Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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Reflecting About Thread Theory: Where we are headed

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It’s been a while since I wrote a quarterly report – I haven’t for two quarters in fact.  You can see my last quarterly report from June 4th, 2o14 here. While it isn’t the end of this quarter (which ends February 28th) I’ve been feeling the need to think reflectively about Thread Theory and, for me, there is no better way to reflect than to write about what I’m thinking!

(All photos in this post are from our Instagram account.  Follow us on Instagram to see behind the scenes updates like these!)

 

What we’ve done:

The last few months of working on Thread Theory have basically gone like this (with lots of exceptions but for most part this routine is what we do):  Any weekday you can find me checking updates within the online sewing community with my morning coffee and breakfast.  On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Matt and I both work on Thread Theory from home.  We launch into responding to customer service emails for the morning and pack orders.  We walk the orders to the mail box to exercise our dog, Luki – usually in the mid morning or early afternoon.  In recent months, Nicole, our Thread Theory Extrovert (i.e. customer service representative), comes over once or twice a week to help respond to emails and to assemble Bag Making Supplies Kits, Comox Trunk Kits and Jeans & Pants Essential Notions packages.  She helps assemble patterns when she has time at home.

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In the afternoons, Matt usually ends up working on more computer related Thread Theory business which varies greatly – you might find him responding to potential stockists, updating our website, troubleshooting shipping problems, or splitting upcoming PDF patterns into pages.  Meanwhile, I usually spend my afternoons working on patterns and samples or working on the blog and our other avenues of communicating with you guys (such as Facebook, Mailchimp newsletters, Instagram and Twitter).

While a theme from our early quarterly reports was long work hours and trouble tearing ourselves away from the act of constantly refreshing our email program in the evening, we have managed to strike a far better balance with this.  I still find myself sewing Thread Theory samples in the evening quite often and if we are doing something that involves sitting still you will invariably find me assembling pattern envelopes – all the same though, we have a very clear ‘end’ to our workday and it feels great!

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Matt works at the Comox Fire Hall two days a week – Thursday and Friday.  On those days, I work with a more flexible schedule.  If I simply can’t bear the thought of answering one more email, I sometimes close myself up in the sewing room for the morning and listen to podcasts while I enjoy the more creative tasks involved in running the business – be it sample sewing or drawing instruction diagrams.  Sometimes I spend the whole day planning for the future.  This might seem a little unproductive since there are almost always emails waiting to be answered and orders waiting to be packed, but I find, when the mood strikes me to brainstorm I should go with it.  It’s pretty easy to start feeling uninspired and worn down if I don’t give myself time to brainstorm (I guess that’s the point I’m at right now…hence this blog post!).

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When Matt and I feel extra busy or we’ve taken Luki for some luxuriously long lunch time walks throughout the week (which is such a nice thing to do since it’s so dark and cold in the evenings), we often pick up the slack a bit on weekends.  We tend to spend a couple hours emailing and packing orders on Saturday morning if this is the case – we’ve been trying to avoid this as much as possible though because I find if we let ourselves stretch our work hours into evenings and weekends even moderately, it becomes an avalanche and we are quickly deeply immersed in our ‘all work and no play’ schedule!

This basic routine that we’ve worked out for ourselves has been quite successful since my last quarterly report.  We’ve released three patterns – the Finlayson Sweater, the Jutland Pants and, most recently, the women’s Camas Blouse.  We’ve run two sew-alongs – the Finlayson Sew-Along (complete with a contest) and the Jutland Pants Sew-Along.  We’ve held a couple of sales, including our overwhelmingly successful New Years Sale that just ended on Jan. 7th.  The blog has been pretty consistently updated…though I’ve been struggling with a bit of writer’s block lately so I’m not sure how inspiring or varied my posts have been over the last two or three months.

