Emani Outterbridge’s creativity and crocheting skills have given her celebrity status. Her custom yarn designs have become popular with stars such as Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion. Now, the 24-year-old Philadelphia native is encouraging other women in her area to pick up some needles and yarn and learn to crochet as well.
When she was just 15, Outterbridge took part in an entrepreneurship program at her high school. The class led the avid crocheter, who learned the skill when she was 12, to starting her own virtual store. At Emani Milan, she sells handmade skirts, rompers and even swimwear as well as designer yarn, patterns and crochet lessons. But keeping up with demand takes time. Since each piece is custom and handmade, they take four to six weeks for her to complete.
“Everything is made directly from me,” Outterbridge told BillyPenn. “This is a one-woman show.”
So, when she found herself somewhat sidelined at home with a broken foot earlier this year, she devised a new business idea: yarn vending machines that would make her designer colors available 24/7. After proposing the idea to her followers, she raised enough through yarn sales and donations within four days to purchase two custom vending machines.
“I DID IT YALL,” she tweeted. “The FIRST YARN VENDING Machine EVER!!!! And guess who did it ?? A black girl from Philly. You can to purchase yarn NOW, 1632 Cecil B Moore Ave. Make a purchase, Take pictures, listen to music!!! It’s a whole vibe… I’m tellin you.”
I DID IT YALL 🥳🥳🥳
The FIRST YARN VENDING Machine EVER!!!! And guess who did it ?? A black girl from Philly 📍🐐
You can to purchase yarn NOW 🙏🏾
1632 Cecil B Moore Ave✅
Make a purchase, Take pictures, listen to music!!!
It’s a whole vibe… I’m tellin you📍
Rt & Share! pic.twitter.com/pFRhOnngmB
— THE YARN TRAPPER 🧶 (@_EmaniMilan) October 22, 2020
The first machine was placed in front of the new barbershop of one of Outterbridge’s friends, who has hopes of expanding female clientele.
“I was like, I can help you generate female traffic, with them stopping to get the yarn,” Outterbridge told BillyPenn. “We both helped each other out.”
She is preparing to install two more machines soon, with plans for even more in the future. Currently, the yarn machine only accepts cash but will eventually take credit cards and Apple Pay. The machine holds up to 560 skeins of yarn, and Outterbridge keeps it stocked with eight varieties of her custom multicolored yarns.
If you can’t make it to Philly, you can purchase the yarn, with colors such as “Fruity Pebbles,” “Moon Rocks” and “Birthday Cake” on her website for $5 per skein.