3 May 2011

A Day in the Life of Tasia Sewaholic

Ever wondered what it's like to be able to think about sewing all the time? To actually make money from it? Well, readers, I have an exciting new feature for you which I'm hoping to develop into a monthly series. A Day in the Life lets us have a nosey into the daily routine of the people who have made a full time career out of their love of sewing. The series takes us behind the scenes of small stitchy businesses, gives us an insight into what it's like to make a living thinking about sewing, and answers the burning question of what successful stitchers have for breakfast.

I'm so excited that Tasia of Sewaholic Patterns agreed to be my guinea pig for this feature! I've loved following Tasia's journey from blogger to business woman when she recently started selling sewing patterns. So let's find out what it's like to be her...

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"I get up at six-thirty in the morning, as soon as the alarm goes off. If I don't get up right away, I'll sleep forever! Then it's the standard morning routine of showering and getting dressed. I'm really lucky in that I can wear whatever I want to the office! That can be a bad thing, as there's no one forcing me to dress professionally. Most days, I'll put on a full skirt or dress, tights, a lightweight jacket and a scarf - or some variation on this look. And my Keds! I bike in Keds and keep a spare pair of platform pumps at the office to change into. Breakfast is Mini-Wheats (nutritious and delicious!) and a cup of black coffee. I used to be a cream-and-sugar girl, but I've adopted Mr Sewaholic's coffee-drinking habits.

Just before I leave the house, I'll put on my bike shorts underneath my skirt and my gloves. If it's raining, I'll put on Mr Sewaholic's 'functional' rain jacket - a rather utilitarian olive-green man's jacket, but at least it's waterproof! (I have grand plans of making my own, much cuter version someday.) I try to leave the house by 8am. When I was attending seminars every day, we had to be there before 8:30 so I got in the routine of leaving the house early, and I'm trying to keep it up! It's easy to get off schedule when you work on your own. The earlier I get to work, the more I can accomplish!

I ride my bike to work, which I love! I can get there in about half an hour. Really, it takes about the same amount of time as it does to drive because of the traffic. It's much more fun to bike, and I arrive totally energized and awake!


The first thing I do when I get to work is turn on my computer, and look at the note I've left myself the day before. (Yes, I do that! Before I leave, I write a note with the most important things to do the next day.) I get a good start on the list, check emails, return phone calls for the rest of the morning.

These days I'm working on the Crescent Sew-Along, instructions for the next pattern for Sewaholic Patterns, and getting the new office completely set up and moved in. I'm also planning what I want to accomplish this year and revising my business plan. (For school, but also for my own planning.) There's always something going on!

Where I work is a shared office space, so there are about twenty or thirty other offices in my shared office. We share the lunch room, reception, and boardroom. So far, I've chatted with a couple of the others in the lunchroom, but haven't made any friends yet. The receptionists and office staff are super friendly and helpful though!

For lunch, if I don't bring leftovers or something from home, there are two great options downstairs. There's an all-you-can-eat sushi place that also does take-out, and it's delicious! The other choice is a sandwich shop which is amazing. When I told friends where my office was, they knew the location based on the sandwich shop downstairs! Usually I'll bring something from home though, but treat myself to lunch out once or twice a week.

In the afternoon, I work on the more relaxed tasks and anything I worry won't get done by the time I leave! You can only spend so many hours staring at the computer, so if I need a change of scenery I'll sew, plan projects or organize - anything that doesn't involve a glowing computer screen! I also pack and ship the orders for the day.


What I enjoy the most about my job is that I get to do something I love every day! I love sewing, talking about sewing, thinking and dreaming about sewing. If I didn't get paid, this would still be what I'd want to do. So it just seems perfect to be able to spend my workdays sewing and designing sewing patterns. I feel really lucky every day! I love when someone says I've inspired them, or taught them something brand new, or helped them feel more confident about their sewing. More and more people are taking up sewing, according to the research I did for school, which is just wonderful to see! I love the freedom that comes with sewing. You can make anything, regardless of what's in fashion or in stores. I love reading blog comments and I love checking my alerts and seeing new versions of the Pendrell Blouse and Crescent Skirts. That's the best part!

The hardest part of having my own business is switching my mind off when I get home. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas! I'll be watching a movie and all of a sudden, the answer to a sewing problem flashes into my mind! That's one of the main reasons I got an office, to get some separation from work. When everything was at home, I felt guilty if I wasn't constantly working. Now I leave my stuff at the office, lock the door and go home - and try really hard to leave it alone until tomorrow! That, and fitting it all in. Being a one-woman show is hard! There's always so much to do, and I love doing it all, which makes it a challenge to finish everything and have a proper work-life balance. It's also a challenge having to make every decision myself. What happens when something goes wrong? There's no policy or rules in place, just me and a decision to make. Scary! But fun and challenging all at once.

