Starting a new creative Business – design, print, sew, repeat.

Taking the plunge

Hello.  My name is Alaina and I recently took the advice that my husband, friends and family have been giving me for years.  I resisted, ignored and refused their advice for such a long time.  Why?  Because they were encouraging me to follow my heart and my talents to pursue my dream job.  I know, bonkers.

I wanted to be a full time crafter for years. Ever since finishing University in 2004, I have been secretly picturing myself sitting in my kitchen with the sun streaming through the windows, writing blog posts and stitching up a storm, but giving up the stability and security of a full time job to leap into the unknown always seemed too intimidating to contemplate.

A conversation with a friend changed everything.

*Cue this friend reading this blog post and realizing it was them that inspired my daring move.  Yes, it was you.

This friend has recently taken a job in London (we all live around Yorkshire) to take the next step in his career.  As a thirty something with a house and huge network of friends in and around Leeds, this was a really big decision, one that I admire him for.

During one of our slightly boozy, Friday night Ginathons, conversation shifted to work and inevitably to my job and what on earth I was doing.   I gave the usual garbled excuse for still being in the same job and approaching my 11th year.  “I’m happy, I’m comfortable, one day I’ll start my sewing business but it will have to be when…blah, blah, blah, kittens can fly” – you know the excuses.

He said to me, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?  You could fail, but so what?  No-one will judge you for failing.”

No-one will judge me for failing?  Hang on just one cotton picking second, the thought of failing has always kept me from doing what I really want to do, fear, insecurity, lack of confidence in my abilities and how everyone will perceive that (totally normal yes?).  You mean to tell me that no-one will care?  Everyone will just carry on with their lives if my creative business isn’t the success I want it to be?  Right.  I see.

I started to weigh up what was more important to me, to try and possibly fail? Or to stay in the same job waiting for the next 10 years to creep by virtually unnoticed?

The fact that I have written this post to the soundtrack of my dogs gentle snores (and a little Paul Simon) should tell you that I’m now well on my way to launching my business, 12 years after graduating from university, and nearly 11 years after entering the corporate world, but also, exactly when I was ready.

What do I do now?

Now, I have my days to myself and can really concentrate on doing what it is that makes me happy.  Over the past few months, I have been designing fabrics and practicing making products that I really love and hope you will too!  I start with a sketch and some colour ideas, I then scan my sketch into photoshop and plough through my pantone colour chart until I have the right combination.  Once I have completed a successful pattern repeat, I send the design off to a digital print company who print onto a whole range of fabrics.

I have taken the time to source local suppliers for my materials, I have taken courses to improve my skills and I have basically gone back to the basics of design.  I have loved it and I think Albert the Labradoodle has enjoyed the company.

Process -The most important part

When studying Fine Art at University, I was always encouraged to focus on the process of making something, taking inspiration from my surroundings, from established artists, my peers, the technicians and tutors on the course.  Keeping sketchbooks and playing around with ideas helped to develop strong themes and ideas in my work which generally resulted in a successful final piece.

My textiles work follows the same principles that were instilled in me early on.  I explore pattern, colour and products until I have a combination that works.  It’s a lot of fun and it’s a natural progression from a small idea to a finished product.

For me, the process is the best part.  Gathering ideas and playing with them is a great way to start and the rest follows quite naturally.  If I get stuck, I go back to the basics, get outside and explore the environment to get inspiration, go to an exhibition, talk to friends, start again.

The joy of seeing a project through to a finished piece is immense for a maker.  If I have created something that looks good and functions well, I’m a happy Baere.  If I can make a living from doing this every day, well, that would be one occasion where I wouldn’t mind hearing hear a chorus of I told you so from family and friends.

If you’ve read this post to the end, thank you!  I realize that was a little self indulgent but I probably needed to write it to give context to what I’m doing.

I hope you’ll continue to read and follow my musings, I’m on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, links are on the homepage.  Please do get in touch via the comments section, the idea of any blog is to connect with like-minded people, I would love to hear your stories of being inspired to make a big decision, by a friend, family member or even a stranger.  Have you been given great advice that you just couldn’t ignore and did it inspire you to do something different? Tell me EVERYTHING.