Huge congratulations to Amy Gilbert, Co-Founder of My Sewing Box for being chosen as our small business member of the month for January. We found time to chat about running a small business with your Mum, letting go of things that don’t work and the power of exercise!
Why did you start your small business?
My sister was making and selling bags at craft fairs locally, but we really struggled to find nice fabrics in our local fabric shops to make with. At the time, myself and my mum were both finishing our degrees and for her Business degree, she had to come up with a business case for a craft party business. After a conversation about both these one afternoon as I walked home from lectures, we decided that maybe we should try and find them ourselves, and we could sell them online initially to test the waters before getting a shop.
Tell us about your background before My Sewing Box
I worked in marketing for several different companies, including some craft businesses, which gave me great insight into the industry and how it worked. Mum was a stay-at-home mum until she did her degree, then started to help my dad with his business, doing admin and accounts work.
What’s your best selling product, and why do you think it’s so popular?
Other than fabric (of course), we do really well with our project boxes, subscription boxes and fabric sample guides. All of them allow us to inspire our customers to have a vision for what their fabrics can become, and also educate them about both sewing skills and fabrics. Stuff that nowadays doesn’t get taught at school!
What’s the nicest thing a customer has said about your business?
We actually have so many nice things said by our customers, we are so lucky! But usually it’s about how helpful and approachable we are, in teaching our customers more about fabrics and sewing and helping them find what’s right for their needs.
What are you most looking forward to in 2023 for your small business?
Getting more focused on doing more with what we have! And really improving the running of the business to work slicker and more efficiently. The last couple of years have been really hard week, and very up and down, but we felt quite burned out at the end of 2022 after working at 150% for 2 years straight. Right now, we’re excited to bring some ease into our business by channeling what we do really well and letting go of the things that maybe aren’t working as well as they could be.
As recommended by My Sewing Box
Each month I ask our small business ‘Member of the Month’ to name 3 things that have inspired, supported and helped with running their business – here are Amy’s.
- Resilient retail podcast and courses (of course!) – even if you think you know everything there is to know on a subject, there’s always little golden nuggets and things you didn’t know!
- Having a cut-off point for evening work – inevitably there are times when I have to put in more time to get things done, but my rule is no computer work past 8pm. Otherwise I’m too wired to sleep at bedtime and my work ultimately suffers the next day. As a self-confessed work addict, I could easily work all day and night without breaks, so this is a hard rule for me!
- Consistent exercise – I hate to say it as a former “I’m just not an exercise girl” person, but when I exercise regularly, it really has a positive effect on everything for me. I’m mentally more resilient and positive, and working out at the end of my work day really disconnects my mind from continuing to think about work problems all evening. I find while I’m working out that I can’t think about anything else, so I get a good mental break. It also helps me sleep much better, which is essential too! Even just a walk in some sunshine helps, it doesn’t have to be a sweaty workout (though I do find those most effective for my brain).
If you enjoyed the blog post take a look at our interview with small business member of the month Lorna Hulme, Founder of All About The Sew.