bittersweet

Oh goodness. I’ve written this post so many times in my head and when it comes right down to it, it’s hard to find the words. I’ve wanted to share my feelings about what I’ve gone through as a small business owner the past four years and so here goes. It’s a long one! I’ll try to start at the beginning.

I’ve been blogging here since – sheesh, a loooonnnnng time ago, it feels like – 2007. It wasn’t always under A Fashionable Stitch. I went under the alias, the Cupcake Goddess for many years. Wow, that seems like forever ago. When I started blogging, back in the day, I had no idea what I was really doing, what I planned to do with it or what blogging would do for me. When I finally found a focus in sewing apparel, things started picking up for me.

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I loved fabric. I still do. Fabric is big for me. I love fine fabric, unusual fabric, printed fabric, textured fabric, fabric from all of the different natural fibers, fabric in all different colors, knit, woven, you name it. I just love it so much and I feel I have a natural affinity for picking good stuff. Now, don’t worry, I’ve picked my share of bad stuff, but overall there’s been more good than bad. I also had connections for superb sewing notions and tools and since I wanted to live a creative life to it’s fullest, aka making my creative passion my business I thought I would give selling notions and tools a try. Things that I use myself and I felt this would be a good thing to start with when it came to selling things under the umbrella of my magnificent obsession.

I’ve had an online store for quite a while, but I didn’t make it truly official until March 2011 (meaning I filed my business name with state and federal institutions). I had quit my day job and decided to go whole hog. And things were good. I felt good about the niche that I was filling and generally I felt like I was adding something to the conversation and that I did people a favor by having these great sewing notions and tools all in one place.

I started receiving more press and my online store and my blog were affording me some pretty grand opportunities. I really did feel great about things for a solid 3 years. During that 3 years, I had the marvelous opportunity to become the teacher of whatever class I wanted to teach at a local fabric shop called Yellow Bird Fabrics. It was absolutely wonderful. I developed some classes that really took off and this along with working one day a week at this fabric shop gave me the opportunity to become acquainted with a whole new animal – the brick and mortar store model. I still had my online shop at that time, I was teaching full-time and I was bringing home really decent money and we were able to live off of this and what my husband was making too. Seriously, it was the life. I think about that snapshot now and it actually kind of makes me a little sad. Those were some really good times and I was feeling way on top of my game.

And then, life happened. The gal who owned and operated Yellow Bird Fabrics was going to have her second baby and she started looking around at things and felt like it would be too much to run a fabric shop, work a day job and have two kiddos (under the age of 2) running around (who can blame her, right?). So she started opening up negotiations with the girls who worked for her so that she could sell her store. She approached me and we started discussing possibilities.

When we started negotiating about purchasing her business, we went through a lot of ups and downs and when all was said and done, I truly did not feel great about the decision to purchase. I had a gut feeling (mind you a very soft spoken gut feeling) that this was wrong for both of us and yet, I decided to just forge ahead anyway. I mean, who am I to listen to crazy voices in my gut or my head for that matter?? “I can do this and I am going to be successful!” I told myself over and over. From the beginning of negotiations to now, I have had nothing but trouble come from the decision to purchase that fabric store. For me, it was the wrong decision. I really feel this way deep down. Sigh…. Some harsh words to face for me, but really, it was the wrong decision for me. I feel it opened up a pandora’s box of a lot of hard, really hard problems that I’ve dealt with on both a professional and personal level that truly, almost did me in. I am amazed that I’m sitting here, writing something sane, having lived through it and come out the other side.

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Once I took over possession of the brick and mortar shop, lots of things started going downhill. We had some ups, we did. But there were many more downs. Just when I thought I saw a little sunshine, BOOM! I was hit with one down thing after another and another and another…..and another. And the workload was unbelievable. I was working all the time! And for no take home pay!!! The business was barely sustaining itself. There were tears. I have never cried so many tears in my entire life as I did this last year. So many tears. SO MANY! And I don’t cry. This is the thing. I DON’T CRY! The frustration was so unbelievable that tears were my only refuge – it seemed a daily ritual! By December of 2014, I had had enough. I tried giving it a go with the Sewing Room and that just didn’t take. It was time to make more hard decisions and face some realities.

