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.

Compass and Stars cover photo.JPG

 

 

 

 

Small business 2

During my course with Michelle Rose (look back to last week’s post to find out about that), she mentioned a forthcoming course offered by NBSL for small businesses in our area: Northumberland, Newcastle and Durham. I applied and got a place on the August course, taught by Nicola Jayne Little. The sessions included tutorials on using Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter and blogging for small business – and they were excellent. This was a free course, (with European funding), so I am enormously grateful for the opportunity and I am now busy trying to apply the principles I learnt… Outside of teaching for NBSL Nicola has her own business, ‘Digital Sparkles’ which provides training. It’s good to be taught by someone who is actually doing the activity in question! So she is the second small business owner in my interview series.

What is the name of your business? Digital Sparkles

When did it start?  March 2013

Why did you decide to start a business?  

I’d been running a business previously (‘Daisy Green’ magazine) for 5 years and before that I was a teacher. I wanted to work for myself rather than for anyone else.

What jobs had you done before?

Teaching, recruitment consultant, farm worker in Australia, retail sales of all kinds: burgers, shoes, jewelry and DIY products. My parents had a shop and both sets of grandparents had a shop. I think even my great-grandmother had a shop. My cousin and my brother work for themselves. Lots of people are self- employed in my family.

Tell me a bit about the business?

Digital Sparkles has changed from when I conceived it with my partner Jen. We used to provide digital content and helped other people to do digital content. Jen enjoyed doing that but I found I enjoyed empowering people to do their own digital marketing, so what I do know is mentoring and training. I teach people how to do it for themselves.

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

One challenge is that I started the business with another person and I am now doing it on my own. Our friendship has survived and we do projects together. Another is that I am now really busy and the challenge is managing all of that.

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

Understand who you are and what you are doing it for. Understand that it will be the hardest but the most rewarding thing you will do. Learn to sell – it’s not a bad thing.

What is the best thing about working for yourself?

It’s mine. Every decision is mine. I am not answerable to anyone else. I am free to do what I want. The world is open when you do their own thing. I have the opportunity to show I am good at this.