A self-taught fiber artist, Jessica Macy has dipped her hand in all-things yarn. What started as a spark of creativity and a loom is now Whisker Row, a full-fledged business with customers from California to Montana and Kansas City. (And yes—her business name was inspired by her cats.) You can find her ornate wall hangings in local shops Dear Society, Hand + Land and Opal and Gold, or shop her products online at whiskerrow.com.
KCS: How did Whisker Row originate?
JM: It began in 2015. I started with weaving originally, so I bought a loom off of Amazon and then I just never stopped. I’ve always been the type of person that goes full-throttle into everything. I’ve tried calligraphy, I’ve tried painting. I buy all the supplies and then I do it for like a month. Fiber arts have stuck around the longest—I even taught workshops around Kansas City and in Montana.
KCS: When did it turn from a hobby to a business?
JM: I sold my first piece December of 2015, but it didn’t really pick up until a year and a half ago. Instagram has helped me so much. I had some bigger accounts, and some bloggers bought some pieces that made people more aware of my work.
KCS: How long does it take to complete a piece?
JM: With the dip dyeing, it just depends on the piece. If there’s a darker stripe in the middle, I have to be really specific and I have to be really patient so that the dye doesn’t drip down. A lot of times I have to go back and tweak a few pieces because a piece of yarn will get too heavy or too wet. It takes a long time to make sure it all lines up and meets my vision.
KCS: As a small business owner, have you had a “pinch-me” moment?
JM: The summer of last year, I did one of my biggest pieces ever. It was 7 ½ feet wide by 8 feet long. I had to dye it in sections, but because of the size of it, it was more challenging. It took me about a month to do. I shipped it and didn’t really hear anything about it. Then a month later, the designers that helped pick it out sent professionally shot photos and I was over the moon.
Macy didn’t start dip dying her yarn until she received a specific request from a local business.
“Hand + Land approached me, and they wanted natural items,” Macy says. “So I started dyeing my own yarns.”
Armed with avocado skins and indigo, Macy created pieces that combined her artistry with a safe, chemical-free element that appealed to the locally owned, organic shop. Macy’s dip dyeing also resulted in more custom requests from shoppers looking to outfit their homes.
“I have dye swatches they can choose from, but a lot of times the reference other pieces I’ve done,” Macy says of the custom requests.