Musings on Sewing as my Career
(Back when Thread Theory was just getting started - the school fashion show)I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about what shape I want sewing as a career to take for me. Only a few months ago I made the transition from part to full time work on Thread Theory while, around the same time, Matt switched from working on Thread Theory half time to working full time at the local fire hall. All of a sudden, almost all the tasks that Matt had been doing regularly for our business were now to be done by me. It has been a struggle to learn tasks that I am not naturally inclined to do - for example, Matt has always taken and edited our photos but since he doesn't get home until the light is already too dim to do a photoshoot, photography is now up to me. Matt also used to create our cutting layouts and sizing and fabric requirement charts. I have now learned to do these and am quite proud of the system that I use! This transition has taken several months and has been slow and frustrating at times. I've been careful only to assume Matt's old duties at a pace that I can manage because I didn't want to just quickly memorize the steps and then not understand them enough in the future to adapt to unforeseen issues when they arise. Instead, I've learned Matt's process and then analyzed it and changed it to better suit my way of working. For example, I've changed our wholesale ordering system, I've re-formatted our filing system, I've revised our deadlines and the manner in which we create business goals, and I've been working on creating a more effective and systematic blog (still lots to do on that). I guess why I'm discussing all of this is that I have seen quite a few very inspirational blog posts about sewing careers of late. For example, take a look at Megan Neilson's lovely post about her decision to put family before writing a book, Heather Lou's announcement about quitting her previous career to take the leap into running her pattern company full time, Sarah's really inspiring discussion about what success means to her, and Andrea's discussion on sewing for money. All of these thoughtful articles, paired with my recent switch to working on Thread Theory full time, have got me ruminating... While Matt and I went through the long process of transitioning how we operate Thread Theory over the last few months, pattern development slowed down considerably. This is back to being in full swing and it feels to me like Thread Theory is at the start of a new era! When we began the transition process, I came up with two key themes I wanted the new Thread Theory era to include. The first is systematic pattern and product development. This has been the goal for an entire business quarter now but I think this will likely take up to a year to become a reality. Plus, I must also keep the realistic expectation that kinks and speedbumps will always occur no matter how hard we try to avoid them! All the same, I would like, and have plans, to develop a certain number of patterns each year under pre-set themes and a season-relevant schedule. The second key theme is the largest and maybe the most complicated because it is a psychological change. Matt and I are changing how we approach owning a business - in the last era it consumed our lives (happily!) but in this new era it will be a tool for us to live the lifestyles we want. We have decided that the Thread Theory honeymoon phase is over. Nothing dramatic caused this but we suddenly find ourselves less inclined to talk at (not to) family members for hours on end about Thread Theory whenever they ask what we've been up to. We want our lives to include more than the tunnel vision we have developed that pushes us ever forward towards our next Thread Theory goal. So we've been working to give poor old Thread Theory a little bit of breathing room. For me, this psychological change is a big challenge (it ended up being quite easy for Matt because his increased involvement at the fire hall helped pull him away from a single-minded Thread Theory existance). But I've been really working hard to use Thread Theory as an excuse to actively forge connections and opportunities with the sewing community, both online and in real life. I'm sure many more changes will come over the next year if I stick to my plans to use Thread Theory as a tool...but here are the triumphs so far!
- I began with the small step of purchasing a new phone (my last one was so old that it couldn't operate Instagram!) and am loving connecting with other sewers through Twitter and Instagram. If you have either Twitter or Instagram and I don't already follow you, let me know as I would love to do so!
- Next, I've signed up to help with Comox Trunk and Newcastle Cardigan workshops in Victoria. These workshops are being held at The Makehouse, which is an amazing studio in Victoria where you can rent sewing machines, attend classes, meet other sewers, and even borrow from the extensive library of sewing patterns! If you live in the Vancouver Island area, I highly recommend the Makehouse workshops...and I'd love to meet you at one of the Thread Theory ones! Check out the schedule here (note: I won't be at every one so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to make sure we can meet!).
- Thread Theory is also signed up to be part of CREATE, a brand new sewing event in the Comox Valley (held Nov. 7 & 8)! This fair is being hosted by Island Sewing and Embroidery whose owner, Christa, has so kindly and persistently persuaded me to step out of my comfort zone and teach two classes during the event! I'll be teaching two Comox Trunks classes and will also be doing two bag making demos (using our Bag Making Supplies kit). I'm really excited for my first foray into teaching.
- Lastly, Nicole (the new sewing friend that I mentioned last week) and I are starting a local sewing group called The Makers - Comox Valley. I've been reaching out to friends and strangers alike to talk sewing and see if they are interested in the group (if you know me in real life, you would know that I'm super shy and that this is quite the feat for me!).