what’s the solution? How do you handle it? I know this is one of the big pains that people discover as they get on their eCommerce journey. And I think one of the solutions to it that really helps get the ball rolling, to get your water wheel of cashflow and inventory moving, is preorders. And joining me today is a fabulous guest who also hosts her own podcast, but more importantly has been running a Shopify store for close to five years now, and in it they rely on a lot of preorders.

So, my guest today is Sarah Resnick from Gist Yarn. Gist Yarn, if you are into knitting, Gist Yarn is a big deal. It is. I swear it is.

Sarah Resnick: Weaving.

Kurt Elster: Weaving?! Ahh!

Sarah Resnick: Sorry. It’s just our customers will be very confused if you call it knitting.

Kurt Elster: Oh! See, immediately I’ve revealed myself as knowing nothing about this. Like I just jumped to an assumption. All right, so I butchered that, but we’re talking to someone who has a Shopify store, is very bright, can string a sentence together, and is going to tell us how to handle preorders along with a few other things. So, Sarah Resnick from Gist Yarn, welcome.

Sarah Resnick: Thank you! And yes, so we are a weaving yarn store. We’ve been open since June of 2017 and we make yarn primarily for weavers, people who weave on floor looms, and rigid heddle looms, and tapestry looms. That’s what we do.

Kurt Elster: Well, I did not mean to offend the weaving community.

Sarah Resnick: You didn’t offend us. Don’t worry.

Kurt Elster: Okay, good. Do you get that a lot? People are like, “Oh, you like to knit.” And you get offended?

Sarah Resnick: You know, it’s adjacent. I also am a knitter. Many of our customers are also knitters.

Kurt Elster: Oh, okay.

Sarah Resnick: But the kind of yarn… Our specific niche is making yarn for weavers.

Kurt Elster: Do the weavers and the knitters look down on each other?

Sarah Resnick: I don’t think so.

Kurt Elster: Who in the hierarchy…

Sarah Resnick: You know, I think weaving requires some more equipment, so it can be a little bit more daunting to get started. You need to have a loom. You need to learn how to warp it, which means how to put the yarn onto the loom, so I think people can be nervous about starting that from adjacent things like knitting or crochet, but we get many customers all the time who are moving over from knitting into weaving, and we’re excited to welcome them.

Kurt Elster: And you started this business in 2017. Why? How did that happen? Because it’s like it’s such a crazy thing to jump into, starting a business.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah. So, I had been a weaver for about 10 years as a hobbyist, and just totally loved that. I started my career as a community organizer and a union organizer, and I moved into small business running a sewing factory in Fall River, Massachusetts, helping to get that off the ground, and I learned a lot about U.S. manufacturing at that point and about thinking about how to make good jobs in the U.S., and I wanted to make a pivot and start my own business, but I wanted to be working with U.S. manufacturers and helping bring the beautiful quality fibers and yarns that we have directly to hobbyist weavers in this country.

So, I started thinking about where to source some yarns from and reaching out to mills, and dye houses, and farmers, and that’s how we got started in June of 2017. And we’ve been kind of growing and adding on new customers and building our community ever since.

Kurt Elster: Okay. And so, what’s step one there? You said you reached out to them. What did you ask?

Sarah Resnick: So, what we started out doing was reselling yarn, so we would buy yarn that other companies were wholesaling, and then we would retail it to our customers. So, what I would ask is do you have yarn that’s good for weavers, can I try it out, can I sample it, can we sell it to people? For some folks, there was a learning curve to get used to us selling online as opposed to brick and mortar, so we had to get the mills and people we were working with comfortable with that. Other people were already used to that, but that… On the vendor side, we’ve been really lucky to work with just some super high-quality mills and many of the people I originally started working with, we’re still stocking their yarn today.

Kurt Elster: And in 2017, you said you essentially had to drag some of these people into selling online. They’re like, “What is this strange thing? Please, can you just fax us your purchase order instead?” And do you think that’s still the case in 2021? Post pandemic? Did that force everybody online?

