Ren’s Purl Yarn Boutique stays open evenings so customers can come in for classes or just to chat while they stitch and purl.
And despite what you may have heard about who picks up knitting and crocheting, the store’s predominantly female clientele isn’t limited to one age group.
“We have girls from their late teens and 20s to ladies in their 70s and 80s,” said Ren Dschaak, owner. “There’s no age gap. Everybody is enjoying the company, and it’s nice to see a meshing together of the ages.”
Dschaak opened the store 2-1/2 years ago, and has seen a steady growth in clientele. Knitting has fallen in and out of style over the years. During World War I, women considered it their patriotic duty to knit warm socks for soldiers at the front.
Within the past decade, celebrities such as Cameron Diaz and Hilary Swank have joined a growing army of young, hip knitters.
Besides, many people appreciate the thought and effort that goes into a hand-knit gift, Dschaak said.
Describe how you got where you are in your work today. Since I was very young, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I grew up in Billings and remember my mom taking me shopping as a child at the boutiques downtown. I would tell her that when I grew up, I wanted to own a store of my own. After college, I taught myself how to knit and completely fell in love with the craft. I then moved back to Billings, got married and decided there was no better time to execute my dreams and open my own business. Knitting and yarn had become such an obsession that it was natural to open Ren’s Purl Yarn Boutique.
From conception to open doors, it took just over one year of planning. I cannot believe Ren’s has already been open for 2.5 years. Time has flown by and though the boutique is always growing and changing, our excellent customer service, kind and thoughtful staff, and welcoming community atmosphere remains the same.
What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business? Having never owned a business before, there’s the challenge of learning how to manage finances — paying expenses while also buying product. There’s the challenge of learning how to meet the needs of my customers, everything form stocking products they like and satisfying their day-to-day needs, to organizing classes and events that fulfill them and drive the shop community. Lastly, there’s the challenge of making sure I stay healthy and happy in running my business, adapting to the ever-changing needs of the shop and its customers.
What did you learn from that challenge? In my business I am constantly learning, and there is always a new challenge around the corner. Overall, I’ve learned that the needs of my shop don’t stay the same for long, so the ability to identify needs and adapt quickly are key.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Follow your gut. Lots of people will be giving advice, although nobody knows your business like you. So, take what people say, process it, and then listen to yourself and do what is right for you.
Who gave you that advice? My mom.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I want to reach out to people in Billings and give them a place to gather, where they can find camaraderie and friendship. Ren’s is a place for people to knit/crochet, grow their skills and meet others who will encourage and support them. Not only in their craft; but in their life.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? By the happiness of my customers, staff and myself. When the shop is bustling and busy with good conversation and camaraderie, I know we are successful because we are fulfilling the needs of people in the community. Ren’s is all about bridging the gap between people, bringing them together.
Which living person do you most admire? My husband, Chad. I am so lucky to have married such an amazingly supportive, encouraging and ever-loving man. Without question he has sacrificed so much and put his own dreams on hold so that I can pursue mine. Chad is full of kindness and integrity. I so appreciate the person he is and all he has done for me.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Since I don’t have kids yet, I’d have to say opening my boutique is my greatest achievement. The store is my baby and running it is my greatest work in progress.
I’m happiest when I’m … Cuddled up knitting with my hubby and puppies.