Don't expect snacks when you visit the vending machine located inside of the Philadelphia barbershop Elements of Grooming. Candy bars and bags of chips have been replaced with skeins of yarn made by crochet clothing designer Emani Outterbridge. The 24-year-old creative entrepreneur, who goes by the name Emani Milan, has recently set up the first yarn-dispensing vending machine that allows anyone to select as many skeins as they like in colors ranging from light blue to neon green.
Outterbridge first learned to crochet at age 12 and launched her own online business when she was just 15 years old. Since then, she’s designed pieces worn by the likes of Cardi B. and Megan Thee Stallion, who both helped put her on the map and grow her social media following. This success has allowed Outterbridge to think beyond clothes. As the yarn vending machine shows, she is controlling the entire supply chain by creating her own yarn—giving herself more choice in color—as well as hooks and patterns.
So, why a vending machine? The idea came after Outterbridge broke her foot earlier this year and was planning for a six-week recovery. By that time, she had started work on her yarn line. On June 18, she shared her vending machine distribution idea on social media and had a very successful fundraising campaign, making enough to order three of them. Her first bright pink vending machine was up and running in late October. Future machines will be in South Philadelphia and then West Philadelphia.
If you’re local to the city, you can visit Outterbridge’s yarn vending machine at 1632 Cecil B. Moore Ave.