Kate Guiney didn’t know how to sew a year ago. Now, with her sewing machine by her side, the former council worker is launching Sew Inspiring – a handmade craft and gift shop in Newport Pagnell.
She’s selling both her own and local crafts people’s handmade goods at Sew Inspiring, in the Tickford Arcade, St John’s Street.
She’s aiming to help the town on its way to become a destination for handmade and vintage shoppers.
It was losing her job that made Kate, 27, decide to turn her new hobby in to a business.
She was made redundant from the Neighbourhood Management Department at Milton Keynes Council – dealing with enquiries and complaints from the public about potholes, dog poo and overgrown trees.
“I had to investigate complaints about highways, landscaping and waste,” explained Kate. “I had to get problems rectified or deliver the bad news if it couldn’t be done and it is quite tricky to keep the public happy!
“But off duty, sewing became my hobby. It was only a bit over a year ago that I had even used a sewing machine before,” she said. “I went on an adult education course and in 10 weeks learned to sew – I was hooked. I borrowed my grandma’s sewing machine and that got me started.
Then my brother bought me one for Christmas and I couldn’t stop making stuff.
“The first thing I made was an apron for my niece and a tiny one for her doll for Christmas. I then tried an evening dressmaking course but I prefer homeware – quilts, cushions, peg bags, ipad cases, tote bags, jewellery rolls – the more varied the better!
“If I hadn’t been made redundant I would probably have continued working at the council as I didn’t think anything else was possible.
“It is only when you are forced into a situation that you realise that this doesn’t have to be your future, you can do something else.
When planning her new venture, Kate decided she wanted to make the shop a hub for crafters in the area.
She put out the word on Facebook and was flooded with replies from people hand-making wonderful crafts, many from Newport Pagnell, who wanted to rent display space in the shop.
In a week she had a list of 50 and more have continued to flow in.
And she’s already chosen her top favourites handbags, children’s clothes, cards, toys, jewellery and artwork, adding them to the stock of her own homeware goods.
“ I want to offer a selection of unique affordable gifts, it is something Newport Pagnell doesn’t have.”Kate has gutted the old Tickford Arcade shop, part of a parade of small shops that was converted into a quaint retail space from the town’s former cinema.
She has used recycled and upcycled items for her display space, sewing patterns for wall decoration and of course, a counter for her own machine. Selected crafters will rent out their own section of the shop and pay commission to Kate on items sold.
Kate will be sewing in the store as well as being the main sales person – with a bit of help from mum Ruth at the weekend.
“I was working 9 to 5 at the council and sewing 5 to 9 – now I’ll have more time to do the sewing!” said Kate.
And while the focus is on selling the crafts, in the near future there will be workshops on crafty ideas for customers to try themselves
Sew Inspiring offically opens on April 5.
01908 217106 firstname.lastname@example.org
6 Tickford Arcade
St Johns Street