Just Peachy! An Interview With Laverne Benton of Bzy Peach
Tell us about your crafting journey and how you came to start Bzy Peach?
I was taught how to crochet at an early age by my grandmothers. My godmother attempted to teach me how to knit, but I didn’t fare too well with two needles. So, when I picked up yarn, it was usually to crochet. After returning to college in my 40s, I found that crocheting granny square blankets was a great stress reliever. Studying for an MBA while working full time and raising two children as a single mom could be very intense. Crocheting was a way to engage my hands and mind in a soothing and rhythmic way.
Years later after relocating for work to Atlanta, Georgia from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia, crochet became a conduit for meeting like-minded people in a new city. I connected with other stitchers at work, as odd as that may seem. There were a group of us that would meet at lunch in person or on conference calls to relax, commune, and create items to donate. I joined several local Facebook groups and found other stitchers throughout the city. As I explored Atlanta and attended outdoor festivals in the spring of 2019, I learned that there was a market for crocheted goods and decided to start BzyPeach.
You specialise in dyeing cotton and tencel yarn, can you tell us about your choice to use these bases?
I found my way to cotton yarn through my love of amigurumi. I began creating dolls for friends; small, cute animals for my daughters and lovies to donate to the children’s hospital. As I learned techniques to improve my craft through “Pinterest University”, I noticed a crisp smoothness to the stitches I saw in many of the pattern images. I wanted to replicate that in my projects and after a bit of digging learned that cotton yarn, usually DK weight, was the base being used.
So fast forward to May of 2020, we were several months into the pandemic lockdown and a fiber friend mentioned that she was going to try dyeing yarn. I had no idea you could do that right in your kitchen!! So, I followed her lead and gave it a go. After a few failed experiments, I found a way to create bright, vibrant colors on the type of yarn that would make my amigurumi stand out. I was hooked and thought I’d see if anyone would be interested in buying my yarn. If not, I figured I would always enough yarn and colors for all the amigurumi projects my little hands could create.
Tencel yarn, however, found me. I had never heard of it before, but my cotton yarn supplier offered sample skeins that I could try. As soon as I had it in my hands, I fell in love with the sheen, drape, softness, and durability of the fibers. I did more research; learned that not many people sold tencel. It was also great to wear in the hot summers here in the southern part of the United States. Win, Win, Win…I had found my niche in the fiber arts world.
We love all your amazing colourways and their fruity themes are just perfect for Issue 45! What is your process and inspiration for creating these shades?
Sometimes fruit inspires the colorway and other times I must find a fruit…if I can…that matches the color. Like one definition of peach,” an exceptionally good or attractive person or thing,” I want my yarn to catch the eye, make one smile and bring joy. Objects or nature that I see as I move about my day may inform a colorway, other times a deep dive into exotic fruits on social media provides inspiration.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day in this peachy household starts with my two feline family members (two tabby cats named Loca and Juniper) informing me that it is time for them to eat. I rouse my youngest child and get her off to school before my workday begins. I am still employed in the corporate world full time but am very lucky to work from home. One day I hope to retire my keyboard for dye pots full time. After the school and work days are done, you can find me checking orders, dyeing yarn, researching products and finishing the evening with a crochet or embroidery project to wind down. Weekend days are a different story…between short local adventures, you can find me immersed in yarn and dye.
What does the future hold for Bzy Peach?
I hope that the future holds many more opportunities to share my love of color, creativity, and community with a larger audience in the fiber art world. I’m excited that adding hand-dyed cotton embroidery threads to my online market has brought hand-stitchers into my community. I’ll be adding more embroidery and needlepoint items soon. I also look forward to vending at several East Coast yarn events and stores later this year. Having opportunities to showcase yarn in person has helped to expose more artists and makers to premium plant-based yarns.
Outside of retailing activities, I hold dear the opportunity to support others in our community with BzyShowers. I, along with a group of very dedicated volunteers continue to host business showers for new and emerging black-owned fiber art businesses. Think baby shower, but for a business owner. I know how hard it is to start and keep a business running and I am committed to helping others break down the barriers to entry and progress wherever I can.