Kristen Lambert found her calling while shopping.
In what she describes as her “past life” working in finance, Lambert says that her higher income led her to invest in higher quality clothing. She tossed fast fashion brands out the window and began pursuing handmade items for her own closet.
But then, she thought, what about other people’s closets?
“I had a friend approach me with a hand-knit scarf, and I just fell in love with it,” says Lambert. “I knew I wanted to create a company, and, as a customer, I was really intrigued with quality and the craftsmanship.”
Lambert’s resulting business, Third Piece, started as a passion project. Today, after a lot of hard work, she’s owner of a knitwear studio and shop in Boston’s trendy South End.
Third Piece’s business model is multifaceted.
Firstly, the studio sells knitwear items, designed in-house and handmade by a team of local knitters. Pieces range from chunky sweaters to light scarves and woven bags.
Second, Third Piece hosts knitting classes where you can make a design yourself.
Finally, customers can shop materials, patterns, and other local handmade products at the store.
“It’s a hybrid model where we control the design, the sourcing and the manufacturing, but we try to create some transparency so you know where your clothes are coming from,” says Lambert. “We also want to inspire you to make it. It’s very dynamic in the way we approach knitwear.”
Classes aren’t just about learning a new skill and exercising creativity, they’re also about building community. “We definitely wanted the key element of the education to be a social aspect, something that really brings people together and uses the space in a communal way,” says Lambert. “We want people to come in, have fun, put your phone away and get creative.”
One of the biggest challenges Lambert has encountered is in the seasonality of knitwear. Most people think of knitwear for fall and winter item, but Lambert has been bringing out more and more warm weather friendly designs, including lightweight cardigans, headbands and, this spring, even a bomber jacket.
As the weather warms, Third Piece will be introducing crochet, both in clothing and in classes. And further into the future will begin to repurpose vintage items, imbedding them into new knitwear designs.
“[Customers] are supporting a local economy, they’re supporting a woman-owned business, and they’re wearing garments that are [made of] the highest quality and the highest craftsmanship. They’re really getting so much value out of it.”
Customers aren’t the only people winning. Third Piece offers its team of knitters a way to make money on an independent schedule, perfect for new moms, retirees or, even, a full time worker who needs a side gig.
Lambert’s priority, as always, is customer satisfaction. “I’d really like to see us become an accessories brand and a fashion brand that people really enjoy, both in shopping in-store and online, and thinking of us as accessories that make them feel special.”