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...


"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!"


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!