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Of course, the above list featured the largest events our company has experience recently.  To achieve these, it was necessary to have long term goals and to ‘chug away’ through the dull bits in order to get to the satisfying parts (launching a pattern!  Enjoying your feedback on our sew alongs! Seeing your lovingly sewn Thread Theory garments!).  I’ve enjoyed punctuating these larger goals with some smaller projects recently for a change of pace and some instant gratification – for example, I hugely enjoyed writing a magazine article this winter that I will tell you more about once it has been published.  I’ve also really found our recent practice of carrying sewing supplies and tools in our Thread Theory store to be a great way to boost my excitement over Thread Theory.  Sometimes, I hate to admit, the daily admin tasks involved in owning Thread Theory start to feel like an endless race that resets itself at the beginning each morning – for example, we struggle (valiantly!) to empty the email inbox each day and wake up each morning to find it more full than before.  Or, I photograph, write, edit photos, and compile a Friday blog post one week and, of course, the next week I am back at ground zero needing to do the same thing once again (I’m sure all of you bloggers can relate to the perseverance necessary to maintain an interesting blog).  But, just to be clear, I don’t want to sound negative about this…I would rather do these things than almost anything else in the world!!!  All the same, it is important to recognize when things start to feel like a chore.  That is when I give myself a little time to research inspiring sewing products and daydream about what I would like to add to my sewing studio.  When I’ve found those things, we purchase them, package them, and place them in our store to share with you!

Where we’re going:

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Now that I’ve summed up what Thread Theory has looked like in the very recent past, I’ll show you how we plan for Thread Theory to grow and change in the future (of course, plans change so these aren’t promises, they are just loose goals!).

We currently have three more patterns in the works.  One will be coming out quite soon and the rest will be launched in the spring or further into the future.  Our next pattern, as I have hinted quite often, is a women’s pattern (did you notice the pants that were featured in our Camas Blouse photo shoot?  Many of you have emailed us about them!).  The Camas Blouse and our upcoming Lazo Pants are a temporary step away from our company’s original niche – menswear sewing.  These two patterns were created for the fashion line I was required to make while in design school.  When I showed them to blog readers back in June 2013 many of you begged for them to be made into patterns.  I just couldn’t resist the temptation to comply!  Some of you menswear enthusiasts might be worried that we will forget to focus on menswear in the next year – please don’t worry!  Menswear will remain a very prominent aspect of Thread Theory.  In fact, two of the three upcoming patterns are some really awesome (in my opinion) menswear staples!

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Although we are firm on the point that one of our company’s main focuses will always be menswear, we were in awe of your enthusiastic response when we released our first women’s pattern.  With this in mind (plus the factor that I love the excuse to sew something for myself when ‘working’) we have begun research on adding niche women’s patterns to our business over the next year.  We have a certain theme in mind that we feel doesn’t compete directly with any of our favorite existing indie companies.  So many of these companies have generously given us advice and encouragement as we developed our menswear patterns and so I don’t feel right about directly competing with any of them by creating women’s garments featuring similar styles to those already existing…this might be a little silly on my part as the indie sewing community can, in no way, be described as competitive!

While it is tempting to speed up the pace of pattern releases so we can get all these ideas rolling, I plan to avoid this temptation because I have been learning that things actually slow down for a while when I try to speed things up.  That sounds like a bit of a riddle but it actually makes sense…let me explain:  For instance, in order to speed up pattern production, I need to spend more of my time working with our patterns and less time working on admin.  This means hiring someone to help with customer service (such as Nicole).  Hiring someone means spending many hours training, setting up new systems, and re-learning our business.  Each time I teach Nicole something, I see errors or weak points in the processes we’ve created since I am suddenly seeing them from her perspective.  Next thing I know, Matt is required to spend a whole week working on the technical aspects of the improvements I desire and I have to be trained in the new, improved system before I can teach it to Nicole!

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Aside from keeping a consistent pattern release schedule, I would like to continue stocking sewing supplies that compliment upcoming patterns.  I’ve got some really exciting ideas for a new menswear and corresponding kits!

