The fashion design business is cut throat.
Much like any artist, designers are often forced to split their attentions onto their passions alongside their nine to five’s that provide the bulk of the green paper needed to survive.
Hoping to turn her passion into her only job, Jamaican-American Mahkeddah Thompson balances the struggle with an open and hopeful attitude.
Not your usual fashion designer, Thompson is a self-taught knitwear designer — specializing in the creation of crochet accessories. From headbands to legwarmers and even wool vests, Thompson discovered her love for the needle and yarn through a friend.
“I got involved with learning how to crochet from one of my really good friends from high school,” Thompson explained. “She actually started to learn how to crochet from another sistren so at that time we were also learning about Rastafari, which you know is a spiritual faith, and a sister of hers taught her how to crochet.”
From one friend to another, Thompson picked up different skill sets and patterns, perfecting stitches that she would learn to ultimately make her own. “Over the years, I’ve just taught myself more so now I’ve learned how to read patterns, not necessarily take other people’s patterns. I make my own patterns and learn how to do different stitches and techniques,” she said.
After graduating Clarkson University with a bachelors of science in interdisciplinary engineering and management, Thompson began to take her passion project more seriously.
Working various jobs — none to do with her actual degree — Thompson created Konjo Crochet. “Konjo means beautiful in Amharic and I taught English in Ethiopia and that’s their national language,” she said.
Currently working at Housing Court Answers, Thompson has buckled down her focus within the last year to really take Konjo Crochet to the next level. Realizing that while her crochet skills are well-versed, the business and marketing angle has been taking some time to get a good grasp on.
“I’ve started an Instagram page a year and a half ago, I know that sounds crazy, and I’ve never had Facebook,” she said. “Instagram has really helped in the last year and a half since I got on it — it has helped me get myself out there to announce when I’m going to be at craft fairs and I’m seeing how social media is totally helping me right now with my lack of marketing experience.”
Through craft fairs and her Etsy page, Thompson is able to network and meet new clients aside from the supporters she has garnered along this journey.
Lacking a traditional fashion background, a degree in fashion has acted as a repellant for her when applying to more fashion oriented jobs. Now, Thompson’s feelings are changing as she plans to push herself further out of her comfort zone to see what might happen. “I haven’t tried to break into the fashion industry, I’ve just been trying to run my own company. I haven’t applied to become a designer like Marc Jacobs or anything. It’s something I’m thinking about now to just try out because I feel like I’m experienced in crochet-wear,” she said.
Thompson has big plans she would like to accomplish within the near future. Aside from expanding her own knowledge, Thompson hopes to either open up her own store, increase her web presence and even get involved with non-crochet related passions.
“I would love to have a shop where I can sell my stuff, sell yarn and also teach crocheting,” she said.
Follow Thompson’s @KonjoCrochet on Instagram and browse new items to fill your closet on her etsy page (https://www.etsy.com/