Small Lander Business Finds Success Through Local Focus, UW Assistance

Carrie Johnson (left), owner of Pingora Yarns in Lander, and Sarah Hamlin, regional director for the Wyoming SBDC Network, pose together when Johnson was named “Rookie of the Year” by the Lander Chamber of Commerce March 12. (Brad Christensen Photo)

Lander, Wyo. – A Lander business that set out to fill a need in the community is celebrating success and looking to expand. And, to help get to where it is today, Pingora Yarns received assistance from the Wyoming Small Business Development (SBDC) Network at the University of Wyoming.

Carrie Johnson is the owner of Pingora Yarns, a business in Lander that provides knitters and crocheters with high-quality fibers. Most of her products come from Wyoming and surrounding states, many of which are processed at the Mountain Meadow Wool Mill in Buffalo.

Months before opening her store in October 2017, Johnson began working with Sarah Hamlin, regional director for the Wyoming SBDC Network. Johnson credits Hamlin with keeping her focused and on task as her business plans progressed.

Besides her business plan, the Wyoming SBDC Network helped Johnson with marketing and a website. Johnson also took some Wyoming SBDC Network classes, and Hamlin arranged for Johnson to work with a marketing class at UW.

“Carrie has taken every hurdle as a small-business owner in stride, from educating herself about point-of-sales systems to integrating into the community to finding a new location last minute,” Hamlin says. “We are lucky to have Carrie and Pingora Yarns in Lander.”

Pingora Yarns supplies natural fibers — sheep, llama, alpaca, buffalo, camel and a New Zealand possum — along with some synthetics. The store also sells handiwork including hand-knitted sweaters, bags, hats, baby blankets and stuffed animals.

“In addition, I have yarn that has been hand-spun by some of my local spinners, as well as hand-carded roving that spinners can purchase to spin into their own yarn,” Johnson says.

Johnson decided to open Pingora Yarns after retiring from teaching. Because there had not been a yarn shop in Lander for more than 20 years, local knitters and crocheters had been forced to travel long distances to get supplies or had to buy them over the internet.

In the near term, Johnson hopes to hire some help, as she operates the store by herself six days a week.

To learn more about how Pingora Yarns achieved success, read the full story here: https://www.wyomingsbdc.org/success-stories/pingora-yarns-success-story/.

If you would like to get in touch with your local Wyoming SBDC Network adviser for no-cost, confidential assistance to start, grow or sell your business, visit the Wyoming SBDC Network website at www.wyomingsbdc.org.

The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their businesses. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.