Matt and I also plan to streamline our wholesale system and our shipping system (both to individual customers and to retailers).  Selling to sewing stores has been a big learning curve for us and I’m pretty sure we’ve made every mistake possible (though, now that I’ve said that, I am also sure we’ll make many more mistakes in the future!).  I would love to find some sort of training or manual on how to set up a wholesale approach (for a small online business).  Any ideas?  I really don’t want our stockists to feel confused by our system any longer and Matt and I NEED to find a way to stop our website’s shipping app from constantly breaking down if we would like to maintain our sanity.

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Over the next year I dream of hiring someone to create sew-alongs for all of our patterns and I would also like to employ a very precise and knowledgeable sample sewer.  We plan to expand to a larger studio as soon as we are able to as we are currently bursting at the seams in this little house!  Aside from all of this, we have a million tiny little goals and details that we will be working towards in the next few months.  I won’t bore you with the mundane details of these financial, customer service, and admin specifics but keep in mind that if we are quiet on the blog or website, these things are probably what we are devoting all of our attention to!

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If you made it through this reflective post filled with all of my dreams, I heartily congratulate you!  If you have any advice from a small business perspective or any goals you would like to add to our list, we are always happy to hear from you in the comments or by email (I know I complain about answering endless lists of emails but really I love receiving each individual message!  Having connections with sewists around the world is, of course, what running this business is all about!).

 


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Quarterly Report #4

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.

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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:

March 2014:

 

  • 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!logo for series
  • 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!

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  • 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!

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  • 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!

April 2014:

  • 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.

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  • 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!).

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  • 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!).

May 2014:

  • 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!

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  • 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.Blog Sized-1
  • 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.

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  • 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!

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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!

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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:

  1. 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 😛
  2. 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!
  3. 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!

 


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Quarterly Report #3

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It’s the last day of February and it’s time for Thread Theory’s third quarterly report!  It’s currently the first quarter of our second fiscal year but I’m labelling our blog quarterly reports numerically rather than cycling from fiscal year to fiscal year.

This has been Thread Theory’s best quarter yet!  The last Quarterly Report that I wrote left us on the brink of reaping the satisfaction and rewards from a lot of our hard work, so this quarter we happily got to enjoy that while also working towards new goals.  Here are some of the main things to have happened in the last three months:

Anniversary: On December 15th we celebrated the first anniversary of Thread Theory as an incorporation.  We held an “Anniversary Sale” so that you could all join in on the celebration as well and were thrilled that it was a huge success!

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Tissue Pattern Release: January 10th saw the culmination of a LOT of hard work – our tissue sewing patterns were officially released both in our store and in stockist stores.  These tissue patterns included the Newcastle Cardigan, the Jedediah Pants and the Strathcona Henley.  We had been completely in love with our packaging for quite some time and so it was great to finally show it to the sewing world and hear that you love it too.  We have heard nothing but good things about the aesthetic of the tissue patterns so far and hope that our graphic designer, Sonia Bishop, reads this because this success is all due to her!

Stockists: A large hurdle that we stumbled on but have since happily climbed over consisted of gathering stockists to carry our tissue patterns.  Our system was a little clunky and awkward at first because we were overly eager and sent out a pre-sale notice to stockists before we actually had our pattern envelopes in our hands.  Of course, we were bombarded with questions such as “How much is shipping?”  and “Can you send photos of your product?”.  We couldn’t answer any of these questions without our complete set of packaging which was delayed due to an error in printing.  Some of you may remember that one of our goals in the second quarter was to no longer make public announcements and promises until we had all elements under our control.  That goal stemmed from this delay and we are proud that we have met this goal ever since!  Despite our confusing start to contacting stockists, we are very pleased to have our patterns currently carried by 20 retailers with 7 more retailers either waiting for their package to arrive in the mail or taking the last steps to finalizing their order.