As you probably know by now, everything is all closed up. I never, ever thought I would close my online store. I had loved my online store so much (I still do), but after the sad fate of my brick and mortar shop, I’ve lacked the tenacity and passion to continue on with any of it, especially when it was barely making enough to cover itself. Once everything was over for the brick and mortar in March of this year, I went right into working full-time and found that the last thing I wanted to do when I got home from work was work more. I have no idea how I used to do this back when I worked a full-time job and was trying to get my online shop up and running (this was before March 2011). It was a hard decision to face, but in order to be fair to myself, then it was time to be real about closing up everything and letting the dream go.

I was fortunate, so very fortunate, to be able to go back to a job within the same company that I worked for previous to March 2011 – when I struck out to become a burgeoning entrepreneur. I knew when this job came back into my life, it was the right decision and I feel better about it than I have felt about anything in a really long time. I feel like I’m supposed to be there and while I know I’m still going to have my fair share of challenges from all angles and facets of life, this was the next right thing for me.

I don’t plan to mention my stint as a business owner much more, if at all (though if I’ve made something from an old fabric from my shop days, I’ll mention that). I’m not sure that I will ever dabble in owning a brick and mortar again – who knows what the future will bring. But right now, I’m not ready to even think about it. I thought I would put my experience out there, especially as someone who really tried to make it in this creative sewing field of business. Other business owners will have different, hopefully much more positive experiences, but I felt mine was also valid. I have felt so deeply about everything this last year (ahem, the crying thing again). It’s been really hard to hold it back and not let the debbie downer part of my personality take over my life – though she’s still won out a lot this last year. All in all, I’m so glad it’s over. I’m so happy to be looking at the horizon of the future with a new perspective on life and a different and more exciting feeling of hope and happiness. I have so much to be grateful for and I’m so happy to be sewing – yup! That drive is not dead. I have some exciting new partnerships to mention and thrill you with and I’m sure there will be more fabric, more garments, more fitting fights and reveries and well the old suspects that were more present on this blog before all of this craziness went down. I’m just glad to still be around. Cheers!

Thank you all for your support and encouragement as all of this has unfolded. Thank you!

xx, Sunni

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Items of Business Vol. II

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Thanks for all the memories and sweet times. The online store is now officially closed. We’re still gearing down the online store. If you thought you had missed everything, let me tell you, you haven’t. I added a bunch of goodies over the weekend and there’s still some more things to sort through and get up online (which I’ll be doing tomorrow and Thursday). And…..

we’re taking it down to 30% off everything! Yup. Use the code AFSCLOSING2 to save 30% off your order right now. And as fast as we can, we’re getting your order cut and shipped out. Exciting times friends. I’m sure we’ll be back soon with another step down. We’ll see what we have left.

Once all is said and done, I’ll be back with some thoughts for you on my business and the things we’ve seen and been through. I’ve been jotting some things down along the way here and there and I think it’s time to make some cohesion from it all. I’m sure you’ll enjoy that. Plus I have some exciting news and an exciting new friend to show you. Yay!

For now, there’s more in the store.

xx, Sunni

Items of Business Vol. I

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Thanks for all the memories and sweet times. The online store is now officially closed. With a little bit of sadness and a huge sigh of relief (whewwww!), I’m finally able to announce that we are closing our online shop. It’s finally official. Things had gone, well, sour. I don’t want to go into specifics because there are a lot of factors that have contributed to the demise of my business. But in good news, I’ve landed a full-time job that will work for me for probably a really long time. I have to admit that I’m glad that I just don’t have the time anymore to invest into something that requires a fairly large amount of upkeep (yet doesn’t pay the bills….). Hard truth, but truth it is.

So I have a few items of business. We are going to be closing everything out. It will work itself in waves until we’ve finally sold everything and anything we can. Right now, everything in the online store is 20% off with the code AFSCLOSING1. Next week, we’ll be stepping down the sale, so stay tuned for that. Everything’s gotta go. We’ll be adding more items here and there – as we have time to do so. (Update – Please note that these “more items” that we have to add will not include any more wool crepe. That is gone and gone forever!! So sorry if you missed those, they were special and amazing!) Additionally, please take careful note that we are discontinuing swatches. Things will probably go fast, so be aware that even if you get a swatch, the fabric might be sold out when you come back to order yardage! First come, first serve! Get it while it lasts!

