Kristine Porritt and Lisa Ruesch were knitting and sipping coffee on a mid-November Sunday afternoon when the idea of opening a yarn store in Brookfield first cropped up.
Just five months later, in mid-April, the longtime friends opened the doors of Cream City Yarn in the original 1800s Dixon Schoolhouse located at 15565 W. North Ave.
"I've admired this building for a long time. It has a ton of charm, and the opportunity was right," Ruesch said.
While it took a short time for Porritt's and Ruesch's talk of a business venture to become a reality, the months were filled with market analysis, drafting of business plans, contracting with distributors and remodeling.
"This is the hardest I've ever worked in my entire life," Porritt said. "But watching an idea come to fruition has been a really rewarding process."
The opening of Cream City Yarn, however, doesn't mean that process is complete.
"As much fun as it's been, and as well as it's all turned out, we're still very realistic," Ruesch said. "These are tough economic times and we serve a niche market. We realize the economy we're dealing with, but we have an awesome business plan."
Cream City Yarn offers a diverse selection of high-end yarn, including alpaca wool and hand-dyed and organic fibers not found elsewhere in the region.
"We have really good high-end and basic yarns that are affordable, but are what real good knitters are looking for," Ruesch said. "If you're going to spend a lot of time on a project, you want to use high-quality yarn - especially if you're going to give it away as an heirloom or gift."
Cream City Yarn also offers classes for those looking to pick up the craft - and also for more experienced fiber artists looking to hone their craft.
Teachers Jennifer Donze, Sue Dwyer and Anne Martin offer more than 50 years of combined experience.
The diverse age of students and shoppers at Cream City Yarn is one of the charms of the fiber arts community.
"It's multi-generational," Porritt said. "We often see grandmas, daughters and grand-daughters shopping together all the time. This is a relationship industry."
Building on history
Longtime friends Kristine Porritt and Lisa Ruesch recently opened Cream City Yarn in the former Dixon Schoolhouse at 15565 W. North Ave.
Here's a brief recap of the building's history:
1870: Built as a one-room schoolhouse to replace a log structure near Pioneer Cemetery that was destroyed by fire.
1925: Ten students attended classes at the schoolhouse.
1950: Transformed from a schoolhouse to office space.
1996: Purchased by Ridgestone Bank as a branch location.
2011: Cream City Yarn opens.
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