A bout of nostalgia hit The Crochet Empire founder Andrew Boyer in December 2013 when a woman he viewed as a surrogate grandmother passed away. In that moment, he realized he wanted a hobby that would connect him to generations past. So, he took up crochet -- the same hobby that his paternal grandmother taught his mother who in turn taught his maternal grandmother.
That following spring, he bought some yarn and some hooks and, armed with a bevy of YouTube videos, set out to make things from yarn.
It's a minor miracle he continued.
On his first day, he spent no less than two hours in his workplace employee lounge cursing the heavens with nothing but the resulting tattered yarn. He had literally produced nothing.
But he kept on and eventually made a very rough pot scrubber. His work became tidier and eventually he wanted to try his hand at something a little more fun and daring.
Knowing his boyfriend at the time had a penchant for underwear, he scoured the internet in search of crocheted jockstrap patterns. And he found them!
With the first jock made and gifted, pictures found their way onto social media and a budding public interest in his newfound hobby took hold. It wasn't long until friends were asking for some of their own jockstraps. Then it dawned on him --- this could be a thing.
Soon, a Kickstarter campaign followed, raising 208% of the goal. A name followed and the business slowly grew past what Andy could keep up with. He hired 15 artisans, started attending multiple events to promote his bad-ass handmade accessories, and attracted the following of major porn stars, go-go dancers, gay celebrities and even an Academy Award winner. Since then, The Crochet Empire has been featured in major gay publications like Instinct magazine and The Underwear Expert.
Now, The Crochet Empire is proud to offer an extended product line that includes bow ties, doodads and custom made items for special orders. And, of course, the product line continues to develop, including the first crocheted harness.
Since inception, The Crochet Empire has become actively involved in the community, with having produced and hosted two annual jockstrap fashion shows and actions, raising nearly $10,000 for local Chicago HIV organizations TPAN and Chicago House.