Making Conversation with Adella Colvin
Today we're talking with Adella Colvin the founder of LolaBean Yarn Co. When writing this intro we were trying to figure out how to capture who Adella is and her passion for all she does and wants to do, but that's proven to be a bit difficult and those of you who know Adella can understand why. With an incredibly strong voice and spirit, Adella is on a mission to make the world a better place, whether that be for individuals, communities, aspiring business owners and makers, or her daughter Lola. Adella shares her story and takes us from the South, to Spanish Harlem, to Georgia, and on into the future. She is one of the funniest people we've had on the podcast, Ashley left their call with her cheeks sore from laughing and smiling, and we hope you do too.
You can connect with Adella on the Making app and Instagram @lolabeanyarnco.
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Click to show transcript.
Ashley Yousling [00:00:05] Welcome to Making Conversation, a podcast where we celebrate making in all its forms from amazing stories of inspiring makers and people to behind the scenes peeks of building a startup in the tech and craft industry. I'm your host, Ashley Yousling, and today I'm talking with Adella Colvin, the founder of Lola Bean Yarn Company. When I was writing this intro, I was trying to figure out how to capture who Adella is and her passion for all she does and wants to do. But that's proving to be a little bit difficult. And those of you who know Adella can understand why. With an incredibly strong voice and spirit, Adella is on a mission to make the world a better place, whether that be for individuals, communities, aspiring business owners and makers, or her daughter, Lola. Adella shares her story and takes us from the South, to Spanish Harlem, to Georgia, and on into the future. She's one of the funniest people I've had on the podcast, and I left our girl with my cheeks so sore from laughing and smiling. And I hope you do too. You can connect with Adella on the Making app and Instagram @lolabeanco. And with that, here's Adella.
Adella Colvin [00:01:11] I know in school and I'm talking as far back as like elementary school for second grade, I was always drawn to art class. Coloring was always something that I still do to this day, with or without my my six year old. I'm like, you want to color? She's like, Nope. Well, I'm going to. I've always leaned towards the arts versus, like, the science and the math. And my great grandmother, Laura was a seamstress, where they-where my family-4my dad's side of the family is. It's like the south port Wilmington area of North Carolina. They do a lot of movie filming out there. So, you know, they'd be filming things and bring close to my great grandmother to hem or sew or fix. I remember one time she was fussing at Richard Gere, who was standing in front of her yard, stepping on a little tree that she had, like planted a magnolia tree. You know, so I remember, like, hearing stories like that, but she made all of my clothes as a newborn and continued to make me clothes until I was like 12, you know, because that's that's the magic age. You know, where I got I'm too cool for, you know, great grandmothers, handmade clothes. I want all the stuff that the other kids are wearing. How silly I feel now, looking back. But she sewed, she knit, she crocheted. She did macrame. She made my dolls. She made me dolls. That you would have thought looking at them were actual like Cabbage Patch Kids. But they weren't. She made them for me. Pound puppies. I had, like, a love of pound puppy. She made me like pound puppies. There wasn't. She did embroidery, cross-stitch, like-she did everything. And I can remember-and it's funny, because it was around that same age, like that 12, 13 year old age-I went to visit my dad for the holidays and she gifted me my very first, like, little singer sewing machine that they made for kids. They still make it. I see it every now and again. And I was grateful and I was happy. But on the inside, I'm like, I'm not doing this like Grandma. Are you serious? Like, no, I'm you know. But it's it's always been there. I've always had, like, an affinity for creative. I just couldn't pinpoint exactly, like, where it started or who sparked it. I've just-I've always known it was there.
Ashley Yousling [00:03:54] Where was this moment where all of a sudden your creativity became your own as opposed to like something that you were immersed in?.
Adella Colvin [00:04:06] Well, I think a lot of it too, was so for the first for, my first eight years, I was an only child. And my mom had me she was 19 years old in the Air Force when she had me and then turned like 20 two months later. But we sort of grew up together like she was definitely a mother, you know, she she did the mother thing. But, you know, at 20, what do we know at 20? Right. You know, so we were both kind of like growing up together. And when you're an only child, you need things to entertain yourself. So, you know, I remember her, you know, giving me crayons. And so I guess it would be my mom, right? Because that I do remember her, like buying me crayons. The watercolor, like the water paints, the paint by numbers, those types of things to, you know, give me something to do or to keep me busy because I didn't have any siblings. So that might be, you know, where it really, really first, I guess started for me.
Ashley Yousling [00:05:12] So when did you first start a project on that sewing machine?
Adella Colvin [00:05:17] I never did.
Ashley Yousling [00:05:19] You never did?
Adella Colvin [00:05:20] I never did. And I'm telling you, like, that is my biggest regret. And like, you know, hindsight is 20/20 because, you know, she wanted to teach me back then to knit and to sew and to do all of these things. And I'm like, I am too cool for school, grandma! I don't have time for this stuff. And like now, as I'm like, you know, immersed into, you know, making, it's like what I would have known and where I would have been in terms of, like, my skill set had I let her, you know, show me back then. But I'm also a really big believer in everything happens for a reason, you know? And that's just what I chalk it up to. Yep. It would have been nice to, you know, have all of this knowledge and all of these years of experience. But I really think it probably would have changed my trajectory at some point.
Ashley Yousling [00:06:13] Everything happens in its own timing. Honestly, I think I'm just learning that in a really real way now, even though you say it your whole life, right? It's kind of preached to you as a child and growing up. When you look back, I think the older you get, the more you look back at your life and like how everything kind of led to the moment that you're in now. You have more endearment or respect for that journey that you had, which, yeah, maybe has some regrets, but also, maybe that was just what it needed to be to, like, spark that later on.
