I love handmade products. I think as the generations go by, several traditional crafts like knitting, sewing, are sadly dwindling. As big brands take over the consumer space, we often find it easier to simply walk into a store and shop. However, I love small businesses, where homepreneurs are keeping their creative passions alive by making products that inspire them, and keep them happy.
Today, I am writing about Emily Close, a sewist mum based in Virginia, USA. She is a busy mom of three, but makes some lovely products that we can use in our daily lives (to stay better organized!). Her product range consists of artist rolls and clutches for holding paintbrushes, colored pencils and calligraphy pens. For the younger artists, she offers crayon wallets and zippered pouches.
Emily sent me a lovely zippered bag. The quality of her stitching is immaculate and I love the attention to detail she puts in her products. She uses fabric that is so soothing. The pouch she sent me is perfect to store jewelry, or use as a makeup or stationery pouch.
I had a little e-mail chat with her to learn about her passion for sewing.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and Sew Darn Close? What is your background in design?
I have been running my business, Sew Darn Close, for 4 years now. However, the business and product has evolved over time. I started selling burp cloths and changing pads for babies but found my niche with pouches for art supplies.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and studied Television and Video Production extensively in high school. I worked for an after-school program for many years with tweens and teens. I have always had a creative outlet and when I became a stay-at-home mom, I had the freedom to experiment and pursue a more creative lifestyle and business.
What inspires you?
My customers! Many of my customers are artists and calligraphers. Seeing their art and supplies and how they use them inspires my designs.
Who is your favorite textile/sewing artist?
Bonnie Christine (designs for Art Gallery Fabrics) and Anna Rifle Bond (Designs for Cotton and Steel Fabrics as well as her company, Rifle Paper Co.). I love that the fabric I choose started with an artist and my products often end in the hands of another artist.
How do you juggle work and mommy hood? Any tips to share?
I’m not going to lie, I still haven’t figured it out exactly. I have learned to outsource and hire babysitters as needed. It changes with the seasons, revenue, and ages of my children. I hire extra help during the holiday season and during prep for large craft shows. Homeschooled teens and pre-teens make great babysitters because they are available during the day and don’t charge as much as an adult nanny.
Any learnings from running a small business that you would like to share?
Running a creative small business is a lot of work. You have to wear many hats: manufacturer, bookkeeper, marketer, salesperson, and designer. As I have revenue available, I am working to outsource what I don’t love doing so I can continue to focus on designing and making quality products. Collaboration with other business owners has also been key to my success.
What are some of your favorite fabrics and prints?
I can’t wait to get my hands on Bonnie Christine’s latetest collection: “Gathered” by art gallery fabrics. I also love the “Birdsong” collection by Clare Therese Gray for Windham fabrics.
See her lovely work at: https://www.sewdarnclose.com
Buy them at: