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Life & Work with Tammy Conolly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tammy Conolly.

Hi Tammy, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
In late 2019, I was working in a small yarn shop in Corpus Christi called Yarn Texas. I had been playing around with dyeing yarn with Kool-aid, and one day on a whim, I brought some of the yarn I dyed in to show the proprietor of the shop, Susan Chilcoat. She liked what she saw and told me that it would be fun to have some locally dyed yarns in the store and asked if I would dye some up. I ordered some professional dyes and did several colorways for the store.

A few of the local ladies bought some of my designs. Then in February of 2020, we had our first fiber festival in Corpus Christi, Yellow Rose on the Coast. Susan helped organize the event and had a table set up near the entrance. She didn’t want to compete with the indie dyers who had paid for booths with a lot of yarn from her shop, but she asked if I would be okay with her displaying my yarn on the table. I was, of course, fine with that.

My yarn did quite well with several colorways selling out! Susan encouraged me to continue dyeing yarn. She told me that this is what I “should be doing all the time.” I took her up on that and began designing more colorways and later that month opened an Etsy shop as she continued to carry my yarns in the shop.

Then Covid hit. We had been dealing with the street in front of the shop being torn up for several months already and with the virus added to that, by early April, there were very few customers coming into the shop. She had to let me go and a few months later, she had to close the shop.

It was a slow start, but I continued to sell online. I set up an Instagram and Facebook account and kept trying to get the word out. As soon as fiber festivals were happening again, I signed up for a booth at the Yellow Rose Fiber Fest in Seguin. My first fiber festival on my own. It was incredible! My booth was constantly busy and I sold so much more than I expected. What’s more, yarn shops in San Antonio were beginning to take notice of me. I was invited to do a Trunk Show at Unraveled: the Chic Yarn Boutique. That event was also a big success. Not long after, Yarnivore asked me to do a Trunk Show. As they say, the rest is history. Over the past couple of years, I’ve done Trunk Shows in the DFW area, San Antonio, and Houston areas. I’ve also had booths in several fiber festivals and for the first time will be at the DFW Fiber Festival in September of this year.

The success of my yarn has made me so thankful for the blessing of being able to do what I love and get paid for it. But it’s never really been about getting paid. At this point, I’m still growing and most of what I make goes back into the company, and the rest into the community. From the beginning, I have wanted to make this a way to support foster children. To do that, a portion of my profits go to two organizations in Coastal Bend. My husband and I served as CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children) volunteer for several years.

Therefore, CASA of the Coastal Bend receives a portion to help train and support volunteers who stand up for foster children in court. The other organization I support is Agape Ranch. They are building literal communities for fostering families where children in these families are living in the same neighborhoods as other foster children so that they can see that they are not alone in the struggle they have to endure. Agape Ranch also helps youths who are aging out of the foster care system cope with their sudden need to support themselves.

This entire journey has been such a blessing and I am so thankful for it. I give God the glory for the success I have had and for this opportunity to tell my story.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There is always the struggle of reaching individuals and getting the word out. Facebook and Instagram help as do the Trunk Shows and Fiber Festivals. There is a lot of competition and other dyers who are more established. I just continue to do my best and I’m slowly seeing my customer base grow. But my biggest struggle is space. I’m working out of a bedroom in my house and the need to dye more yarn more efficiently has me constantly trying to come up with creative ways to solve the problem.

Right now, I’m purchasing equipment to do just that, but that comes with other problems in that my house was built in the 40s and electrical issues now need to be dealt with. It seems as if every solution presents new struggles. I guess it could be called growing pains.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
At the very start, I knew I didn’t want to just dye yarn pretty colors. I wanted to be inspired to create designs that would spark creativity or even nostalgia in knitters, crocheters, and weavers. I found the world — more specifically, the state — around me had much inspiration to offer. I have three major collections that I’m building on.

The Texas Regions Collection reflects the beauty and diversity of the different areas of the state. At this time I have yarns for the Big Bend Country area, the Piney Woods, the Gulf Coast, and the Texas Hill Country. I’m working on a design for the Texas Panhandle next.

My Texas Attractions Collection is all about the places that people enjoy in Texas. I have yarns designed for Fiesta, the Riverwalk, the Barton Creek Greenbelt, and my most popular, Cadillac Ranch. The next one planned will be the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Finally, Texas Wildflowers have to be represented. I have Bluebonnets, an Indian Paintbrush, Purple Coneflower, and Baby Blue Eyes. Come next Spring I’ll be adding to this collection, but I’m still deciding what will be blooming next.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
The fiber community is filled with the most wonderful people! Although there is competition, we actually work together and I love that! But the best thing people can do to support Bashful Armadillo Fibers, aside from purchasing yarn, is to follow me on Facebook and Instagram, then share with people they know who enjoy fiber arts and encourage them to share.

Word of mouth truly is the most powerful form of advertising. Attend Trunk Shows and Fiber Festivals in your area and bring friends. Shop for your fiber-loving friends from not just me but from indie dyers in general. Don’t worry so much about what to get. If you know a favorite color, you’re good.

Pricing:

  • Yarn is $28 per skein
  • Yarn Minis are $7 each
  • Stitch Markers are available, priced separately

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Barton Creek by Matthew Guthrie

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