A Day in the Life of a Knitwear Designer

  guest post by Charlotte Hess of Isobel & Cleo

guest post by Charlotte Hess of Isobel & Cleo


7:30-8:30 am: Frankie, my 2-year-old Great Dane, usually starts asking me to go to the bathroom around this time. After asking him if I can pretty please sleep a few more minutes (approximately 2 to 3 times) I get up and we go for a walk.


9:30 am: It's around this time that I do my computer work, be that social media, yarn ordering, checking emails, that kind of thing. Even though I check these things daily, I frequently put projects or more time-consuming replies off until later in the day when I'm in my shop. Unfortunately, this means that I tend to forget to do some things, which I'm really trying HARD to work and get more organized. I found out about KanbanFlow through the CYL community and it has proven to be very useful, I just have to really push myself to consistently use it.



11 am: The majority of my day is spent in my retail store where we also have our production knitting machines and studio. Throughout the day I help customers as they come into the shop and also assist my production knitter Tina with producing inventory for our retail store and wholesale accounts. We sell to about 30 stores in the US and abroad and Tina and I make the majority of all the pieces. 


We have 10 domestic knitting machines, though we typically only use about 4 at a time. These are hand operated and can be extremely taxing on the body. We always have Advil LiquiGels, topical ibuprofen, Salopas, and Ace bandages in stock for al our aches and pains. We do hand knit certain styles, but generally have a local woman that makes all these pieces for us.


We have a lot of popular stock styles that we always make and we design new styles when time permits. New silhouettes sometimes come from our retail and wholesale clients, who are interested in having a certain look in their store. If we feel their request has a mass appeal, we will add them into our collection. We do make custom pieces, but I will typically only accept custom order requests for pieces that are related to or a tweak of an already existing style or something that can be recreated for the store. Custom orders can be very time consuming and complex and rarely is the design and troubleshooting time calculated into the selling price, so if we can't absorb that cost by knitting the custom silhouette for our store or by charging a higher price, we try to stay away from those requests. 



Between 3 and 5 pm: The Very Important Frankie the Great Dane, likes to greet his admirers and take his turn around the gardens in the late afternoon. It’s also a great time for me to get a wee break with fresh air and a mocha or chai.


6 pm: Evenings are spent differently depending on what time of year it is. Since we are based on the very seasonal and tourist geared island of Nantucket we pretty much make all of our retail sales between May and September with the majority happening in July and August. Typically we stay open nights till 8 or 10 pm depending on the day of the week. I’ve found that sales are best during the day so this year, we're closing at 6 and I go to my second job at a local restaurant. If I get off early I'll come back to the shop to knit.


In the off-season, we do a lot of shows; retail and wholesale trade shows and makers holiday markets. In addition to the shows, we still have the store open and are knitting and shipping out fall wholesale orders out to stores. So in the fall, when the island has started to calm down and businesses and restaurants start to close, we are still crazy busy and typically knit till about 10 or 11 pm, unless we pull the all too frequent all nighter.


12 to 1 am: To wind down I typically try to do some fun social media activity or at least preparation for the next morning’s post, and I may watch a little Netflix before bedtime!