A rare opportunity 4

Wow, yesterday was rather exciting. Crocheters and knitters rallied through social media via Twitter and Facebook and on their blogs to mobilize against the slurs cast upon us by what is claimed to be a form letter by the USOC. (Read my open letter) Two things come to mind as I reflect on the incredible energy filled day of tweets, posts, and emails.

1. No one enjoys being marginalized. Knitters railed at this event and did so loudly, but oddly their anger at the USOC’s poor excuse for an first run on their apology (oh yes, they made two apologies), seems interesting. Because as annoying as it is to be treated dismissively, that is exactly how we in the crochet community have often been treated when we voice discomfort or annoyance at being left out of events. Even worse we get accused of being whiners and cheap for not buying products when they are not marketed to us, but when we pipe up we get told we’re over reacting.

I’m not writing this to fuel any kind of fire, I am stating it because it’s true and I think we have a rare opportunity. While things are fresh in the knitting community’s mind and hearts, I implore yarn stores and companies to think carefully about their image and messaging to crocheters. Remember, we’re loyal, if you treat us right, we treat you right, see how we came together yesterday? We did something collectively against a perceived threat, what if we could generate that kind of energy around a shared cause that wasn’t about survival or self protection but was about THRIVING together?  Does that make sense? If  we support EACH OTHER economically we are a powerful force! We have more than 30 million households combined, that’s a lot of economic power, that is about 1/3 of the US population that either crochets (17.4 million households) or knits (13 million households). What could it mean if you actually served up to our market? Wow, what a win/win.

2.  The USOC missed a golden opportunity in it’s PR campaign.  I kind of feel bad for them, after all they approached things just like corporations usually do, and yes they are a corporation under the 501 c classification (it means you can’t pay share holders or investors, you have to reinvest in your business), they operated under the “MINE” principle.  Imagine this: What would it have looked like if they had merely asked to have their trademark respected by not using the terms without permission, but offered a partnership where by the community could have their games and support various parts of Team US? You know adopt a sport?  What would their PR situation look like then? Instead of 2 million angry Ravelry users, some of whom are threatening to boycott the games and sponsors of the Olympics, they could have gotten at least the 2 million Ravelry folk plus more for doing something that was mutually beneficial.

It’s called PARTNERSHIPS and partnerships are cool because they are SUSTAINABLE.

The model of business the USOC was employing is the most common globally, it’s based on survival and corporate Darwinism, only the strongest survive. But when you partner with people you engage in a different kind of evolution, a modern interpretation, and you build together to THRIVE.

That’s what I teach businesses and not for profits to do in my local area. Instead of constantly worrying about what the other guy is doing or has or will do, I have them find out how to network and support each other in their communities so that they can thrive. It’s working really well, it’s not Pollyannish in the least, it’s a way to acknowledge our interdependence and inter-connectivity so that everyone does well as possible. It still requires individual efforts, each person or organization has their strengths and limitations, and to truly thrive is an individual choice.

But, imagine what would have happened if the USOC had entered into a partnership? There would have been no media storm and their spokespeople and PR folk wouldn’t have had to run to Costco for a case of anti-acid.   (USOC I’m available as a consultant on partnerships, email me anytime.)

About Laurie A. Wheeler

Laurie A. Wheeler is a blogger, crochet addict, yarn designer and champion for independant artisans and crafters. She is also known as Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front.

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4 thoughts on “A rare opportunity

  • Joyce Armstrong

    Good letter. As usual, your comments are spot on and I look forward to reading them. I agree that businesses are so worried about whats good for them at that moment, they don’t think of the future. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if busisnesses started thinking about the good of their community as well as the bottom line. I’ll definitely have to talk to you before starting my business.
    Back to yesterday. It was awesome. The strong voice, the comradery of everyone putting out their feelings was awesome. Think of the lobbying power we have! And all from a group of women/men that are often overlooked. I have always been frustrated that I don’t know anyone, or any grouops around here that are as passionate about crocheting as I am. Awesome knitting store nearby, but owner only caters to knitters. I have joined groups ie., Ralvery, Hookey, CLF, etc. but find navigating them a bit overwhelming, and just haven’t taken the time out of my crocheting to learn them all. (slowly I’m getting better).
    Anyway, yesterday I really felt like I was part of a group. And I think we got the message across that we are a large group of people, and need to be recognized as such.
    I agree, this is a great opportunity to keep something going. I don’t mean fighting the USOC, but coming together to be a force to be reckoned with, so to speak. I’ll keep looking to see what ideas you and others may come up with. And I know one day, I will at least start a crochet group around here.

  • LauraDryad


    Check out the ads for Stitches Midwest in the latest Knitters Magazine, published by XRX. We did make a change and they listened.

  • Cami

    Hi, Laurie! You´re very insightful and I always enjoy your point of view. My perspective on the crocheter/knitter thing is a little different, as I built my skill set (mostly crochet, very little knitting) while in Mexico. Here, crochet is more common, and the word for crochet and knit is the same- ´tejer.´ You can ´tejer con gancho´ (crochet), or ´tejer con agujas´ (knit). So when I hear people talking about ´knitters´ I assume they are talking to me, though I consider myself a crocheter. But anyway, I´m with you about bringing crochet to the forefront, and I´ve seen a lot of progress in the past four years, which is as long as I´ve been paying attention. Yes, the USOC missed a huge opportunity. It was just silly. Isn´t it amazing how much the tone of a letter matters? They could have gotten the end they wanted by just sending a nice letter, even if they didn´t decide to partner. That would have ruffled a few feathers, but it would have been nothing like what ensued. Like you said, they could have garnered incredible support if they had thought it through and offered some kind of partnership. Live and learn… I hope.

    :) Cheers!

    • Laurie A. Wheeler Post author

      Hi Cami,

      I do understand that in many languages there is no separation between the two crafts. However, in the US and that is the marketplace of which I am speaking, there is a difference in the terms. It isn’t that I don’t feel spoken to, it is that when I go into a store or go to buy yarn that there are no resources for what I do that I feel the rub. Things ARE changing.

      This post was my chance to show that partnerships are a better business model than our traditional economic model. I teach this model to businesses and it is a successful one. I don’t really give two hoots about the Olympics or the USOC and I’m not into sports.