Adella Colvin [00:06:53] Mm hmm. The arts, whether it be music, whether it be, you know, colors, painting, lanyards. Remember, in high school or, like, elementary school, you'd make keychains with, like, the lanyards, like I-pot holders, the little weaving thing, like-no matter how far I strayed from the arts, I always wound up back in them. You know, because there was a period of time. I won't pretend that I had, like, this great, glorious childhood I won't say it was the worst either, right? But we had some hard times. You know, my mom was a victim of domestic violence, and she wound up discharging from the Air Force. We wound up leaving Alabama. That's where we were at the time. And going back to New York, which is where she was born and raised and where the rest of the family was. And there was homelessness, you know, like mixed and just dysfunction, poverty, food stamps, you know, all of those things. So access to things for a good while wasn't necessarily there, right? It's like you're a single mom with two kids. Am I going to buy a gallon of milk or am I going to buy my daughter a box of crayons? Right. Priorities. You know, so. It almost-it was almost like I lost it for a little bit because, you know, it just wasn't there for me to do. But the minute somebody, you know, would put something, I'd go to a friend's house and she'd have, like, a friendship-making kit a bracelet-making kit. Oh, yeah. It's, you know, little things like that always kind of, like, made their way back to me or me back to them. But it wasn't until, believe it or not, my early thirties when, you know, I really connected with and got back to like art and making, and that was it. So, I guess I'm making up for lost time. People are like you're so hard core, you're always working and dyeing. You know, I'm making up for lost time. I lost, you know, like, over a decade. But yeah, I'm trying to think my mom's side of the family, which is who I was raised by. I don't remember any art, artistic people or anybody who know makers on that side, just my dad's side. So that's probably another reason why I lost it for so long. Right. If you don't have people around you who are like into it and encouraging it, you kind of don't pay any attention. You find other things to do. So yeah, there was a big gap where there was no making.
Ashley Yousling [00:09:36] You said something that made me think about this thing that we talk a lot about as a team. When people's basic needs aren't met, how can we expect them to make and I think this really came up in a big way when we started the app and they're bringing like floods of acrylic yarn and like all these like kind of cheap brands on the platform. And I remember someone at some point said something like about that. And I said, you know, 80% of makers on the app are using those materials, those yarns, because that's what's accessible to them at this point. And then it started this discussion about how people are actually feeling strapped in so many energy sources, not just money, but like just time and brain space and, you know, mental fatigue. And that's something that I've been thinking a lot about is how when we are so focused on just making sure we're okay in whatever capacity there isn't time to make. But, making is so healing. How do you create that awareness? It doesn't have to be this big thing, you know? Like, how can we bring that in a healing way, even if in a small way, even if it's just inspiration? You know, and you're not even partaking in an actual craft. So I think what you're sharing is example of of that, you know, how easy that is to lose, especially when social media wasn't didn't even exist.
Adella Colvin [00:11:16] It wasn't even a thing. This is, you know, before the before the Internet.
Ashley Yousling [00:11:23] To think that the Internet did not exist when we were growing up, you know, kind of like a funny, funny thought.
Adella Colvin [00:11:30] It's wild.
Ashley Yousling [00:11:32] So when you transport yourself to your thirties and really kind of diving into creativity, what was this collective thing that happened that kind of brought that into your life?
Adella Colvin [00:11:44] Because my mother was in the Air Force, we traveled a lot, you know. So I've lived in places Altus, Oklahoma, Huntsville, Alabama, San Antonio, Texas, predominantly, you know, in the South. And once she was discharged from the Air Force, she naturally, you know, you want to be closer to wherever your family is. And my mom was born in Spanish Harlem. My grandparents, everybody was still in the New York, New Jersey area. So that's where we wound up, you know, landing. But you have so much, you know, like diversity and culture, anything you could want at whatever time you want it, you can have it in New York City, right? So we fast forward and I meet my now husband, but, you know, I meet Jimmy and because of his military travels, he wound up down in Georgia, a little town called Grove. It's grown since, but a little town called Grove Town, Georgia. And I laugh with everybody when I see like the only thing here was like a gas station called the Golden Pantry. There was a Cracker Barrel, and the new Walmart was like all the rage, right? So because he had two children from his first marriage, it made sense for me to move from New York to be down here with him versus him, you know, being away from his children and coming up there. So I'm like, you know what? I don't have any children. My mom, you know, I talk to her about it. She was all for it. Thought it would be great. So I moved down here. With, you know, the Walmart and the Golden Pantry and his job sends him because, you know, now he's no longer active duty. He is a civilian. And they're sending him to Afghanistan as a contractor for six months. So you drag me down to the middle of nowhere, right? And then you leave me here. So instead of, you know, finding things to do, I. I was sulking. I was on my sofa crying, watching episodes of Gray's Anatomy, you know, just miserable instead of, like, doing something productive. Right. And we had a neighbor named Bonnie-Bonnie Marachich. She was a retired principal from Battle Creek, Michigan, who moved down here to be closer to her daughter and her grandkids. And Jimmy and her before I moved down here would look out for one another. Hey, I'm going to be traveling for a week. Keep an eye on, you know, keep the on the house, that type of thing. So she knew that he was going away now while they had a relationship. I'm very much a New Yorker, right? I don't need to know you, neighbor. Like, don't talk to me. You know, if you're, like, in distress, obviously I'll pick up the phone and call 911 for you. But no, I don't even need to know your name so well not to go off topic. But the day we, you know, I got down here and Jimmy's like, unloading my stuff, my boxes out of the truck, a car drives by with a woman in it who was probably our age and she waves at Jimmy. So I'm looking, I'm like hmmm, who's that? I'm like, you know her? Is that one of your little friends? And he's like, Adella, this is the South. We say hello when we see each other. Oh, my bad. You know, I've since kind of acclimated and gotten used to it, but I was very