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The Barnacle

scanned image of article in The Barnacle, Salt Spring Island paper story about Knotty Boy moving away from Salt Spring Island

The Barnacle Island Journal, a now defunct Salt Spring Island (where it all began!) weekly, wrote one of the first articles about Knotty Boy, commencing its move to Vancouver, BC

by Pat Burkette

Knotty Boy Dread Stuff has been, "making da kidz knotty since 1997." That's when owner Adrianna Hepper and Andrew, her partner at the time, realized if they were going to survive on Salt Spring, they'd have to come up with self-employment.

Hepper experimented with pancake mixes, but settled instead on producing hair wax and shampoo for dreadlocks. A search of hair salons in Vancouver had turned up no suitable products for the hair style; salon owners told Hepper any products available were "substandard." Hepper had created some body products and tried cooking something up on the stove for Andrew's dreadlocks. Hepper thought, "Why don't we make up some product and make a webpage to sell it?" Within a week, according to Hepper, "we were turning a profit."

To develop the business, Hepper got help from Human Resources Development Canada. She had to convince a panel that her business was viable and said Knotty Boy was "definitely more out there" than other applicants.

Knotty Boy Dread Stuff now processes about 200 orders a week. Dread wax, "a beeswax hemp seed oil based dread goop," a shampoo bar, plus expanding products line of tams, beads and clothing are shipped from Sweden to Mexico and Australia to Finland. Hepper's products are also distributed by the Hot Topic funky mall store chain in the U.S. The company's main clientele is in the 12 to 35 range. Hepper, 24, said, "We're kids ourselves and know our market," adding "business is really common sense."

Hepper is streamlining her web site, But she wants to keep the site's grassroots feel. According to Hepper, a web-based business eliminates phones ringing off the hook, but adds time-consuming wired communication. Hepper downloads 200 e-mails a day. She wants to maintain contact with her loyal customers, but have time to expand the business, as well.

Hepper said Salt Spring Island has been a selling point for the product because it's "known as a hippie mecca." But she recently moved production and packaging to Vancouver where she's found an all natural cosmetics company that can provide the quality control she wants. Hepper is now in the process of moving to Vancouver.

She said she could keep the business here and work with distributors even though commuting to trade shows is difficult. But in the end, she made the decision to move mostly because, "there's no one to network with here."

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