Yes, it’s that time again – time for the Behind the Scenes examination of Thread Theory over the last three months!
Lots has happened since the end of February. For a refresher about where we were at on February 28th, have a look at the last quarterly report.
The quarter that just ended (March, April and May) has left me feeling like we’re beginning to have a smooth system here in the Thread Theory studio (i.e. my sewing room and the dining room table which officially has become my Thread Theory desk since the lighting is so nice and it’s close to the tea kettle haha). We have several patterns in various stages of development at the moment and have a nice little schedule worked out for release dates over the next year. I hope that my planning will lead to a lot of new patterns for you to sew in the next while!
Okay, so first off, here is an overview of what has happened over the last three months:
- We began March by launching the paper version of the Goldstream Peacoat pattern. This was a great milestone to reach as it officially meant we were ready to close the doors on our very first collection and move on to focusing on the Alpine Collection!
- Dana, a talented seamstress and follower of our blog, kindly offered to create a tutorial for the Goldstream Peacoat. She ended up going above and beyond to create a whole Tailored Peacoat Series which I was completely over the moon about! I was not confident enough in my tailoring abilities to provide something like this for all you Goldstream sewers and so was very pleased that Dana could create this for you instead!
- We launched the first pattern of the Alpine Collection – the Comox Trunks! These were a HUGE success for several reasons I think. First because they are a quick and easy project to sew, second because we released both the PDF and paper patterns at the same time so that sewers had the choice to buy whichever they preferred right from the start, and third, because we held a detailed sew-along for this pattern. Thank you to everyone who followed our sew along. It was such a thrill to see how many entries there were to the contest! Oh, and maybe there was a fourth reason why they were such a success…indeed, I wonder if our photoshoot had anything to do with their popularity? 😛
- With the launch of these two new patterns we gained quite a few new stockists and also were pleased to see that many stockists wanted to re-order our first three patterns to include in their shipment of the two new ones!
- Along with the Comox Trunk launch, we also released a Comox Trunk Supplies kit that includes gorgeous bamboo jersey and some hard-wearing elastic. This was met with a lot of enthusiasm despite the cost of shipping something that is quite a bit heavier than a paper pattern. I hope the kit has allowed sewers who would otherwise be too nervous to begin sewing with knits to take the leap and become knit aficionados!
- Near the end of March we headed on our first holiday since beginning Thread Theory that was longer than three days and thus meant we would have to figure out how to run Thread Theory away from home. We travelled to Fernie, a ski resort on the other side of British Columbia for a family wedding. We brought a little suitcase of patterns and kits and of course, toted the laptop along with us. We mailed orders from the tiny little post office in the village and figured out (by the end of the week) that we were much more productive when we worked at the local library rather than amid all the relatives who were busy having fun (while we worked :S) at the cabin. A lesson that has been stored for future holidays!
- Near the beginning of April I began working on Thread Theory full time which has been a dream come true and I find myself amazed how this has worked out every single day that I get to wake up to anticipate a day doing all the things I love most! I had previously also been employed as a seamstress for a home decor company and while I hadn’t really intended to switch to full time with Thread Theory so soon (the situation changed with the home decor company), I must admit that it seems to have turned out for the best! While the monthly income the business produces for us isn’t exactly as substantial as we had planned it to be when I made the switch to full time, the timing worked out quite well because around the same time as this, Matt began to work full time at the fire hall! So, as usual, the constant changes that always seemed to be occurring in our lives worked out for the best and it has been very satisfying to be able to put so much time into developing the business.
- In mid-April we headed off our our U.S. road trip to film the Sew It All TV episode featuring the Thetis Tank that I had been working hard on over the last couple months. We had such a wonderful trip, off which the highlight was, without a doubt, meeting some of our lovely stockists and customers – it was so nice to be around so many kindred spirits (am I starting to sound a little cheesy? Seriously, if you haven’t had the opportunity to hang out with any online sewing community members in real life…give it a try and you will begin making sappy remarks about soul mates and bff too!).
- The end of April saw our first tax deadline which we met (by the skin of our teeth!) – whew…simply assembling all the correct financial documents to provide to the accountant was quite a bit of a learning curve for Matt (I didn’t exactly meet my goal of joining in on the financial side of things when it came to the end of the tax year because I was so busy preparing for the Sew-It-All episode!).
- In May we were glad to be home and I was itching to get some real work done after all of our travelling! We currently have four patterns in various stages of development…yay!
- We launched our first free pattern, the Arrowsmith Undershirt – which has been downloaded like CRAZY every day since it’s launch date…apparently there are a LOT of sewers out there who are itching to sew a men’s undershirt – who knew?!
