One Senior Is Creating Her Own Knitting Business Stitch By Stitch

After returning to her apartment from a long day of work in the Boston heat, Phoebe Burks would knit. It’s how she began and ended most days of the summer before her senior year, and, up until then, she never really thought much of it. An internship five hours away from her hometown of Phoenixville didn’t provide her with many other extracurricular options.

Burks learned how to knit in the third grade, and even though she sharpened her skills through the years, it was never anything more than a therapeutic pastime. Still, there was something about looking at the Boston skyline and sitting quietly in her pajamas that made knitting more intriguing than it ever was before.

Fast forward three months and Burks’ final year at Penn State is well underway. Fortunately, so is her new business.

“When I was working full-time this summer, I just wanted to knit. I’ve always just wanted to knit, and I thought to myself, ‘Why haven’t I ever sold these?’” Burks said. “I decided to start selling them when I created Peach Fuzz.”

Burks is the sole founder, CEO, production head, treasurer, and social media manager of Peach Fuzz Knitting, where she sells her own handmade scarves and headbands. Each product is supplied, knit, and packaged with her own two hands.

“Nowadays a lot of people don’t know how to knit,” she said. “So, I’m the main production and I run all the sites and handle all the money.”

Despite being a one-woman operation, Burks is already seeing her business begin to flourish. With orders starting to flood in and her first profit already in-pocket, she’s hoping her young business will blow up when winter strikes.

The scarves are definitely based off of the idea of a cold Penn State winter,” Burks said. “I made one for myself last year and it saved my life. I always wanted something to cover my ears, too, and I thought to myself, ‘I knit! Why can’t I make this for myself?’” 

Burks originally created the name of her company to be Phuzz by taking the word “fuzz” and adding the first two letters of her first name. A friend suggested “Peach Fuzz” and the name stuck. Now, small pictures of peaches plaster her packaging and she even refers to her followers on Instagram as “peaches.”

Prior to her newfound success, Burks found herself afraid of the possible outcomes. “I always wanted to start my own business and I never knew what that would entail. I don’t think I was prepared for how scared I was going to be. I had spent quite a bit of my own money, and I was getting ready to head back to school with my bag full of scarves, I kept saying, ‘No one’s going to buy these. No one’s going to like these,'” she said. “But my mom told me ‘You’re never going to know. You could stop right now, but you would never know. At this point, you’ve already spent the money, so just do it.’”

The senior marketing major doesn’t have much of an issue with balancing work and school. After spending her junior year as the president of Women in Business on top of a job and a full class load, Burks learned to prioritize. Her mantra for success says that you can always make time to do something.

I’m very much in the mindset that you always have an hour. No matter how busy you are, no matter how exhausted you are, you always have an hour. I think having that motto going into this helped a lot,” she said.

Above all else, Burks attributes her triumphs to the encouragement from her friends and colleagues.

“It’s just the kind of community that’s fostered at Penn State,” she said. “People are genuinely interested in other people’s lives.” With the support from those around her in mind, Burks is already planning to give back.

I’m hoping when it gets closer to THON, I’ll be in a position to donate a portion of the profits that I make in the name of the different organizations that I’m involved with,” she said.

Just like any other student two semesters away from graduation, Burks has the future on her mind. When it comes to the future of Peach Fuzz, she wants to expand into men’s scarves, scarves with paw prints or strips, key chains with pom-poms or her hand-constructed tassels on them. But in order to do all that, Burks needs more people on her side.

The next steps are finding more people who knit, people who can get through scarves quickly so I can have time to experiment,” she said. “I love doing it, I love being in charge of it, I love what I’ve learned so far, but right now, as the only person in production, it can’t get too big just because it’s me. But I can’t even imagine how big it could get if I can get people knitting with me.”

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About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism and one of Onward State's student life editors. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia." She enjoys Broadway musicals, neck pillows, and eating cereal at night. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.

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