Who are you/what do you do?
Hi, I’m Kim and I run A Life Sew Simple. I live on a small island in North Wales, called Anglesey, with my husband, two boys and my cat.
I run my business full time, and spend my days designing and sewing cute and colourful gifts and home decorations, namely for kids and new babies. My designs incorporate my love of nature with lots of cute animals.
How has Covid changed your business?
This year has been so strange, I had a lot of plans for the business at the beginning of the year, and then along came Covid. Covid meant making a number of changes to my business, namely my wholesale side. I stock a number of local shops with a local based design which is a popular gift for tourists who visit the island, however with the shops being shut and the tourist season shortened this side of my business was reduced.
However, the online side of my business has grown, especially via my Etsy page, which up until a year ago I had not put much time into. I have seen a real increase in gift orders, sent straight to the recipient and new baby gift orders.
Is there a story behind the name (if it's not your own?)
I wish I could say there was a fun story to the name, but when I first had the idea to start a business I listed about 4-5 names and this was the one that stood out and stuck.
How old is the business and how did you get started?
I have been running my business now for over 7 years, which is a little crazy! Before doing this I had a number of jobs including a bank cashier, working in a Nuclear Power plant and working on a Cosmetic counter.
I originally started sewing to make a gift for my niece’s Christening and I loved it, but I had no intentions of doing it as anything more than a hobby. My love of sewing really grew after a miscarriage, I was finding the loss difficult to cope with, and found that sewing really gave me something to focus on. I began to sew every day from there, and I now like to think of my business as my rainbow baby.
Do you have a style? What are you known for?
My work is quite cutesy, lots of animals with smiley faces and hats, rainbows and things to make people smile. A few of my best sellers are my After The Storm Comes A Rainbow star and my personalised keepsake cushions as well as my love for rainbows.
Who/what/where inspires you?
I am mostly inspired by nature. I have always loved animals and the world around us, and there really is so much beauty in all the little things to be found.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teddy bear designer! I used to spend hours in my little art room (more like a broom cupboard that I turned into my little space) drawing designs of teddies. My favourite design was called a Splodge, a big round shaped teddy with an oversized nose and large eyes and feet. I still have the drawings now.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Oh, I would love to go back and talk to little Kim, and my main advice would be to just be yourself. I spent so many years trying to be more like others, and not owning some of the attributes I have grown to love, it is amazing with age how you settle in to yourself.
How did you learn your craft?
Practice, practice and more practice. My mum bought me a sewing machine and I never used it for years, but when I did begin to use it I learnt mostly through trial and error. That still applies to this day, anytime I try something new I just keep practising. I find watching tutorials and videos too confusing.
What do you do on your days off?
Work! Well not always but I am a little obsessed with sewing, and as my work room is next to the lounge it can be hard to switch off. I do also love to go for walks, with everything going on this year we have had a lot of walks. And then spending time with my boys, they are a little older so it’s not as easy to get these days, but taking them to their sports or having film nights together.
Biggest highlight or achievement to date?
As rubbish as this year has been I have had a few lovely moments in my business to celebrate. My main one would be being selected as one of Holly Tucker’s Small Business Inspirators. I literally did a little squeal when I received the email, she is such a huge inspiration to me. Also, I joined the amazing Love Sparkle team this year, a hugely talented bunch of ladies, and working alongside them in market nights throughout this year has been amazing.
I think my main struggle would be learning when to switch off. I can start very early and be super organised all day, but I will keep on going just to try and get one more thing off the to do list. I have tried to counter that this year by creating much more achievable daily to do lists, and also learning when to say no.
What sparks joy in what you do?
I love seeing my makes in their new homes, receiving customer pictures and reviews really does make my day.
Any lessons you'd pass on?
I think the main piece of advice I would pass on is to truly love what you do. I love my day job, if I didn’t I honestly couldn’t get up every morning and head into the sewing room. Make sure you choose something that really does bring you joy and you can pour all your heart right back into it.
What's next for you and your business?
I have already started making plans for the New Year, one of my aims is to make my business more eco friendly and sustainable all round.
I have also been considering some new designs and ranges including rare and endangered animals, to try and raise awareness of some of these beautiful animals. Overall, my main aim to keep growing and keep on sewing happy!