October 30, 2016

Behind the Business: The Foldline

For the fourth instalment of our Behind the Business series we chatted to Rachel, one of the founders of The Fold Line. For those of you who don’t know what The Fold Line is all about, essentially it’s a website for people who love sewing. The website provides a place for sewing enthusiasts to search a database of thousands of patterns, chat in the active forum, read pattern reviews, find dressmaking resources and get inspiration for their next make. Rachel and Kate also organise sewing events, like The Sewing Weekender and have just launched a community sewing pattern company called Tribe Patterns. They’re based in South West London and being another girl duo super team, we were excited to chat business with them!

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    • The site launched just over a year ago in October 2015, what made you decide to start your own business?

    We have both always worked for small businesses and thought that it would be fun to do something ourselves. We are also both workaholics and love a challenge. We spent a few months thinking about ideas and then one evening after a few glasses of wine we came up with the initial idea for The Fold Line. At the beginning we wanted somewhere we could list all sewing patterns, a one-stop-shop if you like. We also realised that having a social side to the site was really important too because the sewing community is such friendly group of people and we wanted a way for everyone to interact together. Being a place where you can keep up with all the latest news has always been a priority for us because we know ourselves how overwhelming it can be just to keep up to date with all the pattern releases, we call it pattern fatigue!

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    Who is in your team and what are their roles?
    • The team is made up of Kate and myself and between us we do almost everything for the business. Kate does most of the social media and press side of things and I focus on keeping the finances in order, managing the pattern database and developing the patterns for our new sewing community pattern company, Tribe Patterns. Kate also does most of our photography and the vlog. You don’t realise until you start a business how many skills you need but it means you learn to turn your hand to everything and there is never a boring day! We now have someone helping us inputting all the patterns into the database and managing updates and sorting out bugs on the website.
      • billie-collection-rachel-pinheiro-photosRachel Pinheiro modelling The Fold Line’s first pattern, Billie.
      • What does a typical work day look like to you?
      • It’s quite tricky to describe a typical day as I don’t think any two have ever been the same! The first thing I normally do is check emails and social media (literally as soon as I open my eyes!), as then I know if anything urgent needs dealing with. After spending a couple of hours answering emails, I might then write an article for a magazine, edit photos or artwork for a blog post or do some some pattern drafting. I will also check the website to make sure everything is working, browse social media for updates in the sewing community and add new pattern releases to the database from independent companies. Each week I also write the Sew Reporter, which is a round up of everything that has been going on in the sewing community, which gets posted on a Sunday. We are also usually planning an event so there might be work to do for that too. I love to make lists and schedule everything in, so some of my day is definitely spent doing that. Kate and I also work part time, so we fit all this around our normal day jobs.

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      • What did you find most difficult when you were starting out?
      • I think that hardest thing to deal with when we started out was the website. When we launched we got such an amazing response from the sewing community and everyone was so supportive but it certainly put the website through its paces. It was quite frustrating not being able to sort the problems out ourselves, as neither of us know anything about web development. We did test the website out but in hindsight we should have done more of this. Building a bespoke website has been challenging and very expensive but we knew it was important as a hub for the sewing community.
      • What has been your biggest business success?
      • It’s difficult to decide on one so i’m going to be cheeky and mention two! The first would probably be winning the Mollie Makes Handmade Award 2016 for championing small businesses. This was such a surprise and we were thrilled. We’ve really enjoying promoting independent pattern companies and providing a platform for them to get noticed by the sewing community, so it was lovely to be recognised in this way. Quite early on after we started another great thing was when a group of ladies met up to go fabric shopping in London after having connected in the forum on the website. It was amazing to think that we had been able to put people in touch with each other who have the same creative passion.

      • the-fold-line-mollie-makeshandmade-award-winners-2016
  • Have you had to make any sacrifices for the sake of your business?
  • I think the biggest sacrifice we have made is having time to see our friends and family. When you are running a business alongside your day jobs it leaves very little time for anything else. It has been difficult at times not being able to go out with friends or visit family because we have a lot of work to do.
  • What do you find is the worst part of running a business?
  • The worst part is probably the same for most people running their own business, filling in HMRC forms!
  • … and the best part?
  • The best part is definitely seeing how sewists in The Fold Line community support each other’s creativity. The advice and generosity people are willing to share is amazing.

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  • What would be your top piece of advice to someone just starting out?
  • Our top piece of advice for someone starting out would definitely be to talk to as many people as possible about your idea and plans. We got so much useful advice and tips from people who had also started their own businesses and it really helped us to focus and prioritise our aims. Ideally try to find someone to mentor you, as it’s great to be able to run ideas past someone who knows your business.

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  • At the moment I am sewing/making…
    the Pilvi Coat dress by Named Clothing.

  • While I’m sewing I listen to…
    audio books, at the moment it’s the crime drama The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

  • If I had two extra hours in the day I would….
  • visit museums and galleries in London.
  • kate-and-rachel-billie-collection-pattern-designed-with-rachel-pinheiro

Thanks so much to Rachel from The Fold Line for taking the time to talk to us, make sure you check out their site and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Hannah + Rosie

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