After the birth of our daughter however I had to change plan and my mother in law got me onto quilting. Frustrated with the limited choice of contemporary fabrics I started screen printing my own on the kitchen table. I transitioned from fabric - lover to fabric designer out of necessity. A few years ago there wasn't many modern, vibrant fabric designs available so I started making my own. It wasn't a conscious choice to make a career out of it but a gradual transition. But once we realised people like our fabrics and would pay for them we got hooked! The feedback was very encouraging so I took it up a level and debuted my fabrics at the Sydney Quilt and Craft show in 2008. Since then I've been totally immersed in designing patterns and motives predominantly for fabrics.
In my free time, I make a bit of everything and my sketch book is always close by. However, it's a blurry line between free time and work time as I love what I do so much. So, really, free time means doing something totally different, like Yoga, drawing, going for walks on the beach, reading blogs, doing fun stuff with my husband and daughter.
I was never worried about leaving a "proper" job to pursue fabric designing as I didn't really have a "proper" job to give up. I was lucky enough to do what I love and turn it into a business slowly. In a lot of ways it is a relief to be able to focus on patterns and not run a fashion label. I'm worried sometimes as the amount of effort and time we invest is not always reflected on the balance sheet, especially in these quite difficult economic times.
I'm sure every small business owner would agree that the difficulty is to find a balance between work and life, and not making things that used to be fun into a chore. Also, once you start turning a hobby into a business there's a lot you need to learn that has nothing to do with why you started it in the first place.
I never stopped learning, particularly because I work on the computer so much and software keeps improving and changing. We've cobbled together business advice from friends, books and online as we needed it, but we're now at a point where we're looking to find a business mentor to take us to the next level. Also, partnering with our current distributors has helped a lot to focus on what I do best, which is designing.
And though I run my own fabric label I do design for other companies as well. Which is nice, as I don't have to be involved in the production and selling process but can just send off a design and it's done. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive as I have so many designs that will never make it onto my own fabrics, designs that we plan to sell.
In fact I want to expand my bespoke design services, so if you're looking for a custom design let me know!
I think everyone has to find their own way and make it work for them, their situation, how much time they can invest, etc. It definitely pays off to have someone to help you with the things you struggle with as running a business involves so much these days. I'm lucky enough that my husband complements my skills in many ways. One thing is for sure, you can't be half-hearted about it. You got to be really passionate about what you do as the shine will wear off sometimes and it's the love for your work that will get you through the challenges you're facing.
Thank you, Saffron, for contributing to the Start Your Own series here at Fluffy Sheep Quilting. OK, my flock of Fluffy Sheep...get over to Saffron's shop then come right back here and leave a comment to enter the giveaway. I will use a random number generator on Friday night to choose the winner of the giveaway! Good luck :)