Becoming their own boss is a lifelong dream for a lot of people. It certainly was for Becky Owen and Fay Hooper and, thanks to the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity, the creative duo are now successfully running The Sewing Café in Hinckley.
The Sewing Café is described as ‘the social sewing emporium’, providing avid sewers with a place to purchase supplies and enjoy their pastime in a bustling environment with like-minded hobbyists. The café hosts workshops, parties, classes and customers can even pay to sew by the hour throughout the day.
As two keen craft enthusiasts, the pair had been searching for a place like The Sewing Café to visit in their free time – but they were unable to find somewhere to suit their needs. This lack of provision for thread fanatics got them thinking, and inspired them to create a venue of their own.
Becky explained: “There were two key factors that inspired us to start our own business, the first being a real gap in the market – we craved a place where we could go and buy beautiful fabrics, indulge our love of sewing, somewhere that was welcoming and friendly.
“Secondly, having both worked in large organisations we wanted to be our own bosses, seeing the results of the work we put in.”
This opportunity to fill a void as well as fulfil their ambitions of self-employment was one the business partners didn’t feel they could pass up. In 2011, after finding out about the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity through her husband, Fay applied for and received a start-up loan from the Charity. This helped the pair to get started and after some searching they came across the perfect space for their business in Hinckley where they set up their shop.
On becoming her own boss, Becky said: “The first day we opened we had both of our Mums in the shop, and they both commented on how it reminded them of when we were little, constantly playing shops.
“We’ve both always dreamed that we’d be able to work for ourselves one day, and the fact that we get to do it together is even better.”
Since opening its doors The Sewing Café has rapidly developed, to the point that in 2013 they had to expand in to the vacant premises next door to them to accommodate their growing trade. When they first started they were hosting around three sewing classes each month, and now they coordinate around double that amount on a weekly basis.
But despite this Becky says they have no plans to slow down, and are now looking to grow their online business presence to complement their existing store.
“We have just celebrated our fourth birthday, and in December 2013, just over two and a half years after we opened, we expanded in to premises next door – giving us extra retail space and an additional workshop room. Our next business goal is to develop the online side of our business and accompany our bricks and mortar shop with and online shop,” she said.
It’s hard to come by a creative business idea which genuinely fills a gap that people are searching for – but Becky and Fay show that if you do you should go with it. This duo is a shining example of the creativity of our loanees, and we hope their story will inspire anyone with an innovative plan of their own to apply for one of our interest-free loans.
Thinking of applying for a loan from STWLC? Becky said: “Go for it! The whole application process really helped us clarify our business plan, and from time to time we look back at our application. We’re pleased to see that as The Sewing Café stands today it very much reflects our original application.”
CLICK HERE for more information on our business loans.
To find out more about The Sewing Café visit www.thesewingcafe.co.uk.