Running a small (textiles) business for five years

Today is the first of September. Here in the North-East of England, there is a change in the air and the temperature is cooler. Having brought up four children and having worked for fourteen years as a schoolteacher, the beginning of September has for a large part of my life meant the start of a new year. New beginnings were in September, not January. 

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Five years ago, I made a HUGE new beginning by starting my small business Amanda Jane Textiles on 1 September 2014. (My first ‘profile photo’ is above. This was the first day after my teaching contract finished and it was the day I registered with HMRC (the British tax office). Mine is really a micro-business.  I am a sole trader and on official forms which ask the question ‘how many people work in the business?’ the answer is: 1.

Amanda in the studio

My business model is popularly known as ‘bootstrapping’. It was important to me not to use financial credit to start the business. I used my last salary cheque to buy  a dozen sewing machines and equipment for sewing and quilting, so I could teach groups. After that, I built the business up piece by piece, paying for things slowly as and when I could.  The gift of a new laptop right at the start was a huge help – everything I do now is done from the same keyboard I am using to type this. My fabric designs are created with pencil and paint, but it’s in the Photoshop Elements program on the laptop that I put them into repeat. The money I earned in my other work role (as an Airbnb host) also helps to support Amanda Jane Textiles.

Amanda in AJTex hoodie

There’s a popular expression ‘it has been a steep learning curve’. I wonder if it hasn’t for me been more of a climb up a staircase with very uneven steps; some of them (which I am used to now) seemed huge at the time, for example setting up this very website.

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The survival statistics for small businesses aren’t good. According to Rob May (CEO  at Association of Business Executives), writing in the Daily Telegraph on 21 January 2019, there are 660,000 start-ups registered in Britain every year, but

“It’s a less talked-about fact that 60 per cent of those new businesses will go-under within three years, and 20 per cent will close their doors within just 12 months.”

At five years old today, I am feeling grateful to still be here! I have written 225 blog posts and for the last couple of years I have written one post a week, publishing on a Monday. From now on, you may well be seeing posts on Sunday, when I hope you will have time to read them. Lots of work goes in to choosing interesting topics, taking original photos and checking facts, so I’d like the blog to be read by as many people as possible. 

There are now 33 quilt and sewing patterns in my Etsy shop. ‘Sky Blue Pink’ has just been added this week.

You can see the rest of the patterns here, with links through to the Etsy shop.

There are 115 fabric designs in the online studio on the Spoonflower website here and I am starting to make a catalogue of them here on the website – with links to click and buy. This is going to take some time, but the tea-towel fabrics are on, including this one:

A tea towel design featuring a 1940s recipe for Parkin (ginger cake) by Amanda Jane Textiles, the recipe is a facsimile of a handwritten recipe on cream paper with a wide dark purple border

Parkin (ginger cake) tea towel design by Amanda Jane Textiles, design fits on a fat quarter of fabric 54″ wide. Click on the image for more information.

Over the five years, I have been contributing to magazines. You can see information about this here. This is the latest: ‘Ma maison’ (a doorstop in the guise of a French house).

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This year, I rented a studio, which was very exciting. You can read about it here.

'Colours of Mexico' quilt hanging in the studio at Ushaw, Durham 

So as I head into year six, I would like to thank all of you who read my blog, especially those of you who subscribe, those of you who buy my patterns and fabrics and each of you who is kind enough to tell your friends and relations about my small business, so that it can continue to thrive.

Thank you for reading my blog. Quilt patterns are here, Fabrics are here, Classes are here.

Let me know what you think!

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