Meet the Maker
Hi I'm Ellen and this is my crib. Well actually, this is my brand spanking new website. It has been a long time in the making and something that I feel incredibly proud of, not only because it looks great but also because I finally found the time to make it, all by myself. That seems to be the theme of this business after all. I am a lone wolf.
I am the creator, designer, maker, photographer and packaging extraordinaire over at The Sewing Alchemist.
So who am I? Well I am a twenty something based in Luton, Bedfordshire in England. I live with my very patient other half and our two rescue pooches. I work full time as an administrative assistant in the day and by night (and at weekends) I am The Sewing Alchemist. It sounds very dark and mysterious and as if I must live a thrilling life in an eerie house in the country. The reality is that I sit on the sofa until my bottom goes numb and sew all day long, forgetting about the numerous cups of coffee I've made along the way. It isn't as glamorous as it may first sound but I like the title.
This little business of mine started by total accident. I started sewing because my other hobbies were no longer satisfying my needs. I loved baking but when we moved house our box of a kitchen was hardly worthy of a visit from Jamie Oliver. I had recently got into gardening but as soon as the weather turned cold and the ground was hard enough to break a fork I decided better of it. I didn't want to spend my entire winter scrolling through social media watching everyone else having a better time than me so I decided to do something about it. A new hobby. A fresh start. Something I could really get my teeth into.
I had seen so many things on Pinterest that not only made me want to take up several new hobbies but also redecorate our entire house, visit a number of strange lands and also buy a loom, because why not. #pinterestmademedoit One of the hobbies I had seen was embroidery. My attention was immediately captured and after doing a little research I decided to give it a whirl. What was the worst that could happen? Besides stabbing myself with a very small, sharp object.
I picked up a tatty old embroidery book and some thread that smelt like Grannies at a charity shop, used an old pillow case for fabric and bought a questionable looking hoop from somewhere in China. I also managed to find a printable design online and using nothing more than the basic skills I vaguely remembered at school, I got started. I loved it. I made that hoop in a matter of hours and immediately ordered more questionable looking hoops. Yes the stitches were wobbly and the tension was poor but back then I thought I was the next May Morris.
For my next hoop I decided I wanted to design it myself and I did. Two words- Poop Emoji. That was my next hoop and that is where my journey into business started. I posted a photo of the finished piece on social media and immediately I was asked to make one for a colleague. I agreed and charged her a ridiculous fee of about £4 which certainly didn't cover the extortionate rate of postage from China but I was young, excited and knew nothing of 'business'. As soon as my colleague received the hoop she urged me to create a Facebook page and sell more declaring everyone would go mad for them. I looked down at that silly poop emoji hoop and thought 'nah'. But I did it. I made a Facebook page and before I knew it I had orders coming in left right and centre from people I didn't even know. I was soon asked to make pieces for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. I was totally out of my depth but loved every second of it. That was November 2015.
Fast forward to now and I have somehow managed to create a successful business that never has an empty order book and one that has people booking months in advance to be in. To say it's utter madness would be fairly accurate. But I love the madness. I love those moments of sheer panic where I wonder how I can possibly work a full time job, maintain a tidy household that has food in the cupboards and bog roll a plenty while also keeping my customers happy. I love those late nights where I'm manically sewing so I can get this hoop in the post the very next morning even though it's not needed for weeks. I love those times where I'm almost finished with an order and then realise I've run out of the exact colour thread I need... Oh, wait.
The point is that no one tells you how hard running a small business will be and no one tells you just how much you have to be able to do to keep all the plates spinning. But also, no one tells you just how amazing being a girl boss will be and that my friends, is the thrill of it all!