It's fair to say that if it wasn't for some of the female population of West Yorkshire I wouldn't have a business! So today, on International Women's Day I am celebrating everyone who supports me by coming to classes at the studio.
Back in 2011, a small group took a chance that I might be able to help them to sew when I offered quilting classes in the Promises Auction at my children's school. It was in my home, with quilt templates cut from cereal packets and the chaos of family life surrounding us. I tried my best, we cracked on together and it gave me the confidence to teach a few more people.
Three years later I rented a room at Ilkley Playhouse and went round baby groups in the town to recruit new mums who wanted to bring their babies and learn to sew. I started out with just 2 or 3 but gradually these sessions were fully booked and some amazing women joined the gang. Many of them still come to classes today, managing to carve out a bit of creative time for themselves in-between careers and family. It is wonderful to see their skills and confidence develop.
Committing to open my new, grown-up space at the Corn Mill in 2017 could have been terribly scary, but because I have so many great women who sign up to classes each month, I took the leap! My regulars are the lifeblood of the studio. They help each other, test my patterns, advise me on what to do next, bring cake, bring fish and chips, share fabric and I couldn't do it without them.
Not forgetting Kay - who I taught in those first sessions at my house 7 years ago. Officially her role is studio manager, but it is fair to say that she does quite a bit more than that! Off the top of my head job roles include sorting schedules, doing the accounts, teaching, quilt design, newsletters and keeping me on track when my head is busting with ideas and I have taken too much on.
All of the strong, creative, generous women I am surrounded by in my working life are the best part about my job. Without them, it would be a pretty dull and mediocre journey. Thank you if you are one of them.
Finally, how about, to celebrate International Women's Day, we all treat ourselves to some new fabric and carry on the good work!