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  • Camilla

How my Dog Riley Got Me Into Sewing, by Karen (@sewpawcreations)

Hi everyone, I’m Karen and this gorgeous dog in my header pic is Riley. For those of you who don’t know, you can find me on Instagram @sewpawcreations or on ETSY – SewpawCreationsShop . I try to post at least once during the week and usually daily at the weekend depending on how busy I am in my full-time role in the NHS. While not working you will find me caring for 2 kids and Riley.

I have always wanted to write a blog, but never seem to have the time nor the opportunity until NOW…. Thanks to Camilla for inviting me to write a piece in my small business and how it all began.

I remember using a sewing machine in secondary school to make an apron as part of my Home Economics subject and just hated it : hated the machine, hated the mess, hated the result (a very unwearable garment). So, no I was not creative nor had the interest in it as a child/teenager. However, I did have an affinity for crochet, and I used to make all my Barbie doll's clothes, because 30 years ago I couldn’t afford to buy the latest fashion for her. When I moved to London from Ireland, I picked up Cross Stitching after a friend’s mum taught me and I carried on doing this until my first child was born. As motherhood took over for the next 11 years and was my number one priority, my creativity was put to rest until the COVID pandemic hit last year.

So, in June 2020, I saw that many people had set up new dog accounts on Instagram and I thought, why not, and set up Riley’s account, while sipping a large glass of wine in the garden. Little did I know where that would take me. By October 2020, Riley had been a Brand Rep for a small business making dog bandanas and bows, and I just loved being able to show him off in his new accessories. People kept asking me if I had made them, and that got me thinking. I knew I needed to investigate this more closely and needed an outlet as my mental health had taken a hit the year before. Part of my recovery was doing things that sparked joy and made me smile.

So, without thinking I bought a basic sewing machine and using YouTube and watching sewing videos, I taught myself how to cut patterns, learn about the various sewing terms and wording and tell the difference between fabrics. I started to experiment every evening, getting lots wrong, but I used that as a learning opportunity (if you don’t do something wrong, you don’t learn, right?).

In November 2020 after a month of trialling my creations (bandanas, bows, face masks and toy bones), I took the bold step of launching my own Instagram account, and see if I got any orders for Christmas. To my surprise I did and I can’t thank those customers enough as this gave me the boost to keep going. Everyone has been so encouraging and supportive, and I have 6 Brand Reps now to help me raise the profile of my business. As the months have gone by, I have started to make dog walking bags as I thought it was one accessory that I can’t live without – being able to store everything you need for a lovely walk with your beloved dog/s. I launched these last weekend and they have proved to be a hit.

What has my small business done for me?

I love the engagement with other creators and customers. I love that customers feel comfortable enough to trust me to help them choose or design creations, personalise them and/or match them to their face masks or bags or design a gift set for a friend or relative. Its give me such a rush of adrenaline.

I love choosing fabrics (and buying too many LOL) and the accessories, right down to the colour of thread I am going to use for each order. I am grateful for the feedback and honesty too; it helps me help my customers.

When I am sewing or making, I am lost in my own world, time fly’s by and I sleep better at night. When I complete an order, I hold it away from me, and smile as I admire it, and think how lucky I am to be able to use my hands to make something that will bring a smile to others. That’s my goal!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and sending lots of smiles your way 😊

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