much. No, I don't need to know anybody. I leave me alone. And I went to go get my mail one day. And as I'm getting my mail, Bonnie is going to her mailbox to get her mail and very friendly she white hair up in this like little bind she almost reminded me of from the cartoons the the the grandma that had Tweety Bird, you know, the little beautiful white hair and this cute little bun. She was just a beautiful lady. And she just asked me how I was doing, and I said, you know me, I'm fine, you know, let me get my mail, why is she talking to me? And she says, I don't think you're fine. Maybe you should come over for a cup of coffee. Lady, like, you know what I'm like, what do I have in common? And we all have, like, these biases and these, you know, you know, preconceived notions. What do I have in common with, like a 60, 70 year old white lady from Michigan? Why do I want to go have coffee with you? But my mom also taught me, like, not to be rude. You know, you don't need to be rude. And I'm like, well hell, you know I'm just going to go in and finish watching Gray's Anatomy and cry for the rest of the day, so I might as well go have coffee. So I go inside, you know, inside her house. And I'm looking around and she has Afghan's laid across her sofa and her chairs, beautiful, like German style curtains, a little crocheted and knit items, you know, that had to do with the season. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, this stuff is adorable. Where do you buy your, you know, your your accessories and your home furnishing? And she was like, buy? She was like, I made all this stuff. I was like, what? She said, yes. She said, you know, I crochet that and I knit that. And she had a metal singer sewing machine from 1922, you know, where she would do like her sewing and she showing me all of this stuff. And I'm like, I think I'd like to try to do some of this stuff. So she goes into her back room and she comes back out with a bowl of white red heart yarn and a boy h crochet hook and a little book that said Learn to crochet. She said, take this home with you, read the book, see if you can follow along any questions you have. You just come knock on my door. And I fell. I fell so hard. You know, with that little I was doing my little chains and my single crochets and ripping it out because I wanted it to be perfect like it really sparked. That was when the spark came back, right? Because now I have something that's not depressing me, like Gray's Anatomy right? To kind of keep me occupied. And I have something at the end of it that I can see something tangible. And I made a friend, right? A very unlikely friend that nobody would have, you know, in a million years. I'm pretty sure when me and her walked around together, they thought I was her home health aide. Like, we used to make that joke all the time, but we wound up-there was a senior center that she was in that she would drive to and, you know, hang out with her friends-I wound up volunteering at the senior center because of her and getting to know a lot of the seniors and then teaching them, what she taught me. We went on a road trip to Michigan, her family back where she's from. Listen, I had nothing to do my husband's gone. And she was like, you know, I really want to go to Michigan, but I really want to bring my car, she said. Because there's some stuff I want to bring back into shipping. And I'm like, You know what, buddy? Let's go. Me and Bonnie got in the car and we drove to Michigan, stopped along the way, got my first pair cowboy boots and just all types of like things you would never in a million years expect, you know, to have happen. But we went to Michigan together. We would go grocery shopping together. She would take me around and show me because she had been here a little a little while longer than I had. So she knew of like fun stuff and things to do. But when we went to Michigan, she took me to my first yarn shop. I had never been in a yarn shop, you know. She gave me the red heart yarn. And in my mind, okay, this is all there really is. Where do I get this? She tells me Michael's, Joanne's, or Wal-Mart. So that's where I go and that's what I use. When we walked into that first yarn shop and I started feeling things. Like cashmere, alpaca, linen, cotton. The color selection right now I'm just not like, you know, tied down with these like single colors. You have gradients and all of these different types of fibers. And I was hooked. Like that is all it took. I hadn't even had a full grasp or concept on knitting and crocheting, and I was already accumulating, you know, my my little stash, you know, from all of these little places. Once that happened-now, whenever you travel, whenever you go somewhere, what's the first thing you look for? A yarn shop. So I'm like, okay, when we get back home, I need to find my local yarn store because we have to have one, even if it's, you know, an hour drive, hour and a half drive. I do it. Jimmy's not here. I have nothing else to do anyway. So I find the one closest to us, and I have to specify, there is a new yarn shop that has opened not too long ago in the same area. That is not the yarn shop I'm talking about. The one I'm talking about has since closed because I've shared the story I'm about to share before and people have actually reached out to this poor yarn shop that's brand new. Are you the one who was was rude to Adella? Yeah. So I just I need to say that this yarn shop is no longer open. And in fact, the new yarn shop had an issue with this same yarn shop as well. It's pretty funny, but, um, so I seek out my local yarn shop and I walk in. I need to get my second foot in the door and the owner looks me up and down and she tells me that her bathroom is for customers only first thing out of her mouth. I've been dealing with like racism and discrimination my entire life, and I don't care what anybody says, no matter how much you deal with it or how often you've experienced it, it hurts like the first time every time it happens. And I remember thinking, okay, she sees my converse. I ripped jeans, I had a hoodie on and I had like this big afro. And in her mind, people who look like me don't, you know, knit, crochet, or have any business in her store. So I turned around and I walked out. I went home and I started surfing the Internet, YouTube, looking up like different yarns. And I would buy, you know, online from like Jimmy Bean's or Webs or whatever. But I looked up, how did that yarn maybe I can do this myself. I watched a couple of videos, got me some Kool-Aid and Easter egg, you know, little pellets from the Easter egg dyeing kits and experimented. And I'm like, go big or go home. I think I did that for like three days. And then I'm like, okay, bring on the acid dyes. I need a tabletop warmer. Like there was 0 to 100. There was like no real, like, maybe you should really practice before you start investing all of this time and money. But that is what kind of catapulted me back into making Miss Bonnie and that incident that happened at that yarn shop. And, you know, an expression I heard a lot growing up was, you know, that you can turn shit into sugar. And and that's exactly what I feel like. You know, I did.
