We had the good fortune of connecting with Annette Corsino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Annette, what role has risk played in your life or career?
It seems that my entire life has been compiled of risks. I think real change does not happen without it. Playing it safe never leads to satisfaction.
Risk implies discomfort, but doing something totally new can be exhilarating! I took a lot of risks opening my store. Would people respond to my sensibilities? Would the community reject me? Would I lose my shirt? Do I have what it takes?
Ultimately, it came down to a deep belief in myself and what I had to offer. I had a store from 2004-2009. We closed during the recession. At the same time the store was closing, I was going through a terrible divorce, got into an abusive relationship, and pretty much lost most of friends and almost my relationship with my kids.
During my time at a domestic violence shelter, I realized that the only common denominator in the mess I was living was me. I used all the resources at my disposal like daily therapy, to reinvent myself – starting with deep self love.
The only place to go was up. After growing up a poor Mexican/Italian American with immigrant parents, and going through more recent hardship, risk didn’t seem so daunting. It paid off and we are going into our 8th year of business at The Knitting Tree, L.A. in Inglewood, CA. It hasn’t been easy, especially with the pandemic, but we continue to innovate and change with the times.
BTW, people told me that I was crazy for opening a shop in the mixed neighborhoods of Culver City and Inglewood. I have been embraced by and have learned so much from the community, and have become a better person because of it.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Like I said, what I am most proud of is sharing my creativity, and also inspiring others to be creative. My store is different because I come at business artistically.
One thing that artists do is problem solve. We have a vision, then realize it. I do that with my knitted and crocheted designs, indie dyeing and branding.
Being an artist means making something from nothing, and taking risks our visions can be properly realized.
I have learned so many lessons along the way!
Don’t undervalue my skill set.
Don’t give everything away.
I am smart enough.
I am enough.
Pay attention to my numbers.
Don’t be too invested emotionally when things don’t work out.
There are always choices, even when you thing there aren’t any left.
Things ALWAYS work out.
I would like the world to know that my brand is made from creativity mixed with my culture, background and LOTS of sweat and tears. It comes from a great desire to help people realize their creative potential and to spread beauty, friendship and community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, I’d have to start them out with all of the natural beauty of SoCal. A day at the beach.
Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains.
The Huntington Gardens.
Then, taking advantage of all of the art and creativity.
A tour of the Broad.
A small concert at the Bootleg.
Then, take advantage of the diverse cuisine. Sonora for Mexican food, Avanti for Italian food. Pinks for hotdogs.
Top it off with a swing or tango dance lesson and party! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The thing I am most proud of is the mentorship that Nicole Frost and I started last year. We are mentoring 6 BIPOC participants for 6 months in the business of becoming indie dyers in Los Angeles. From technique to branding to bookkeeping. The indie dyers world, until very recently, has been almost all white. We are looking to build a core of indie dyers that represent our beautiful and diverse city!
There are 3 people that have been very influential in my life. First, my amazing husband Bruce has believed in me every step of the way, as well as my best friend Brenda Maben. Brenda taught me that I didn’t have to conform to anything society expected of me. That I was best served by embracing and celebrating my weirdness!
Nicole taught me how to dye yarn, and to be more socially aware and giving of my skills.
My three kids have kept me honest, by always telling me the truth, whether I liked it or not.
Facebook: The Knitting Tree, L.A,
Yelp: The Knitting Tree, L.A.
Youtube: The Knitting Tree, L.A,
All photos by Annette Corsino and Bruce Blair