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.


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

Compass and Stars cover photo.JPG





Small Business 3: Design Doctor

For my third interview with women running their own small businesses, I am talking to Hannah Gibson, who  – like me – did one of Michelle Rose’s marketing courses (look back to the post two weeks ago to see more).

We met at one of the monthly meetings for Michelle’s marketing course ‘graduates’ and I was able to find out the origin of her interesting business name.


What is the name of your business? Design Doctor

When did it start?   January 2015

Why did you decide to start a business?

When I was a scientist I was passionate about that. It was my ‘baby’, but when I had my own babies my focus shifted. My parents and my sister are all self-employed; I had that entrepreneurship in me. I use some of the same skills, for example project management and problem-solving.

What jobs had you done before?

I had a background in scientific research (I have a PhD in molecular biology).

Tell me a bit about the business…

The name ‘Design Doctor’ resonates with me still, I love design and I love creativity. The business offers fully managed and maintained affordable websites, and also Wix support, re-design and SEO support. I offer website training. I develop content for people who build their own website. I do webinars which would benefit anyone wanting an online presence. That’s the design side. The Doctor is because I have a PhD. I enjoy training and helping people who wouldn’t get online otherwise. So ‘doctor’ talks about offering help and solutions. Sometimes this involves editing content to improve it.

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

The hardest thing has been managing people’s expectations.

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

Do a business plan. It doesn’t need to be a word for word document, but you need to see that the figures line up.

What is the best thing about working for yourself?

Flexibility is the obvious one, but for me it’s the fact of not having any constraints on myself. There are no limits to what I can achieve.