The Start of a New Chapter
I still find it highly amusing that what once started out as a hobby at the dining table has become my full time job and bread and butter!
If anyone would have told me what this faffing with a needle and thread malarky would evolve into when I attended my first craft fair, I think I would have laughed and said "Don't be daft!"
I think it's sometimes easy to forget the journey I've actually been on. When I sit and think about it and take myself back to the beginning, I realise that I really didn't have a clue. I'm not fibbing when I said I was winging it - I knew nothing about websites, social media, marketing, networking, tax, legal protocols, trademarks, copyright, and gosh, even the sewing part to be honest. I just latched onto the fact that I loved my new found hobby that was sewing at home - generally in my pyjamas, mostly hand sewing on a tray on my lap in front of the tv! Motivation, determination, passion and drive are a wonderful thing in getting you to learn about all those scary things!
Sewing in my pyjamas led to attending a number of craft fairs. (Don't panic I didn't attend these craft fairs in my pyjamas - I did make some kind of effort)! Some were wonderful, meeting many new friends. Some blimmin awful and on many an occasion made me question what the heck I was doing. However, I did keep in the back of my mind that however soul destroying it was to stand there for 6 hours, smile on my face and returning home with nothing more than pennies in my pocket, it was a cheap marketing tool and I resigned myself to thinking that in order for people to buy from me, they first needed to like and to trust me. So I went to hundreds of craft fairs, not to make money, but to get my face known and develop a brand that would become more than I ever anticipated.
After a short period of time I vacated the dining table and moved into my first studio. It was very quaint. I rather much felt like Harry Potter in his room under the stairs, but it was mine and meant we could eat dinner at the table at home once again! Funnily enough, these days, more often than not it's dinner on laps, despite having full access to the dining table!
Very quickly, I outgrew the little studio and moved out - not far, just down the stairs - it was fabulous, with plenty of space and meant I could offer workshops. I wasn't there long though, much to my surprise. On the quiet, I became aware that the shop across the road was shortly coming up to let. I dithered. A lot! It was such a risk, but I felt it was the next natural progression. The shop opened in July 2016 and it was the most exciting, nerve wracking thing ever! Josh, from The Great British Sewing Bee came to officially declare the shop open and it's been one hell of a rollercoaster ever since.
I've made a mess and knocked some walls down, moved many a display around, been frustrated, cried, laughed and done more happy dances that I can count. I've taught endless people how to sew, worked with schools, the elderly and grown my brand into something I'm incredibly proud of. I'm proud to support other crafters and artisans through my shop and to employ a team of people I am incredibly lucky to have supporting me.
My products have evolved considerably over the years and I've finally found the direction I want to move in. Moving into 2019, having close to 60 stockists under my belt, including The National Trust in Wales and a brand new easy to navigate website is the start of the next exciting chapter.
I'm beyond grateful to everyone who supports Sweet Williams - it's appreciated more than you'll ever know and I can't wait to share what comes next.