Ashley Yousling [00:23:27] Crying tears right now. You have me laughing so much. First off, what you just said about 0 to 100 that that is me like to a T and in fact last night I don't know what got into me, but I-the kids were in bed-and I said to David, my husband, I was like, what is like the one thing you love about me the most? And he's like, what? Where did this come from? I was like, I don't know. We've been together 20 years. I was like, I've never asked you that. And he's like, How? Literally, sometimes you get your mindset on something where you like discover something. And even though I look at you like you're nuts because like you just literally bought like every thing you needed for that thing, or you was like your brand new, like career or hobby or whatever. Like you dive in so committed and fully and deeply and you just make it a reality. He's like, I don't have that ability. And so I love that you share that because I am by what I see now and then hearing that story, I'm going to guess that you're a similar way.
Adella Colvin [00:24:30] You can fail. That's the worst that can happen, right? It didn't work. And then you find something else. My my husband is very much the opposite. Like he'll have something he may want to do. He has to write a thesis or, you know, he has to weigh the pros and the cons. He has to look some stuff up on a couple of websites, first look at reviews. And I'm like, bruh, like, let's get this show on the road like, you know, and we kind of now we kind of like balance and level each other out because I am very much, you know, if I feel I'm on, I work, I go on my feelings. Right. And if I feel it, I'm doing it. And if it doesn't work. Oh, well, you try something else.
Ashley Yousling [00:25:19] We'll come up with an idea and he starts doing his thesis thing, writing lists and stuff like that. And I'm already over here, I've already like bought. And he'll come up to me and I'll be like, oh yeah, I already bought it. He's like, wait, what? We were just discussing this. I'm like, the discussions over like I'm already going for it so this is pretty much how everything in our life has come to be is like. It originates as an idea, but I go for it.
Adella Colvin [00:25:44] When people are different in those ways, I've noticed now where like my husband, he's, he still does all of those things, but every now and again he'll kind of let loose. And I know like, that's my influence. And then every now and again, like, I'll stop and I'm like, wait, let me think about this for a minute. You know, this is this is, you know, so we're kind of like rubbing off on each other and kind of leveling each other out. But, yeah, it's always, you know, oh, wait, this piece of equipment can help me do x, y ordered. And he's like, well, why don't you read the reviews first? What if there's something different or no? Somebody said, this will help. I got it. That's it.
Ashley Yousling [00:26:29] We do discover that temperance for sure. I think that's just a natural part of relationships. I wonder, too. My husband was in the Air Force and I wonder if maybe the personality for that or like vice versa. There is like a very like measured approach.
Adella Colvin [00:26:47] 1000% and it's so funny because every now and again I know exactly how he he must feel when dealing with me, because my daughter is very much the same way and it drives me loony. I'm like, no, no, Lola, wait we need to think about this. And he's looking at me like, oh, we're thinking today, you know, this is new, but you know, it is what it is.
Ashley Yousling [00:27:10] Yeah, I love that, though. You know, the tenacity, I mean, all these things and what you were saying, like the worst that can happen is you fail. But I think somehow through systems, through family systems, through every kind of system we've developed, this fear of failing. And failing is really just a mindset. I mean, that's kind of what I have, I guess, come to a point in my life where failing is only defined by you. You can only be defined by you. I have a friend named Mary and she has lived many lifetimes in this life. And she said to me once when I was about to take a big leap, she said, All that you're worried about right now that you could possibly lose by doing this. It's not you. You still have you at the end of this. And so you and those skills that you have will just move on to the next thing and you don't live that.
Adella Colvin [00:28:09] That and I think a big part of it is and I don't I don't take this lightly and I don't say it. It's not me. I'm not trying to disrespect anyone who, you know, may be struggling financially right now. But I think also that when you grow up in poverty, it's like I've been through hell and back, you know what I mean? So me trying to dye yarn and failing at it still pales in comparison to some of the other things that I have been through and gotten over. You know, it's this this is not that big of a deal for me because, you know, I remember living in the homeless shelter and, you know, my mom not sleeping and staying up to watch over us as we slept, you know, to make sure nothing happened to us. I remember, you know, people being making fun of us for having food stamps. Like, I remember all of these, like, truly awful things. You know, failing at something is not truly awful, you know? Or at least I don't feel like it is. So, you know, I'm I go full throttle, full throttle, because I've been through and overcome worse than failing at dyeing yarn.
Ashley Yousling [00:29:21] And you have some time to make up for it. Like you said.
Adella Colvin [00:29:24] I do lots of time.
Ashley Yousling [00:29:28] There's this excitement that I was feeling like as I was hearing your story, I think all of us have a story and many stories is part of it. But when you were talking about you and Bonnie taking the road trip and going to the yarn shop, I could feel that feeling. And I, I have felt that feeling even to this day. Like, sometimes I'll get so excited discovering a new needle point shop or like, you know, a bike shop or whatever it is. There's this point and maybe it's as makers we see the potential. And so that's like all of a sudden you can barely contain it because you walk into a place where you've just had this huge expansion of like what you think is possible.
Adella Colvin [00:30:23] A room of new possibilities. I still feel that way when I walk into a yarn shop, a yarn shop that I might have even been in ten times before. I definitely I feel that way. People are all but you dye yarn. What does that mean? I still like to, you know, support other makers out there, support local yarn stores. And I tell people all the time, like whenever I work with my yarn, it's like eating dinner at home whenever I use somebody else's it's like treating myself to dinner out, you know? It's like a treat and it doesn't feel like work.
Ashley Yousling [00:30:59] You didn't have to make it.
