Hello! I’ve been feeling very reflective this week, probably because we are nearing the end of 2020 and this will be my final blog post of the year.
For many of us, including myself, it’s been the year of loss; largely due of course, to the pandemic. When driving a few days ago, a deep wave of sadness poured over me as I thought about all of the things I’ve lost this year. I know I’m not alone in this and if you too are experiencing similar feelings as you’re reading this, my heart goes out to you and I’m sending a very large virtual hug. A hug is one thing I feel many of us may be in need of right now, including myself; someone who has never really been much of a hugger!
Whilst I acknowledged my feelings in the car, I also felt a glimmer of hope and excitement as I reminded myself of the small but impactful positives I’ve experienced since June of this year; mainly due to my rediscovery of hand embroidery and the incredible support I’ve received from those close to me and you lovely lot online.
As you may already know, I’ve been running a successful greetings card and art prints business on Notonthehighstreet and Etsy for the past 6 years, after graduating and leaving a full time job at a University. The business continued to grow over the years and was at it’s busiest point during the first lockdown in England.
Whilst I was (and still wholeheartedly am) incredibly appreciative of the income and huge support I received from all of my amazing customers, I felt like I’d lost my creative spark along the way. It’d been missing for a while actually, but I couldn’t find another creative avenue to explore and felt feelings of guilt after spending so many years building up the business; especially as I realised that in one sense, it was finally at the point I’d been working towards for all of those years. I later realised I definitely needed to make a change and now was the right time.
I thought back to an embroidery kit I’d purchased to work on over the Christmas before and remembered how much I enjoyed making it. Having previously completed a Textile Design degree at Chelsea College of Arts, there was a period of time where I did quite a lot of embroidery; but it wasn’t something I felt compelled to pick up again until some 10 years later; when here we are!
In June 2020 I started embroidering more seriously. I’d planned to allow myself an initial period of 6 months to focus on it, whilst not producing paper goods for the business during this time; something I feel incredibly privileged to be able to do. I’m pleased to tell you it’s going exceptionally well; although my confidence is a work in progress as I navigate difficult feelings from my time at art college. I’m pleased to show you some of the hoops I’ve been working on since June 2020. What do you think?
After embroidering the red postbox hoop on the right for the pure purpose of learning new embroidery techniques, my Husband, Andrew (aka, my number one fan), suggested I release it as a pattern to sell online. I’d originally told him that I’d like to sell patterns online, produce patterns for magazines and one day release a hand embroidery book, which are the goals that keep me motivated each day, but the thought of writing and releasing my first pattern slightly filled me with dread!
Anyone who knows me personally will now how determined I am, so I set aside my feelings of anxiousness and wrote my very first pattern, which was later released to Etsy. I’m not going to lie, for the first week despite my efforts, I sold none. I was a little deflated, but continued to put work into the marketing and worked hard not to lose hope. Along with my determination comes impatience; so it was hard *giggles*. However, I woke up to my first embroidery pattern sale a few days later. I happy danced all the way down to the kitchen and had a smile on my face for the rest of the day!
After selling a few more in the days that followed, I decided to design another pattern. I realised it would need to be released asap due to it being a Christmas themed pattern, so this gave me lots of motivation to release it without delay. After a few late nights and long hours of embroidering (embroidery is an amazing but very slow craft for those wondering) and a weekend of writing the pattern up, I finally published it to Etsy along with the first one. More happy dances followed as this one proved to be successful too. They’re both now available as a ‘bundle’, pictured above, so if you’re planning on making them both over Christmas, it’s a little cheaper to purchase them together.
So, what have I learnt within the last 6-months of my embroidery journey you ask? Take the leap. I truly believe if Andrew, my Husband didn’t suggest I publish the first pattern, I wouldn’t even be selling right now. Whilst it’s not everybody’s goal to sell, this goal was on my list, but due to confidence being low at times, I didn’t think I was ready at that point to release my first pattern.
When I began writing my first pattern, I realised that it was actually very achievable and not as scary as I thought. I’ve had many years of reading patterns (mainly crochet, knitting and a few embroidery ones), so I’ve learnt a lot in this time about what I consider makes a good pattern. I actually have more experience than I allow myself to believe!
So, my main advice for you, if you’re at the start of a similar journey, is to take a leap of faith. Perhaps you have a small glimmer of confidence somewhere within you, if confidence is something that holds you back. That glimmer may just about be about enough to get you started on your journey; and from there, the sky is the limit. (ok, that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s true!)
Remember the kit I was telling you about earlier that I embroidered last Christmas? Well, those words are another excellent piece of advice.
So what now? I’m going to allow myself to have a break over the festive period (or at least try to), but I absolutely love Spring and all of the beautiful pastel themed colours, so I’m looking forward to designing and writing up more embroidery patterns for my Etsy shop.
I’m also going to start a newsletter which will include a free pattern each month and lots of inspirational hand embroidery content, so if this sounds like your cup of tea, if you haven’t done already, please hit the ‘subscribe’ button. I’d love to share this brand new journey with you.
Sending love and best wishes to you all this Christmas. Whilst it might not be the Christmas you may have had planned, I hope you can find small moments of joy. You deserve it!