Sarah Resnick: I mean, I think our customers, for the most part, are pretty comfortable shopping online. I think there’s a concern about cutting out little yarn stores, which is definitely not something that we want to do or do, so there’s wanting to keep brick and mortar retail shops supported at the same time and making sure that online stores aren’t going to just discount your products and sell it cheaply. But once we really were able to help vendors and mills understand that we were adding value, and creating patterns, and building community around their yarn, people were excited to work with us. And we now, we mostly focus on creating our own lines of yarn, so we contract with textile mills, design yarn and colors, and get those dyed and spun to our specifications, and that yarn we sell wholesale to brick and mortar yarn shops and retail, so we really do see ourselves as a part of the bigger ecosystem of how people are selling and buying yarn in the U.S.

Kurt Elster: I was gonna say, wow, that went full circle, where part of their hesitancy was, “Hey, you’re gonna undercut us. This is gonna damage the community as a whole.” And you were able to prove to them that not only was that not the case, but then you turned around and said, “All right, let’s add more value,” and then you started manufacturing your own stuff and selling it wholesale back to these folks.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: That’s very interesting.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah. I mean, that’s really a big part of what my goal has been all along as being part of building up the community of fiber artists and weavers here.

Kurt Elster: I’m hearing… There’s a keyword, a running theme here, and it’s community. Talk to me about why that’s important and how you think about community.

Sarah Resnick: Well, I think that word can mean a lot of different things in different contexts, but the way that I think about it in terms of our business is building a supportive group of people that are excited to be creating with materials that they’re feeling proud to use and that they can share with each other. So, a lot of times, crafters and hobbyists, especially in this past year and a half during the pandemic, are at home doing their craft by themselves. You know, weaving can be a pretty solitary thing. And building, being part of making it possible for people to communicate with each other, and share ideas, and share what they’re learning how to do and what they’re excited about, that’s something we’ve always wanted to do. That’s why we host a podcast. That’s why we publish and share a lot of patterns on our platforms. Yeah, that’s important to us.

Kurt Elster: Tell me about the podcast. As far as content marketing goes, the podcast has been fantastic for me. I’m a big proponent of podcasting. How has your podcasting experience gone as it relates to an eCommerce business?

Sarah Resnick: Yeah, so we started pretty early on in the life of our business. I think it was within about a year. And it has been… It was a really wonderful time. It started out with me hosting the podcast and I was able to connect with a lot of leaders in our industry and build relationships with them, learn people’s stories, and share them, and again, just help people feel connected to other weavers that they hadn’t known about. And then pretty soon after starting the podcast, I hired an amazing person named LaChaun Moore, and she has been hosting and producing the podcast ever since, and she’s really brought it to new levels, bringing in conversations from farmers, bringing in conversations about the history of textile manufacturing, and textile growing in the U.S., talking a lot about race, talking about community, the many different things that interact with textiles.

And so, she’s really been able to bring so much depth to that podcast with the guests that she brings on and the questions she asks, and so we’re proud of getting to give that to the weaving community.

Kurt Elster: That’s super cool.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: And this has been… I assume it’s been a directly beneficial thing for your business, as well.

Sarah Resnick: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, you know, it’s less easy to quantify than digital advertising, where you can kind of exactly see the ROAS.

Kurt Elster: Very hard to get attribution on a podcast. Because there’s no links. The person hears it and then they go Google it. It’s so hard to track.

Sarah Resnick: Right. But what we do know is we have lots of customers writing into us mentioning about the episode that they recently listened to, so we know that people… We can see download histories, obviously. We know people are listening and we know that it kind of builds up with that, and yeah, and it’s also really helpful in the relationships that we’ve been able to build with the guests that we’ve had on. We’ve gone on to form collaborations with a number of them that have been really successful for both of our… for our business and theirs, so yeah.

