I am Nanna Sandom and I run Splendid Stitches, a company specializing in repairing, restoring and altering vintage clothes. You can find us online at www.splendidstitches.co.uk see us on facebook at www.facebook.com/splendidstitchesclothes and follow us on Twitter @splendidstitch. We also appear on Pinterest and Tumblr.
What made you decide to start your business?
Having worked for 15 years in marketing roles in ‘proper companies’ in a more corporate environment and frustrated with lack of professional opportunities and (what I perceived as) slow and indecisive senior management I thought a change of scenery would probably suit me, but wasn’t sure what my skill was.
The eureka moment came one winter evening after my husband had received a load of wrong-fit clothes bought on ebay and he asked me to alter them, something I have always done and never considered a particularly important skill. But this time I thought: Hang on! This may be an idea…
What kind of customers do you think your product is perfect for?
My clients are mostly private clients and women. These can be split into the young fashionistas (25-40 years old) who buy vintage because it is fashionable, but want garments altered to fit, and the older more discerning woman, 50+ who has inherited an item from a female relative and wants it restored or revived for herself. I am also seeing an emerging group of vintage brides – and intend to build on this with a new venture targeting vintage brides specifically in the next 6 months.
All these customers love the intimacy and privacy of a female seamstress who understands their needs and provides quality work.
What made you decide to enroll in School for Creative Startups a year ago? What challenges were you facing and what did you hope to learn?
I had a rough idea about clothes alterations and tapping into the trend for sustainability, which is something very important to me, but I had no network. I didn’t know where to go for business advice and I found government websites and online information lacking. Basically, I needed a framework to build my business around.
Tip: If you have a creative enterprise you want to start, now is the time to visit School for Creative Startups to sign up for a position in our upcoming one year program. There is no more effective course for creative entrepreneurs in the world. You receive training directly from Doug Richard, coaching and mentoring from industry experts, 24/7 access to personal support from our Business Guru. We have sponsored spaces for as little as £600 per year. Apply now.
What meaningful answers did you discover in working with Doug Richard and the experts he’s brought in to advise and mentor you?
I learned that there is no single “big secret” to becoming an entrepreneur, you just need to do it. I also discovered that you are better off finding your niche and becoming an expert there than to trying to be everything to everyone when you are starting out.
I learned it is important to focus on making your business visible. You can use social networking to market you and your business if you have a great product (or service in my case). Since enrolling I’ve set up my website and achieved 700 twitter followers, and I don’t even feel I have started marketing the business properly.
What were the most important topics covered at the bootcamps and seminars? Why were they important to you?
I found market positioning a very interesting topic. I knew a lot about it before I came, but some of the things we reviewed in classes helped me refine my offerings. I found answering Doug Richard’s 10 questions useful.
Focusing on “vintage” only has put me as the market leader on what I do, which is a great position to be in.
Who you have met, through School for Creative Startups, that made a real impact on you?
Through S4CS I have been fortunate enough to meet some great other female entrepreneurs who I know will form part of my future network. Rachel Bonney, Juliet Simmonds and Lucy Tammam have all been great. Lucy and I are planning to share workspace going forward, at the back of her bridal studio which is due to open in the summer.
I enjoyed Andrew who spoke of Social Media, that was a real eye opener.
What work are you proudest of?
Almost every job is a pleasure. Restoring a girl’s 90 year-old dress inherited from her grandmother was great, as was altering 3 vintage pieces for a girl with an hourglass figure. She was so delighted with the end result she hugged me. Every time a client comes back to work with me again, I know I did a great job.