Small business 7 – Raggy Robin

Sharon Robins Oct 17.jpg

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.

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.


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:

Quilting in the news

DSC_0724[1].JPGIt isn’t every day that quilting gets onto the front page, but recently in the Durham Advertiser (our local free newspaper) there it was: ‘Quilters raise tidy sum for cause’. It appeared beneath a photograph taken by Tom Banks, a professional freelance photographer and son of the person pictured. The piece reported on the recent Durham Quilters’ three-day quilt show.  All twenty members of Durham Quilters pitched in with the organisation of the show, which was coordinated by Ann Diggory and Maggie Taylor.

In the picture is Gillian Banks showing her own ‘Challenge’ Quilt to her grand-daughter Georgia. Fifteen of the group members each made a single block 15 times and gave one of these blocks to each of the others. Each quilter then used the collection of blocks in the way they chose. Gillian’s version included borders and panels of stems and leaves.

Gillian’s professional training was in Primary Education, specialising in Embroidery and she became interested in North Country Quilting when she lived in Durham in 1982. From 1985 to 2000 Gillian taught Patchwork and Quilting at various locations in the Durham area. She taught no less than eight members of the current Durham Quilters group and both of the two honorary lifetime members also.

It has made me think (again!) about the influence a teacher can have: many people now living in the Durham area are quilting because Gillian taught them. I am currently teaching a ‘My First Quilt’ course at the moment, which I enjoy very much. You never do know what someone will do with what you teach them…