Kurt Elster: It’s such a good way to have a mutually beneficial conversation. Like if I want to talk to someone, it’s a really easy value add to be able to say, “Hey, I don’t just want to pick your brain. I want to do it in a way where we’re gonna share this and you’re gonna get backlinks and publicity.” It’s just such… It’s a very positive trojan horse.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: That’s what I love about it.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Okay. I promised people 10 minutes ago that we were gonna talk about preorders. When did you do your first preorder?

Sarah Resnick: So, we did our first preorder in October of 2019. So, I think that was about a year and a half after we started our business, and what we were moving, wanting to move towards, was making our first line of yarn ourselves. So, I think I mentioned at the beginning, up until then we had been buying lines of yarn that other companies designed, buying them at wholesale prices, selling them at traditional markups and retail prices, and we… I had ideas for yarn that I thought weavers would be able to use, and colors that I wanted to introduce into the market, and also one of the things I had noticed was that there were a number of brick-and-mortar shops that had been reaching out to us and asking if we could wholesale weaving yarn to them. They wanted to get into weaving yarn.

But I could not wholesale yarn to them that I had bought at wholesale prices, because that just doesn’t work. So, there were a number of different reasons that I wanted to start this, and I wanted us to be building relationships with mills in the U.S. to bring more weaving yarn. But you know, the minimum order quantity for something like that is a couple thousand pounds of yarn. You need to do at least a couple hundred pounds of each color. And up until then, I had been buying maybe 150, 200 pounds of yarn at a time, so it was a lot more quantity, and because of that, a much higher capital outlay.

So, I could have put it on a credit card, or asked a bank for a loan. I think at that point I would not have received one. But what I just… or tried to find an investor. But we didn’t have enough cash to be able to in a healthy way put down such a big deposit and not risk the rest of our business. So, I decided to go to our customers and tell them what we wanted to make and see if they wanted to be part of making it happen. And it started I think like six months before we even launched the preorder of sharing the yarn development as it was coming along, sharing photos of things that I was weaving with it, sharing about where we were making it and why, and asking people if they were going to join in and support it. And I didn’t know if they would. They said yes, but you never really know until you get the money.

But we launched for preorders, and I was blown away, like far beyond what I hoped it would be. When I launched it for the first time, I told myself, “Well, if it doesn’t work, we’ll just refund everyone’s money, and we will not move forward with this purchase order.” But we didn’t have to do that. We were able to raise enough money to fully fund the first manufacturing run of the yarn. And that essentially meant that I had enough cash outlay to make a big, huge step in the growth of our business and the growth of our inventory.

Kurt Elster: What is the setup of the preorder? Because a preorder could just be like a product page that says, “Hey, order now and it’ll ship, we expect it to ship on this date.” Or it could be as simple as like, “Hey, this is backordered. Order it when it comes back.” That’s a very loose preorder, is really like the very first backorder is essentially a preorder.

Sarah Resnick: Right.

Kurt Elster: But sometimes you’ll say like, “Hey, it’s gotta hit…” I think that’s a little different than, “Hey, it has to hit this goal. We need to hit this minimum and if we don’t hit it, look, we’re gonna refund you.” And then also like one step further from that would be like Kickstarter style, where we include it’s gotta be by this date, and we have a progress bar, and all that stuff. How did you set yours up?

Sarah Resnick: So, we did it just on Shopify. We didn’t have any apps. It was a product page. It was very clearly billed as a preorder and part of that is so important, because obviously you don’t want somebody ordering something that they think they’re gonna get right away, but also, I really think… I mean, people preordered because they were excited to get the yarn, but they also preordered because we have the most amazing customers, and they just wanted to support us, and help us get something off the ground. And we explained how this was turning to our customers for them to invest in us instead of turning to a bank or someone else that would invest in us that maybe didn’t share our values. Our customers were able to live out their values and help us live out our values by investing directly in our company.

