In this instalment of my small business interview series, I’m delighted to introduce Carolyn Eastwood and her business, Re-Stitched With Love.
|Fabric wedding bouquets by Re-Stitched With Love.|
I’ll confess a particular admiration for Re-Stitched because it’s similar in some ways to the sewing business I ran when I was younger, but it’s so different in others and so much better! Carolyn creates hand-sewn clothes, accessories and upholstery, and carries out custom alterations as well. As if running her own business whilst working part-time as a fashion technician wasn’t enough, just before our interview, she swapped Burnley for Beijing – teaching a university fashion course for two months.
Despite all this, you’ll never meet a more down-to-earth person, and I’m happy to introduce her on my blog – over to the Q&A!
L. So Carolyn, what made you open your own business?
C. I love being asked this, because Re-Stitched with Love started as an idea I had at uni, and one summer after doing most of my work I decided I was bored and needed a new task (nothing ever changes). I started making my origami flowers using scrap fabrics and putting them on headbands to see if I could sell any, and to see if the business idea would actually work. Within weeks I was taking 2-5 orders each day, it was crazy! The rest is history.
L. You make it sound so simple, but I know that you do work very hard at it. Also, you started whilst at university, as well as working part-time. What difficulties have you faced in starting a business as a young person?
C. Learning about business has been hard because I am more of a hands on kind of person, not one for sitting down and reading. I have had to learn to be patient and focus more. I have learnt so much since starting and I still have lots to learn, but that’s the exciting part.
I work a lot on my own and this has recently proven to be hard work because I feel I am taking on too much. Starting a business isn’t easy – it’s long hours, a lot of money at risk and also your own health and wellbeing if you are taking on too much, so always make sure you are 100% committed and passionate about what you are going to be starting, because you will definitely need it!
L. You’ve kept a part-time job whilst building up your business. How do you manage your time when it comes to running a business and working?
C. When I first started it was great, but as the business grew I realised that one person can’t take on everything and it is ok to ask for help. I worked part time as a teacher/fashion technician until recently and I started realising that I was becoming stressed – maybe because I was taking on too much at my studio or maybe because I was unhappy in my part time work because I couldn’t focus 100% on my passion? I have now left my job and am currently working as a fashion tutor in Beijing for two months, and when I return home I will be focusing 100% on Re-Stitched which I’m excited about because I am going to have to be strict with myself to make sure things get completed, and put my time management skills to the test.
|Hard at work in her studio!|
L. Working as a fashion tutor and technician – they sound like dream jobs for many people! Did any of your formal qualifications help get you to where you are now? What work experience helped you to become an entrepreneur?
C. I have a degree in Eastern Fashion which sometimes does come into some of my work (which it will be doing even more soon with some new products being designed for summer 2017), but it’s just my passion for textiles, design, fabrics and my creativity that I feel shines through my work.
My degree definitely helped me meet people, travel, explore who I am and what my interests were/are, but it’s having a deep passion to want to do something in the arts that has led me to where I am now. My business degree (alongside the Eastern Fashion) showed me one thing, and that was that I was capable of starting a business.
Trust me when I say 6 years ago I never thought I would be where I am now. Every day I still take a look at what I have built up and it blows my mind! I started off on my bedroom floor making items for Christmas fairs and now I have an upholstery studio, with a new dress making room being made. Ok – I have always been an entrepreneur from a young age (selling water with crushed petals in and painted stones to raise money for charity) but it’s determination to succeed in what you love that makes ideas work.
|Carolyn’s flowers are her favourites.|
L. Since I’ve known you, you’ve been very busy with weddings, but you also make a much wider range of items. There’s accessories, soft furnishings, alterations – but what are your favourite products that you make or services you provide, and why?
C. Of course my origami flowers are my favourite because I can make so many things from them and use any fabric! I have recently started making fabric and paper bouquets which are amazing (if I do say so myself) and creating them is a wonderful way to make brides’ ideas come to life.
The upholstery work is my second favourite because I started this business with the idea of bringing old fabrics back to life, and although I do that sometimes with dresses, finding old furniture and giving it a second chance is what this whole business was built on. The transformations created are amazing.
L. Thanks, Carolyn! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Re-Stitched and for you – one thing I know for sure, you’ll always be busy!
Carolyn and I have been friends for a few years now and I’ve been extremely impressed by her work ethic – she packs so much in! You can see more of her work and find out more about her through her Facebook page – Re-Stitched With Love.
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