Adella Colvin [00:31:01] Yeah, that so I absolutely I still, I still get that feeling whenever I walk into, you know, any type of making space doesn't even have to be yarn I could walk past. We have a pottery place downtown that I could walk past and I get excited because it's like they're taking something and turning it into something else. And that process is amazing, you know.
Ashley Yousling [00:31:21] I get that feeling too even in just creative space, like discovering something online, like it doesn't even need to be a physical space. Like, I don't know, last year someone when we first launched the app, someone had posted all these like linocut carving stamps and things like that. And I just went full throttle on that. Like I went and just got like, and I came home with all this carving. I go into the woodworking shop. David's like, holy shit Ashley, like okay, are you going to see if you like it first? I was like, I know I will, so I'm going to do this. There was a whole world that opened up and feel actually that way a lot on the app. Instagram used to be that for me, and it's not as much that anymore. And I think it's I think it's that discovery. Discovery is so important.
Adella Colvin [00:32:10] Definitely.
Ashley Yousling [00:32:11] So what happened next after you bought everything you could think of to dye and Jimmy came home? What happened when Jimmy came home? That's what I want to know.
Adella Colvin [00:32:22] Oh, my gosh. The one thing I can say about my husband is from day one, he has always been supportive. His eyes might get big, you know, and he might rub his temples a little bit. But it's always if this makes you happy because all he's ever wanted is for me to be happy because he saw how much of a struggle it was for me. And when we first you know, when I first got down here, so he's like anything that will keep her happy and keep her here because I love her and I want her here. He's like, I'm going to back it. So I bought all of this stuff and even then I bought this stuff not with like intentions on selling, but just because this is fun and I want like all these tools to be able to do different things. And I would be in like various Facebook groups, like crafting groups, and I'd be like, y'all look at what I made, just I'm not soliciting. I'm not even thinking about, you know, selling to anybody. And people would be like, oh, my goodness, that's beautiful. How much do you charge for it? And that's when the light bulb went off. Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. You'd pay me for this now? I can fund my hobby, right? I can sell some of this and buy some more. And I can continue to, like, have fun and not, like, drain our bank account. And a part of it, too, was when I came down here, Jimmy was in a position to where he was working and me going out and finding a job immediately wasn't something that I really had to worry about. He just wanted me to kind of get comfortable and acclimated first. But I also I've been working since I was 15 and it was weird for me like being down here and let's say it's his birthday, I'm buying him a birthday gift with money from his own. It just felt weird. It just didn't feel right to me. And I'm like, well, I can use this again. I can use this little hobby, you know, so I can have some, like, extra cash for like special days and things that I may want to surprise him or my family with. And that's as far as I really was thinking about taking it. But then the demand came and I had to, you know, run out and buy more supplies and more bigger machines and that type of stuff. But I remember Jimmy came home and he's just like, wow, what is this? And I explained to him, you know, what everything was for? And he wasn't like as excited as I was about it all. But, you know, he took a little interest in it because, you know, hey. My wife likes it. Let me see what she's so excited about. But at first, like, he'd come in and he'd say things like, My God, my house smells like a sheep's ass. I'm in the kitchen doing this. So he's like, So what's for dinner? I'm like, yarn, because that's what I'm in here cooking and I'm not moving anything. I am, like, really enjoying this right now. But he was like, always, always.
Ashley Yousling [00:35:28] I imagine that was quite a shock.
Adella Colvin [00:35:31] It was for him, and then I wasn't even using like citric acid back then. Most of the stuff I was using was like vinegar. So like wool and vinegar. And he comes home from work and he's like, my God. And I'm like, listen, just get used to it, buddy, because I have a feeling, you know, this is this is going to be a thing. But, you know, aside from like his little funny comments or remarks or whatever, he has always been like super supportive. He bought me like my first big case of bare yarn, you know, to kind of like get me started. So, yeah, he was surprised. But, you know, what can you do?
Ashley Yousling [00:36:05] So when did it become a thing?
Adella Colvin [00:36:07] When the demand started to grow, like in these different Facebook groups where people were like, you know, hey, I want some of that, too. I want some of that. Okay, well, maybe I need like an Etsy shop or something. And I opened up in Etsy shop. I went and Adella's Crochet Cottage was the name of my business back then because I didn't just dye yarn, you know, before that I would crochet things and sell them, you know, sell my my makes or whatever. But I went and got like became an LLC and set up, you know, we had to get me out of the kitchen. So he moved me into the garage, right? So he could eat actual food and have somewhere to cook it. And yeah, as the demand grew, I opened up my Etsy shop and I would have shop updates and I look back now and I cackle facebook memories and it's like packaged up all of the orders from yesterday's shop update and it's like six packages and I'm like, wow, you know? But I guess when you when you're just starting, you know, that's a big deal. And it was a big deal, you know. But I look now and it's like, you know, I have the mailman. He has to come with an empty truck so that he can load all my stuff in there. But it just it just cracks me up. And it it it does bring me joy just to see, like, the growth. You know, because it was fast. It was fast. It wasn't, you know. I remember like looking around at, you know, other dyers and how long they've been doing these things. And sometimes they'd give me unsolicited advice, which I can't stand. You know? Well, when you get to this point, make sure you do X, Y and Z. And I'm like, well, I'm already at that point. And they're like, there's no way. No, I am. You know, do I need to pull up the numbers like, you know, just how fast it was. It was unbelievable to me. So I imagine everybody else is probably like, yeah, right? But it happened really, really quickly.
