Knitting a Creative Empire

Knitwear designer and DeNada owner Virginia Arrisueño has accomplished what most artists and designers dream of - making a living from their passion and growing a company to boot. After hearing her story at F*it about her grueling work schedule and 4:30am wake up calls, we needed to know more about how Virginia has navigated the challenges of her business and what she can teach all of us about reaching success in a creative industry. 

Worn: What was one of the hardest lessons you had to learn when you were building DeNada?

Virginia: Growing a retail business requires networking and building relationships with your customers and clients. I am an introvert. When I started my business, networking and socializing did not come naturally to me. I had to slowly build my confidence and learn how to network in order to talk to customers and clients, sell my products, and grow my business.

Worn: At F*it you mentioned you wake up at 4:30 every morning. Tell us about a day in the life for you.

Virginia: My weekly schedule is for the most part very structured. It has to be. With a child and owning a business, my time for work is very limited. Because I like to invest at least 10 hours of work per day, I am very efficient with how I use my time. Here is what a normal day looks like for me:

4:30am-5:30am - Wake-up. Get dressed.

5:30am-7:30am - Work.

7:30am-9:30am - Head back home. Make breakfast. Get my son dressed. Drop him off at school.

9:30am-5:30pm - Work.

5:30pm-6:30pm - Son’s swim practice.

6:30pm-8:00pm - Dinner. Bath time.

8:00pm-9:00pm - Book time & family time.

9:00pm-9:30pm - Put my son to bed. If I have a lot of work that day, I stay up and work. If not, I tend to go to bed as well.

Virginia Arrisueño with her husband Kelly Towles in their home studio. 

Virginia Arrisueño with her husband Kelly Towles in their home studio. 

Worn:  What part of your job is the most challenging for you? 

Virginia: The most challenging part of my job is staying focused so that I can be productive throughout the day. At times, I get sidetracked with phone calls, questions from my teammates, or last minute add-ons to my to do list. Though I am getting much better at increasing my productivity, there’s still room for improvement.

Worn: What is the one thing you wish someone told you before starting your own business?

Virginia: I wished someone would have told me that I would be spending 15% of the time creating and 85% of the time marketing, selling, administrating, strategizing my business, and answering a ton of email. I love to create, but understand that the business portion comes first.

Worn: What do you do to keep your sanity?

Virginia: One thing: Exercise. Exercising keeps my sanity in check. What I enjoy most is running. I tend to run between 5 to 10 miles per workout. When I run, it’s my own personal time to zone out and listen to my favorite podcasts or music. After a workout, I feel great.

Virginia Arrisueño working in her DC studio

Virginia Arrisueño working in her DC studio