By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Sep 30, 2015 at 7:38 PM Photography: Royal Brevvaxling

Kate Mau will soon open Wild Haven Fiber Company, a lifestyle store for knitters, crocheters and fiber lovers. The business is located at 2658 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in Bay View.

"The shop will focus on fiber for the knitter and crocheter that is not found at big box craft stores," says Mau. "I will focus on natural fibers and carefully selected accessories and notions for the beginner and advanced knitter or crocheter. I'm partnering with local artists to create special items for fiber lovers that will be unique to our store."

The shop will also offer classes that range from beginning to advanced knitting techniques, tabletop weaving and possibly macrame.

"I want the store to appeal to those that feel on the fringes of a DIY lifestyle. Maybe they don't knit or ‘do a craft’ but they still enjoy the warmth of something handmade," says Mau. "I don't want people to feel intimidated by taking a class, either. I love helping people learn something new."

Mau, who is the sole owner of the shop, plans to open in early October. This is her first business.

A knitter for 15 years, Mau sold her work online and at local craft fairs like Art vs Craft and Hovercraft. Most recently, she self published a small book with five of her own knitting patterns.

Mau has an art school background with a master's degree in art history. She taught art history and humanities courses for nine years and currently teaches at Wisconsin Lutheran College and Lakeland College. She also helped run a small college art gallery and has extensive experience working in small, local business as well as in retail management. Right after college, she worked at Stone Creek Coffee and later at Milwaukee Community Acupuncture.

"I'll keep teaching art history to help pay the bills and because I really enjoy it. I would eventually like to make the store my main gig," she says.

Milwaukee has seen a couple of yarn stores come and go over the past decade, but Mau is confident that Wild Haven has what it takes to stay in business.

"I think any kind of retail is still struggling right now but numbers among other yarn shops in the US are starting to show a slight increase," says Mau. "Knitting saw a big resurgence in the early 2000s and right now there is a shift among knitters to move away from the ‘crafty' knitting and really care about where their materials come from and finding beautiful, artistic designs to knit. It's difficult to get away completely from things that are manufactured in China but we can have that discussion now finally."

More than a "yarn shop," Mau says she envisions her business as a "lifestyle store for fiber lovers."

"The products might be geared towards knitters and crocheters but they are not exclusive to them. For example, a well-known local artist is making project bags specially for our shop that will be perfect for small knitting projects on the go," she says. "But anyone who loves something handmade can really purchase them. Yarn hoarders might love stocking up on baskets to store their stash but just about anyone can find a spot in their home for a useful basket."

To keep things fresh and interesting, Wild Haven will offer a rotating stock of new yarn and storefront windows that will seasonally change with displays made by local artists and art students. In the future, Mau plans to have a pop-up boutique that features indie yarn dyers and knitters or crocheters who sell items they make.

Mau grew up in Beaver Dam and has lived in Milwaukee for 18 years.

"I've lived in just about every neighborhood in the city: Wauwatosa, West Allis, Riverwest, East Side and Bay View," she says.

"I like that I've known people here long enough now to have watched them grow and evolve, get married, have kids, start businesses, make changes in their community. It feels like home to me. I can't leave my house without having a conversation with someone I know. There is great comfort in that," says Mau. "I'm excited to meet other knitters, designers, fiber artists, and DIYers."

Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.

As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.

She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that. 

Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.

Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.

In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!

When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.