Will I still be blogging? I will. Admittedly, I’m not sure what’s next for A Fashionable Stitch and my creative sewing life, but here’s to hoping it’s something good even if it’s just creative sewing. I’m good with that actually. In fact, I’m really good with that. I have been working on some sewing projects that I’m excited to show you, talk about and even do some tutorials for. I have to tell you a funny thing. In the past year or so, I’ve had very limited sewing time and so my personal sewing projects were put on the back burner as I ran a business – mind you, a sewing business. Now that I have a full-time job, it’s interesting to note that I am making time for my personal sewing projects and so I feel like I get a little more accomplished. I found out that working for yourself means that you work so much more than you even think and so much more than just 40 hours a week. Since I have workaholic blood in my veins, I felt like all I ever did was work and so I’m happy that I’m going to be doing an 8 – 5 job and creating sewing projects in my off hours and those off hours seem to be so much more than I even remember. Life is good and I do feel positive and upbeat about this change.

I don’t know if this will come as a shock or not, but I do hope that you all understand. I adore the online sewing community and have been apart of it for so very long. Thank you for all of your encouragement. I also want to issue a special thank you to anyone who ever purchased supplies or fabric from my store(s). Thank you so very much. It means the world to me! May you always have a full bobbin and a project that doesn’t need too much seam ripping!

Now hop on over to the shop and clean me out!

xx, Sunni

a little of the way things used to be

Last week, the mister and I had some reality checks and we made some pretty big decisions and well, here goes. We have decided to close the Sewing Room. There are oh, so many reasons, but the biggest one right now is that touchy subject – money. There’s just not enough of it in our lives right now. It was kind of a hard week for me. Moping about and wondering what in the world I’m going to do with the rest of my life. What am I going to do about retirement? What am I going to do when I actually grow up? Will we ever have kids? Will we ever own a home? That kind of stuff. I mean, I’m 32 (almost 33 in just a few weeks) and well, what am I going to do with the rest of my life??? Sometimes when reality slaps you right in the face, it feels like you need to start all over with a whole new dream, meet new people, go back to school, la la la. It can also feel like everything you’ve done up to this point was a mistake, should never have happened and didn’t turn out right. While I don’t feel that way per se, these thoughts have run through my head a lot lately.

It’s not all sad or bad and hopefully I’m not putting a bad vibe out there. I do actually feel great and positive. We were able to get out of the lease on the brick and mortar building we’ve been in for the past year and a half and wow – that elephant on my chest is finally gone. And I’m truly looking forward to picking up the pieces of what I have left and making something of it. I’ve dealt with a lot of bad juju for the past year and a half and I’m excited to recede back from the limelight of being a brick and mortar owner of anything. We might try something similar in the future again, but for now, I’m good with being done.

It’s been one of those times when I’ve thought long and hard about a lot of things and I’m looking forward to picking back up where I left off before I became a brick and mortar shop owner. The online shop is still open and will remain so, and we have some ideas for the future, though I’ll not say anything about those as they’re not even close to materializing or being a thing. We’ve still got lots and lots of kinks to work through.

So that’s my big bad news. A little crummy, but hopefully you can understand where I’m at. Feels good to be discovering new things about myself through new experiences. Don’t feel like it’s been a mistake, just a big learning experience that seriously, I’ve learned so much from. I’ll keep you updated on future stuff. Thanks to all of you for your wonderful support, encouragement and well, kindness. I’ve needed that!

a Brand New Something for 2015

Updated: Hello Everyone! As of March 23, 2015, the Sewing Room is now officially closed. If you are interested you can read more about it here. Thanks so much for the memories and for all of your support. Means the world to me! xx, Sunni

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Ahh, it’s here. 2015. There always seems to be so much promise and wonder associated with a new year. I can definitely feel it and I hope you’re feeling a little of it too. I wanted to take a special minute and thank you all for your very kind and supportive words from my last post (and also the wonderful customers who came into the store, thank you!). I wrote and re-wrote that post so many times. Finding the right words was hard. What kept coming out was a lot of negativity and it’s just not something that I wanted to feed, so finding the right words to express what had truly been one of the most frustrating years of my life was hard. But now that that’s over and done with (yay!) it’s time to look ahead to something new and very exciting.

To say that I’m a bit nervous about all of this is an understatement. Nonetheless, I’m so excited about all of this I just can’t contain it any longer! Over our holiday break, the mister and I went in and transformed our fabric shop into…….

