Christina Fagan Wants You to Give a Sh*t About High-End Knitwear
Christina Fagan wants people to start giving a “shit” about knitwear—in the same way they care about Warby Parker’s designer glasses or TOMS’ canvas slip-on shoes.
“I see this not necessarily filling a need, but a want,” the entrepreneur says. “People can’t list one knitwear company off the top of their head. Before TOMS, there was no slip-on shoe monopoly.”
But through her company, Shit That I Knit, Fagan aims to have a monopoly on high-end knitwear.
Fagan started knitting when she was 10 years old during a summer spent in Nova Scotia. With few other kids running around Cape Breton Island, she befriended the owner of a local knitting store.
“I was a 1o-year-old knitting sweaters,” Fagan says. “In college, I was sending shit I was knitting to my sisters all the time.”
That “shit” started catching her friends’ attention, and soon they were asking Fagan to knit them things. The interest inspired her to launch a website and put out a call for knitters on Instagram. Now, 30 like-minded people are knitting for Fagan; 200 other applications to join the team sit in her inbox.
Fagan started testing her products in October 2014 at SoWa Open Market. Not only were the accessories selling, but they were also being picked up by boutiques like the South End’s Olives & Grace. Fagan ran out of inventory during Boston’s snowiest winter and, by this May, decided that if she wanted to be prepared for the upcoming winter, she needed to quit her day job as a sales account executive.
“I was very overwhelmed,” Fagan acknowledges. “I am very motivated, but I also like having job security. I like taking myself out to dinner. But now I wake up so much happier and excited to get to work than I ever have.”
Fagan designs every item, and tasks each knitter with creating four to five hats she knows are popular. Each hat is made with high-quality materials, such as Malabrigo hand-dyed merino wool, Peruvian wool, and alpaca—pricing the typical hat in the $200 range.
“I’m not outsourcing to some factory in China,” Fagan says, justifying the cost. “I’m paying people our age a fair price for their work. They’re people with expertise—they’re really talented artists. … And we’re not using acrylic yarn from A.C. Moore. I’m not trying to compete with a machine-made product.”
What’s more, a portion of Shit That I Knit’s proceeds go to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, an organization dedicated to eradicating childhood cancer. Fagan started the “Give-a-Shit Team” to help raise money for charities like Alex’s Lemonade Stand, for which, on August 10, they will host a Knit Knite at O Ya to support. Tickets include a cocktail, passed hors d’oeuvres, a knitting kit, and “instruction on how to knit that shit.”
Keeping in line with the brand, Fagan is simultaneously working on building up a kids’ line, called “Lil’ Shit.” Just don’t expect anything “cutesy.” She wants it to be “mature and sophisticated” like her adult line—one she also has plans to expand. Customers can expect “a lot more cotton and linen yarn,” as well as wraps, dresses, and clutches next spring and summer.
The tags on those products will likely read “STIK,” however, rather than “Shit That I Knit.”
“There’s definitely a playfulness and youthfulness put on an antiquated craft,” Fagan says, describing her brand. “But some people don’t react well to it, and I don’t want to be losing customers. I can see ‘Shit That I Knit’ as a secret handshake.”
After all, Fagan wants her brand to become a household name. To help achieve that, she will launch a Kickstarter campaign in mid-September to continue to pay her knitters a fair wage, as well as cover marketing, advertising, and material costs.
Updated, September 23, 2:00 p.m.: Fagan has started “selling her shit” on Kickstarter. The crowdfunding goal is set at $15,000, and features a powerful message: “Quality is our brand. We believe that it takes quality people and quality materials to make quality sh*t. Help us show others the importance of a garment made with integrity.”
“It’s very hot in here,” Fagan says on a nearly 90-degree day. “and I’m surrounded by wool hats.”
But she wouldn’t have it any other way.