For the last few years I have packed up my car boot several times a week and carried 4 sewing machines and all of my other kit down to the local theatre. I once counted over 15 bags of fabric, wadding and sewing samples!
I have taught over 300 classes at Ilkley Playhouse and gained so many loyal customers. The management were amazingly supportive to me as a new business and allowed me flexible times and low rental. I am very grateful, especially to the late Walter Swan who encouraged me to give it a go.
Joining the Entrepreneurial Spark programme in February this year was a big step forward for me. It made me realise that in order to grow my company I need to be brave and believe in my vision.
Six weeks ago I went to see a studio for rent in a local mill. It was light and warm with views looking out to the Yorkshire Dales and my children's school a 5 minute walk away. I came home and did my numbers (very rare for me) and emailed the landlord to say I wanted to rent it.
With the help of friends and family we painted the walls, cleaned the carpets and filled it with furniture all set to go. I also now have 5 Janome machines including a fancy Horizon model for quilting, and a new overlocker to use.
Last Wednesday many people came to the official opening and having now taught a few classes it definitely feels like home. The part that made me smile the most this week was simply having to switch off the machines, wash my cup and then lock up at 3.20 to make it to school, rather than 45 minutes of packing up like before.
My plan is to keep on teaching and having open studio time, with a couple of days each week to concentrate on my next step. I am working on releasing skill-building kits to encourage people to start sewing with my own patterns and tools to compliment them. There are also videos tutorials to be filmed over the summer and a couple of textile art commissions to work on.
The class schedule from September will be released early next week so watch this space or follow Jenni Smith Sews on Facebook for updates.
You may also like to read my recent interview with US quilter Laurie Meyers from the blog.