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Goldstream Peacoat: The highly anticipated Goldstream Peacoat was weighing us down last quarter.  It was a lofty goal to include such a complicated pattern in our first collection but I couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out.  We launched the PDF version of this pattern on January 17th and the tissue version of the pattern will be available on March 10th.  My goal with the Goldstream Peacoat was to create a design that allows sewers to create a very classic looking outerwear garment with the simplest techniques possible.  I think that the seam lines and sewing instructions make this possible and hope that the peacoat will help intermediate sewers easily conquer their fear of sewing a coat! My mom finished sewing her version of the coat for my dad very recently and was shocked by how quickly and painlessly the sewing process went.  She is an intermediate sewer who hasn’t done much in the way of garment sewing for a number of years (but she sews just about everything for her sailboat) so was a little nervous about sewing a wool coat.  She plans to write a guest blog post to tell you about her first big outerwear project and I will be sure to include lots of photos of the amazing results!

New Patterns: We also have three new secret patterns currently in development.  We plan to release all future sewing patterns in both their PDF and Tissue Variations simultaneously now that we have our system better worked out.  The next pattern will have a launch day of March 17th and it is currently in the mail to stockists.  It is the very first pattern to be part of our Alpine Collection which will consist of “Adventure Menswear”: clothing that is designed to be rugged and allow for lots of movement during physical activity.  The other two patterns don’t have release dates scheduled yet but we will keep chugging away at the process and we look forward to showing you the designs.

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U.S. Road Trip:  In late January we received an email inviting us to appear on Sew It All T.V. (PBS)!  In order to film this episode we will have to head to Golden, Colorado so we have decided to do so via land rather than air so that we have a chance to meet some of our stockists.  I posted about the trip here but since then we have arranged a trunk show with Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver the on April 22nd.  We are really looking forward to meeting anyone who can make it out for the evening!

Magazine Features:  Both Sew It All magazine and Sewing World magazines kindly published little features of our company in recent issues.  Check them out!  We’re hoping my aunt can bring over the Sewing World issue from England when she visits next month, it would be great to see it in person :).

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New Website: Most recently, Matt spent hours and hours (and days and days) at his computer building us a new website.  When we launched our tissue patterns we quickly realized that our current store simply would not work for us any longer – there was no way to have the PDF and Tissue versions of each pattern under the same product without accidentally charging shipping for PDFS…yikes!  We love our new store and look forward to making better use of the banner feature (wait until you see the photo we will be putting up on it on March 17th!).  We also made Pinterest boards to attach to each product so that you can see as many versions as I can pin all at once for sewing inspiration.

Goals: We have quite a few goals for our next quarter.  Here are a few of the main ones for you to examine in list format:

  1. Continue to be patient and announce developments and make promises only when all elements are under our control.  Things take longer this way but the process is also a lot less stressful for us!  Nothing makes me worry and stress more than owing someone something that we promised.
  2. Make the VERY MOST of our road trip to Colorado.  I really look forward to using the connections we have developed online through this blog and our business to develop real life friends at our different stop off points on our way south.  I don’t want my shyness to inhibit making new sewing friends and I don’t want our busy schedules to stop us from making plans to meet bloggers, stockists and any other sewing destinations I discover between now and mid-April.  If you’d like to meet with us, comment or shoot us an email (info@threadtheory.ca) and I would be thrilled to arrange something!
  3. My personal goal in these next three months is to take the initiative to learn more of ‘Matt’s side’ of the business.  I have been working hard in the last couple weeks to become proficient at our daily accounting and my next goal is to learn to smoothly operate our new website dashboard (including some basic coding…eek!).  Matt can launch into detailed analysis of dart placements or fabric choices (which often makes me pause in my tracks in shocks…I often expect to be engaging in a sewing monologue only to find I’m having a thorough sewing discussion, when did that happen?!) so I want to be able to do the same when he wants to talk business!  I also want to be able to give him a day off once in a while since his involvement in the local fire department is getting to be more time consuming of late (which I have already been doing with our daily accounting and customer service).
  4. Lastly, and here’s a big one, I want to ramp up the frequency of tutorials and sew-alongs on this blog.  I have been letting this slide for the last two quarters (even though it was one of the goals I made in the last quarterly report…oops) and so have plans for a sew-along for the pattern we will release on March 17th.  I also have a pretty exciting idea to increase the frequency of tutorials which I hope to implement in May.  Wish me luck!

