History and Mission
How We Started
The concept for The Black Squirrel started back in August of 2014. Chase Clark, the original owner of the shop, had always wanted to open a retail space to inspire creativity in her local community with beautiful and unique yarns and craft supplies. The plan had taken various forms over many years, but really came together during her time in the South Bay, where black squirrels played on the fence outside her studio window. The squirrels were a perfect personification of crafters - who always stash supplies for a rainy day, and who regard their skills as something to rely on in tough times. The acorns in the logo not only represent the squirrels, but also Chase's roots in Paso Robles, CA.
In October of 2015 Chase as The Black Squirrel launched an Indiegogo campaign, raising enough money to open the first online version of the shop in March of 2016 with a select few indie dyers and unique tools and gifts. In August of 2016 she partnered with PopupHood, a small business fostering program, which helped her find an amazing shop space and a supportive environment for launching the brick and mortar store. On November 4th, 2016, The Black Squirrel opened its doors in Berkeley, California and expanded the products with an emphasis on indie-dyed yarn and fantastic notions.
Chase's mission was to create a welcoming and supportive environment for all crafters. The core values of the shop include carrying products from great US-based and Woman-, BIPOC-, or Queer-owned businesses, buying products with sustainable manufacturing processes, reducing plastic waste, providing free help, making community resources easily accessible, hosting affordable workshops, and fostering an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment for all.
Where We Are We Going
In January 2023, Maia Discoe, a long time employee and store manager, became the new owner of the shop. As manager for a couple of years, working toward becoming the new owner, Maia had started bringing in new yarns and expanding the offerings in the shop. In addition to indie-dyers, Maia has added a large selection of non-superwash, luxury, and budget-friendly yarns with the goal of having sweater quantities of yarn throughout the store.
Also in 2023, Maia brought in Sally Bingham to join her as an owner. Sally is a customer from the earliest days of the shop and has been the "adult" at our Thursday night Stitch & Bitch since it restarted after the pandemic lock-down.
In some ways the store hasn't changed. We remain committed to finding beautiful, high quality yarns, notions, and tools. We actively work at representing our community through the products we carry and the mostly micro to small businesses we support. We do this, in part, by actively seeking out products made by BIPoC, Queer, and women owned businesses. We are so fortunate to be in a time when there are so many small businesses making wonderful things. That is who we want to celebrate and share with our community.
In some ways the store is changing quite a bit. The yarn selection has never been bigger or more diverse. We carry more notions and that is saying something because we have always carried a lot of notions. We carry more tools and more variations on those tools. We have sweater quantities. So many sweater quantities! Both Maia and Sally love to knit sweaters in all kinds of yarns. From lace weight to super bulky, superwash and non-superwash, budget to luxury, we have you covered in cotton, wool, alpaca and more.
What will never change is our focus on community. We emerged from our local crafting community and that is the guiding star of the shop as we move forward and expand. Our number one goal at The Black Squirrel is to encourage people to keep on crafting! We want all of our customers to feel welcome, regardless of their race, gender, orientation, age, ability, size, or economic status. You should never be afraid to ask questions, even ones you've already asked, and you should always feel encouraged and supported.
Our priority is you, our customers, our community. How can we keep you crafting? What products and services are you looking for? What types of yarn do you want? We are here to help you with your projects, inspire you, applaud you as you make and finish projects, and console you when you have set backs.
Please join us in our bright, open, and cheerful space. Come sit with us and craft; there is always room for you at the table.