When my mother worked at JoAnn Fabrics decades ago, it was purely a store that sold material and the supplies necessary for sewing. Oh, how things have changed.

The new store that just opened is renamed simply “JoAnn” and its slogan is “handmade happiness.” Only half of the store is the inventory of the “old JoAnn” and the remaining square footage is packed with supplies for all kinds of hobbies: knitting, painting, drawing, scrapbooking, embroidery, flower arranging, and cake decorating. JoAnn has gone high tech with 3D and laser printing, plus an area full of machines for classes and demonstrations. The fabric-cutting area has even become the “cut bar” where you can check in on a kiosk and shop while you watch your name in the queue.

For me, a non-crafter, just the selection of threads was overwhelming, let alone imagining the possibilities present throughout the store. But for others, the return to homemade items – thanks in part to Pinterest – has never been greater. People are returning to all things retro and making things is part of that trend.

Kudos to JoAnn for evolving with the times. Other fabric stores have gone out of business throughout the years but JoAnn has adapted while still staying true to its core. What lessons can you take from how they have reimagined their mission and market to embrace “handmade” instead of just sewing?

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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