So, the preorder was not hidden. It was a very obvious thing. You know, people could order it was either $75 worth of yarn, or $150, or $250 worth of yarn. They were told they were gonna get to choose the colors later. But they saw a sample of what some of the colors might be and they showed up and supported us, and it still surprises me to this day, and I still am so grateful to each and every one of those people that really took a risk on us, you know? They had no idea if we were gonna really be able to make it happen and we know a lot more about producing yarn now, but we didn’t know all that much then.

So, yeah. That’s what worked. We sold that first one in October and we delivered the yarn in June of the following year. So, and all throughout that process, we kept people updated on the steps of how the yarn was coming along.

Kurt Elster: Well, how many preorders have you run since then?

Sarah Resnick: Good question. So, we have since launched two other lines of yarn, and then we also will sometimes do preorders… So, we did preorders for both of those, and we will sometimes do preorders for new color launches. And we have two new preorders coming up this summer and this fall for two new lines of yarn.

So, the most… In terms of like a financial cashflow perspective, the hardest points for our business are to add a whole new product line, because we have to fund it all in advance while continuing to have the same capital outlay for all the other stuff that we’re doing to grow our inventory. So, by using preorders just with new product launches, and so far, we’ve been able to successfully fund the manufacturing runs every time we do that for a new product line, it just… It bumps us up to be able to get where we need to go. And then of course, every time we need to restock, that’s not a preorder. We just have to make that work. But because the first time we had support from our customers, it’s worked out.

Kurt Elster: So, it sounds like the magic here is your authenticity. You were totally transparent with them. You said, “Hey, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s why we’re doing it. And here’s why we’re asking for your help.” And you communicated that clearly and did it in a place where people were used to this from you. They knew, like you were willing to share your story and invest in your community. And so, it was well received, and then you made it very clear, like this is a preorder. It sold, was successful, and… Well, you talked about like, “Well, what if we can’t run it? We might have to do refunds.” Did you run into any customer service issues where like people were… would preorder it and then three days later you get that email that’s like, “Hey, where’s my stuff?”

Sarah Resnick: We did not get any emails three days later. We did miss the date which we said we would deliver by, because as I said, we didn’t know all that much about yarn production and were learning along the way, and I think what… and so, we had a few people who asked to refund, like probably less than five over the course of the whole preorder that asked for a refund or asked to just use it as a store credit for something else. But for the most part, people were really happy to wait, and I think a big part of that is who our customer base is, which are people that are really excited about yarn and excited about supporting a woman-owned business, and a business that’s making yarn in ways that they’re excited about.

And part of that is just how transparent we were. We were emailing people every month saying, “This month, the yarn is getting twisted. Now it’s getting dyed. Now it’s getting wound. We’re running into some issues because the company that’s doing this step of it is having these delays.” We were very transparent along the process, so nobody felt like we were stealing their money and running away with it.

Yeah. And then, you know, if there’s a few people that end up not… it doesn’t work out, just we refund them and that’s fine.

Kurt Elster: I think the critical thing here is communication. This open and honest communication is the cornerstone of great relationships. And that’s true of whether it’s with your partner, or these one-to-many relationships where it’s you, a newsletter, and thousands of customers. And because you were communicating on a regular cadence with them and saying, “Hey, here’s what’s going on. Here’s what we’re doing,” it really has absolutely paid off for you.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah. I mean, that’s definitely true, and then quality, obviously. If we had delivered a bad product the first time, this would never have happened again. But people have come to trust us, and I think that’s why we’re able to continue to use this preorder model, because they know we make really good stuff.

Kurt Elster: Now, it sounds like internally you had a goal. You said, “We knew we had to hit this amount to sell it.” That was not necessarily public facing, was it?

Sarah Resnick: No. I mean, what I was hoping to do was raise enough to pay for half of the manufacturing costs of the yarn, and we actually raised enough to pay for all of it. But yes, I figured if we could raise half of it, we could sort of stretch our funding for the other half of it and make it work.

Kurt Elster: Okay. But you said like if it doesn’t go well, we’ll just… We’re fine with refunding everybody. And is that the case?

Sarah Resnick: I mean, that’s what I told myself in my head.

