RhinoSaurusRex Knits is an online store that specializes in whimsical hats and scarves for children and playful grown ups. Some of the hats resemble dragons, unicorns, or owls, and all are created from original patterns.
Christine Pfortmiller, the creative genius behind the business, makes these unique handmade creations. Her inspiration comes from fairy tales, folklore speak, and, most of all, from watching children at play.
Like many entrepreneurs, Christine began knitting and creating items for friends and family as a hobby, something she’s enjoyed doing for many years. In fact, she’s been making her own sweaters and accessories since high school.
After she became a mom, she noticed a lack of imaginative, high-quality clothing on the market. So, Christine began creating hats and scarves for her little ones, and the line where hobby became a business blurred.
In 2011, having identified a need for this product, she tested the waters at local and regional art markets and events across rural and urban Nebraska. She soon found that customers loved the distinctive products RhinoSaurusRex Knits had to offer. They would sell out of everything that was made for each show, so Christine began knitting again when she returned home.
Business has been good for RhinoSaurusRex Knits as more and more folks embrace purchasing local products. The business has rural roots and focuses on a Midwest regional presence. You can find its boothat events in cities like St. Louis, Denver, and Kansas City.
When Christine is not knitting or traveling to events, she’s busy expanding her artistic knowledge. She is not formally trained in art, nonetheless she has a passion for bringing accessories to life. This hobby also helps expand the business. She’s dabbled in recycled art, by knitting with videotape from obsolete VHS tapes. While this was a fun project, Christine said it was not practical because the tape is highly flammable, therefore making it art, instead.
Being a soloprenuer has its challenges; luckily, Christine was able to find support through the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Women’s Business Center. She attended a Business Plan Basics class where she developed a different perspective for her business, expanded ways of thinking, broke habits, and got out of the “soloprenuer” funk.
Christine said she found a true benefit being face-to-face and networking with other like-minded people, something a webinar or online learning can’t replicate. By attending the Business Plan Basics course, she was also able to access financing that helped her gain a more regional presence. All participants who successfully complete Business Plan Basics are eligible to apply for a small loan to use for their business. The only requirement outside of the class participation is completing and submitting a business plan with the loan application.
In the future, watch for RhinoSaurusRex Knits at even bigger shows and markets, where producers apply for acceptance. And, be on the look out for new creations online.
At a Glance
Feature photo: Christine Pfortmiller creates hats, scarfs, and more, with products sold online and at regional events. | Photo submitted
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