It is just 9 days to go until The Big Pixie Collab opens and it's time to meet another maker. This time we have the fabulous Louise Ambrosi of Sew Sofa. Louise has taken some of my colourfully stitches and worked total magic on them for the big event.
Tell us a bit about you!
I’m Louise, mum to Sofia and Aurelio and I’m a self-taught bag designer, making all sorts of bag styles for children and grown ups from simple pencil cases to professionally finished handbags. I’ve been running Sew Sofia for 8 years now after being made redundant from a business information job in 2011. My strapline is “funky, fun and functional bags” which is reflected in the eye-catching fabrics, and also types of fabrics that I use such as laminated cotton, which is highly durable and easy to keep clean. I’ve always enjoyed sewing, but only really discovered my passion for bags after having my two children and making bags for them and their friends. I’ve always said that they are my source of inspiration, my in-house bag models and quality assurance team because they’ve had so many Sew Sofia bags between them over the years! Apart from bag making, I have also recently delved into designing and publishing my own digital bag patterns.
What does an average day look like for you?
I drop off my son at school and then coffee + inbox + social media queries, order anything that I need for that week and then usually start sewing from 9:30am. I stop at 12pm and force myself to do some form of exercise, either a brisk 15-20 min walk, or if it’s grotty outside, a fitness video. I have a 20 min lunch break, then either pack up orders and head to the post office, photograph products for my website or continue sewing until school run time at 3pm. I may do a bit of admin like answering messages or cutting out my next bag make early evening, but I rarely do any more sewing until the following morning as I invariably make mistakes when I’m tired.
Collaborative work requires us to step outside our comfort zone, if you could work in a different medium what would you choose?
I’ve always been creative and loved art at school, so rather fancy the idea of designing my own fabric one day, either digitally or screen printed. It’s on my wish list!
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
I’d say juggling my time – there’s never enough time in the day to do everything but if I can tick a few to-do’s off my list then I’m happy. I work around my kids so that I can be there for them when they’re not at school and I can easily forget when a term break is coming up (there are so many!).
If you could share one tip for surviving in the small business world what would it be?
Network more and don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’m sociable by nature, but it can be very isolating running any business from home and it does me the world of good to get out, meet other self employed people and makers and just talk to someone. I meet up with the Leicestershire Etsy team, as well as a local business meet-up at someone’s house for a coffee and chat. This year I’m also benefitting from the Webinart programme run by Creative Leicestershire, which includes free 1-2-1 support from a business mentor.
Who are you top three small businesses?
I love Lexis Place for her illustrations and hair accessories, I’ve followed Vicky for years and bought many of her headbands and other gorgeous items for my daughter and niece. She also designs fab business logos! I also love silversmith Limezest Jewellery and enamel jewellery maker iamrachelshop and adorn myself with both of their jewellery every day! There’s something very special about wearing handmade.