This year has been such a rollercoaster for Sew Me Sunshine. I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the year and to let you know what you can expect from Sew Me Sunshine in 2021.
The year started as planned in our first floor office space. We got lots of new exciting stock - lots of different buttons, amazing ex-designer fabrics from Italy and new fabrics from well known brands. I also started the year really well by actually doing some sewing - I had a sew day with Joy from Pink Coat Club in Cambridge.
In February Lisa and I went on a road trip to Birmingham to attend the first trade show (I had planned to attend quite a few international ones in 2020) that we had planned to attend in 2020. We found some great new stockists, and caught up with some of our current stockists.
Then late February arrived and we exhibited with The Fold Line at our first ever show. We had so much fun at the Stitch Festival, and I loved being able to meet lots of our customers in real life.
Everything so far was going as I had planned for 2020, but then COVID-19 happened! The UK entered a full lockdown at the end of March. The building that I run Sew Me Sunshine from locked their doors, and because I didn't have my own access at the time, it meant it was very hard for me to enter my studio space. We were given a few hours warning, so I had to go back by myself and load my car up with as much stock as I could. This was even more stressful because the building managers decided to shut off the lift! After a few meltdowns & tears I managed to get about 1/5 of stock back home with me, and moved it into my old garden studio. I then spent hours taking stock off the website that I didn't have, and arranging an alternative method for sending out your parcels. I look back and I still cannot believe that myself and Mr Sunshine managed to keep going during that initial lockdown. We both were working and looking after baby sunshine. We split the week - I worked every weekend and every evening from 5pm and I normally didn't finish until midnight, I would then get up so I could leave the house at 6.30am with all the post in a trolley and would take it to my local post office so it could be processed before they officially opened. Our house became a fabric warehouse, ALL deliveries were diverted to our house and it became quite difficult to move. Once the rules relaxed slightly, Lisa was then able to attend the office again which meant I could slowly re-add stock to the website as Lisa was able to go in to cut fabric that was in the office and I could collect it to take home again.
During this first big lockdown, we quickly realised me taking a huge trolley load of parcels to the post office was not a good long term solution. Mr Sunshine thankfully took on the task of setting up our Royal Mail business account, and he learnt how to use it. Once this was set up, post people would come to our house and collect the bags of our mail - it was a game changer!
When running Sew Me Sunshine from home I was a guest on the New Craft House podcast which I loved doing, you can listen to my episode here.
And then we were in June. The rules had changed and it meant that I could move Sew Me Sunshine back into it's proper home (yay!) It also meant that Lisa and I could pack orders together and I didn't have to work every night! After a little while, I realised I needed more help with order fulfilment, so Ruth started working at Sew Me Sunshine. Ruth worked hard getting through ALL the remnants that had built up during the first lockdown, and she learnt how to fulfil orders.
In June I put into place an anti-racism and anti-discrimination policy and action plan which you can read here. During June and since I have spent a lot of time educating myself and reflecting on racism and discrimination. There is still more I am planning on doing once we are able to; one of these things is to host open days with other sewing businesses in the sewing community, specifically businesses in the black and minority communities. I am also aware that I haven't worked on my blog much this year due to covid-19, but this is something I am keen to work on more in 2021 and I have got someone joining the team to help make that happen. As part of my action plan I am now donating 1% of my monthly profit to a charity organisation; the first charity I donated to was the Runnymede Trust, Runnymede is the UK's leading independent race equality think tank.
In June I also participated in the online Sewing Weekender that was hosted by The Fold Line and English Girl At Home. I provided items for the virtual goody-bag and a short video where I discussed the difference between woven and jersey fabrics. I really enjoyed doing this, and I am excited to do more of these videos in 2021.
As soon as I moved back to the building Sew Me Sunshine is based in, I started to enquire about bigger spaces on the ground floor with their own access. I knew that if another full lockdown was to happen I needed my own access, I also knew that this would be more 'covid-19 safe'. A bit of luck came my way and my dream space was becoming available come the 1st October. I am not the best at negotiating, but luckily Mr Sunshine is, so he took charge of that we managed to finalise Sew Me Sunshine's new space. It was quite stressful moving into the new space, especially as I knew another lockdown was looming.
Once we were in our new space I had a good cry. I always had planned at some point getting a bigger ground floor unit with it's own access as I knew it would be better for open days, but I never thought I would be doing it this year, but then again, a lot of what happened this year I never thought I would have done (i.e. risk assessments for covid-19)!
Just after I moved into my new space I started on a business course with the British Library. I applied for it earlier in the year, and I was over the moon to have secured a place. It was an intense few months on the course, and there was a lot of work, but it was so valuable and I learnt so much.
I can't not mention BREXIT. This has been a huge headache as despite the government telling businesses to be prepared it was rather difficult to do so as there have been no final decisions until fairly recently. On Christmas Eve they FINALLY agreed a trade deal, again, this is rather up in the air, but I am trying to stay positive and look at it as it being better than a no deal. I have tried to prepare Sew Me Sunshine as best I can for BREXIT, and I do hope that my wonderful customers in the EU will continue to support Sew Me Sunshine.
So what can you expect to see in 2021? Well, as soon as it is safe I will be hosting regular open days and I cannot wait to show you all my new space in real life. I have an exciting new member of the team starting who will help to improve our blog, social media and to start our youtube channel (at last). I will continue to bring you exciting new fabrics, including lots of beautiful deadstock. I will also be looking for more people to join the Sew Me Sunshine team on payroll which I am really EXCITED about.
I have LOVED seeing all your Sew Me Sunshine makes pop up on social media throughout the year. I just want to take a minute to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you. Your support this year has been incredible, and I know I say it a lot but without you all Sew Me Sunshine would not be here. I hope that by keeping Sew Me Sunshine open it has given you the opportunity to sew which has taken your mind off the pandemic.