She successfully established six niche publications, with a strong presence in the crafts market.
In 30 years, Linda Ligon turned a weaving and spinning hobby into a multi-million dollar niche publishing empire. Since the launch of its first regional crafts publication, Interweave, in 1975, Interweave Press currently publishes six leading crafts magazines and more than 150 books on subjects like knitting, beading, spinning, weaving, needle arts, and fiber art.
As a stay-at-home mom, Ligon realized there was a lack of literature for people interested in spinning and weaving. "Back-to-the-land crafts were really hot in the seventies," she says. "I started with $1,500 and pursued a regional magazine in a semi-serious way and then things started to outgrow that model." Interweave started with a few thousand subscribers, who saw the magazine in weaving shops and then spread the word. Spinoff, a magazine for hand spinners, then emerged in 1978, and Handwoven soon followed the year after.
Just as the crafts market was going soft in the eighties, Ligon launched Herb Companion right around the time Martha Stewart hit the publishing world. The nineties proved gratifying for Ligon, as she launched Interweave Knits and Beadwork. Today, the company holds six craft titles and is worth $14 million, according to The Book Standard, a Web site covering the book industry.
In 2005, Ligon sold Interweave Press to Aspire Media, a publisher of consumer enthusiast magazines and now serves as creative director. Clay Hall, CEO of Aspire, says Interweave’s publications have steadily grown at roughly 22 percent a year since 2001, with ad revenue up 141 percent and circulation at a combined 245,935, a 73 percent increase.
Hall credits the success of Interweave to Ligon’s understanding of the interests of her readers, employees and advertisers. "A lot of companies think they can quantify, measure and develop best practices in order to succeed," he says, "and then there are those that are attuned to the marketplace and are nurturers."
VITAL STATS: Interweave Press started on $1,500 and has grown into a $14 million dollar company.