5 meaningful ways brands can take action during this time.
July 7, 2020
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  • Snack // Current Events: Funding For Diverse Teams & Black Female CEOs Form A Business Buyout Collective
  • Today's Special // Creator Founder Interview: Toni Lipsey, TL Yarn Crafts

Women start 40% of the businesses in the U.S., but they receive just 3% of venture funding. Victress Capital founded by Lori Cashman and Suzanne Norris have done the math on that obvious funding gap and have just secured a second round of funding ($22M) to back gender diverse teams, meaning there is at least one woman on the founding team.

If you’re an entrepreneur, a trailblazer and/or in a position of high responsibility, chances are you’ve experienced extreme challenges and overcame them. These women discuss the most stressful situation they've ever faced — and how they got through it.

A group of Black female CEOs in Flint, MI have created “Black Owned Buyout” a collective focused on investing in local black-owned businesses. They recently helped secure a donut shop called Dawn Donuts.

Lisa Wardell, the only Black female CEO (Adatelm) in the Fortune 1000 is being credited for boosting her company's minority leadership by 50% in 4 years. Here’s how she did it.

Right now, it is not business as usual. There’s no “going back to normal.” Brand Futurist, Jennifer “Jen” Kem has five ways brands can take meaningful action during this time. (Forbes)

Toni Lipsey
Founder of TL Yarn Crafts
It’s not everyday you hear of someone who was able to turn their passion for yarn into a successful business with 100k followers on social media. And Toni Lipsey is definitely cut from a different cloth. When you meet someone so good at their craft, it’s as if you get a glimpse of the world through their eyes. And if you took a peek into Toni’s world, it would be soft, filled with bold colors, perfectly knit fabrics, weaved into endless possibilities.  

Tell us about what you create?

I focus on creating beginner- and intermediate-level crochet and Tunisian crochet patterns. My designs are accessible, versatile, modern, and wearable. I create everything from home goods to wearables and accessories.

Did you start knitting as a child?

I learned to crochet when I was a teen from my mother, who has a zillion talents. I picked the craft up again after graduating college and being unemployed during the recession. 2010 was no joke!

I bet! And I think a lot of people can relate to that, especially now, whether it’s just quarantine or having recently lost their job.

Yes, crocheting became a chance to release frustration and take a welcome break from the full-time job of job hunting.

So your knitting for this stress release. And then when did you think…. This could be a business?

After all of my family members were well stocked with hats and scarves from me,  I knew I wanted to keep crocheting so I applied for my first craft show. I only sold one thing, but I used that excitement to launch my business. Things evolved over time.

You only sold one thing? That could seem like a failure to most people. But you didn’t see it that way.

Going through all the work to prepare for a craft show and only selling one thing might feel like a failure to most people. But that one sale felt like proof of concept to me and made me feel like I at least had the capacity to make things people would want to buy.

I love that attitude!  And they do say successful people don’t see failures in the way most people do.

I got an understanding that there is no such thing as an overnight success - that true success is putting one foot in front of the other every single day. Considering that now, only five years later, I'm running my business full time and living a life I never dreamed, that presumed failure at my first craft show was just the encouragement I needed.

Sometimes when a passion becomes a business, there’s a compromise or slight pivot. Did you experience that?

I did notice that designers in the crochet space have it a touch easier than those of us that were making finished items. Since patterns are digital and prices low, they sell easier and in higher volume. So I let my business naturally evolve into being 100% design.  I've also incorporated more of an educational aspect to the business.

I have to think you probably didn’t expect this to turn into a business?

Absolutely not. I fully expected to work outside my home for the rest of my life. I have the student loan debt to prove it. But I fell in love with crochet, with the companies and the people and the yarn and the possibilities.

What advice would you give to other creators and crafters wanting to turn their passion into a business?

Your business can only work as hard as you are willing to. The BTS of being a business owner is not glamorous - you will work harder than you ever have. But the rewards of earning success far surpass anything that could be given to you.

You can find more from TL Yarn Crafts here:



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