One year on…..

It’s been nearly a year since my redundancy was “official” and just over a year since I decided I wanted to change my path.  For those of you that don’t know I was a senior manager in an IT department, I had a good salary, I had staff, I had/have relevant and marketable skills and yet the shine had faded.  I no longer felt like I was valued, that I could make a difference.  In a world more and more focussed on cost savings and survival it seemed that making peoples jobs easier, better, improving the experience just wasn’t enough.  Nobody thought people were important anymore, I found that sad (still do).

So cut loose at 43 after 23 years I felt not sadness but relief, how odd.  The opportunity came out of the blue but the desire to refocus had been bubbling for a quite a while.  So I stepped off the travellator, had a good look around, breathed, slept (better than I had done in years) and decided the time was now.  Does it seem crazy that at 43 with two young children (4 and 2) and a mortgage I would take such a risk?  Did I forget to mention that that in my twenties I jumped out of a plane, went caving, abseiled off buildings….. Apparently I was still that adrenaline junkie despite the years of corporate training 🙂

Has it worked ?  I don’t know.  Am I happy? beyond a doubt.  Is it sustainable?  I’m not sure.  Am I putting everything into it? you bet and then some!

So one year on in monetary terms my company is not (yet) succeeding, I am about to declare a loss of at least £7k to the tax man.  But in real terms this is working for me.  I am seeing more of my kids, I am developing as a person, I am helping people learn new skills,  I am creative.  In my space we have fun and we create beautiful things.  The world needs more of both of those things!

Are you wondering if I have my head is in the sand? if my kids are going to end up on the street?  The answer is no.  Thanks to those corporate years I know how to track profit and loss, how to read a balance sheet, cost products, negotiate, evaluate capital investment.  In short I know to run and measure my business by normal standards I just don’t choose to right now.  I haven’t taken the easier option but I have created a more fulfilling one.

So I am reflecting, I am asking how long can I keep doing this?  I honestly don’t know and it doesn’t matter, I will know when I have to get a “real job” again.  What is important right now is people, that’s it, that’s my company strategy.  I am a facilitator, I will continue to welcome people into my space, to help them with their goals.  Creativity and beautiful things aren’t everything but the joy it brings that is


Moving on up

I recently decided Sewing Space has outgrown my current workshop.  Well not outgrown exactly, deserves better facilities 🙂

And for those of you that know me I tend not to hang about when I’ve made my mind up.  So within a couple of weeks I’d signed up for a new workshop, given notice on Booth House and started planning the move.  In simple terms I’m going to pick up (nearly) everything and move it but I don’t want to give up any working days so that’s not so easy.

Step in my amazing pops who is busy prepping and painting the new workshop while I have fun making Prom dresses and holding Kids Sewing Club.  He is an absolute star ♥

Here’s a couple of pictures of his work so far, a newly painted, clean floor.  Much easier to keep tidy than a carpet in a sewing workshop 😀

And by the way that’s an outlet for a sink, we’ll have running water no more running off to get the kettle filled, Yessssss!!

Hello There

Well I guess this blog has been a bit quiet for a while.  You might be wondering why and I can quite happily tell you I’ve been busy 🙂

Since my last blog I have completed my sewing course and I’m waiting for my certificate (me and thousands of teenagers I suspect).  I’ve also enrolled on a course to get qualified to teach adults. Seems odd since I’ve been doing that for years, but I believe there’s always something to learn from someone else.  Plus more certificates so my kids realise even adults can get awards.

Speaking of my kids, CGG has started telling people “mummy sews for a living” which is cute.  I’ll be honest I didn’t know how to talk to a 3 and 5 year old about redundancy, the feelings of loss, uncertainty and the whole horrible situation.  So I didn’t. I might be over protective but it felt right.  So I guess they’re not really that aware how big a deal this is.  And it’s about to get bigger!

Yesterday I signed the lease on an office space.  Why? because if you’re going to dream, dream BIG.  I get the keys next Monday and first workshops will be in September.  Between now and then I need to decorate and furnish, set up a booking system, get all my coaching plans and “how to’s” done.  And this is just the beginning, I am so EXCITED!  So from Monday

Workshopswill be born and I look forward to welcoming you all to the “Social Sewing” experience.

Starting Again

Well OK maybe not quite.  But certainly somewhere quite close.  I’m now half way through the Fashion & Textiles course.  I expected to brush up on some of my techniques, I expected to learn some new ones but what I didn’t expect was to really start to understand the difference between sewing for a hobby and sewing as a business.  It’s been great 🙂

I had written a business plan and it includes sales projections, product costings, overhead calculations and of course my dream of holding mutli skilled craft workshops.  But it doesn’t come close to describing the step up I am now making in the accuracy of my cutting, sewing and finishing.  Or the difference between making one of something and making (hopefully) dozens.  All of which is fundamental to making a success of my new venture.

And there has been an unexpected bonus of being able to observe an experienced tutor handle a group with a huge range of abilities.  Making sure that we work as a group but each individual learns at a level they need to achieve and stay motivated.  I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks.

A few snaps of my course work (I think you’ll see more of the fabric boxes I love them!)


Business Plans, Bags and College.

Well variety certainly is the spice of life at the moment.  But I think that’s the joy of running your own business and not something I’m ever going to complain about 🙂

I spent most of my birthday talking to people about my future and where I see myself going.  From the nice lady at the job centre (my work coach), to my sister (my life coach), to the fabulous lady at Penna Outplacement (my business coach).  I feel like I’m bubbling with ideas and enthusiasm but it needs moulding into something more solid.  And that’s why it’s good to talk!

From Monday I’m attending Oldham College Sewing Academy (OCSA) where I’m hoping to hone my skills and learn the “professional” tricks.  I will also gain a certificate in Textiles and Fashion, which for someone almost completely self taught is something I’d really like.  A course courtesy of OCSA and the DWP, ta guys much appreciated.

And then in August I’m planning to attend a Self Employment Awareness seminar which I’m quite excited about because I’ll be able to mix with other people looking to start businesses too.   But also because I get to pick the brains of some successful and knowledgeable people.  I’m also going to be meeting the lady Penna have introduced me to who is going to help me with marketing, not my strong suit 🙁

And then on to September when I’m going to be on a Training and Education course.  I have been designing and delivering training for years but my workshops will be different as the focus will be much more about having fun.  As much as I loved this aspect of my previous job I have not met a single person on a SAP course who was there expecting to have fun (although I tried).

But in all the exciting things there’s the spectre of chaos, of time wasted, of failure.  Which is why, although it’s taking some time that I’d rather spend designing or sewing, I am working on a business plan.  I won’t lie working through HMRC expense claim regulations and doing product costing is NOT fun.  But at least I can see it could be successful, all it takes is hard work, a little luck and the continued support of my nearest and dearest.  Let’s do this!

Oh were you wondering about the bags?  I snuck in some sewing because how else can you cost if you don’t do a prototype?  So here are a couple from the “girly” range, they’re reversible shoppers for those who like a change every now and then.  And if you look really carefully (or scroll to the last picture) you can see my brilliant new labels from easy2name.