- Over the last few months we had worked with our lovely translator, Clémence, to create French versions of all of our pattern instructions. There have been a lot of happy French sewers emailing us and commenting on various forms of social media ever since we put them up on our website. I’m glad we are offering these for our patterns from this point onwards, especially since we live in a bilingual country!
- May was, for the most part, the month of product development rather than pattern development. I had loads of fun picking out useful sewing tools from my favourite haberdashery, Merchant & Mills and am very proud to be carrying their quality tools in our store. I also enjoyed gathering all the supplies needed to make a very manly Father’s Day shaving kit. The tutorial for this can be found here, and the supplies are sold in kit form (which I have been busily assembling to keep up with the orders of late!) and also individually here.
- Also, May, for me, was the month of collaboration – I am very excited to be a new Britex Guest blogger and have so far created a Strathcona Henley placket tutorial using an amazing wool knit (it’s seriously gorgeous), and have also sewn an Out and About maxi dress featuring a pretty striped bamboo knit from the Britex store.
- I have also been collaborating with other indie pattern companies: It has been really exciting to take part in Sewing Indie Month and also to establish relations with some of the other inspiring indie pattern companies out there. Over the last month I have really enjoyed creating a tutorial for Tilly & the Button’s Coco pattern, answering Dixie DIY’s interview questions, emailing back and forth with Tasia of Sewaholic, chatting with Elisalex of By Hand London and also, getting to know Katie of Papercut Patterns. The fact that friendships can easily be kindled despite geographical distance and despite being – what some would describe as – competitors really amazes me and makes me so happy to be part of the online sewing community. I look forward to the day when Matt and my travels take us to the various parts of the world that all these amazing ladies live in and we can actually meet in person!
To finish up this ridiculously long post, I will asses and create a few goals. Last quarter I set quite a few big ones. I wanted to avoid announcing dates and projects before they were completely ready. This was a goal that carried over from the previous quarter because it was such a struggle for Matt and I. I’m relieved to say that practice makes perfect and I’m not even tempted to make promises and thus create unnecessary stress for us and our company any more…whew!
The next goal was to make the very most of our U.S. trip – I can cross that off with a resounding check mark! We were both so tired from all the new experiences that by the time we got home we were pretty much ready to hide in our little house and just recuperate (I came down with a cold and we both had a week or two of catching up on sleep :P).
The third goal was one that I set for myself: I wanted to learn Matt’s side of the business. This has been accomplished for the most part since Matt has been working at the fire hall and is only available to help with Thread Theory in the evenings…which he spends MANY evenings doing. I’m still quite shoddy at bookkeeping so if Matt ever gets too busy to do this due to his fire fighter training I will most definitely be hiring a book keeper!
The last goal was the biggest – we wanted to make sure that we began producing all sorts of sew-alongs and tutorials for our patterns. I think this is one of the best parts of purchasing a pattern from an indie company. Not only do you get a sewing pattern, you gain access to all sorts of tutorials, and even better, a community, that is discussing and sharing their experiences with the pattern. With this in mind, we worked hard on developing these resources and this community over the last quarter and I think that I am getting a lot quicker and more effective at making tutorials and using social media to chat about our patterns so you can expect much more of this in the future!
Now it’s time to share our goals for the next quarter:
- I want these next three months (June, July and August) to be focused on pattern development – I won’t add too much detail about this here (i.e. dates of pattern releases and the like) in keeping with my first goal from the last quarter 😛
- I’d like to improve the usability and appearance of our blog. Plans for this are already in the works (aside from my attempts to make things look prettier here of late), so by next quarter I hope that things will be looking very different around here!
- On a personal level, I would like to focus on enjoying the summer by camping and hiking and generally spending some time doing things other than Thread Theory for once (it’s all part of the endless balancing act of owning your own business I suppose…). Hopefully this will be easier to do now that Matt’s steady schedule at the fire hall actually helps us to distinguish weekends from weekdays (sometimes…). I’ll be sure to report on this at the end of the quarter as a way to keep me accountable :P.
Thanks for reading to the end of this massive report! As Thread Theory keeps developing and changing I think I am beginning to realize why Tasia writes a monthly update about Sewaholic rather than a quarterly one! Maybe that or something similar to that is something I should consider for the future.
As usual, these reports are the perfect time for you to comment with ideas and suggestions for Thread Theory. What do you want to see more of (on the blog, for patterns, for tutorials/sew-alongs)? Do you like what we’ve been up to over the last few months? What developments and posts did you find the most useful of enjoyable? Thanks, ever so much, for following our little pattern company and for your support and input!