I started Sewaholic Patterns because I had an idea - patterns to fit a pear-shaped body. No one else was doing it! I knew I couldn't be the only one who had to alter every sewing pattern to fit my body. Also, I knew that even if I designed patterns for a certain body shape, anyone could alter them to fit! So I decided to start with one pattern, and if it was successful, then I could keep developing new patterns. Well, it just happened that I was laid off in October of last year, so I decided to follow my dreams of having my own pattern company and turn it into a real business. It was perfect timing! I'd worked at the same company for eight years, and suddenly had the opportunity to do something new, something I believed in. And that's how I got started! I knew I had the passion, the motivation and the drive to start my business - which I thought would be enough to get me going! I also have a degree in Fashion Design and years of experience working in the apparel industry. What I didn't have was the business knowledge and formal training, and I knew I had to learn these things to be successful in the long run. Luckily, when I was laid off, I was eligible for a government-sponsored Self-Employment Program. It's a wonderful training program! The seminars and courses are taught by actual business owners, not just teachers reading from a book, so you know that what they're telling you works in real life.


What I've learned about myself is that I'm determined, hard-working and passionate about what I do.. to a fault, sometimes! I've learned that sometimes the right decision is scary, but if a big weight feels like it's lifted off your shoulders afterwards, then it was the right decision. I've learned to trust my instincts but do my research. And most importantly, I've learned that I can do this, that I have what it takes to run a business, and that all I need to do is believe in myself and I'll be just fine.

Before I leave the office at the end of the day, I'll write myself a note for the next day with the most important things to do. It helps me get started the next morning! Also, I won't let myself leave until I've written and scheduled a post for tomorrow. Usually I leave when my post is done, and I start to get hungry! On average, I've been leaving the office around 6pm, getting home just before 7. If I'm really, really lucky, Mr Sewaholic has made dinner. (Or ordered in dinner. Both are fine with me!) Dinner can be anything from Thai takeout to chicken strips and fries. We like food, but we're not picky. Anything goes! After dinner, this is when I'd usually sew some more, so it's an adjustment not having my machine at home. We'll watch the hockey game or a movie, or go for a walk. I like sleep, so I'm happy to be in bed between 10 and 11pm. And that's my day!"


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Thank you, Tasia! Readers, have you enjoyed this post? Does it deserve to become a monthly series? Who's daily routine would you like to read about? And what would you ask them? Pray tell!

47 comments:

  1. What a great idea! I love Tasia's patterns and am jealous that she gets to spend her days doing what she loves. I'm excited to see the others that you feature!

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  2. Fantastic feature. This is just what I want to read as starting me own buisness keeps escaping and invading my mind!

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  3. What a wonderful feature. I'm always curious about bloggers routines and how they manage to accomplish so much.

    Keep 'em coming Tilly. :)

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  4. Great feature...it's fascinating and inspiring to hear about the lucky people who have made a business or career out of something they love! Also I'm just nosey so that's an added bonus! I have a question for Tasia, I was wondering whether you try to differentiate between work and recreational sewing - if this is possible? x

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  5. Fun interview! I definitely think it would make a good monthly series.

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  6. How fun! This is a great idea! Plus it'll introduce some great new small businesses to everybody.

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  7. Hello! Thanks Tilly for including me in this sure-to-be awesome series! :)
    I'm also curious about other bloggers' routines and how they manage their time - so I can't wait to see more!
    @Kat: that's a good question! I've moved all of my machines to the office, so ALL my sewing has to take place here if I want to sew! I like to think that all sewing is blog-related, but not all sewing is business-related. Just about everything I sew I can post about, write tutorials on, and share some tips and tricks on how it went together. There's always something worth writing about with every sewing project. But then there's the sewing that is specifically for the business and pattern development. I do differentiate, as in I know the difference, but I don't set aside certain days for one or the other. I know that pattern-development-sewing is more important in the long run! And so is the Sew-Along sewing. That's number one, if I let that fall behind then there will be a bunch of disappointed Sew-Alongers!
    Short answer - yes, there's a difference! I try to juggle everything, and put the business sewing first. Sometimes I need to shift focus so I can approach the original project with fresh eyes! (Try looking at a RED project for too long.. it hurts!) Or if I come across a roadblock, I'll put the business sewing aside and give myself time to think. Or if I have a new design that I'm not quite sure is ready yet, I'll leave it on the dress form and work on something else, and see how it looks after a bit of time apart. Sewing is no fun when you force yourself to do it - so I aim for balance, but know my deadlines!
    Oooh.. that was a ramble! Really good question!

