Meeting Polly Leonard at Selvedge Magazine

I have subscribed to Selvedge magazine for several years and love it for so many different reasons. 

Every issue I learn stories about cloth, and the people who make it worldwide.  Textile histories and personal stories are told in detail and brought to life with breathtaking photography.

The fashion is ethically produced and always has a fascinating backstory. Every magazine includes garments that would sit happily in my dream wardrobe.  

So many artists and craftspeople across the globe have come to my attention in the pages of this bi-monthly publication, such as Celia Pym, Julie Arkel and Adrianna Torres. 

I have also learned about local women with rich textile histories including Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth who lived at Gawthorpe Hall, and designer Sheila Bownas from Skipton.

It is obvious that a lot of love goes into the production of Selvedge, and to me, that comes from the fact that it is owned by Polly Leonard who founded it back in 2004. Polly isn't simply the editor; she crafts each edition through her own passion and commitment to the endless possibilities of cloth and thread, along with her team.  It is also a business which she has built from scratch, with loyal customers across the world and a clear, strong aesthetic.  Definitely something to aspire to. 

Last week I was very lucky to take part in a mentoring session with Polly at Selvedge HQ in London. 

We discussed my journey so far in the world of sewing and how I would like to move forward in the next 12 months. Having the opportunity to speak to somebody with a huge amount of industry knowledge was so helpful. I was very encouraged that I am on the right track and able to talk through some of my main worries and questions. 

Polly told me that she launched her idea for the publication at the Knitting and Stitching show quite a few years ago now. Bravely she went with her concept and little else. She gathered a list of potential readers then cracked on and made it happen. 

I know one of my problems is that I have a lot of ideas and could be in danger of spreading myself too thin, not doing any one of them to the best of my ability. Polly spotted this pretty quickly too and, as my mum has now said several times, told me to focus on one task to begin with, and get it right! It's the best advice, but incredibly hard to commit too when you have a curious, excitable mind. Focus, focus, focus.

The promise I made was to have some physical products to show her by the end of the summer. It seems a massive leap to go from talking about a pattern or dressmaking kit, to making it in 3D. However it is what all of my research, relationship building and validation for the past 6 months has been about.

There is a very interesting quote I heard on my Entrepreneurial Spark programme and that is "If you are not embarrassed by your first product than you have launched too late".  I know what every aspect of my perfect website looks like and the packaging of my ideal pattern kits.  However I also know that you need to start small, listen to feedback, make changes and then grow. 

In the last three days I have made key decisions about my branding, graphic design and have a week-by-week plan to get me to the next step, so it was well worth the trip to London. 

A big thank you to Polly, Emma and the rest of the team.  

Find out more about Selvedge Magazine on their website here.

Please take a look at my online store also.


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