Ashley Yousling [00:38:17] We believe that the simple act of making can transform your life and, in turn, change our world. This is why making exists. It all starts with inspiration. We are inspired by people, by places, by experiences. A beautiful photo, a soft wall, a kind heart. These are the things that motivate us to make. Making us here to disrupt systems-systems of oppression, systems that only benefit certain groups of people, and systems that extract. We are here to challenge the narrative of profit over people. We believe a company can be founded for the purpose of good and change the world for better, while also creating opportunity at scale. Makers are tired of the monoliths. The few companies that comprise our only choices of how we can act, how he transact and how we learn. Makers are ready for a better alternative, and that is what we are building. Becoming a BRIGHT Collective member helps us accomplish this. Visit makingzine.com to learn more.
Ashley Yousling [00:39:28] When did Lolabean become Lolabean?
Adella Colvin [00:39:34] Me and Jimmy had been married for five years. And we you know, I had my two stepsons who I love to death. They drive me batty, but I love them nonetheless. And we did want, you know, a child of our own. And we had suffered two losses. And after that, I wasn't even-we weren't trying. You know, I'm I that is painful, you know what I mean? And I didn't even know, like, if I wanted to even try again and deal with that again. And, uh, you know, I just moved on. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. There are plenty of ways where, you know, I can find fulfillment and enjoyment and, you know, help. I got my step kids. There's always, you know, adoption or volunteering. So I turned, you know, outward and did things, you know, fulfilled that that kind of void that way. And then one day in October of 2015. Something fell off. I don't know what it was. I didn't know what it was. I'm like, something's weird. And it's like, 10:00 at night. He's watching CNN, and I walk into the living room and I'm like, I need you to run to the store for me. And he's like, For what? And I'm like, a pregnancy test. I've never seen him move that fast in my life. He runs to the store. He gets it, I take it, sure enough, I'm pregnant. We scheduled our first appointment at the OBGYN, and I'm nervous. I'm just like, I'm waiting for the disappointment, you know. Sorry. Adella but it's not viable. There's no heartbeat, you know, all the things. I couldn't even look at the monitor like he had to look for me. And I just looked at him and I remember, oh, I'm getting choked up, you know, the tears rolling down my face because I'm just, like, waiting for it and waiting for it. And the sonogram technician says, oh, there it is. And I, you know, got the courage to, like, look and you see, like, that little heartbeat on the screen. And I was like, wow, you know, I've been pregnant. I've never even gotten this far. Right? So, you know, we left. We were just like giddy with excitement. I was nervous, but I was still, like, really, really hopeful. Like, okay, we got it this far. You know, maybe this is this is it. And I downloaded a pregnancy tracker, and the first notification that it gave me was, you know, your baby is the size of a bean. And from that point on, that's whenever we referred to the baby. It was how's how's the bean? Or the bean is hungry, the bean this, bean bean bean. Fast forward. I have who I feel, but I'm biased. You know, one of the most beautiful kids I've ever seen in my entire life. I give birth to this little girl, and her nickname is still Bean. And I just remember, like in my making before I would share what I made, I it wasn't about I wouldn't share like my face a whole lot, right? Because there was still that, that stigma and some of the experiences I had had in the past were like, if somebody Black is making or doing something, it's cheap, it's not as good as if it was a white person or because you're Black, I can haggle you for pricing and try to, you know, pay less. So I avoided that. I was part of a a small, like kind of indie dyer conglomerate type thing in the very beginning. And they wanted pictures of us like to put on the website. And I'm like, do I have to? Because I didn't want to. I, you know, but I have this little girl and it's like, she's beautiful and she's black. And she needs to know that she is beautiful and we need to see more images and people, Black people and I need to make this world-right this is a big part of who I am and my brand, okay?-I want to make this world a little better than it was when I found it. I feel like I'm failing because this world is shit right now, you know? But for her, you have-you have to try, right? I have to try, at least for her. And I made the decision to go from Adella's Crochet Cottage, which was a horrible name to begin with, but nobody told me that. Could you imagine typing that into a web browser, adellascrochetcottage.com? So I took her first name and her nickname, Lola Bean, and I rebranded, and I had a designer at the time because I've since redone all of my my branding and stuff. But it was a caricature, a cartoon image of her. You know, and I thought that it would be a great way for her to see her worth and her beauty and for other Black makers in this community, almost like, you know, a bat symbol. We're here. You know, it's safe. I understand you. If you're looking to buy from talk to work with somebody who's like you and understands all of the nuances and what it means to be, you know, Black and a you know, a Black woman, business owner, hey, we're here. You know, I'm making a space for myself, and I have no issues or no qualms with helping you make your space, whatever I can do so that we all, you know, have a piece of this industry and this art in the making. You know, we all deserve to be here. So my daughter was the catalyst for, like, the rebrand. And I think I think it's gone well. I think-I think it's all right. You know, the reason why I do a lot of the things I do and say a lot of the uncomfortable things that people say, even though I know I'm going to get like backlash and hate mail and and all of those things because it's like, maybe if I talk about them enough, maybe if I raise enough money, things will change and she won't have to do all of this super uncomfortable stuff that, you know, we're doing now, you know?
Ashley Yousling [00:46:15] Yeah, totally. I mean, we have to keep going, right? Like when we cease to keep going or when we give up hope, I suppose. What hope is there? So that next chapter of Lolabean yarn starts. What happened from there?