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  8. Nice one Tilly. Really interesting insight. You gotta ask Casey and Zoe, right??
    Px

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  9. @Tasia - Thanks for answering my question! It must be fantastic to be able to sew all day. I'm really enjoying the sew-along by the way - I can't wait to put the 'real thing' together!

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  10. I love this feature, it should definitely become a regular! :)
    It's great to see how enthusiastic you are Tasia! I love reading about other bloggers days, maybe I'll get myself into a routine one of these days! lol
    Ashley x

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  11. Loved reading this post. This will be an awesome series.

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  12. I love this post ! It's such a great idea. I am looking forward to reading the others...
    Tasia is such a fantastic girl, I am always amazed a her work.

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  13. Yes, I would love this as a series, nice to introduce all the sewing bloggers to newbies, like me :) I follow most but might be missing out! Love sewaholic, one of my fave blogs :)

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  14. Love this new feature! I hope you do continue on with it. It definitely deserves to become a monthly series.

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  15. A wonderful idea, I love reading those kind of stories. My only complaint would be that "monthly" seems so far apart. Can't you do it more often? :)

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  16. A great series idea, Tilly! I loved learning more about Tasia's day in the life. It would be great to learn about new businesses I haven't heard of, especially those outside the States. And thanks Tasia for such a thorough post!

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  17. Definitely make this into a monthly series. If I could ask questions, they would be: how did you get started, did you need much (money and/or supplies) to get started, what was your biggest mistake so far and what did you learn, what are you most proud of, and what are your tips for turning a profit as soon as possible?

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  18. This is a great idea! It's always nice to look into the life of other sewing enthusiasts, especially ones who are lucky enough to do it as a full time job!

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  19. Yes, that was very interesting and enjoyable!! And you've introduced me to Tasia and her patterns, neither of which I knew of before, so that's a great bonus!! A very inspiring story.

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  20. I love this new feature! And I want Tasia's life too! Well done to her for creating it x

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  21. I love this idea and love this post! Tasia is really inspiring and it is so interesting to look into a day in her life. I don't think I have commented before Tilly, but great blog!

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  22. Thanks, everyone! I'm thrilled to hear you liked the little peek into my everyday routine!

    @Julie: I'll jump in to answer some of your questions here!

    How did I get started?
    I started off slowly and secretly, designing my first pattern, making samples to get it right. When I posted on my blog, to say 'Hey guys, I think I'm going to make patterns' and got an overwhelmingly great response, I knew I should go for it! The first pattern took a long time, as I had to figure everything out. Ask lots of questions, don't be afraid to call people and ask potentially dumb questions, look to others for help - is what I did, and would suggest!

    Did I need much money and supplies?
    Luckily, I had a lot of the right supplies from sewing as a hobby! I had machines, I had a computer, I had a camera. I also did a lot of DIY - my photos are all taken by me, modeled by me, cropped and edited by me. The more you're willing to DIY, the more you can save! Pick where you want to spend the money, and where you want to save. I decided that my self-timed photos were pretty good, and would work as product photos. I have a very talented sister in graphic design, who designed the pattern envelopes and logo! I also do all of my own technical work, all of my own shipping and packaging, and so on. So you COULD spend a lot getting started if you want to go pro right away. I'm proud to say my business is 100% self-funded from my savings, no loan as of yet!

    Biggest mistake?
    Ooh. Tough question! One that I've made over and over is taking on too much and having a mini-meltdown due to my own self-imposed deadline. If you're going to BE your own business, take care of yourself! Don't beat yourself up, don't set crazy deadlines, don't make it impossible to succeed. You are your business, if you choose to go out on your own! So be kind to yourself. I sense this will keep happening, as I'm naturally ambitious and like to think I'm superwoman, so talking about it reminds me to take a break now and then.

    Most proud of?
    That I did it, I started my own pattern company that's really taking off! That people have made my pattern at home and liked it! That every day, I come to work and do something I love, that I believe in. I don't just punch in and count down the minutes to 5pm. That people say my tutorials make them feel like they could try something new, that they're inspired to sew. That's such a good feeling! And most importantly, that I've turned a problem (not being able to fit into things in retail stores) into a solution (sewing my own clothes) and found a way to share what I've learned with everyone, by designing my own patterns!

