ATHENS, GA – Early one refreshing fall morning, people are walking around the Athens Farmers Market in Bishop Park, browsing the many booths that are selling locally-grown food or hand-made arts and crafts. A little girl runs up to a booth with her grandmother, mesmerized by some crocheted keychains. Her grandmother watches over the girl as she leans over the table with anticipation, so she can get a closer look.
Kristin Josephs, 25, the owner of Crochet Creations by Rise, has witnessed many of these interactions in local markets since starting her crochet business in July of 2020.
Josephs, who goes by the name Rise, creates and sells many crocheted pieces, such as hats, purses, tops, keychains, and just recently, earrings and wall hangings. Rise even has some crocheted pumpkins for the fall season and plans on making a few cardigans. Almost all the products she has on her website are customizable, so people can get the perfect fit and look they desire.
Over quarantine, interest in crocheted clothing grew significantly. People were bored and wanted a creative outlet, so many turned to crochet. Since then, according to CNN, crocheting has reached over 34 million searches on Instagram and 2 billion on Tik Tok. Even luxury designers, like Missoni and Etro, showcased crocheted pieces at Milan Fashion Week, which shows just how far crocheting has transcended into the fashion world.
Rise has fully embraced the popularity of crocheted clothing and she is glad the art form is finally getting the respect and recognition it deserves. This is the first time Rise has seen it flourish like this since she started crocheting and she hopes that the trend won’t fade away anytime soon.
Before she learned how to crochet, Rise’s aunt introduced knitting to her when she was very young. It wasn’t until six years ago that Rise discovered crochet through YouTube and began to teach herself.
“Once I saw the versatility with one needle, I was like I need to pick this up, I need to learn this,” says Rise.
From there, her love for crochet only grew. She was inspired by fashion shows in Atlanta and people on Instagram to start making her own fashion pieces.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Rise used crocheting as a release during the stressful time, like many others. She says it kept her grounded and gave her something to focus on.
Since she was already crocheting often, family and friends started to push her to start a business, saying that it was the perfect time. She jumped right into it, posting her pieces on Instagram and eventually attending local markets.
Even though the pandemic has negatively affected many small, local businesses, Rise says the pandemic has not really posed any issues for her. “I started with nothing so whatever progress I made was good,” says Rise.
Many people were attending local markets and looking to support local businesses, so it wasn’t difficult for Rise to get out there.
Businesses like Creations by Rise add a unique aspect to a community and helps to keep local communities alive. The local markets she attends are the places where she is able to connect with people and contribute to Athens’ unique community.
“I think a lot of people think of Athens as frat boys and football. They are quick to miss the more ‘alt’ aspects. Businesses like Rise’s that center on women and their artistic ventures reminds me that there is a community beyond UGA,” says Morgan Wood, 21, a customer of Creations by Rise.
Rise is introducing her “Boobies for Change” keychains for the month of October. For every sale, 20% will go to the Breast Health Program at Athens Regional Piedmont Hospital. Rise chose to host this fundraiser because it has closely impacted her life, having family members who are survivors of breast cancer that were treated at Athens Regional.
While Rise loves working markets and still plans on doing them, she does not want to stop there. In the future, Rise hopes to be able to sell her products in stores and art galleries. She also plans to expand Creations by Rise from Athens to Atlanta.
No matter what, Rise will continue putting her focus on growing her business. She is looking forward to making and selling more art that people will cherish and admire.
“Sometimes I forget how important the art I make is to the community. Sometimes I forget the impact,” says Rise. “Receiving such amazing reactions from my work reminds me of how special my craft is.”