Wow - I can't believe that my last blog post was in early-January! The past few months have been incredibly busy. Most of my time has been devoted to my daughter Annabel (who is now almost six months old!) and I've been working on the business from home when I've been able to. Sadly, the amount of time I've had to work on the business has been scant. I had a few good weeks in January when Annabel was taking really long naps and going down for them easily (I seem to remember that I had about 6 hours to myself during the day back then!). However, her daytime sleep patterns soon changed: long naps became 35-minute naps, with much fussing to get her to sleep and to get her back to sleep. This didn't leave much time or energy for getting much done.
Recent photos of Annabel: she's getting so big!
So, I've had to withdraw myself more and more from the business over the last few months: Annabel definitely comes first. Isobel has been doing a fantastic job keeping things going: getting your orders in the post, answering emails, posting on social media. However, due to my lack of time, there hasn't been much activity behind-the-scenes - particularly with regard to ordering new products and getting them on the website.
With my lease expiring in June, I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last few weeks about what I'd like to do with the business long-term. It's clear that things can't continue as they are. During the past few weeks, Annabel has been sleeping a lot better during the day: she's in a more regular routine with 3 long naps each day - and so I now have a bit more 'me' time during the day, and more energy (and desire!) to do things in the evening. However, I still don't have the amount of time that's needed to run the business in its current state. So, it seemed to me that my options were to put Annabel in a nursery for at least 3 days per week - or re-jig the business (making it smaller, more focused and more manageable) and bring it into my home. After a lot of thought, I've decided to go with the second option.
So, there's going to be some big changes around here over the next month! Firstly, while I have a very decent-sized room to put the business in in our flat, it's definitely not as big as our current studio, so I'm going to need to slightly downsize our fabric collection. So, there's going to be a big sale - starting now! I'm mostly trying to get rid of a good number of our rolls of fabric, as I will have limited storage space for rolls. So, there's lots of good deals to be had on many fantastic fabrics, with savings of up to 45% off! You can see what's on sale here. If you know of anyone who might be interested in our sale, we'd really appreciate it if you could let them know!
Some of the fabrics which are now on sale.
Secondly, during and after the move, the store will probably close for about a week, to give me time to set things up and restyle the website. I'll give you details about this closure closer to the time (I'm still working out the dates for the move).
What's 'The Splendid Stitch' going to look like after it reopens? One of the biggest changes will be that I'm going to start to sew regularly for my blog and my fabric buying will in the future revolve around these makes. This is somewhat similar to my current strategy of bringing in fabrics for our 'featured outfit' posts. The only difference now is that I'm actually going to be using these fabrics myself to sew up a nice, stylish wardrobe! Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this!! So, for example, I'm planning to make some summer dresses over the next few months and am going to be bringing in a number of amazing voiles, challises and jerseys. I'm also planning to make myself some trendy cropped trousers and will be bringing in some absolutely luscious trouser-weight denims, chambrays and linen-blends from Robert Kaufman. Overall, I'll bringing in more fabrics than I could possibly use, but they'll all be fabrics that I personally absolutely love and will be geared towards creating a beautiful, modern wardrobe.
To give you a flavour of what's to come, here are some of the images that are serving as inspiration for my fabric buying and sewing over the next few months:
All of these images (which are drawn from recent fashion blog posts and articles) can be found on a new Pinterest board I've set up.
I'd also love to find out what you'd like to sew. To facilitate this, I've set up another Pinterest board here where you can pin images of outfits that inspire you. I'll have a look at this board when I'm planning my fabric buying!
So, that's what's going to be happening to our fabric collection. In order to streamline the business and make it more manageable, I'm also going to make some further changes:
- I'm going to decrease the number of fabric suppliers I work with. In the past, I've bought from 24 suppliers (yikes!) and that's just too many: it makes shopping, reordering and doing payments very time-consuming. So, I'm going to hone in on some of my more favourite and reliable suppliers. To this end, I'm also probably going to carry fewer pattern companies.
- I'm going to make our social media contributions more focused: Instagram and Facebook will be where I'll primarily be hanging out.
- I'm (reluctantly) going to be discontinuing our 'sewing schools' program (we currently supply kits to students at a number of sewing schools). I absolutely love doing this, but it is really time-consuming and I just don't have the time now.
- I'm going to change the way we do samples. As many of you will know, you can get samples of all of our fabrics for 20 p each and I include two free samples with every order. I've absolutely loved both policies, as I think it should be easy and cheap to get samples of fabrics you're interested in - and I love picking out personalised samples for each order. However, the cheapness of the samples means that we often get very large sample orders which take a really long time to put together (sometimes 20-30 samples at a time!) and picking out and preparing personalised samples for each order also takes up a lot of time. So, I'm thinking of marginally bumping up the cost of the individual samples (maybe to 50 p - to better account for the time it takes to put together sample orders) and maybe including standardised free samples with each order (so, maybe two samples of some new fabrics that have just come in). If you think I'm making a big mistake in changing this, please do let me know! I've put together an online form for you to give me your input on the changes I'm making to the business. If you have some thoughts or suggestions, please do fill it out here!
So, there's going to be some big changes taking place here over the next month or so! I'm pretty excited about this impending transformation of the business, and I hope that these changes excite you too and that you'll all join me in this second leg of 'The Splendid Stitch's' journey! You'll be able to see what's coming in and what I'm making by following this blog, signing up to our newsletter, and/or following us on Instagram or Facebook.
Finally (yes, there's one more piece of big news!), I am really sad to announce that Isobel is leaving! She was recently promoted at her main job and is now unable to fit in the 10 hours a week that she currently does for us. I was really excited to hear about her promotion - but so sad to hear that she'd have to leave. She's done such a fantastic job over the last few months and I'll miss her a lot!
Fortunately, I've found a really superb replacement who will be starting next week. I'll give you more news on that soon. I think that's enough announcements for one day! :-)
To see what's on sale, click here.
To give me feedback on the proposed changes (which I'd love to receive - good and bad!), click here.