Kurt Elster: That’s what you told yourself.

Sarah Resnick: When you’re afraid of failing, you have to tell yourself, “Well, I mean, I’m not gonna take people’s money, so if it doesn’t work out, we will refund.” But you know, already at the end of the first day of preorders, I knew that we wouldn’t have to do that because of the way people turned out for us. So, that was so exciting. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Now that you’ve done this more than once, is there anything you do differently now versus the first time?

Sarah Resnick: Yes. So, we are trying to make the wait time that customers have to wait quite a bit shorter by starting later on in the process, so when we launch our preorders this summer, we expect to be able to deliver within a month or two, and that’s because the yarn will be mostly completed in manufacturing by then. So, that’s one of the things we’ve learned.

We’ve learned a lot about supply chains. We have a pretty complicated supply chain from farmer, to different spinners, to dying, to winding, and we have built strong partnerships along the way with each of those, and we have a much better ability to guess how long those will take. So, that’s one of the things.

The other thing we do now is we weave more projects with the yarn to show photographs in advance of how it can be used so people have a better sense of it.

Kurt Elster: Right. If you show them, showing them the raw materials is one thing. Showing them the outcome, like, “This is what you could do,” whoa! That’s the thing that really gets people excited.

Sarah Resnick: Yes. Yeah.

Kurt Elster: Don’t show me a can of paint. Show me the finished, painted room. Oh, wow! This looks really cool. You’ve talked a lot about manufacturing. Where are these manufacturers located, may I ask?

Sarah Resnick: Mostly in North Carolina. The ones we work with domestically. We also work with a mill in Peru on an alpaca yarn, but domestically we’re working with a mill in North Carolina, dye house in North Carolina, organic cotton is grown in West Texas. Wool is coming from out West, on ranches out West. But yeah, mostly the textile manufacturing industry that’s left here is in North and South Carolina.

Kurt Elster: So, it sounds like your entire supply chain is U.S.-based.

Sarah Resnick: For most of our lines of yarn, yes.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I mean, other than the alpacas. Is that difficult? I mean, it feels like manufacturing in the U.S. can be extremely difficult.

Sarah Resnick: Well, so we work with… It’s certainly hard for our partners to make it all work. You know, they’re the ones running the mill, so I don’t presume to know how to run a textile mill, and I know that it’s hard for them to make it work. But I mean, honestly, to make a cotton yarn, there’s a lot of people growing cotton in the U.S. There’s people spinning cotton in the U.S. There’s people dying cotton in the U.S. You can make yarn in the U.S.

I think other products can be more complicated, perhaps. Electronics, other things that I don’t know as much about manufacturing, but textile products are definitely possible to manufacture here, and I encourage people to try.

Kurt Elster: So, certainly it depends on what you’re making, but until you try, you really don’t know.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah. I mean, you have to call up a lot of places, but that’s also true if you’re sourcing internationally. You have to build relationships. People have to believe that your company is gonna grow and that their investment of time in you is gonna come back to them in future orders.

Kurt Elster: Do you have any other advice for people who are talking to manufacturers for the first time? Because that’s an intimidating thing.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah, so I actually spent a little bit of time helping to get a sewing factory started before I started this company. So, I worked on the manufacturing side before I was working on this side. So, I have plenty of advice for how to approach sewing manufacturers, at least. A big thing is to really know what you want already and to know that the manufacturer is really busy, and you’re the one that’s trying to capture their attention, and interest, and time. And the way that you can do that is by understanding the manufacturing process as well as you can, understanding where you’re getting your materials from, being respectful of their time, and yeah, really… I mean, going into something and trying to negotiate heavily on price before you already even have a relationship, trying to negotiate heavily on turn time before you have a relationship is a good way to not have people excited to work with you.

Kurt Elster: I like the way you framed that. You said, “Look, they’re busy trying to manufacture. You’re the one interrupting them with your request, so you have to approach it carefully.” How do you pitch yourself to make… so that you look attractive to a manufacturer who has no idea who you are?