Adella Colvin [00:46:30] I was doing really well, you know, steady growth. You know, the numbers were going we're going in the right direction consistently. And then 2019 happened in the in the world. But more specifically, you know, in the fiber industry, textile industry, and I call it the Black wave. Where you have people who swoop in because they want to support Black businesses after like something traumatic has happened in the Black community. You know, the squares go up, all of that stuff. So I would I would be lying if I didn't say that like that didn't impact my growth. It actually became too much like it became like way too much like I was like drowning in offers and requests, you know, we'd like to carry your yarn. And it never a lot of people talk about, you know, the guilt that people feel and how they try to use their money to deal with that, right? We feel guilty about, you know, white privilege or white supremacy or we don't have to deal with the things that you've had to deal with. We feel guilty about all of these things. So we're going to use our dollars and we're going to support you to kind of like make ourselves feel better and then it dies down and all of that support goes away until the next traumatic thing happens in the Black community? It never went away. It never went away. And I think I don't want to say because this it would sound awful and I don't mean it. I'm trying to figure out the right way to say it. Like, I don't want to say, like, oh, you know, I'm benefiting off of these horrible things that have happened, you know, to people who look like me and my husband, you know, in this world. But I saw it, you know, I saw all of the people coming to to support. And I definitely made sure that I presented, like, my best self, my best product now that I now that I have your eyes on me, because I just don't want you here just because, you know, just because I'm Black. I want you to like what it is that you see once you do come here and see me. And I made sure that I put out a product, you know, that was worthy, you know, that I felt was worthy to have the Lolabean name on it. You know what I mean? That represented me, represented my family, my brand, and consistently did that, but also stayed true to myself. I wasn't going to I'm not going to dance. I'm not going to look and jive for anybody. Right. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to be me. I'm going to lead with kindness. But I'm also going to tell the truth. I'm going to tell my truth. And if it doesn't work for you, that's okay too, right? I'm not for everybody. I don't want to be for everybody. You know, I kind of held on to that. You know, once that wave came, I rode it. I rode that wave, you know, because it's like you can feel bad about getting all of this attention because of all of these horrible things that have happened. Or you can take that attention. And turn it into revenue and then give back to the community to help fight and combat all of these horrible things that are happening to your people, right? Are you just going to sit there and be like, no, I don't want anything because I just feel awful because of the catalyst of why-, no, you know, and that's that's what I do. And I will you know, I will continue to do.
Ashley Yousling [00:50:13] You made a comment about how this black wave came, but then it didn't go away. And do you feel like over the last three plus years, there's been like a collective awareness that has moved forward? Do you feel like something has changed?
Adella Colvin [00:50:36] I think I'm I'm not going to lie and say, no, we haven't made any progress whatsoever. You know, you can go out there and tell your story and influence and help change like the heart and mind of one person, that's something, right? But I definitely think there is change happening. I just don't think it's happening fast enough. Like we're still losing so many people every day for so many different, you know, reasons and different, you know, injustices and stuff like that. There's change. But I do know a lot of it. I know a lot of it isn't genuine. You know, I know that specifically. But I don't want to sit here and say, oh, it's all bad and nothing positive has- no, there's been some change, but we definitely still have a whole lot more work to do.
Ashley Yousling [00:51:18] I bring these things up because this is something that we as a team spent a lot of time talking about. And and actually it's why Making app even started just looking at the systems and realizing that like, we can't actually change the systems. But what we do have the power to change is create something that creates more opportunity. And going back to those basic needs, it's like when you create opportunity for people, specifically opportunity to be seen and to make money and provide for themselves. Even if it's just like a side income or even if it's just like a side hobby, if it contributes to helping, like, basic needs being met of any person. Then we can also spend more time on focusing on how we can create change.
Adella Colvin [00:52:13] Like nobody has ever said. Like, you know, oh, we want things for free, or we want things for nothing, or we just want a level playing field. We want the same opportunities, right? That you have, you know, the same access to materials, resources that you have or at least meet anyway. I, you know, I don't speak for all Black women but me. That's all I want is a level playing field. You know, you give me the same resources and the same opportunities. I'm okay. You won't. You won't. I'm not. I wouldn't be mad or upset or, you know, yelling half as much as I'm yelling. But I don't think people are thinking long term. People think like, okay, I supported Black business because, you know, I bought a skein of yarn. That's nice. But then when you disappear, you know, you got to be, what is it? It's a marathon, not a race. Like, you have to consistently show up over and over and over again or it's just not going to work. You know, and I feel like I'm like yelling into a void some days and people just don't, you know, seem to understand it or they do. And it's just like willful ignorance, you know.
Ashley Yousling [00:53:23] There's a massive responsibility that isn't yours to bear. There's a massive responsibility that's white people's responsibility to disrupt these systems because we're the ones that created them have privilege from them. I mean, it's endless. And I think, we had a conversation, I don't know, a number of months ago, and I can't remember what happened, that was the precipice for this conversation. But whenever something happens in the world, the whole Making team, we get on Zoom and we have a conversation because our team is very diverse. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and these things land like and hit and trigger and everything in a different way. And it's really important that we all can hear that and like create space for it, but also decide as a team of like how we want to talk about these things or like how we want to show up in the world. And I remember getting on this call and being like everyone was hurting. And I remember just being so angry and and feeling bad at first about like, being angry. And I at one point was like, everyone needs to be so fucking angry that they want to change something. That's what I want in this world. Like, you know. Yes, like I want joy and happiness and all these things. But sometimes anger and frustration are the things that motivate people.
Adella Colvin [00:54:44] Absolutely.
Ashley Yousling [00:54:45] How do we make white people angry about the right things, not the wrong things? And, you know, I mean, I'll be honest. Like, I'm a bit of a renegade. Like, I'm here to disrupt the system with Making app. And I my background, like, I've worked in the tech industry for a really long time. And just as a white woman experience this level of patriarchy and all that with in there. And to me it just doesn't seem like there's any other way. You know, here we are talking about yarn, we're talking about knitting, we're talking about all these things, and about Marina on our team and I talk about this a lot about how people constantly and even yesterday I was just like, really, people are still saying this? Making isn't political. You don't know what you're talking about. Like, you literally have no idea what you're talking about. And I think, we just have to like keep saying it. I think if that's one thing, it's like consistency, right? They say consistency around everything. Consistency about your marketing, consistency about, like, showing up. You have to bring that same level of consistency to this shit, like, you know, being angry or creating opportunity, but also the joy. It is tiring. You have an incredible role in all of it. Like this is a long game. 100%.
