Lucy, founder and creator at the Vintage Sewing Bunny, founded the business after leaving her job in teaching to pursue her passion. Having created and built a successful business over the past 5 years, the spread of COVID-19 and the lockdown meant that her business had to change and adapt in order to not only survive, but they have found a way to thrive during these unprecedented times.
Introduce yourself and the Vintage Sewing Bunny, what was your motivation behind starting the business and what do you sell?
The vintage sewing bunny is my first baby…set up 5 years ago. I wanted to create an inspiring place where everyone could come and learn, escape everyday life and meet lots of lovely like-minded people! I left my job as a teacher of A Level Textiles and Fashion after 5 years in my position in Blackpool in the pursuit of happiness – a work/life balance that worked for me!
Days after signing the lease on my pretty little shop in the heart of seaside town Lytham St.Annes, I learnt that I was expecting my daughter, something we’d been wishing for quite some time! A daunting feeling realising I’d left a stable job to set up a business on a hope and a prayer!! And it was definitely tough but oh so worth it!
A lot has happened in those 5 years, my children continue to inspire my sewing ideas and projects. Although the majority of our sewing workshops are based around constructive sewing projects, I’ve never forgotten the creative textiles that formed the foundations of my degree and early teaching and this is something that I’m starting to re-engage in.
There is so much within ‘craft’ that I am excited and passionate about. I thrive at planning and teaching new techniques…for me, sewing is a way of life, not just a ‘job’ or a ‘business’.
‘The Vintage Sewing Bunny’ has grown so much in the last 5 years, we have expanded into a bigger and better studio, we may now be a little off the beaten track but our new space has enabled us to offer much more! We run a whole range of activities both focused on teaching, learning, socialising and community. You can find a calendar of what’s going on in our ‘Events’ section on Facebook!
Our sessions are based around a foundation of teaching strategies to enable us to suit everyone’s learning styles and instil confidence – you may leave a session without the ‘finished product’ (although often you will) but you will know how, why, what and when – which these skills, we believe, are more important than a pretty final product! Teachers, we may be but we have a creative and relaxed environment, not a classroom!
Tell us more about your products
Our fabric boutique offers a select range of handpicked fabrics, priding ourselves on quality over quantity! We have a fast turn over of fabric inline with fashion and interior trends of each season including a core line of high-quality craft cottons as well as denim chambrays, jerseys, needlecord, suitings and polyester crepes; to allow both dressmakers and crafters ample choice for their projects! Our product range is ever-expanding and driven by customer feedback and request, they are inline with our sewing workshops and most recently live Facebook sewing tutorials/sew-a-longs.
Did you have any experience in selling online before starting your business?
No – sorry that’s a short one!
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced since starting your business?
5 days before I found out that my daughter (that we’d longed for so much) was in my tum I signed the lease on my first premises and had committed to officially being the Vintage Sewing Bunny! I never had maternity leave, I juggled my baby girl and my bunny baby and not so much later the biggest challenge of my life arrived – Oliver quite literally strapped on and had no choice but become part of my crazy bunny life! His first official day at work was at 8 days old and he continued to come along to work with me until he was old enough for someone else to feed him.
What do you love most about running your own business?
Running my business has meant that I have been able to adapt my working hours around my children’s needs. I have spent the first 3 years of their lives predominantly working evenings (so worked when they have been sleeping) and Saturday afternoons so that I have been their almost full-time child care. When they hit preschool age I adapted workshop hours to fit around the school day and with the help of EKM my fabric sales have increased remarkably so my income is not just sewing workshops so I cut and pack fabric in the evenings once they’re in bed.
As physical workshops and walk-in sales are now impossible I have turned my teaching expertise to virtual sessions, running Facebook live sewing tutorials/sew-a-longs twice a week in the evenings. I have focused on updating the product range on the website and have encouraged customers to use the features on the website to ensure they don’t miss out on stock that is particularly in demand using the ‘wish list’ feature which is proving incredibly popular.
What advice would you give to new shop owners just starting out?
I truly believe that if you are passionate about your business/products then that will be the driving force for success. I thrive on what I do, I literally eat sleep and breath sewing and fabric so it makes it easy (easier) to put my all into my business because I truly love what I do!
I have learnt both through having my children alongside running my business and now lately Coronavirus that adapting and changing is the only way to keep being successful, you cannot be stagnant in anything, the world is constantly evolving so must your business!
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to put some time, energy and investment into Marketing and SEO, as since starting my business I haven’t put any focus on this. I have kept to a level of success that I have been able to cope with but now my children are getting older and (hopefully) in September will be starting school and preschool. I want to excel in ecommerce sales and continue to capture the market I have been able to throughout the lockdown period. This, in turn, will likely involve relocating to bigger premises to cater for larger stock volume and more staff.
Would you recommend EKM?
Absolutely – I already know of 3 friends who have moved to EKM through my recommendation this year! I couldn’t have kept my business afloat during lockdown without my EKM site – it makes it easy and manageable for me to run alongside having the children at home full time, the features such as the loyalty points, wish list and abandoned cart has been absolutely amazing and have made first-time customers repeat customers! But the service, communication and help in the setup, adding/changing features etc is amazing- the EKM team can’t do enough to help!