A local entrepreneur is reinventing a crafting tool from the 1800s with the goal of helping others find a creative outlet, just as she did.
Lincoln’s Shawna Fosket is the owner of North Shore Crafts, which has been her home business for four years, providing fabric and craft supplies to the community.
“I love crafting and designing and creating, and this is a way for me to combine that with my work,” she said.
Fosket heard about punch needling from a friend, who posted about it on Instagram. It’s a crafting technique that found its way to the U.S. in the late 1800s.
The craft takes yarn that is threaded through a hollow needle and then, as the name suggests, punches it through canvas or fabric to create a loop.
She quickly realized that she could improve on the design of the tool used to punch needle.
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“When I first got into punch needle, there were tools out there, but the best was expensive, and it only had one loop length,” she said. “I wanted to explore more loop lengths, and I didn’t like spending $40 every time I wanted a new loop length.”
The Super Punch was Fosket’s response to this issue.
The Super Punch, she said, combined the quality of previous tools with more options to change loop lengths.
She had previous experience in sourcing and manufacturing from selling leather journals on Amazon, so she decided she wanted to create the tool herself.
But that was harder than expected. She tried a 3D-printed design, reached out to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Engineering and attempted to hire an engineer through an online contracting platform.
All of those attempts fell short.
Two years later, she hired a design team to help with the process, and now the final prototype isn’t far from production. A Kickstarter campaign has raised almost $6,000, and those who donate can pre-order the Super Punch. She hopes to raise $35,000 by the middle of September.
The Super Punch is “the very first large ergonomic handle, open slotted, adjustable loop length punch needle tool,” according to the product website.
Fosket benefited from COVID-19 stimulus funds to pay for the design team.
“I ran into some issues with manufacturers, so the stimulus came at just the right time that I could put it toward hiring, and helping alleviate the costs of my business,” she said.
The pandemic also created high demand for crafting and activities that could be done at home, which proved beneficial for self-starters like Fosket.
“In the beginning, it was good for my business, people were at home, trying to find ways to fulfill themselves,” she said. “The punch needle saw a rise, so the first year of the pandemic my sales were the highest they had ever been.”
For Fosket, creating a product from scratch has been a journey of self-realization. Being able to manage a business while homeschooling her three children fulfills her, she says.
“When I worked 40 hours a week, that was my life and this was just survival,” she said. “Now that it’s at home, it’s more, ‘How do we get to be the best family that we are?'”
What started as a journey to create a business to support her family has turned into a passion to help other women be creative, she said.
“A lot of women forget about themselves when they become mothers, or they work full time,” Fosket said. “This has turned into a way to inspire women to create and feel good about a project.”
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