I’ve been making quilts for around 11 or 12 years, so not quite as long as many Guild members. I will always class myself as a beginner, because there’s always something to learn and I’m constantly inspired by others and their amazing creativity and skill.
Like so many others, I started quilting to make something for my children and to keep my brain busy as I was a stay at home mum and homemaker from almost as soon as I left University. I married and had a baby quickly and my focus was on bringing up the children and being quite a traditional 50’s style housewife (just like my mum, and my grandmother before her). What was my hobby has now become my job, and I work for Crafter’s Companion as the Brand Manager for Soft Crafts, and quilting in particular. It’s a bit of a ‘Jill of all Trades’ role, a lot of marketing, and ensuring our products are positioned correctly, there’s retail support in the form of education and workshops, taking care of our brand ambassadors, working with magazines on projects, as well as product development and being the team quilter.
I’m often asked how I got a job within the industry, because for many sewists it really is the dream. My answer is always ‘it was an accident’. In all honesty, I never thought about working, I was happy being a housewife and doing bits and pieces such as the occasional workshop from home and had never considered real paid employment a possibility. I had no skills, I hadn’t ever had a ‘proper’ job (I still can’t use Excel, or put a PowerPoint together!). I’d done bits and pieces; I had a blog which was quite popular and a nice little following on social media, some teaching, written patterns for books and magazines, had a couple of books published myself, ran an online magazine with some other friends and we organised retreats, but it was all still very much hobby work – nothing that paid the bills. It paid for my hobby which was wonderful and meant I could carry on creating using my own money.
One day around Christmas back in 2013 I got an email from the MD of a publishing company asking if I wanted to do some work with them. I didn’t think much of it, until after Christmas, replied with a yes, of course (thinking it would be a pattern or article) and went for a chat at their offices just outside Manchester. That informal chat (which was, I found out once I got there, an interview) turned into a job offer as the editor of Quilt Now, a new magazine they were launching (remember, I can’t use Excel, so I definitely can’t use Illustrator, or Photoshop or InDesign software!). Quilt Now was born with blood, sweat and more tears than I care to admit.
Working was such a huge culture shock. I was still very much a mum and housewife, but now also working full time. I edited Quilt Now until last Spring, when the commute became all too much and decided I’d have a break for a bit (at some point in my time at Quilt Now I had huge life changes and probably hadn’t addressed them completely. I was a little burned out and needed to get myself back, I’d lost my direction). Over the summer Crafter’s Companion swooped in and asked if I would help them out with a bit of consultancy work, which fitted into my taking a break idea perfectly. I could do that from home, a couple of days a week, it was all very gentle and stress free. We worked together on a plan to help build the brand (which is huge within paper crafting, but still very much an outsider in sewing and quilting) and they offered me a full time role at the end of last year.
And here we are! I still pinch myself that what started off as something to keep my hands and brain occupied when my youngest was tiny has turned into something so amazing. I don’t sew as much as I used to. I try and sneak it into my job role as much as I can, because being creative and making quilts is something that makes me happy. Luckily there is always something new at work to road test and as team quilter, I will gladly accept the challenge and go to work every day excited about where we are heading and what we might do next.
By Katy Jones
Brand Manager for Soft Crafts, Crafter’s Companion