Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Inspiring words and sound advice today from the wonderful Fiona Pullen of The Sewing Directory. Visit her amazing gem of a site for techniques, projects, news, events and inspiration - indeed it is a true one-stop-shop for all your sewing related needs!

Fiona has been such a huge support to us whilst establishing HQ but we've never met her in person (hopefully that will be rectified soon!) We wanted to get to know this brilliant lady a little better. She kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us...

Have you always been into crafting?

As a child my mum taught me to sew and knit, I used to be very creative.  As I got older university and then work took over so I didn't craft for 10 years or so.  It's only when I went on maternity I had time to get back into it again.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My crafting time is pretty limited because I work so much, so I tend to create what I need, mainly things for the house or the odd garment for my son. For these I tend to be inspired by what I see on blogs or on Pinterest.

What’s your professional background?

I have a law degree and used to do a very non-creative job working for the legal department for a firm of loss adjusters.  When I went on maternity leave I realised I didn't want to go back, and wanted to do something I enjoyed not just something that I did just for the money.

What made you start The Sewing Directory?

I was working on my mum's website (she runs a dressmaking business) and realised that I couldn't find anywhere to promote her business.  I started to think how do people find sewing businesses?  When they are looking for fabric, classes or sewing groups etc do they just have to trawl through Google?  So I decided a site which pulled that information into one place, along with some projects, competitions, technique guides and industry news would be a good idea. Luckily for me several other people thought so too!

Advice for someone trying to build their own business, please?

Research and preparation is key, I worked for 6 months before I launched to make sure there definitely was a market there, and that I was doing everything I could to reach that market from the day I started up.  Also that research never stops, things change rapidly and you need to keep on top of SEO, social media, new blogs and magazines, your competition etc and constantly adapt your strategy.

How do you promote your business?

Mainly online, I rely a lot on social media (updating 5 times a day) and also on blogs, both advertising and working with bloggers in other ways.  I used to advertise in magazines but found it costs to much and I didn't see much return whereas online the results of any advertising or promotion are so much easier to measure.  I do however write for a few magazines as I think people often pay more attention to the editorial content than the adverts.

It's also well worth taking the time to understand SEO and apply that to your site, I now get around 700-1000 hits a day purely from Google.  I did a recent SEO revamp of my site and my hits almost doubled within weeks.

What bit of kit would you be lost without?

Workwise - definitely my laptop, I've got the same one I bought 4 years ago when I started working on The Sewing Directory and it has everything on it.  When it stops working I think I may cry!

Sewing wise my unpicker!  I tend to make things up as I go when I sew which does often mean I have to unpick things and try it a different way.  I find I learn quicker by experimenting that by following instructions in a book or magazine.

What are your plans for the future?

I'm currently writing a book with Search Press on making and marketing a creative business.  The book will be on sale next year and I am also planning to build a website which will accompany it.   I've recently started doing marketing, social media and SEO training with other craft businesses which I love.  It's great fun coming up with ideas for other people's businesses as well as my own.

Is there a fellow maker whose work you particularly love?

So so many!  Carolyn Saxby is a textile artist from my native Cornwall, I love her work as it reminds me of home. I also love the stunning modern quilts from bloggers like Lynne Goldsworthy (Lily's Quilts), Katy Jones (I'm a Ginger Monkey), Kerry Green (Very Kerry Berry) and Jenna Excell (Sew Happy Geek).  I just wish I was that talented!

What advice can you give others about fitting it all in?

Expect to work all hours especially when you first start out, it is a lot of hard work.  Also don't set impossibly high standards, I used to set myself really high targets and standards and then get stressed when I couldn't meet them.  I'm finally learning to let go a little and realise it's really not the end of the world if I reply to an e-mail tomorrow instead of straight away. 

Taking some time away from the business every now and then is important too and allows you to re-charge your batteries and come back to it with a lot more energy.

To find out about the recent article Fiona wrote for Crafty magazine on online legislation for crafters, visit her facebook page.




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