20 March 2013

A Day in the Life of Deer and Doe

Mes amis, aujourd'hui nous allons en France to be a fly on the wall in A Day in the Life of Eléonore Klein. Her lovely Parisian business Deer&Doe produces beautiful sewing patterns, a massive hit with French stitchers and now available in English too! What's a typical day like at Deer&Doe HQ? Let's find out...


"I usually get up around 9am. I have always been a heavy sleeper and I find that this extra hour of sleep helps me to feel more productive and happy all day long!

As soon as I wake up, I grab a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereals, and go to my computer to sort my e-mails, read my RSS and Twitter feeds, and keep up with what have happened throughout the night (working with American and Australian customers means there’s often interesting things happening while I’m sleeping).

When I have few emails I like to answer immediately, but most of the time I just sort the emails in order to treat them later. When I’m done, I take a quick shower, dress up in something comfortable (usually a nice dress, leggings and slippers) and move on to my work day.

I am incredibly lucky to be able to work from home. I know some people find it difficult to work at their place, but I’ve always loved it. When I was an engineer, I used to work from home from time to time and I’ve never been more efficient! I have a very small but cute apartment in the heart of Paris, in a very calm neighborhood. I work in my living room, at a large desk where I set up my computer and my sewing machine.

I begin with all the emails I sorted earlier (client emails, stockists, comments on the blog and on Facebook...). It can take several hours, but I always try to finish the day with an empty inbox, as things can quickly become out of control! When I’m finished, if I still have time left before lunch, I love to use this spare time to sketch new ideas, work on new patterns, sew muslins, or to take pictures for the blog. At the moment, I am sewing all the patterns from the new Spring/Summer collection for the upcoming photo shoot! My days can quickly become very busy, so I learned to use my time wisely - 5 minutes are better employed to sew a sleeve than to watch this funny video on YouTube... ;)

I take a break around 1-2pm for lunch. When I launched Deer&Doe, I used to eat at my desk (when I took the time to eat properly), but lately I’m trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and it means a real lunch break! However, I’ve never been a great housewife : I usually microwave a bowl of soup and watch an episode of Futurama.

After lunch, it’s time to pack the daily orders! As I ship daily, it’s a routine I cannot pass on ;). Depending on the amount of orders, I spend 1 to 3 hours preparing the patterns (all the pattern envelopes are shipped to me flat, so I need to fold them, fill them with the booklets and the pattern sheet and close each of them by hand). Then, I prepare the orders and put them in my awesome bright pink cart.

I then take a walk to the post office, and usually do my grocery shopping on the way back. When I come back home, around 5pm, I like to take an hour to think about my current projects (craft fairs, collaborations, advertising, sew-alongs) or to do my accounting. I also like to schedule my meetings when I have some at this time of the day. Then, I work again on everything computer-related: I write my blog posts, I answer technical questions (and new emails!), and I search for awesome new Deer&Doe projects to feature!

I finish my work day at about 8pm, when my man comes back from work. I usually relax while he prepares dinner, and we spend an hour of quality time together (at the moment, we are on a Buffy marathon!). Then, from 10 to 12pm I go back to my computer to manage Thread&Needles, the sewing community I created 3 years ago (I work with a small team of 10 volunteers and I need to proofread, illustrate and schedule daily articles for the blog). We then go to bed and I relax on Pinterest or Reddit until 1am!

I started to think seriously about Deer&Doe in April 2012. At the time, I was working in a web agency and had little time left for sewing, not talking about creating a business! I was coming back home late, and used all my free time to search for potential printers and writing my business plan.

When I felt ready, I negociated my leave with my employer, and dived into the project! I had a lot of all-nighters, and worked without counting the hours (ok, maybe it’s still the case, all-nighters apart). Now I feel like I start to get a nice routine, and I hope I will be able to find a balance between work and rest!

The part of my job I definitely enjoy the most is the communication with my customers! I receive so many nice messages thanking me for the patterns! When I wake up sick or tired and I read such messages, I cannot help but smile all day long :) I also love the creative part, when I get to sketch new collections, style photo shoots, sew and adjust muslins... if only I could do this all year long!

I think there’s no "hardest" part to the job... but I could definitely do without my daily trips to the post office! I’m thinking about hiring somebody part-time to help me with this task, if the spring-summer collection does well enough :D

In the future, I’d love to produce more patterns of course, and also to work more with British, American and Australian shops now that the patterns are bilingual! As I said, I’m also thinking about hiring somebody part-time (being overworked is always a good sign!), and maybe in a few years renting my own little workshop!

I’m still very new to the pattern-making world, but for the moment if I had to give one piece of advice to other emerging sewing businesses, it would be, "Work hard, stay humble". Launching a business is a LOT of work, even if people don’t see it from the outside, but don’t be so caught in your work that you brag about your products or disrespect your customers. Stay humble and nice with your clients and your work partners, and always focus on making better products and services!"


Merci Eléonore! The Pavot jacket is already in my sewing queue and I'm super excited to see the new patterns...