L F Knitwear owner Laura Evans has taken a unique cross-country journey to turning her entrepreneurial dreams into a reality. And, now that she has a professional base of operations in the CAN BE Innovation Center in the Valmont Industrial Park, Evans is in a solid position to continue growing her business.
At L F Knitwear, Evans uses a knitting machine to hand-loom sweaters, hats, scarves and blankets for sports fans of professional football, basketball, baseball and hockey teams in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. She also makes regular hand-knit bulky sweaters, blankets and scarves.
Although technology makes her job easier today, her business dreams began when she was just a child and living in her native New York.
“I started to knit as a young girl after learning at summer camp when I was eight. In New York where I grew up, we had very long, cold winters. My mom bought us one hat, scarf and pair of gloves at the beginning of winter. If we lost them, we just had to be cold. I took my allowance and bought yarn and started to make my own winter-wear to replace lost items,” Evans said. “When other moms saw my designs, they started to pay me to make them for gifts. They came to me for different sizes and colors when they purchased a new coat.”
Evans’s cross-country journey began when she moved to San Francisco and started her company as a street artist selling items to the public downtown and at the famous Fisherman’s Wharf for many years. Evans was in the Bay Area to attend San Francisco State University and major in Fashion Merchandising, Business and Textile Art.
“That’s where I learned how to use the manual knitting machine and how to read and follow patterns,” she said. “I did many fashion shows for benefits and made designer, high-fashion sweaters. I also did several TV shows in the Bay Area and that allowed me to move forward and create wearable art knitwear for men, women and children.”
With 11 men in her life – a husband, son-in-law, four sons and five grandsons – who wanted to wear their team colors, it made choosing sports-themed clothing an easy decision. Although she doesn’t have a physical store, she accepts orders from people who view her blog at lfknitwear.blogspot.com. She has also sold items by networking at sporting events and has plans to expand her business.
“All my orders are one-of-a-kind designs for individuals who want a warm stadium sweater to tailgate at their games or a blanket to keep warm outside,” Evans said. “I have the patent for L F Knitwear Stadium Wear. I have an application pending for a trademark agreement and I’m in contact with an intellectual property lawyer to write agreements with sports agents to make garments for their clients.”
As her business started to grow, Evans inquired about a space in the CAN BE Innovation Center so she could expand beyond her home base and give her company a more professional look.
“When the business started to grow, I needed more space and wanted to move things from my home to a professional warehouse, so I use the space at CAN BE as a warehouse and showroom. I do all the packaging and mailing,” Evans said. “My company has benefited from being located at CAN BE because we look more professional than a home-based company. More customers are willing to come to a professional space to order than a house. The support I receive is great. I just ask and a solution is investigated to help me.”
Evans said it was an enjoyable experience working with the CAN DO staff as she moved into CAN BE. “Jocelyn Sterenchock and I hit it off right away. She understood my business and guided me to the right space for my size business. She had me signed and in CAN BE within two weeks,” Evans said. “I would tell other companies that when they are ready to get a clean, friendly environment to do business, give CAN BE a call.”
Evans plans to grow the business working with sports agents who represent professional athletes to produce special, designer sportswear that combines their licenses, logos and fabric along with L F Knitwear’s logo sweaters that athletes can sell to their fans.”