As a longtime weaver, co-owner Virginia Murphy brings her creative talent as well as her sales abilities to her shop Silver Threads and Golden Needles.
Her daughter and co-owner Kristin McDougall is a graphic designer who is responsible for maintaining the website, social media and other technical support needs. Amy Murphy — no relation — who joined the business in 2011, retired from the banking industry and uses her financial expertise to guide the small business.
“We each have a different skillset we bring to the business,” Amy Murphy said. “I bring the financial skills, Virginia and I are both good at customer service but Virginia is the best at sales, and Kristin is great at graphic design and other computer skills.”
Virginia moved to Franklin from Alabama to retire, but it wasn’t long before she needed something to keep her busy. She purchased the store on Main Street in 2008.
As a close-knit family, McDougall decided to follow her mother to Franklin and join the business.
“The first thing I did was design our new logo … and the second thing I did was learn to knit,” McDougall said.
It may have been a small fiber store under the previous owner, but Virginia, Amy and McDougall have turned into so much more. The store now has more retail space and offers a number of classes for members of the community, including knitting, weaving and crocheting.
Customers are greeted with a rainbow of colors stacked from the floor to the ceiling as they walk into the fiber store. The fibers come from as close as Skyview Ranch alpaca farm in Franklin and as far away as China. In addition to supplies, the shop also carries woven, knitted and crocheted gifts — hats, scarves, baskets, jewelry, handbags and sweaters.
“Virginia bought the store for a number of reasons — I think mostly she wanted to breathe a little life back into downtown and she and Kristin wanted to do something together,” Amy said.
McDougall said working alongside her mother has been a great experience that has also given her the freedom to work from home while raising two children of her own.
“I thank God we’re the best of friends and get along so well,” McDougall said. “And it was a blessing for Amy to come along — she’s become immediate family as well.”
Silver Threads and Golden Needles became Amy’s go-to place for knitting supplies after she moved to Franklin in 2002 and then became a partner in the business after Virginia and Kristin bought the business.
All three of the women truly enjoy being a part of the downtown Franklin business community. Amy said it’s no longer a rarity to find women-owned businesses in Franklin. She can look outside the shop and point to many other female-owned businesses doing well for themselves.
Amy admits being a woman in some industries may still be a difficulty, but she feels fortunate to be in a creative and artistic industry where women are the rule and not the exception. That wasn’t always the case in the banking and financial industry that Amy worked in or the manufacturing industry Virginia retired from.
“Retail is a much kinder experience, and Franklin has a wonderful textile community — we have great quilters, potters and other artistic mediums,” Amy said. “People travel here for those reasons, and I think we benefit from that.”
The challenges they face aren’t necessarily because they are women — it’s just the typical challenges that come with being a small business owner. Many downtown business owners somehow manage their businesses on their own, but Silver Threads is fortunate enough to have three owners to help carry the load.
“Owning your own business is fun but really challenging because it takes a lot of time,” Amy said. “But it’s much better if you have a good partnership — it becomes more fun and less difficult.”
Even with the challenges, McDougall said the small fiber shop has been thriving.
“Every year gets better and better,” she said.
There are a few men who visit the store, take part in the classes offered and even a few who teach the classes, but the store is typically full of women. With a flurry of conversation and laughter and a lot of creative projects being made, the atmosphere at Silver Threads is fun and laid back.
“The yarn shop is a happy place,” Amy said. “Lives are stressful enough — we do this because it’s a peaceful fun experience.”