With a love for building and creating since her childhood days, Annikka Priya Rodriguez, a third-year aerospace engineering student, establisheda crochet business last January from her Pomona home, one stitch at a time.
Rodriguez sells an assortment of unique hand-crocheted items — from bags and bandanas to stress ball plushies — using recycled products through her small business, Annika Crochets.
Though she began the business by selling beanies, she diversified her products since the launch to include a variety of items that follow current market trends. She finds inspiration for new products using social media platforms and her inventive wit. Items are updated seasonally — with the latest addition being flower earrings just in time for spring.
“I am always doing things with my hands,” Rodriguez said. “In class, I’m crocheting and if I’m in a meeting and I don’t have to show my face, I’ll be crocheting. It’s my stress reliever like how some people like the little stress balls.”
Rodriguez also gives back to the community by donating 10% of her proceeds to charity.
This past March, Rodriguez donated her handmade beanies to St. Vincent De Paul Lancaster Shelter Program, a homeless assistance organization in Lancaster, California, that supports the homeless community by providing housing, food, employment opportunities and basic necessities.
In the same month, she also donated 10% of her proceeds toStop AAPI Hate when the awareness surrounding the discrimination that the Asian community faces reached its peak. When donating, she seeks organizations that she believes do the most significant work in that month. Other times, she accepts suggestions from her customers on the charities to donate to.
“I knew if I encouraged people to buy stuff and said that 10% of the proceeds would go to a charity, not only would they be helping me keep busy and stay creative, but they are also donating a part of what they are sending me,” Rodriguez said.
According to Rodriguez, she began crocheting when she was 10 years old but revived her hobby during the pandemic to make beanies for her and her boyfriend as a pastime. Shortly after, Rodriguez received requests from her family and friends to have their own beanies, which inspired her to launch her online shop.
Ever since she was a child, Rodriguez enjoyed working with her hands which flared her enthusiasm for hands-on work like arts and crafts. Her passion for handcrafted projects resonates in her decision to pursue a career in engineering.
“With all these things I grew up doing, that was sort of just the path that I was taking that wasn’t art-related, but I would like to say that engineering does involve art and creativity,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez feels that crocheting is similar to her work in the engineering industry because they both require her to utilize innovation and creativity. She strives to continue her small business while pursuing her engineering degree at Cal Poly Pomona with steady growth.