with Sewing B, Stapleford
In this article
Sewing B and it's amazing sewing community
Being part of a sewing community can have such a positive impact on our wellbeing. In this post I wanted to share the stories of a couple of lovely ladies impacted by one of those wonderful sewing communities created by small business owner Elaine Bell of Sewing B.
I also wanted to share some tips on how you can support your local and small businesses on Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday
The 29th November 2023 is Small Business Saturday in the USA and on the 2nd December 2023 it is Small Business Saturday in the UK.
In case you aren’t aware of it Small Business Saturday was originally established by American express in 2010 to incentivise christmas shoppers to use their AMEX cards in local and small businesses to support them at a time when often the bigger chains and online stores often get much more of our attention.
It’s been running in the UK too and is now in its 11th year, still supported by AMEX but it has become a thing in its own right.
It all started with bra making
Sewing B is a sewing shop in Stapleford near Nottingham which is the next town to where I live.
The shop has a shop area selling fabrics and haberdashery and adjoining that is the sewing studio where they run a wide variety of workshops.
The workshops run throughout the week and weekend and cover everything from beginner sewing to bag making to dressmaking and pattern drafting to overlocker projects and more, interspersed with sessions where you can bring your own project.
I first visited a couple of months ago.
I booked a one day bra making course for my mum and I as it fell on one of the weekends when she was due to visit.
On the day of the course the room was full and there were people who had traveled from various parts of the country to be there. It was Elaine taking the course that day and I loved her calm encouraging teaching style. The class reminded me how much fun it is sewing with other people as I haven’t had chance to that for a long time.
In the conversations as we sewed I mentioned that about the podcast and Elaine asked if I’d like to talk about it an upcoming social evening they were having. As you and I know, I love to talk about sewing to anyone that will listen so of course said yes.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to cover in the talk as I haven’t done anything like that on this topic before. My conversation last week in episode 73 with Barbara Burman about the importance of sharing our sewing stories was still front of mind
I decided it would be great to try out some live interviews if the attendees would be up for it. And so that’s what we did.
Highlights from Elaine's Story
"I always wanted to be a fashion designer. Always. And that was my whole ambition to design fashion. Yeah. And my mum sent me to secretarial college. She would not let me do fashion. She said, I've got to have a proper job.
I worked for a company called First Data Training for many years and out of the blue, for me, we got made redundant. I thought I'm going to do a degree in fashion
I was in my 40s with 18, 19 year olds doing a three year degree in fashion knitwear design. And I got the bug, I went on to do a master's. So I did a master's part time. Over two years and whilst doing the masters started doing sewing workshops."
Highlights from Fauqia's Story
"My name is Fauqia. It's a very beautiful name, it means the one who is preferred. But when I came to England and I heard a particular swear word which kind of made me not sure of my name and I used to say to my husband don't shout out my name.
I bought a sewing machine after moving to Nottingham, a Singer sewing machine from Debenhams, I still remember. I discovered Elaine, just by chance. I was looking for some sewing material.
So she brought me into this room, and there were all these workstations with the sewing machine and an overlocker and all kinds of stuff, for people sitting on their desks, happily making whatever they were making.
And I've not looked back. So I've been coming for almost 18 months now. And, it's kind of given me a new lease of life."
Highlights from Amanda's Story
"I did sew a little bit when I was at school and as a teenager for a few years, but then I had a long break until about two years ago.
I quite like making bags And I flip a little bit between bags and then clothes and bags and clothes. I started off making bags, first of all, and then I thought I'll never be able to make a dress or something. Elaine put this course on, it was a two day shirt workshop or shirt dress and I came on it and I didn't finish it in the two days, largely because I spend a lot of my time when I'm here just chatting.
But then I came on a Wednesday night and finished it off. And I, cannot tell you how many comments I've had about that dress. And I'm so super proud that I'd made it.
For me, it's been a whole change of life for me, really, because prior to me coming sewing, I always used to work away, have done most of my life, Monday to Friday, away from home as a consultant, and then I'd come back at the weekends.
Then we had the pandemic, and all of a sudden I was at home, and I knew no one. I think I come here more so for the, the social, the community, the people, it's like my family sort of thing.
But also I'm, still in the state of shock. I'm shocked that I've made this. How can I have made this?
I'm in the process at the moment of looking at actually how do I now reduce my hours at work so I can do more sewing, do more things that I want to do, and ultimately spend much more time doing those types of things because it, just makes me so much happier than work does and, you know, that balance has finally tipped for me. "
These stories convey the impact that sewing and the Sewing B workshops and community that Elaine has created has had on the people that are part of it.
Simple tips to support local & small businesses
Local and small businesses provide some much more than just products and services to their local communities and can sometimes get overlooked in the melee of promotions from the larger chains.
Here are 6 quick and simple ways that you can support your local and other small businesses:
Shop and locally and spend with small businesses - this might seem obvious but having worked in local high street businesses even purchasing just a small item when you visit can make a big difference.
If you use social media then support your fav local and small businesses by tagging, liking, following and commenting on their posts. This makes a huge difference to how those posts get shared especially if you save or comment on posts so even if you just say Hi it will really help.
Leave good reviews - I love a good review and you can support the businesses you love by adding a short review and if you can add a photo even better. Again it can make a real difference.
Sharing is caring - tell friends and family about businesses you’ve tried and encourage them to share their experiences with you.
Subscribe to newsletters - most businesses have a website and email subscription these days. For the businesses you love be sure to subscribe as this allows them to share offers on products and services or just let you know what they are up to.
Pop in - if you can, give your support in person whether that’s at local business events or online product launches. It helps you stay connected and it helps the businesses know that you are there.
Useful links and resources
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Thanks for taking the time to read this article and I hope you find some useful tips that you can apply.
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Thank you so much for listening and for all your support. x