Sarah Resnick: I think give people a picture of your business. Tell them where it is and where it’s headed. Be real, like don’t pretend that you’re gonna send them a million dollars in purchase orders in the first year if you’re not. And understand what they’re working on and what their challenges are and try to figure out where there’s places to work together.

Kurt Elster: Oh, absolutely.

Sarah Resnick: But in general, I’ve found… I mean, there’s a lot of sewing factories in the U.S. that are wonderful with new and up and coming brands and designers. There are textile mills that are excited to be working with companies like ours. So, people can definitely find them, and honestly, if there’s people in textiles that are looking for sourcing advice, I’m happy for them to email me and if I can help out, I will.

Kurt Elster: When you started this business, was it just you?

Sarah Resnick: Yes. I’m the only owner of the company and I was doing it all by myself for a little bit, but we hired people as soon as I was able to, and now this business is very much what it is because of who our team is and what they put into the company.

Kurt Elster: You said as soon as we were able to. That’s a struggle. A lot of people don’t know when they’re able to hire. They don’t know how to hire. Much like working with a manufacturer for the first time, hiring for the first time is very intimidating. So, talk to me about how… your mindset, how you knew, give me any advice.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah. I mean, I think my biggest piece of advice is really like as soon as you can to hire and to hire people that have different experience than you and think about things differently, so that they complement what you’re working on. But I was lucky to be able to start slower, like we started with two people, Emma and LaChaun, part time. They each were working on pretty distinct roles and then we were able to scale up those roles with more hours and more responsibilities as more sales came into the company, and then the same as we continued to add on new people.

Yeah, it’s always a little scary. It’s hard to trust that the sales are gonna continue coming and that you can have more and more people on your payroll. But there’s really no way to build a company without a team of great people, so you just gotta do it.

Kurt Elster: What was the first thing you tried to hire out?

Sarah Resnick: I hired for around content and community, so I hired LaChaun to work on our podcast and Emma to work with designers on using our yarn and creating patterns. So, it was really about building community as early on as we were able to hire, that’s what it was, and then we added on some operational pieces later on, so I wasn’t the only one shipping. Yeah, those were the first two hires.

Kurt Elster: It’s interesting you said from the beginning you made it clear, community was very important to the success of your business. And here later, 30 minutes later I’m asking, “Oh, well, what’d you hire out first?” And the first two hires, directly related to community building. So, like truly, you put your money where your mouth is on that investment in community.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s good for business, honestly. I think people want to be part of something that is a community that’s growing, and flourishing, and especially in our niche, and in something related to crafts and hobbies, it’s so important. So, we continue to make big investments in that.

Kurt Elster: In your online store, what are a couple of your favorite apps? What saves your bacon? What are the apps that you’re like, “Look, these are the two that gotta stay,” PageSpeed be damned?

Sarah Resnick: I don’t know. We have too many apps as per usual. Let’s see. We use the Boost, I think it’s called Boost Filter and Search.

Kurt Elster: I love that thing!

Sarah Resnick: Yeah, that filtering app is really great. It helps our customers sort through our many patterns, so I love that app and the search app is also way better than out of the box Shopify search. And I don’t know if Klaviyo counts as an app, but that’s our best piece of technology other than Shopify.

Kurt Elster: It’s got a… It’s an interesting thing when you’re so big, people are like, “Does it count as an app?” But yeah, especially like with community, Klaviyo is really important. And with a catalog like yours, product filter and search is extremely helpful. But yeah, that Booster app, once I found that I just… I keep using it. It’s really wonderful.

Sarah Resnick: It really is.

Kurt Elster: And if you have any issues, their support’s really good. I swear to God, they didn’t pay me to plug them like that.

Sarah Resnick: No, I agree.

Kurt Elster: That’s from genuine experience.

Sarah Resnick: Their support is amazing. They fix things in our code that aren’t even necessarily related to them. They’re wonderful. Go check them out.