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The Sewing Room! This space is dedicated to expertly crafted sartorial sewing workshops – meaning, we help you make your own clothes! I’m sure we’ll pull out a couple of crafty, fun workshops every now and then too, but our main focus is to help you with the crazy world of apparel arts/sewing. We offer in person workshops/classes that typically focus on a specific garment or technique. Additionally, we offer private instruction for those interested in getting our take on exactly what they want to learn (or if you’re visiting from out of town and want to take some time to have fun with us!). We’ve also got an Open Stitch Night that will happen twice a month where you can get expert help for a couple of hours on a project that’s stumping you – and have hot chocolate and treats on us!

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And then of course, there will be LOTS of fun as we get thinking about exciting new things to come. I’ve got ideas for guest teachers to fly in and do weekend workshops with us – wait, did I just type that? Whoops, just fell off my chair there for a minute – can’t believe this is really happening. Ahem. Plus we have some exciting free events to come for the upcoming year. I am committed to touching as many people with the sewing bug as I possibly can.

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As with any business, there is still much to be done, but today marks the first day of making it real by telling you all about it. I’m excited. I kept getting more and more excited as I reorganized everything to become geared toward educating rather than selling – such a cathartic and interesting change, let me tell you. I have a lot of vision for the Sewing Room. I can see so much potential and I feel really, really good about it.

So, if you live here in Salt Lake City, Utah or are in town for a visit, here’s some links you need to hop to:

Here’s to 2015 everyone! Lots and lots of sewing is dead ahead….

a Look Back on 2014

Before we start looking ahead to the new year – and I can’t even tell you how excited I am for 2015 and the new things we have planned! – I thought I would reflect back on this past year and tell you a bit of biggish news that is happening in my life. More often than not I try to keep as much highly personal emotion out of my blog as possible, meaning, I try to keep the negative silenced here and only focus on the positive. This has been the hardest year for that. I’ve been through a lot, both professionally and personally, during the course of 2014.

I have learned that owning a business is not an overnight sensation – meaning you’re not instantly a great business owner just because you own your own business. It draws heavily on both your strengths and preys equally on your weaknesses. It illuminates weak spots in your character and in your life. You also learn so much about yourself as a business owner. I’ve had to answer some really tough questions this year. I have also come to realize the importance of truly following your heart, even when it means closing the door on an old dream.

And here is where one chapter closes. The mister and I have decided to close the storefront portion of A Fashionable Stitch. We are doing this in favor of something else that is to come (much more on this soon, I promise). I personally, have found that I’m not a shop girl. More to the point, I really don’t dig working (or owning) retail. After an entire year of trying to suppress this inner truth it was time to let it out, let it be known and also re-design my vision of my future. You should know that this won’t affect the online shop – we’re still going to be selling fabric, notions and supplies there. Yes, the online store is still a thing and we have some really exciting new things lined up for it this year! (I’m so excited to tell you about it!!!) But my brick and mortar storefront is being put to rest (a positively morbid thought when I really think about). As of today, we’re closing the doors on our retail fabric storefront. We have something new and exciting planned to take over in the same brick and mortar space beginning in January.

I’m not sad. Well, OK, fine. Maybe a very small part of me is sad because I’ve wanted to be a shop owner for so long and I got to and I found out that it’s just not me and so, a small part of me is a little melancholy. But more than anything, I’m relieved. My soul is letting out a long, year long, sigh right now as I type. For the first time, in a year, I feel positive. That feels really, really good and dare I say, on the right track for future things. Here’s to you 2014 and the many wonders and self knowledge you have unlocked. I’m glad 2015 is just around the bend.

And before the holiday gets away from us, the mister and I wish you a very merry on your holiday this year. Thank you all for reading my blog. It means so much to me! I hope I inspire and help you out on your sewing journey. I do so love this interaction! All my best wishes to you and yours this season!

It’s time to Celebrate!

Approximately one year ago today (December 1 to be precise), I took ownership of a brick and mortar shop. Oh goodness, it’s been a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows. But for what it’s worth, we’ve made it! We’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the next few months (we’re changing a host of things around here) but for now, it’s definitely time to celebrate.

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So to celebrate, we’re having an online shop sale! Yay! For today, tomorrow and Monday, you can save 25% on all purchases from our store by using the code THANKS2014 in the discount code section at checkout. Additionally, if you spend over $100, you’ll receive free shipping (U.S. and Canada) or a flat $20 shipping charge for international folks. Please note this sale only applies online. Thanks so much everyone! The mister and I wish you a very merry as you go about your holiday bustlings.