FORT WORTH, Texas — "I believe in the healing power of yarn."
That's the mantra Julie Hatch Fairley lives by every day.
When Hatch Fairley lost her mother years ago, knitting helped pull her out of a dark place. At a counselor's suggestion, she rediscovered the hobby she'd loved as a child.
"I knit for miles and miles and miles, and I really believe that knitting has helped me heal my heart through all kinds of depression and anxiety and grief," she said.
Over time, Hatch Fairley realized her childhood and now, adulthood 'hobby' was more than that. Last October, the longtime Fort Worth public relations pro followed her heart and opened JuJu Knits, a small yarn and knitting shop in the Near Southside.
"We were just getting to a place where I felt like we had some pretty stable sales and we could look ahead," she said.
You know what happened next.
"And then we closed on March 15."
The pandemic's been a roller coaster for this new business owner.
"Honestly, I think it's an every day thing," Hatch Fairley said of the uncertainty. "Even this morning I had a few tears."
But she's marched on with her message that 'yarn heals,' and it appears that message is being received.
She said she's getting a different group of customers for her small local business than she would've expected before the pandemic: families looking to learn with their children, as well as people across the country, which she says is "so fun for me."
Online sales, which she didn't intend to focus on, have helped.
And then, after struggling with application after application, she was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Red Backpack Fund, a foundation to support female entrepreneurs started by Sara Blakely, the brains behind Spanx.
"I am just so grateful. To me, it felt like $5 million," Hatch Fairley said.
A write-up in the Washington Post soon followed; the interviewed her about crafting during the pandemic.
She's now doing "by appointment" shopping to keep in-person customers at a minimum, and will continue curbside pickup and online orders.
And while some days are harder than others, she says hope remains.
"Knitting in a way saved you from a very dark place years ago. Is your hope that knitting is saving people from a pretty dark place right now?" I asked her.
"I certainly hope so," she said.
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