Gabriela Parejo’s business of making handmade crochet items was in its early stages when she began experimenting with recycled materials. “I taught myself how to make yarn from old cotton T-shirts. I made this beautiful little bowl with the yarn, and I couldn’t believe how awesome it looked,” she said.
Gabriela feels a lot like that reinvented T-shirt right now: her business, Crichet Handmade Designs gave her the opportunity to reinvent herself when she needed it most.
If someone had told her that the art and craft of crochet would earn her a living one day, she would have laughed it off as unthinkable. Crochet was something she did for herself to de-stress from her professional work, stay connected with her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease or create a hand-made gift for friends and family.
But it was a movie-like moment of realization, on New Year’s Eve no less, that convinced her she was ready for a change. She eventually left her job of 15 years. The idea for a crochet business became more intriguing as demand for her unique creations grew by word of mouth. She struggled to see how it could be a sustainable full-time business. “Anyone can crochet,” she said, “so how is what I’m doing unique or different? I had the idea and wanted to pursue it; I just couldn’t figure out how.”
Joining the Start My Business Bootcamp at the Laurier Women Entrepreneurship Centre helped Gabriela define the purpose behind her business, which is to restore the personal touch and connection in gift-giving. “A truly personal gift makes people feel worthy, cared for and loved,” she said, “and I want people to know that feeling by receiving my products.”
She began selling her baby booties, macrame pot hangers, make-up scrubbies, and cushion covers online with some success. That’s about to change: Gabriela made the leap to open a collaborative artisan storefront in Bayfield, Ontario.
She plans to showcase her own crochet items and offer space to local artists and makers to sell their work. It will expand her mission to connect people to the story behind the products they buy and the artists who make them.
It’s a giant step in her entrepreneurship journey and Gabriela credits Laurier’s Women Entrepreneurship Centre for the solid foundation to get her started. “I was so afraid going into the program, but they all believed in me from the start,” she said. “I'm going to embrace this; with the encouragement that I had from the Bootcamp, I know I can do this, and I can be successful at it.”
The Women Entrepreneurship Centre (WEC), as part of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, is dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs of every age, stage and culture to achieve their business dreams. We believe in fostering leadership. We believe that everyone deserves an equal shot at success. We believe in connecting you with the right people, skills and support to make it happen.
We see you are accessing our website on IE8. We recommend you view in Chrome, Safari, Firefox or IE9+ instead.×