This weeks interviewee has a shop crammed with beautiful things. I just love Cosima Crafts eye of fabric and prints. I do hope you enjoy this instalment of creative corner.
1.Hi I’m Sue, I live in Essex in the UK with my husband 2 children and 1 very cute rabbit.
I’ve loved sewing since an early age, where I used to sit and watch my mum clothes and accessories for the family and the home.
Tell us a bit about your business.
2. I’m an experienced sewist and design my own sewing patterns to use with oilcloth/laminated cotton fabric.I love choosing both pretty and fun prints to use with my designs to make pretty bags and accessories for women and children, to sell, to make commissions from and to use for myself and family.
What made you start your own business?
3.I started sewing with oilcloth when my daughter was young, she was small for her age and I wanted an apron for her while she was baking but couldn’t find any small enough to fit her. Then one day I found a lovely scottie dog oilcloth in a local fabric shop and decided to make her an apron. From then on I fell in love with sewing with oilcloth and creating new bags, aprons, tissue holders and much, much more. My second child came along and I stopped working at my day job to care full time for both of them. As a mum to now two young children I found oilcloth to be perfect fabric to use for my day to day essentials as it is both durable and wipe clean and I wanted to share this with others and so Cosima’s began.
Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
4. When I was young my mum had sent me to sewing classes, unfortunately sewing was not encouraged by my school and living in a rural location I found it difficult to turn my love of sewing into a career. I did not stop sewing and always found opportunities and reasons to sew. Prior to starting Cosima’s I found some local sewing classes and joined these to brush up on my skills and continue to do this to enable me to continually update and create new items.
Explain your creative process.
5. I spend lots of time researching new products before I start making them. This involves talking and listening to my customers about what they like, items they would like me to make or they find are not readily available. I then research these products and make designs unique to Cosima’s and work well in oilcloth fabric. To ensure these products work well and gain feedback I have a panel of people test out samples and give me their opinions. From this I go forward to create the finished design. Part of this process involves looking at prints and sourcing prints that work and look nice with the product. Once all this has been completed my new product line is then photographed by my husband – I am really fortunate that my husband is a photographer and takes all my product shots. These are then added to my shop and outlets.
Describe your typical day.
6. I get up early each morning to sew in the family workshop while the house is still quiet and make a lot of my items then. My day is generally filled with taking to children to their groups and looking after them before returning to sewing in the evenings after dinner. My husband is great and as he is a photographer often works from home and helps out with looking after the children when I’m extra busy.
What’s your biggest seller?
7. My most popular item is my colouring bags. I designed them to help keep children amused while out and about. As a mum I often found restaurants were slow at bringing colouring activities and when they do crayon are often broken or are constantly being dropped on the floor. These colouring bags are great as there a little pockets for the crayons on the front of the bag and a large space for the colouring book on the inside.
I made the crayon pockets the correct size that when the bag is tipped upside down the crayons won’t fall out, but made sure children are still able to place them in and out easily. My kids love them and lots of my customers come back for more, saying how much their children have enjoyed them. I love them as restaurant trips, car journeys, doctors waiting rooms, etc are not a lot more peaceful.
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What have been the high and low points of running your own business?
8. I’ve found lots of highs and lows running my own business. My highs are when I have a new product I’m excited to share and when I meet my customers and they return to tell me how much they have loved my products. I love choosing new prints and creating new product lines.
I find juggling being a full time mum and running a business can be difficult at times and have come to realise it’s best to take a step back and breathe before moving on. I’ve learnt that I need to plan my week as working from home the days can pass quickly and they are often distractions.
What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
9. My top tips for running a creative business would be to plan lots, but not get too bogged down in the planning that you never actually start what you want to do. There are lots of great tips and sites on the internet but sometimes its easy to get bogged down by reading them all. Another is that your creative business should be something you love doing, sometimes we all need a break and/or spend a bit of time on ourselves.
What are your aspirations?
10. I’ve recently started renting a unit in an Art and Crafts Centre. I would love to find more outlets similar to this to sell my items from.
A goal both myself and my husband have is to design a fabric print of our own. To use for our products, to make our products truly unique to us.
Where can we find you?
11. I sell through a range of different places, you can find Cosima’s at the following
Dedham Art and Craft Centre, Essex CO7 6AD www.dedhamartandcraftcentre.co.uk
Tuesdays at Greenwich Market, London
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