Tell us about your business. When, why and how did it come about? What was the first item you made and was it for a special occasion?
I began Perfect Patchwork in October 2009 following a dream that I had for many years, and after ‘dabbling’ for a long time. I honestly can’t remember what the first item I made was, but I would think it probably was a cot quilt in a range of colours, as that is my main love.
Describe your product range
My product range is ever growing, and focuses around patchwork and quilting. I make full size bed quilts, down to pin cushions, and numerous items in between; including bags, wall hangings, baby garments, doorstops, Christmas lines and much more. I pride myself on having something for everyone; my USP is that I never replicate an item (although I will create similar items if requested). I try and create a wide range for the home and the family, and also create bespoke items to a customer’s specification.
Where do you make your products (home, studio etc.)?
Currently I create my designs at home, but have recently moved and now have the opportunity to convert a 25 foot garage into a workshop/studio; so in the not too distant future I will be creating in a purpose designed studio.
Is this your full-time job, or do you have other employment?
FUnfortunately I am currently unable to devote full time hours to my business, as I have a full time job. I have changed my hours (at my paid job) to work full time in 4 days a week, enabling me to devote an extra day a week to the business; but I still find that there are never enough hours in the day/week.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs and product range?
Inspiration for my work comes from almost everywhere. I live in beautiful ‘sunny’ Devon where the countryside provides endless inspiration, with particular reference to colours. I love to browse the internet which also gives me inspiration for what colours to put together. Sometimes it is the customer that provides the inspiration, as we discuss and develop the ‘Perfect’ item for them.
Where do you source your materials?
I use the internet to source a lot of my fabrics, but prefer to buy in person, as screen resolution variations can lead to colour variations. I visit a number of shows a year to both gain ideas and to source new fabrics and threads; my favourite being the NEC in August each year; due to the number of international sellers who attend.
What do your friends and family think of your business and products? Do you take ideas from them as well??
My family are quietly supportive, with the occasional “how’s it going”; but my friends are amazingly supportive, coming up with ideas, but mostly providing support when I am tired or just feeling a bit down by the sheer volume of work that running a business takes.
Is your business ‘just you’, or have you got a team of helpers that you can call on?
I like to think that my business is not just me, as without the support of my friends I would not be where I am now; but realistically it is just me. Friends provide advice and support, but all the designing and creating is down to me.
“The highlight for me is the positive feedback I get from my customers and other crafters/artists. It has an amazing effect on me when people praise my work.”
Have you made good friends and contacts within the wider crafting community? Do you attend craft fairs? Where can we see you over the coming months?
I have made a huge number of very good friends on the Creative Connections website. The site is very friendly and supportive, it also has a chat room, forums, groups and runs online craft fairs 4 times a year, plus much more. I have got to know a lot of people through there. I have made a number of friends through Facebook and twitter as well. I occasionally attend craft fairs, but often find that the investment in time and money is not returned in sales or contacts. Due to my recent move I am currently exploring local events, as a means to networking more than sales.
How is business?
Business is very variable; I am finding due to the recession (I presume) I am selling more of my smaller items, and the personal commissions and larger quilt sales have dropped back.
How do you promote your work? Is it purely online, or do you attend shows/exhibitions, stock stores/galleries etc?
I promote my work predominantly online; as this is where I focus my sales (I have a website as well as a WowThankYou shop). I always carry business cards and tell people about what I do, at every opportunity.
Have you had any famous customers? If yes, can you tell us more?
I have not been fortunate enough to have had any famous customers, but hopefully one day this will change.
Where would you like your business to be 5 years from now?
I would love for my business to be large enough (profitable enough) to facilitate me giving up my paid job, and for it to support me. I would like to be having more International sales and have the time to be more creative with introduction of kits and patterns for my own designs. With this in mind I have recently approached a patchwork shop requesting they stock kits of some of my designs, and they have agreed; so I feel I am one step closer to my long term dream.
What has been your business highlight so far?
The highlight for me is the positive feedback I get from my customers and other crafters/artists. It has an amazing effect on me when people praise my work.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone looking to set up a business similar to your own?
Don’t underestimate the amount of time that the paperwork, and promotion takes up, and include an allowance for this in your pricing; don’t under price; time is money in business.
Just for fun …
Tell us a joke (keep it clean) to make us smile
What do you do if you miss your ex?
Reload and shoot again
Best book you’ve ever read, and why?
Skallagrigg by Richard Horwood is my favourite book of all time; this book focuses on a Cerebral Palsy girl tracking back through asylums looking for a lost Cerebral Palsy boy who was ‘committed’ due to his condition. The book is very emotional and has a personal link for me; it is also very well written and based on some facts.
Favourite song of all time?
Imagine by John Lennon, a very emotive song which I feel the world would benefit from taking on board.
Taken, again very emotive, and one that I would re-watch over and again; really made me realise what can and does happen to some young people.
Pets – cat or dog?
I have 2 cats, 1 called Felix because he looks like Felix from the advert, and behaved like him when he was a kitten; the 2nd one is called BB (Black Bess) and she is such a character she makes me laugh, always up to mischief.
Dream holiday destination?
Jamaica, mainly because the culture fascinates me, and I love the sunshine.