Friday, January 27, 2012

Make Life Beautiful

This month our focus has been on New Life - New Beginnings and I was very fortunate to interview Nin from The Wardrobe & Sailor Spy. Armed with some fresh  chocolate chip cookies straight out of my oven and a gift of fabric, I eagerly went to find out more about this talented seamstress.

Nin was effected by the earthquakes in a huge way - She had only just moved into her new workshop in the city centre prior to one of New Zealand's biggest disasters. The building was destroyed and everything she needed to run her business was stuck inside, including her sewing machines, patterns & fabrics -  just stop and ponder on that for a minute!

Over a cuppa we had a great conversation about starting over and we looked at the key factors to making any business a success, and one which you can apply day to day.

So how do you pick yourself up after a huge traumatic and emotional event such as the Earthquakes?
You take care of your family first. Nin's first thoughts were for her husband and daughter, as well as her grandmother and other family members that ended up staying with her after the February earthquake.  After making sure they were safe and had been sent to various locations outside of Canterbury, it gave her the mental space to think.

Her husband was heavily involved in the evacuation center so the phone was ringing non-stop day and night.  Nin became quite angry that the "Earthquake" had taken away everything she had worked really hard to achieve. So she did the next best thing in the situation She asked for help.

Nin's studio is now @home and is incorporated into every available spare space.  She is the organisation queen and she has made her home look fabulous! The spare kitchen cupboards are now neatly packed with fabrics, the packaging materials are under the bed and the living room holds her cutting table and sewing machine. It was a treat to be able to photograph all of who she is in one creative space!

Venturing out on your own
Working for a company or individual and crafting on the side whilst necessary for many does not fulfill everyone's creative void and can leave you feeling very unhappy.  These are Nin's top tips to address some of the fundamentals of running your own business:

Start with the end in mind - have a vision about what your business is going to look like, because when times get tough this might be the only thing you can hold onto

Be realistic - If you can't commit at least 15 hours a week to your business, it is in most cases not worth it. You also need to devote time to enable it to grow

Ask for help - Find a laywer, accountant or extra help to do things that get in the way of your creativity - it is money well spent

Find a business coach - Nin used Carol Neilson and her advice was invaluable. Even investing an hour or two with someone like this can make a massive impact on your business and how you run it.

How do you balance life as a wifemother entrepreneur?

Something we would all would love to know! Nin whipped out this fabulous diary (I was so taken by it, that I have now purchased my very own copy!). It is a daily planner which splits your day into Work/Businness, Family/Community and Personal commitments. 

So get organised! Have a simple system that works for you and stick with it!

Nin has a new years resolution: "To plan the next day at the end of the current day, then write down all the things you did achieve that day, including playing with the kids, making dinner. Be realistic, as woman as we are often too hard on ourselves, even if you don't have a huge stack of completed wallets, you still have achieved much during the day"

How do you get your name out there?

A friend of Nin's just returned from Europe and visited a number of markets while on her travels and has since remarked that New Zealand Craft Markets have an incredible standard that is hard to match!

So make some products, give them away, give them to family & friends then go to markets!

You have to have the vision and self belief to stand behind your products in public.

Get presence online. Open a shop on Felt - but don't leave it there, market yourself through social media such as Facebook, Blogging, etc!

What about pricing? There are many strategies for pricing, (Take a look at The Small Business Book for some great ideas)

Nin also likes to use a basic formula, which is: 
Cost of Materials (including packaging, labels etc)
Cost of Time (time to make, package, promote & post)
Cost of Overheads (power costs, phone bills, roughly 10% of the above two costs)
Multiply by 2 to get your Sales price - Try it at a market and you may be surprised!

So if your year is not already overflowing with New Years resolutions , take some of what Nin has shared to heart, get organised, get crafting and hold onto that vision even through the tough times!

We would love to hear your feedback on our first interview, leave a comment below or email us.

 If you would like to feature in one of our monthly interviews, email me at

Nin's work can be found here:
The Wardrobe
Sailor Spy

              Nin's favorite current prints from Sew Pretty?


  1. What a fantastic read - truly inspiring!

    1. Thanks Paula, glad you enjoyed it, there are so many mum's like us with business's and it is great to get some inspiration from someone who is doing it so well!

  2. Great interview. Nin's passion and commitment is a really inspiring thing and she is so talented as well!

    1. Thanks Miriam, I was really lucky to be able to interview Nin for the first of these interviews! It is going to be hard to match!

  3. Hi Kirsty, what a wonderful idea. I really enjoyed reading this interview and appreciate Nin's helpful insight, thank you. Looking forward to the next interview. Still don't know how you find the time :-)

    1. Thanks Fleur! Glad you enjoyed it! I am not sure where I find the time either!

  4. Great interview Kirsty. You really highlighted Nin's talent and passion. I love Nin's idea to plan ahead, but also acknowledge what she has achieved- so many of us could learn from this!

  5. Great post - heaps of info : ) well done Kirsty - very balanced & realistic

  6. Thank you so much I want to start up a hobbie/come biz this year and was wondering how to do it you have got some great ideas that I am sure to use so thank you for your interview and your wise words of inspertation

  7. What an endearing story, and isn't it fabulous how we all support each other when adversity strikes!

    I just wanted to thank you for your lovely comments on my 'Zariah's journey' post. I will definitely keep my ear to the ground and listen out for people interested in supporting Bellyful. I have also been made aware of a great organisation I am looking at becoming more involved in 'Pillowcases for Oncology Kids' {} it is an Australian charity started by a 15 year old cancer survivor. I am hoping to be able to bring it to Christchurch to help support the ward here. 'Zariah's Journey' is starting to become 'Hazel's Journey', with me learning more about myself in this journey than I ever thought I would.

    Again I want to say thank you for leaving a comment on the post, I only have 73 to go to reach my goal of 100!! I tend to leave my glass half full!

    :) Hazel

  8. I have only just found your blog - i follow you on facebook and your website shop and get your newletter - things like this could go in your weekly newsletter. I found this really inspirational and encourage you to continue with items like this.