Painting & crocheting tricolour

Sometimes, with the right amount of encouragement, a hobby can flourish into a crafty business.

School-spirited gear is nothing new at Tricolour Outlet, located on the second floor of the JDUC, yet the girls behind these handmade products illustrate how a creative hobby, such as decorative painting or crocheting, can be fashioned into a rewarding part-time job.

I sat with Julie Toth, ArtSci ’16, and Laura Stemp, ArtSci ’15, to learn about the inspiration behind their products.

For Stemp, crocheted goods were for gift giving at Christmas and a practical way to make herself winter accessories. To raise funds for the summer camp where she worked, she made a Facebook group to organize headband orders – Stemp’s opportunity to first showcase her crocheting talents using a more public forum.

Half way through the summer, Toth purchased 40 pairs of Toms online and contacted Tricolour Outlet’s purchasing manager, after a friend encouraged her to move beyond selling to family and friends.

With tapestry needles brought to the interview, Stemp was eager to talk about the craft she’s honed since her grandmother taught her at an early age. Between making friendship bracelets at Tricolour this past summer to scarves in the winter, Stemp’s craft is part experimentation and part creative fun.

Where did you get the idea for selling your product? Did this start off as a hobby?

Toth: In grade 12 art class, [painted Toms] was my culminating art project ... I saw what people had did online and I thought it was pretty cool. It kind of just grew from there. I had friends and family ask me to paint shoes for them

Stemp: I started crocheting when I was 8 years old and then I started making headbands when I was in high school ... Once I got better, I started to look into new designs and I used YouTube videos to learn how to make more intricate things ... Headbands aren’t advanced – they’re more of an intermediate skill. Before, I was just making really simple scarves.

Where do you purchase the materials from?

Toth: I buy them online and they give me a discount for buying so many [pairs of shoes], which is why I can sell them for what they sell at Tricolour. They just ship them in the mail. I got like 40 pairs and I base them on the most common sizes so a lot of sevens and eights

Stemp: Mostly I shop at Michael’s and then at the shop in Carleton Place [near Ottawa] for pure wool. Most of the stuff I buy at Michael’s is made in Canada and so is the acrylic I buy for Tricolour.

How did you go about selling your product with Tricolour Outlet?

Stemp: I went in at the end of first year because I know the girl who used to knit for Tricolour Outlet was graduating. .. [W]e through a bunch of designs and saw which ones sold well and .. were the best sellers and then I started making those in bulk. I crochet kind of on my own time and bring things in depending on how they’ve sold. .. Then I just restock with Tricolour as things sell and we decide which colours and styles would be best for the season.

Do you expect to expand with other creative pursuits?

Toth: Shoes are kind of my thing ... I think I’m probably just going to stick with that because I’m not sure how … demanding my classes will be.

Stemp: I’m definitely looking to continue as a part-time side job [after graduation]. I have an Etsy store opening in early October [which] I’m just finishing the layout and photos for ... I do craft shows in November and December in my hometown ... near Ottawa in Kinburn.

For more information about the hand-crocheted goods sold by Stemp, please visit:

Both Toth and Stemp sell their handmade products at Tricolour Outlet. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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