Small business 7 – Raggy Robin

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This week, for the seventh in this series of interviews with (female) small business owners, I am very happy to be talking to my friend Sharon Robins, who owns a business located in the City of Durham (UK). Sharon and I are members of the same quilt group, so I have been privileged to see the development of her business at first hand.

What is the name of your business?      Raggy Robin

 

When did it start?     May 2015. (My Etsy shop began in 2014.)

 

Why did you decide to start a business?

I wanted to work in a creative career, which I wasn’t doing before. I wanted to incorporate my teaching training as well.

 

 What jobs had you done before?

I worked in the NHS for 12 years, in retail, in a factory, doing office jobs, I cleaned houses and worked behind the bar in pubs and clubs. It was never fulfilling – that thing where you want to get out of bed on a morning.

 

 Tell me a bit about the business?

I had an environmental background. I wanted to do something that would bring in the idea of ‘think globally, act locally’. I can help people locally to recycle and re-purpose. I write appliqué patterns, encouraging people to re-cycle or even use the tiniest bits of fabric, hence the name ‘Raggy Robin’.  In the shop, I have the saying ‘Your aim in life is to find your passion and your purpose in life is to share it’. My ‘Patch Club’ started with the idea of using just small pieces.

 

 What things have been difficult for you in setting up/running your business?

Doing everything yourself, when you are a one-man band: shopping, cleaning, accounts, serving in the shop, teaching, running the website, answering every email.

 

 What would you say to someone in the early stages of setting up a business?

Don’t have all your eggs in one basket! You must have multiple sources of income.

 

What is the best thing about working for yourself?

I just love the freedom and the creativity. I can just invent something, make something new, invent a new stitch, host a sewing party if I want to.

http://www.raggyrobin.co.uk/

This is the last of the Small Business interviews for the moment. You can find the previous six here, here, here, here, here and here.

 

 

And in other news…

My cot quilt pattern ‘I Spy A…’ appears in the current edition of Quilt Now.

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It’s a colourful quilt that uses novelty prints set in a maze-like trail – lots for a young child to look at. You can find the pattern on page 84 of Issue 41, which looks like this:

Small business 4 – Green Man Quilts

For the next in my series of interviews with women who own a small business, I’m talking to Sheena Roberts.  I met Sheena at Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire whilst doing a level 3 City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting Certificate course,  taught by Barbara Weeks.  At the time Sheena and I were both employed in other spheres but we are now both self-employed with our own small businesses.

It was a pleasure to catch up with Sheena recently at the NEC, during at the Festival of Quilts (see my posts about this here, here, here, here and here), where she managed to take a little time out from her role as The Quilters’ Guild Festival Officer to talk to me.

DSC_0382What is the name of your business?   Green Man Quilts

When did it start?    January 2010

Why did you decide to start a business?

I had always wanted to be able to use my patchwork and quilting skills to earn money.  I realised I couldn’t earn enough from making things. I had a flash of inspiration that I could use my skills in teaching and build a business that way.

What jobs had you done before?

Primary School teacher, library assistant, office administrator, make-up artist. I was involved in a direct sales business. It was that introduction into business and multi-level marketing that gave me a good grounding.

Tell me a bit about the business?

I teach predominantly beginning or early patchworkers and quilters. Despite that, all my classes have a strong design element to them. I don’t teach from kits. There is always the opportunity to adapt, change and challenge.

What things have been difficult for you in setting up/running your business?

Getting ‘bums on seats’! It’s very hard as a new business to be well enough know to fill classes of 12 or 16. I found that an insurmountable battle. As a result, I refocused my business on providing personalises classes for much smaller groups.

What would you say to someone in the early stages of setting up a business?

Don’t stop. Never turn round. Never go back.

What is the best thing about working for yourself?

The freedom to respond creatively to fresh challenges.

http://greenmanquilts.co.uk/

 

And in other news… there’s a new pattern, ‘Compass and Stars’. You can find it here.

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