Ligon wove success during craft venture’s genesis 2007 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Loveland

After Linda Ligon gave birth to her third child and decided to take some time away from teaching high school students at Fort Collins High School, she found she needed something to keep her busy.

“I decided I needed a home-based business,” she said.

With that in mind, she coupled her knack for crafts with her interest in special interest publishing to create a regional newsletter focused on weaving. Little did Ligon know that the regional crafting newsletter that she started in 1975 would grow to become a $14 million company targeted for venture capital-backed buyout.

Interweave Press operated out of Ligon’s Loveland house for about three years. It became apparent, however, that as the number of employees grew so did the need to a business space away from home.

“The more room you have the more things you decide to do,” she explained.

Interweave soon expanded into new subjects – spinning, hand weaving, herbs, needlework. Basically, anything related to crafts, cooking and gardening was fair game for Interweave. As the company expanded its focus in terms of subject, it also expanded in terms of medium. Interweave began publishing books.

In 2005, Montana publishing entrepreneur Clay Hall, with backing from Chicago and New York venture capitalists, purchased Interweave Press – wrapping into Aspire Media. The terms of the deal were not released. The previous year, Interweave had raked about $14 million in revenue.

Ligon said that the success and size of the company is very surprising to her. She was equally surprised to learn that she was a finalist for the 2007 Bravo! Entrepreneur Awards in the Loveland category. The business grew very organically.

“I didn’t follow the conventions,” Ligon said. “I didn’t have the business skills or a business plan.”

Ligon said the secret to her success was that she hired people to do the things she didn’t know how to do – sales being the first. Now, Ligon serves the as creative director for Interweave, which allows her to get her hands in all of her favorite parts of the publishing industry – the parts that inspired her to start Interweave in the first place.

Ligon is quick to usher praises away from herself and onto the Interweave staff and management, but Aspire Media’s Hall feels that the success of the company really originates with her.

“It’s her leadership that’s done it,” he said. “She is a one-of-a-kind person.”

Hall has been in publishing for more than 30 years. He knows that Ligon is a shining star in the industry and feels proud to know her and work with her.

“It’s one of the highlights of my career,” he said.

Ligon said that decision to sell to Aspire was made because the company was in a position of strength at the time and that Hall was the right person to sell to. The company’s position has grown under the new management. Since Aspire acquired Interweave – it’s first acquisition – it has closed on four other major deals in the crafting publications market. The company now employs about 140 at its three offices – including about 70 in Loveland.