Thursday, October 27, 2011

Start Your Own.....With Simply Solids

This is the last of guest posts in the Start Your Own series.  A great big huge THANK YOU to all of our contributor. I've learned so much from you and am grateful for your time, effort and thoughtfulness.

Our guest blogger this week is Mandy Noble.  Mandy is mum, business owner, fabric lover and opportunist.  She is creator and owner of Simply Solids, a brilliant online fabric shop in the UK.  You can get to shopping on her website or just go to have a peek around her blog if you'd like to learn more.

Thank you, Mandy, for writing such a tangible post, giving us a peek into your mindset and your family as well as how you have evolved into Simply Solids. 

Where to start???

I am 42 and mum to three gorgeous children, Jamie 10, Freya 8 and Audrey 5.  I live in a small village in the Peak District, which is absolutely beautiful - picture perfect.  My husband Lewis is a successful landscape artist and we kind of live an idyllic life!! (most of the time!)  I gave up work to look after the children and now they are all at primary school I needed to find a job that would be flexible and fit around them.  I used to be a business development manager for a large multimedia company and am pretty IT savvy so running an online store selling fabric (which I am addicted to) is the perfect solution!

My mum taught me to sew when I was little, but I never did a huge amount other than curtains till after the kids were born.  In 1989 I went to a quilt exhibition of slave quilts in Atlanta, Georgia and swore that one day I would make my own quilt, it took a good 11 years before i started one and another 7 years before that was finished!  3 kids got in the way, but once they were past the baby stage I signed up for a block a month workshop and that was it - I was hooked.

When I started quilting I was into Japanese Daiwabo fabrics so everything was very muted, but after joining flickr and discovering the blogging world I discovered new modern fabrics and fell in love.  I love bright colours and simple designs and my quilts today reflect this.  I have a mad confidence in that I will try anything and love a new challenge!!

The shop came about because I was struggling to get hold of certain Kona cotton solids in the and thought maybe I should order it in in bulk myself and sell a bit on Etsy.  Then a friend (lilysquilts) kind of bet me to start a shop - so I did!!  My job before the children were born involved web design and I have always managed my husband's business so I had a lot of the necessary skills already, I started small and am just building it up as I go along.

My goal with Simply Solids is to have the complete range of Kona Cotton Solids combined with a few other ranges - Amy Butler Solids, Kaffe Fasset Shot Cottons and some plain Linens.  I will always order in any colour a customer needs and am always open to suggestion for different ranges.  I also stock Gutermann Cotton threads and wadding meaning that customers can get everything they need to complete a quilt.  I stock Moda pre-cuts because I love them, the ranges are always changing and they offer such flexibility.  I have only been going for a year so my stock and ranges will continue to grow and grow!

I would love to expand to a bricks and mortar shop in the future, but the time is not right now with the kids, I am very involved at school and they need me around holidays and after school.  Maybe once they are older I may be able to do this and have a workshop space as well.

As for advice - I think having a business background and the ability to run my own website makes a huge difference, it keeps the costs down as I don't need any outside contractors.  I am also lucky in that my dad is an accountant and has set up my accounts system.  I would advise anyone thinking of starting out to consider all these things, profit margins are tight so you need to be able to do as much of the admin as you can and get good systems in place.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have turned my hobby/passion into a career that fits in around my family.  I don't make a huge amount of money from it but hopefully as I expand it will make a difference to our household income.


Mrs Flying Blind... said...

Thanks Cindy, and thanks Mandy! I can vouch for Simply Solids being brilliant!

Judith, Belfast said...

It's always lovely to hear from the person behind the shop! Great post and great series C! Well done! Jxo

Sheila said...

Great post - good luck with the business Mandy, hope it continues to flourish.

WandaFish said...

Thanks for sharing how you started your business, Mandy - good luck for the future!
Cindy, this has been such a great series, really interesting - thanks!

Nicky said...

Well done Mandy and it was great to meet you at FoQ! Love the solids - must stock up again soon!

Thanks Cindy - great series!

Trudi said...

Mandy is just an all round wonderwoman! And has a fab eye for fabric! Everyone should get their solids from Mandy, she provides a wonderful service and is a lovely person too :) Thanks Cindy :)

Irene said...

Brilliant post and well done Mandy. I've bought from Simply Solids and the fabric is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Thank you Cindy for this great series:)

Lynne said...

Another interesting post. Thanks for the series, Cindy and your guest bloggers; it has been most educational and enlightening.

Quilterbell said...

Great post Cindy. Well done Mandy, I will have a look at your shop today. After all these great feedback I couldn't do otherwise.

Katy Cameron said...

Great advise about starting up, so much to think about!

Live a Colorful Life said...

I love reading interviews and this was a great one.

Rhonda the Rambler said...

Thanks Cindy for another great post. I wish they were local to me but I am glad you guys have some of our great fabrics there.

Archie the wonder dog said...

Another great post, thanks Mandy - good luck for the future, I hope your business continues to flourish!

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