 

Do you have any goals to suggest for Thread Theory?  Are you patiently waiting for another sew-along?  Do you secretly hope we make a particular pattern/design our next priority?  What information do you really want to know about menswear sewing?  We love your feedback, especially any time I write a ‘Behind the Scenes’ style post, and thank you for encouraging us so actively in the growth of our little pattern company!


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Quarterly Report #2

Well, it is that time again – we have reached the end of another quarter (we’ve adjusted the dates slightly now that we have an accountant and an official ‘corporate year end’).  This quarter ends on November 30th and our last (and first!) Quarterly Report was written on September 6th for the May 15th-August 15th quarter.  We started selling our very first pattern on May 14th and our official corporate year end will be tomorrow!  The last quarterly report was full of immense accomplishments that were all very visible to the reader – after all, we had released all three patterns that currently exist in the store in, roughly, the span of those three months!  This quarter, while not so flashy from your perspective, has been even more full and included even more hurdles than the first.  Unfortunately, most of these hurdles haven’t yet seen the light of day on the blog or the store…but, as we have been saying over and over again over the last three months, they will be showing up REALLY REALLY SOON!!!!  Here is a summary of what we have learned and accomplished since August 15th:

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On August 15th we were immersed in the midst of the Jedediah Shorts Sew Along.  We finished it, got to see all your amazing versions of the shorts and pants during the contest held by Kollabora, and then moved on to new and exciting things.  Some of these include:

  • We ordered and promptly received 3000 tissue patterns which have been sitting patiently in their boxes ever since.

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  • We designed, ordered and received our chipboard business cards.  They are so perfect – whenever we need to be reminded of what and who Thread Theory is, all we need to do is open up the desk drawer and have a look at those beauties to be re-invigorated with inspiration!

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  • We ordered and received the tiny little embroidered tags that will be included in every single pattern envelope that we sell.  I have been sewing them into every project I make and love how versatile they are.

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  • We hired an accountant and took several important steps towards making Thread Theory a successful and organized business.  We spend time every day working with the accounting software we purchased (Sage – it is a wonderful program and we highly recommend it to anyone who is currently deciding which accounting software they should buy!).  Matt has been really diligent in learning how to operate this software and, seeing as tomorrow is our first fiscal year end, we will be finding out very shortly whether our accountant holds the same opinion as me in that Matt is an excellent businessman!  This step in our business has yet again illustrated clearly to me how glad I am that Matt and I are working on this project as partners.  While he is lost when it comes to writing sewing instructions and a lot of the more creative aspects of Thread Theory, I must admit that I am even more lost when it comes to organizing Thread Theory finances.  I’m glad that I’ve been able to pick up the daily accounting procedures quickly when Matt teaches them to me, but without Matt teaching them I am afraid that our business records would likely have become a messy shoe-box of receipts before the year end was over!
  • With our steadily growing sales and people’s increased awareness about the existence of our company, this quarter can be easily summed up as three months of learning how to provide customer service.  We seem to have even more emails and social media waiting for us every morning.  It has been a very difficult lesson to learn how to prioritize aspects of our lives the last couple months.  For instance, since we work from home, it is hard to stop ourselves responding to customer emails in the morning before we’ve even poured the coffee and at night just before we climb into bed.  We often press pause mid-movie when we hear the chime of a new email coming in.  Clearly, this approach is NOT sustainable and we are working really hard to put some lifestyle boundaries in place!
  • Another business lesson we have learned this quarter is that EVERYTHING that involves more people than the two of us (think printing, envelope design, shipping etc.) will take longer than we expect.  This has been an even more difficult lesson than the last point because it is so tempting to set goals and provide time frames for ourselves and for our customers.  As we have learned lately, this estimating will only lead to broken promises and disappointment.  We’re trying to learn this lesson as quickly as possible and, now that we are very close to completing the last couple steps of the printed pattern development process for the first time, we have been able to make a realistic timeline to operate under and will (hopefully) no longer be constantly underestimating everything.

