21 October 2011

A Day in the Life of Sunni Standing - A Fashionable Stitch

Earlier this year, Sunni took the bold decision to quit her secretarial job to focus on her own business - sourcing hard-to-find dressmaking notions and making lovely supplies of her own, sold through A Fashionable Stitch. The perfect interviewee for A Day in the Life, Sunni tells us all about her routine in her new life. "Pray tell, does she write a 'to do' list to keep on top of everything?" I hear you inquire. Read on...

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"I start my day by arousing at around 5:30am to take my husband to the train so that he can go to work. It's a very early start, I'll admit, and by no means am I happy to be awake at that time of day, but it gets me up and going for the most part. I get dressed every week day - Monday thru Friday - at which point in time I head out the door to work a short part-time gig that I picked up to help out with bills and such so that all the revenue for this first year of my shop opening goes back into my shop. What they say about never really making money in the first official year of opening your business is true. My "shop day" begins around 12:30pm everyday. The day of the week decides what I work on. Tuesdays and Fridays are set aside for shipping and mailing out orders. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are for building up the product that I hand make, keeping tabs on my inventory and doing research for new products coming to the shop.


I run my business out of my home. This can be hard because sticking to a schedule of working rather than pitter-pattering around the house is hard for me. But I love the fact that I can go to my machine and still sew for fun instead of for business which is one of the bigger reasons keeping me from looking into office space at this point. My love for sewing is why I've built this shop, so I think its good for me to continue to sew for pleasure too. My working spaces are scattered throughout our apartment - which actually will be changing soon when we move! Hip Hip Hooray! I sew and create in one room and do business items, like prepare shipments and answer emails in another room and for now, my stock is stored in a closet. It is a little crazy and I'm definitely looking forward to localizing my shop to one room.

When I hone in to work on the shop, I begin by writing down goals for the week and then sort those goals into days. I have to be really careful not to plan too much for each day, which I'm still not very good at, but this helps me to focus as my brain tends to get scattered in so many directions all the time. For example, at this moment in time, I'm working on rounding out the different sections in my shop. More specifically I'm working on my beltmaking section. I start by researching products, getting a handle on who carries what, cost, shipping cost and making a goal for when I want those items to be in stock. At the same time, I have to juggle keeping up on shipping orders - which my wonderful husband helps me with - which also entails that I have a small stock of shipping supplies on hand. I also have to keep tabs on the inventory of the shop and making the handmade supplies I create for the shop as well. It's a big job, but one I love, truly.


For the most part, I get to deal with my clients (whom I love!) and suppliers, which are usually large warehouse types of companies that sell a menagerie of different kinds of sewing supplies - though alot of what I sell is hard to find even for me and so I end up usually having to source items individually from several different small companies. My clients are wonderful people and I love working with them and addressing their concerns, so that can be easy and very rewarding. Dealing with suppliers can be a different story. I've had my run-ins with several already, but you just have to forget about it and move on. I've learned, and am still learning, not to take anything personally.

I try to end everyday by working on something for myself. Giving myself a pat on the back for working hard and rewarding myself with work on my next sewing project. Let's see, it's time to start a wrap coat next. I've got the pattern and the outer cloth all picked out. It's cashmere too and so luscious that I know I'll just want to pet myself all the time after its finished. It's going to work itself back into my shop too as I keep building up my dressmaker's tailoring section because this coat will be fully tailored. I'm definitely proud to say that when a product hits the shop, I've actually used it myself. So you'll be seeing more on that front in the upcoming month.


I'll admit that this career path is not the easiest one, but its very rewarding for me. I love sewing! And I especially love sewing my own clothes. I began to see that there has been a steady decline in the quality of sewing supplies at big box sewing chains and that those hard to find items really are, hard to find even on the internet. Call me crazy, but I like sewing with quality materials and I know that others do too, otherwise I wouldn't be steadily growing this small business of mine. Though you won't find everything I ever want in my shop just yet, I plan to be a big player in sourcing hard to find items and putting them all in one place. Overall this means, less in shipping costs and that an item becomes easier to find in general. I try to take it even one step further than that by making these hard to find items even better. My belt and buckle kits are a smash because I've researched methods and materials to make them even better than you remember them. You just can't buy that kind of satisfaction. This is so rewarding to me! I love giving people a product that I would want to buy myself and better yet, that I would be satisfied with myself too.

To finish my day, I'll start to turn into a pumpkin around 9:30pm. I know! I'm such an old lady! Sometimes it's even just a little earlier, but judging from the time I get up everyday, it seems pretty normal. I'm one of those people that requires a lot of sleep and so if I don't get a full night's rest, I have to make it up somewhere along the way. Naps are a must around here, especially on weekends. I will tell you one thing though. I might be nuts or maybe I just finally found my true passion in life, but typically every night just before falling asleep, I'm thinking about sewing, my shop and ideas for improvement and such. In fact, the idea to create my own tailor's hams and seam rolls cam to me right at this time. Just kind of hit me like a bolt of lightning. Wrote that down immediately, and that's when this whole journey began. That's a day in my life, friends. Thank you Tilly, for letting me blather on about what I do and how I do it! Talking and writing about me and my shop gets me really excited! Now, I'm off to cut out my coat muslin. Ciao!"

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Thank you, Sunni, and best of luck with your brilliant shop! Right, I don't know about you, dear reader, but I'm off to write a daily goals list of my own...

12 comments:

  1. Haven't even read this yet but I have to say that the top photo of Sunni is BRILLIANT.

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  2. And the interview is great :-)

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  3. I've not come across A Fashionable Stitch before, so I'm extra glad to be pointed in this direction!

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  4. Hi Sunni,
    Love your blog and have gotten lots ideas from it. I would love to see a tutorial on that beautiful skirt you drafted, trust me when I say that my me made skirts are not as cute and would pay for a class if you did one. Good pencil skirt patterns are hard to find. Keep up the good work.

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  5. Soooo interesting! Thanks for these, Tilly.

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  6. Much success to you Sunni. I recently became obsessed with sewing clothing and love reading all kinds of information. Your site is full of information and inspiration. Thanks!

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  7. Great interview! It's always interesting to know how other sewists spend their days.

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  8. Really interesting, thanks for sharing how you organize yourself. It's so important to do something you're passionate about, I'm sure your hard work will pay off!

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  9. I really enjoyed reading this interview. And I love that you're still making personal sewing time a part of your workday--it's so important with a small business that you really have a passion for what you do. I also love that you have personal experience using each item that you sell, and the tutorials you have on your blog for how to use them. I got the beltmaking kit last week, and you can bet that I'll be poring over those belt posts again when I get to my raincoat!

    p.s. I don't know how into jeans-making you are, but I had a really hard time finding rivets.... ;)

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  10. I LOVED reading this post. Sunni's story is so inspiring! And, speaking as a customer, her products are awesome. :)

    I also agree with Lieta... I want to make a skirt just like Sunni's amazing pencil skirt!

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  11. I loved to read about a day in the life of Sunni, it seems to be so much fun and also a very serious business.

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  12. I really enjoyed this piece. Sunni, you go, girl!

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