Stitched Up

Anyone who’s ever made anything pretty and shiny for fun will have entertained notions of chucking in the towel at their day job and setting up shop with a needle and thread, turning their hobby into a profitable business. For most, this will remain nothing but a beautiful pipe dream, one to be conjured up while staring idly out of the window on dark days in the office. Not so for Manchester’s own Roseanna Murray – she’s already making some cash money doing what she loves.

The 25-year-old – from Hulme, although she now lives in Stretford – is the proud owner of Roseanna’s Textiles, a charming little one-woman outfit that began a mere eight months ago and produces Asian-inspired bedspreads, cushions, throws and table runners (and sock monkeys, but more on that later).

Sewing has always been a part of Roseanna’s life, picking up the craft from her mother and sitting down at her first sewing machine at the age of six, but it wasn’t until recently that she decided to try her hand at making a living out of her passion. Those who do a lot of stitching and sewing will know just how expensive fabric can be, which may put some who are considering doing something similar off setting up their own business but as Roseanna says, she has been very lucky in this respect.

She currently works in an Old Trafford primary school, which has a large Muslim community and this is where she gets her material – and her inspiration – from. “Asian women would come into the playground and I would see all these vibrant, lovely clothes with such beautiful colours,” she says. “They only wear the clothes once as they can’t be seen in the same outfit twice, so they often donate them to charity shops but I get the fabrics given to me.”

Roseanna’s other source of inspiration is her travels around the world. She has spent time in Brazil, Malaysia and Thailand and the traditional styles of such destinations can clearly be seen in her work. However, she doesn’t just make Asian-inspired pieces and is more than happy to take commissions, such as the embellished silk altar cloth requested by St Martin’s Church in Ashton upon Mersey.

And, of course, she does make a cheeky sock monkey or two which may look a bit out of place on her site, nestled among bedspreads and cushions, but are meant to be a bit of fun. “I was doing them for a children’s project in my school and my boyfriend said I should make them to sell,” she explains. “I’ve sold a few, but not that many yet.” The stuffed simians also represent a good opportunity for the seamstress to use up any old scraps since she never throws anything away. To her, a scrap of wool or an off-cut of material is actually so much more and can be used in a variety of ways – the best attitude to have for anyone trying to turn a profit.

When it comes to advertising her company, Roseanna is really just starting out, saying it’s basically all been word of mouth thus far. While she does have a Facebook page – by her own admission, “not brilliant yet” – it is her Etsy shop that is getting her most excited, even if she does have to fork out around nine per cent on charges for the privilege of having a store on the site. “I still think it’s worth it,” she says. “I do have to charge more on Etsy because of the fees but it means that a lot of people all over the world see my products, which I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own. It’s only been up a week but already people from Texas to Toronto have viewed my store. It’s a global thing immediately.”

So what advice does Roseanna have for anyone considering following in her footsteps and turning a fun pastime into a business? “Just give it a go,” she recommends. “You never know unless you try. Try to display your products as much as possible to see if there’s a market.”

Given that Roseanna and her sewing skills were booked up every week between May and October last year and the fact that she’s about to leave her school behind to run her company full time, it would seem that this have-a-go attitude has worked wonders for her.

Inspiring stuff! Have you ever tried making a bit of cash out of your sewing and crafting? How have you fared?

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