In the Works

While I can’t tell you about everything we have been working on in the last few months, here are some of the things we’ve blogged about:

  • We will soon be selling paper patterns online and through retailers and the final portion of the packaging is being printed as we speak!
  • In connection to this, we are still gathering stockists for our paper patterns and are extremely happy with the response we have received!  For those of you who are inhibited by shipping prices when you try to purchase products from far across the world, not to worry, you will very likely have a brick and mortar store or at least a much closer online option from which you can purchase our patterns!
  • The much anticipated Goldstream Peacoat (which we used to have displayed as ‘Coming Soon’ in our store and is now removed in light of the lessons we have learned regarding announcing things too soon), is still in the works and inches ever closer to being available as a PDF and printed pattern. December 6th marks another hurdle crossed in this process because I will be receiving all the feedback from test-sewers!

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  • Over the last three months a top-secret pattern has been designed, developed and tested by an enthusiastic group of sewers.  We’ve been busily ordering supplies and designing the packaging for something a little different than your standard sewing pattern which we really look forward to releasing!

On the Blog

We have been slightly less ambitious with the blog over the last quarter (no new sew-alongs or instructional videos for instance!) but, nonetheless, were very proud when the number of email followers finally broke the 200 mark last week!  A few of our most popular posts recently include:

  • The Goldstream Peacoat Contest through which we collected your tailoring suggestions to create the Encyclopedia Peacoatica, an online resource that is sitting patiently ready for you when you begin sewing your Goldstream Peacoat!
  • The photo gallery of my own version of the Newcastle Cardigan displaying that the pattern can be adapted for the female figure and (the most popular part) announcing the Rainy Day Sale during which the Newcastle pattern was discounted for a couple days.  We haven’t hosted a sale since and, as you can see, haven’t done anything for Black Friday due to a discordance between this practice of mass-consumerism and our company values (:P) but, don’t worry, we will be hosting sales in the future once our paper patterns have been released!

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  • The display of the Alpine Collection inspiration and a call for pattern ideas.  I was happily overwhelmed by your response to this post and enjoyed tallying all the comments to discover what items are the most popular amongst our blog readers.  Your suggestions have been heard and, indeed, the second garment towards this collection has been designed is currently in the works with our pattern maker, thanks to your comments!

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Sewing and Personal Life

In the last three months, Matt and I have had a lot of changes occur in our personal lives.  We moved to the Comox Valley from Victoria (for those of you unfamiliar with Vancouver Island, this is three hours north of Victoria and is a much smaller community).  We are happy to be in the valley because the move led to many new opportunities.  First of all, rent prices are thankfully much lower so we moved into our first house with a yard and enough rooms to have both a sewing studio and an office just for Thread Theory!

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We have plenty of closet space ready to store and display our paper patterns.  We have been working away on projects geared towards creating the perfect Thread Theory sewing studio, including repainting these display closets and making the perfect ironing table.

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Outside of Thread Theory, Matt has been thrilled to be accepted into the Comox Fire Department and has been busily training with them each week – an experience which he is greatly enjoying so far!  I am excited to begin volunteering with the Courtenay Recreation Centre’s sewing program in the new year and, in the meantime, am volunteering with their Art Cards program.  Also, I have taken up Zumba for fun since it is great way to loosen up the stiffness caused by sewing 8 hours a day for both work and Thread Theory!  Have you tried Zumba?  If you get stiff while sewing, how do you combat it?

Well, I must say, this quarterly report is MUCH longer than the last and I won’t blame you if you didn’t make it to the end!  If you did though, thanks for listening to my reflections regarding the last three months and thank you, everyone, for your continued enthusiasm for our menswear sewing pattern company!  We are proud to have made it through the struggles and lessons of the last three months and look forward to seeing the culmination of this hard work in the next quarter!