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Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Arts & crafts and activism

Student-run small business TripleThread intertwines business and advocacy
From left to right: Archer Trip, Sam Zimmerman, and Nic Trip. TripleThread was founded in summer 2022 and have gone on to sell their handmade products at Mohair Pear in Cedar Falls and Spark Lot in Waterloo.

Since summer of 2022, small business TripleThread has been bringing the Cedar Valley community their craft and pride. Comprised of three headstrong co-founders, Archer Trip, Nic Trip and Sam Zimmerman, TripleThread initially began as a small craft show endeavor, then blossomed into a thriving business over the past year.

“[TripleThread] didn’t really have anything crochet actually. It was just like some baby quilts, some aprons and some bucket hats. So, it was definitely more fabric based,” co-founder Nic Trip said. “Pretty soon after that, we just started going to craft shows. Sam introduced the crochet, and that kind of just flew off. So we started doing that.” 

All three co-founders are students at UNI, having very hectic schedules with classes and their business. Despite this, the trio has come to have a system of gratitude and balance in their work, student and personal lives.

Be the person who you needed when you were younger.

— Nic Trip, Co-founder of TripleThread

“We each have our different roles in the company, but the nice thing is the way that I think it’s run, like a household.” Nic Trip commented on the inner workings of the business. She continued, “We share a house, and the way that we run our household… We run it as a family, not as a group of college students. We definitely went into this on all equal footing, all equal standing. I think that’s something that I really appreciate and the way that we have checks and balances like we’re very direct communicators.” 

“There’s a good balance of having that creativity… like getting to try out new things. [This year], we definitely did a better job of being like, ‘this is a quota we need to meet,’” said Zimmerman. 

The trio often remind each other of their student status, especially on days where time is limited. “Each one of us is a co-founder, but technically each of us is an employee,” Nic Trip stated. The hardships of balancing such a busy schedule are bound to manifest, but the members of TripleThread are able to rely on one another for support during these stressful moments. “We uplift each other,” Archer Trip said. “We have that reminder of, well, we’re students; we are full-time students, full-time workers and full-time small business owners. We can never do everything all at once.”

Pictured above is one of TripleThread’s creations, a crochet pride bunny plushie. (COURTESY)

The members each have a unique creative style that comes to life in their products. The business has a variety of fiber art products, including custom hand-sewn clothes, crochet plushies, vibrant quilts and more. Each member takes part in the business process with their creative talents, and also have individual roles that they take up. Zimmerman introduced crochet to the group, and currently plays a major role in designing their crochet products. Nic Trip works with the business’ finances, and Archer Trip specializes in marketing and the miscellaneous bits that come with running a small business. However, these roles are not rigid. 

“It’s not ‘one person does one thing they are very good at,’” Nic Trip commented. All of the members aim to collaborate and enjoy what they do to limit the stressors of running a business.

TripleThread and its members are openly out and proud as a queer-owned business, integrating pride into their products. 

“All three of us are very, I would say out and proud, especially with campus stuff. So personally, I feel like melding [activism and our business] is quite easy,” Archer Trip noted. “When I first learned how to make the crochet bees, I was like, ‘why aren’t we doing like pride flags on them?’ And so that was very much like where I was like, well, we’re already a queer own small business. We need to be a visibly  queer small business, especially with our legislation today.”

Nic Trip commented on the need for queer visibility, saying, “I remember asking Sam when we were freshmen in our dorms being like, ‘oh, could we have a lesbian pride bee?’ because that was never something I could have gotten. I could never have found someone to make that.”

Zimmerman also expressed the impact of being a queer small business. “I think with making products for queer people — because you know, corporations definitely take advantage of things like Pride Month and all that — it’s great to see things for queer people, but it’s even better when it’s made by queer people, and just kind of keeping things within the community, especially with supporting small businesses.”

Fortunately for the trio, they have mostly been able to steer clear of challenges and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments because of their openly queer status. Nic Trip attributes this to the community around TripleThread and the members’ involvement.

“We’re all very involved in a whole bunch of different activities, as in we all volunteer. We’re all a part of the board of the LGBT Coalition of Cedar Valley, and we all hold leadership positions, as well as presenting very openly as queer showing up to different town halls and whatnot.”  She continued, “There definitely have been times where we’ve gone to craft shows and been like, ‘we are not welcome here,’ and that is why we also primarily sell in stores that are very queer friendly, and primarily sell at Pridefests.”

Recently, TripleThread have started selling their products at Mohair Pear, having come a long way from when they first started a year ago. 

Nic Trip recalled how TripleThread ended up in Mohair Pear. “We started selling at Mohair Pear, and that was kind of just an off the cuff kind of moment. I had walked into Mohair Pear and saw the sign that said ‘buy locally,’ so I asked if they did local consignment. They said, ‘yeah, of course,’ and so that started it.”

TripleThread is now selling in Spark Lot, a store in Waterloo.

“We were approached by them, and also knew about them — we were going to approach them as well. [Spark Lot] was another place where we already knew they were very queer friendly. We knew that it would be a great place to start, and that also has provided us with so many connections and opportunities,” Nic Trip said.

The members of TripleThread stand proudly in front of their booth at Pridefest. (COURTESY)

The members also had a booth at Pridefest, where they showcased a plethora of their pride products to the community. 

“We could have done typical craft shows,” Nic Trip said. “Pridefest was already a goal we had, and then I was like, ‘okay, how do we get a booth, let’s figure out what we need to do.”

Attending Pridefest proved to be a memorable and rewarding experience for TripleThread.

“[Pridefest] solidified our brand and identity as a small business,” Zimmerman said.

“I just graduated from OneIowa’s leadership institution,” Archer Trip said. “I was down in Des Moines or Iowa City, and I’m meeting with these like people from all over the state, and someone came up to me because I was handing out TripleThread cards. It was the first time I had met any of these people, and someone said, ‘TripleThread? I’ve seen your stuff at Mohair Pear,’ and I said, ‘we’re two hours away from here, how do you know [about us]?’ I think that’s the most rewarding part, to have a reputation that precedes you.”

TripleThread’s influence has skyrocketed since their founding, and they’ve been able to spread their creativity and pride to the greater community.

“Over the summer, we had some people approach us and be like, ‘oh, I don’t know what pride flag this is, but I love the colors. It looks great.’ Even just having that is very affirming for your identity — it doesn’t need to be like a way to come out, but it’s still validating and honoring your personality and identity.” Zimmerman commented.

“There’s a bittersweet part to this. When we have our stuff out, either at Pridefest or somewhere else, seeing people walk by and see us, make eye contact, maybe not even buy something, and maybe not even come into the tent, but just knowing and seeing that people are seeing us. Even if they can’t approach us for any reason, knowing that someone is out there,” Archer Trip said. “Seeing someone do that kind of work so openly and proudly is something that I feel like brings such a comfort and that sentiment of ‘I am not alone.’”

“We always hold the motto in our professional and personal lives, ‘be the person who you needed when you were younger.’” Nic Trip said.

TripleThread continues to push for queer visibility through their business, and are open advocates for the LGBTQ+ community at UNI. To find out more about TripleThread, visit their Instagram page, @triiiplethread, or email [email protected] for questions and product requests. 

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