Adella Colvin [00:56:09] Absolutely. I can't just not say nothing. I know a lot of people all the time. They're like, you know, it isn't your responsibility to teach. And I'm not out here to teach. Like there are, you know, Black people in this world who've gone to school for a really long time and have, you know, a beautiful, wonderful education and actually teach about these things. Right. So I don't want to say, you know, I've done all of that, but I've lived, you know, 41 years as a Black woman. And you know, however many years I've been making, you know, that many years as a Black woman, that's a maker. So what I can do is I can share my lived experiences with you. And that is definitely a way of of teaching. Sometimes people just don't know. Right? You know, sometimes people live these really sheltered lives, these really sheltered, you know, and they don't know. And it's something simple, you know, as simple as me, you know, talking about turning down opportunities to go visit different yarn shops because the areas they're in aren't safe for Black people. Wow. I never thought of that. You know, so while, you know, you have these educators and these teachers who are out here doing, you know, the work, I think that if more Black people and makers of color just share their lived experiences, it is another, you know, great tool to help maybe change the, you know, shift the dynamic and the way things feel and see massively. And that's what I do. That's all I can do.
Ashley Yousling [00:57:51] You know what brings you joy in making?
Adella Colvin [00:57:56] What do they call them? What do they have? Like, what do they call it? A process knitter and a people who knit because they actually want to finish. And those who just knit because they just like to like knit or crochet. I'm definitely I just like the emotion of it. It's almost, you know, it's it's meditation. I listen, I go on Netflix or like Discovery or Hulu and find me a good true crime docu series with like eight episodes and like, grab my knitting. You know, some people, like, go to the spa, know like after like hour three. I'm like, I feel great. You know, the tension is like gone from my shoulders. I'm more relaxed. I'm not that I think I'm like this mean person all day, but I feel nicer, like my spirit feels lighter, you know what I mean? So that's definitely the meditating part of it, the repetitive, you know, the repeating over. And, you know, it definitely soothes me. Sometimes I finish. Most times I don't you know, I have a pile of projects. People are like, why do you buy so many project bags? Because I cast on a lot of projects and I need somewhere to keep them. Mind your business, okay, you know? But I have now now that I've slowed down on the work and a little bit, I am really enjoying finishing things now, like even weaving in the ends. Who am I even? You know, blocking. I pull out my blocking boards and I've gone, you know, up until recently I've gone like a year and a half without finishing something. And I'm talking about even like a hat, like I just didn't finish it because I've just been that busy, but I've been like taking some of that time back and like finishing things. I'm like, well, look at you go, girl. So, but it's the process for me is where I find the joy.
Ashley Yousling [00:59:46] Have you ever gone back to a sewing machine?
Adella Colvin [00:59:52] Listen, I have a sewing machine. Don't know how to sew. I have a ladybug. Don't know how to spin. I have an E spinner. Don't know how to spin. I have. I bought. What do you call that? Punch-punch needle? Bought a whole bunch of that stuff. Never done it. I have a whole coffee table when you open it up to the compartments full of cross-stitch. Don't know how to do it, you know? But I'm determined. I'm like, you know, when I retire, I got things to keep me busy.
Ashley Yousling [01:00:20] What you're telling me is that we made the Making app for you so that you can learn all these things, so you can take all these classes.
Adella Colvin [01:00:27] Probably because I bought beads, because I'm going to make jewelry. You know, I think we we naturally it just spills over. It spills over. You're never just, you know, one thing I was when I was talking to Jimmy about reaching out to black wing, about like the notebook and stuff like that. And he's like, I'm like, it's it all spills over the writers, the people who journal. I promise you. You know? And I'm like, go look on my, my, my little cubby there. I probably have like 15 different journals, haven't written in them yet, you know, but it all spills over. So yeah, I have tons to learn. I really want to learn how to sew because I'll see like cute back. I don't know how to sew. I've been consistently getting fabric in every other week for like four months now. I don't know how to sew. Why am I buying fabric? It spills over for the Making app.
Ashley Yousling [01:01:32] What is it that you're most looking forward to, even if it hasn't been realized yet?
Adella Colvin [01:01:38] Well, ultimately, you know, I'm I'm really excited that we're starting to look at an outside space because I really want to be able to teach black students how to dye yarn. Which is why, you know, I want to get out of this. You know, the old house have it, you know, redone, furnished and everything so that, you know, you can when somebody wants to learn, if they want to learn it, you know. Lolabean school of dyeing, whatever we want to call it, they have somewhere to stay. They don't have to worry about paying for a hotel. We have, you know, sort of like camp, like dyeing camp, you know what I mean? You have room, board, we'll make sure you can get around that type of stuff. So I'm really, really looking forward to that. It'll be a little while yet, you know, still got a lot to do. But I'm going to be, you know, all of those businesses, Lola, Lolabean how can we support you and other Black businesses? I'm coming for you because I want you to sponsor students. You know, I'm looking forward to that type of stuff. And I find myself at one point dyeing yarn and having successful shop updates was it was pretty fulfilling, right? People love what I do enough to want to buy it, but I'm starting to find more joy and more fulfillment in the fundraising part of it. And it's like, granted, I have to pay my bills, right? And I have to, you know, feed my kids and all of that stuff. But ultimately, I would really like to build upon the fundraising, maybe become some sort of nonprofit branch off of Lolabean, you know, to where we can just do more for those who have less.
Ashley Yousling [01:03:34] The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this week's episode. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers for podcast notes and transcriptions. Visit our blog at makingzine.com. Have a wonderful week.