Meet the Maker: An Interview with The Sewing Alchemist

So it's just dawned on me that after running this blog feature for over a year and a half I actually haven't answered these interview questions myself and therefore, if you have stumbled across this blog or my work fairly recently then you won't necessarily know who on earth I am or how I became The Sewing Alchemist. With that in mind I thought it would be a bit of fun to interview me! So here goes...

1. Tell us a little about you and your business.

My name is Ellen and I am the owner, creator, maker, designer, packager, photographer and all round do-er here at The Sewing Alchemist.

2. What inspired your business name?

My business name actually came about from a review I was left in the early days of my business. A customer very kindly described my work as 'sewing alchemy' and I just loved it! It always stuck in the back of my mind so when it came to 're-branding' and taking this hobby more seriously I knew I wanted to do something with it. From there The Sewing Alchemist was born!

3. How did you first discover your passion for your craft?

This actually started out as me looking for a new hobby to do through the cold winter months when I could no longer do my gardening which I had recently taken up and occupied me all summer long! I had seen some embroidery on Pinterest and really loved the concept. It stayed in the back of my mind and one day I just decided I wanted to give it a try and picked up some odds and ends from various places and gave it a whirl. After that I was hooked and it has just snowballed from there.

4. How long has your business been running?

My business will turn four this November which is just bonkers!

5. What inspires your creations?

Everything! I am particularly drawn to florals and puns. I can literally look at any patterned fabric now and come up with a pun or quote to go with it. It's a real problem.

6. What is your proudest achievement to date?

Gosh, that's a tricky one as I have so much to be proud of but very rarely (if ever) sit back and actually pat myself on the back for it. I am super proud to have made it into 'Rock n Roll Bride' magazine as that was definitely something I wanted to achieve at some point in my small business venture but I never expected it to happen so early. I definitely learned a lot from that experience (mostly how artists rarely get credited and that publicists don't care) but I am proud to have been featured. I am also proud to have been featured on Buzzfeed and that really is where my business just took off! But mostly I am proud at how I learned a skill by myself and turned it into a successful business single handedly yet still manage to love it!

7. What is the biggest lesson you have learned?

Never to sell yourself or your craft short. For the longest time I was practically giving my work away because I was too scared to charge people more than what I thought they would pay. I was terrified of losing sales and would rather lose money than actually ask for more. I would say it's only been in the last year that I have charged a respectable amount and paid myself an hourly rate and built up the courage to be able to say 'no' to people. It sounds ridiculous but I know so many other small business owners who are guilty of exactly the same thing and some who may never change that.

Know your worth, then add tax.

8. What is your favourite make?

I honestly don't know if I could pinpoint an exact make that I could say is my favourite, nor a design that I love to make time and time again. I guess if I had to say what my favourite thing to sew was it would have to be florals. I just love sewing them and each one is so delicate and unique! It's definitely my speciality but an area I was scared of at the beginning.

9. What is the best feedback you have received?

This is another tricky question (why did I make this questions so hard?) I honestly love receiving feedback- even if I do still close my eyes and grimace every time someone leaves a review just in case they aren't happy! I think knowing that I have made someones day that bit more special is always an amazing feeling, especially for weddings! It is such an important day to so many people and the pressure is so intense that getting the appreciation is even more special!

I have had a couple of really memorable reviews from slightly reluctant other halves who admittedly didn't get my craft or why their partners wanted it but then said how incredible my work was and how thrilled they were with the end result so that for me is always wonderful to hear! Nothing like winning over the men who don't see the need for 'pretty things'!

10. Is there anything you regret?

I don't really like to look back and regret because to me everything is a lesson. Yes I could have charged more back at the beginning but then would people have taken me seriously or would they have thought I was too expensive for a newbie? Would it have made me appreciate my own art or feel like I was just ripping people off? I needed to go on this journey to appreciate myself and my art.

11. What are your goals for the future?

To keep on going and keep on growing! I want to do more big commissions, particularly weddings. I'd love to be featured in a magazine that actually acknowledges my contribution and my art and of course I would love to make this a full time gig! But for now I am happy where I am and the steady progression I am making.

12. What is the best part of being a maker?

I think it's making other people happy. It sounds so corny but I love getting that response when I reveal a piece of work and people just lose it! That initial reaction is the best and knowing I have made someones day or given them the perfect gift for someone they love is amazing! I also love being part of this incredible community, full of like-minded and hardworking people. It's definitely picked me up when I have been feeling down!

13. What is your least favourite job to do?

Probably the account side of things simply because I have never been the best at maths and it makes my brain hurt. It is an area that I am super organised in which definitely helps but it is still tedious as hell.

14. What advice would you give your old self?

Believe in yourself, value yourself and stop selling yourself short. You're pretty ace. Oh and you'll nail that French Knot eventually!

15. What advice would you give other makers?

Practise and persevere. If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life!

To find out more about me and to see more of my work follow my adventures here:

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