    Tips for turning a profit?
    Another good question! The first thing I think of goes back to the DIY question. If you can keep your costs low, you'll make more money to keep. This all depends on what kind of sewing-related business you want to have! Start small, and know that you can always upgrade as you get bigger. Be realistic about the amount of time you're going to spend on your business. If you've done the numbers and in order to make money, you have to be working 60 hours a week, that's going to be a grind for you! Don't undervalue your time or your product, either. It's hard to put a price on your worth and your work, but don't sell yourself short! Most importantly, do something you love because you love it and want to spend your time doing it. Know that this isn't a fast route to making money, and there's no guarantee it will be profitable. Decide whether that's a chance you're willing to take, and then jump in with both feet!
    Great questions - I hope that answers them! :)
    Tasia

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  23. New person here! I actually found this post through Tasia's blog, and loved reading it. I'll be looking for the next one!

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  24. Great idea for a new feature Tilly and I also love the new look of your blog!

    Tasia, thanks for sharing so openly about your experiences...it's so refreshing to read. Thanks also for the great sew along, I'm really enjoying it ;o)

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  25. Tilly - what a brilliant idea for a new series! I loved this post and I'm looking forward to more! :)

    Tasia - you are amazing and a total inspiration!!

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  26. A really great post Tilly - fascinating to hear about Tasia's day. Having just finished a Pendrell blouse I coveted her design and drafting skills, and now I must add business know-how to my 'envy' list. More interviews please Tilly.

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  27. Love this new feature!!

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  28. What a great idea Tilly! I love reading 'a day in the life' features, anyway, as whenever anyone spends their time doing something they love it's always interesting and inspirational to read. Even better when it's about sewing!
    It's wonderful to read about Tasia creating her own life situation, and ensuring she gets to spend her time doing something she's passionate about.

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  29. oooh i love this new series!!! please keep them coming :)

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  30. Great idea for a feature!

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  31. I love the feature! I love reading and hearing about others' passions and how they are doing what they do! I have to admit that Tasia is a really good friend of mine - I email her and ask her questions all the time and you would not believe the wonderful answers and insight she gives. She is a true friend in every sense of the word. And she is an AMAZING seamstress. Its so great to hear more about her and her processes! Great feature Tilly!

    xoxo,
    Sunni

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  32. Proper curtain-twitching, fly on the wall stuff!...love it. Just dead jealous that's all! Great feature. More please... for all my sins :-)

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  33. I love this and hope it becomes a series! It is so interesting to know what other people do and how they balance sewing with the rest of their lives! Thanks so much! Tasia is great!

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  34. Definitely a great idea! I could talk about business all day, every day and have fell in love with sewing since March so I'm already looking forward to the next post in this series. It's such a joy to see others making a living doing what they love, very inspiring!

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  35. Tilly, great idea!

    Tasia, so fun to read about you. You have a very inspiring story. I'm always interested in how other sewers spend their day.

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  36. I love this idea, and think it is so fun to see inside our favorite bloggers lives!

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  37. Great feature! I love getting a peek into other people's lives and I love that you're picking such inspirational people!

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  38. Wow, super inspiring!

    I think this is a really great idea for a feature, good work, Tilly.

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  39. Yay! Fun post - also, I like the new look for your blog! I haven't clicked through from reader in a while!

    I love these kinds of posts - i did a few similar posts last year (I called them dream jobs!) right before Tasia kicked off sewaholic patterns and didn't get to her! I'm so glad you did!

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  40. Tilly, the new blog look is lovely and easy to read. This series is a winner on many levels. I think most of us in the sew/blog world respect anyone who expands into the business world. Tasia is a shining example of how that is done. Her work habits will inspire many and support those who just want to learn from her fantastic and well designed tutorials. I have been following her for over a year and have seen her grow and am so proud of her, even though we have never met. By providing this feature, you will enhance the blog and learning experience for all of us. We don't have to be from the same country, we don't all have to be the same body type, but we all love sewing. Be it a hobby, a necessity or a business, you and others like you provide a window into a world beyond the every day, a world where learning and creativity feeds the soul.

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  41. Corinne, that is so lovely. Very well put. I also feel proud of Tasia even though we've never met.

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  42. Great post. This reads like the perfect life for me!!!!

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  43. Great Great idea. I like the details. How fun :-) I vote to make it a monthly (Or more) feature!

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  44. Great feature! I´d love to read more of these. It inspires me to keep track with both my sewing and my business plans. It´s such a nice thing to earn your money with something you really love to do. Thank you very much!

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  45. This definitely deserves to be a monthly feature! So inspiring!!

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  46. Great post, really inspirational to read! please keep it up:)

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  47. What a great post! I live 5 minutes from Tasia's office, and it's soooo cool to see scenery that I recognize, as I often walk past that corner! Isn't the blogging world a small place? I love the post too. I wish Tasia all the best.

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