Kurt Elster: I will put a link in the show notes, but it’s Booster Product Filter and Search. So, you sell a lot of yarn in a lot of colors. You have even developed your own colors. What’s your favorite color?

Sarah Resnick: Oh, you can’t ask someone.

Kurt Elster: You’re the one person who I can say, “What’s your favorite color?”

Sarah Resnick: Oh, I don’t know.

Kurt Elster: No?

Sarah Resnick: I can’t. Let’s see, right now I’m loving this turquoise blue wool yarn that we’re about to release, but yeah, that’s like asking someone who their favorite baby is. You can’t ask a weaver who their favorite color is.

Kurt Elster: I know which is my favorite child. It’s our rabbit is my favorite child.

Sarah Resnick: Oh, there you go.

Kurt Elster: Occasionally, one of them will be like, “Which one of us is your favorite?” I say the rabbit.

Sarah Resnick: That works.

Kurt Elster: That’s the safe answer. In your journey, what’s something unexpected about… Well, what’s something you recommend every merchant try at least once?

Sarah Resnick: I mean, I recommend trying to source something closer to home if you can. Whether that means sourcing in the U.S., or whether that means sourcing in your state, or in your city, I think building relationships with people that are creating goods closer to home can help you learn a lot about what you’re making, and form new connections, and sell more products, make more money.

Kurt Elster: Absolutely. When it comes to running an online store, what’s something you hate but wish you loved?

Sarah Resnick: Coding. Development. I think I have like just enough CSS and other sorts of coding skills to be able to make some minor changes, but not solve big things, and kind of wish I had the built-in knowledge to have more.

Kurt Elster: Well, I think you’re in a better position than you realize, because it sounds like you know enough to be dangerous. Like if you know HTML, little bit of CSS, and Liquid, like Shopify specific, then you’re in a pretty good place where there’s a lot of just day-to-day administrative stuff that you could tackle yourself. How did you pick it up?

Sarah Resnick: Self-taught. Googling around and looking at things. I don’t know all that much, but you know, trying things out. I mean, there’s tons of tutorials on the internet, so… But I don’t know too much. I mean, we also work with developers.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I mean, you have to. Anything I missed? Anything I should have asked?

Sarah Resnick: I mean, I think what I was just excited to come on and talk about was preorders, and really the way that that can impact cashflow. It’s not something that I had thought about a whole lot, the cash issues that a growing inventory-based business would have, until I was in the middle of it, and then I think… Yeah, I just encourage people to think about it in a big way, to think about whether your customers will be up for it even if it’s something that’s like seven or eight months down the line. I think it can really help and it can help keep financial control of your business as opposed to with investors or banks, so I encourage people to try that out.

Kurt Elster: I am on board with that idea. And like for me, one of my core values in everything is maintaining independence, and so if you think similarly, then you want to bootstrap everything, but that could be limiting, and it could be difficult, like you’re constraining yourself a little bit there. And so, preorders, especially when combined with a strong community, are just such a great way to work around it and be able to raise that capital through your customers without having to give up ownership or incur debt. So, I love the approach. I think it’s a great tool for eCommerce entrepreneurs to have.

Sarah Resnick: Yeah. And every time, you know, I’m still nervous about the two ones we have coming up. Will people like it? Will they support it? But it gets a little bit easier each time as we are able to depend more on what our customers will support.

Kurt Elster: No, absolutely. So, where can people go to learn more about you?

Sarah Resnick: Our website is, like the gist of it, You can find us on Instagram. You can listen to our podcast, which is called Weave, and I really do mean that. If people have textile sourcing questions, I will be happy to help if I can, and my email address is Sarah with an H at

Kurt Elster: All right, and I won’t include that in the show notes so you don’t get spammed.

Sarah Resnick: Okay.

Kurt Elster: But Sarah at Gist Yarn dot com.

Sarah Resnick: Thank you.

Kurt Elster: Wonderful. This was fantastic. Sarah, thank you so much.

Sarah Resnick: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.