I've always wanted to have my own business. There I said it. But it wasn't until a few years ago, when the universe aligned for me, that I could actually make it happen. This is the story of the making of Sew Tilly Mint.........
When I was little I used to spend a lot of time with my Granny. She lived in the town, which seemed quite exotic to a farm girl like me, I loved going to her house. Looking back, my Granny was the first person to inspire me in a crafty way. She introduced me to cross-stitch when I was very young and my mum still has my first projects in her home. They're awful. But you've got to start somewhere and that’s what we did. I also think I can blame my Granny (in part anyway) for my perfectionist nature. Her mantra for cross-stitch was always ‘The back should look as neat as the front’. Steep learning curve for me!
As a lady (I use the term loosely, it's more anatomy based than behaviour related) of a certain age, we were also taught to knit and sew at school. In Primary School, we all had to knit a teddy over the course of a term. I think it was every Thursday afternoon, the needles and yarn were brought out and there we sat, clicking away creating our first handmade teddy bear.
Except I was a terrible knitter and it took me an age.
I persevered though and finally I had made my own toy in a lovely baby pink colour. Well, I say toy, I'd made the parts i.e. arms, legs, body and head. We weren't allowed to sew them up, they went off to the big P7's (Year 6’s over here) for that. The person in charge of finishing mine created a monster. It was sewn up in a really wonky way and had HUGE green eyes made out of cardboard and yarn.
Miss said it looked lovely, we both knew she was fibbing.
Could be why knitting still terrifies me sometimes – hey, turns out this blogging lark is quite cathartic and cheaper than therapy!
Skip forward through the teenage years where we learned to use sewing machines and make garments (you HAD to do it, so like any self-respecting teenager I decided I was going to hate it). It's done me well in the years since though, so if you're reading this Mrs Johnson, thank-you.
Off to university I went, where I met the lovely Sarah. We became best friends and one of Sarah’s hobbies was patchwork. I'd never tried it so she gave me some of her fabric and showed me what she was doing. I loved it! We did English Paper Piecing all by hand, sharing fabrics as we went. The quilt is still in progress now over 25 years later. I add a few patches now and again but I'll be a bit sad if I actually finish it one day, there are a lot of memories in that one.
Life changed again, full time job, marriage and two children, so crafting was put on the back burner. Then I found myself as a single mum and there was no time or energy left for making things for a while.
I still dreamed of working for myself, around the boys, but I just couldn't see a way of making it happen at that time.
I did become rather good at DIY (I like to think of it as ‘essential crafting’ ) during this time and I hope I've passed some of that practical savvy onto the lads who were my little labourers when I needed help.
Fast forward again and now the Three Musketeers had become the Fantastic Four (Aidan’s words, not mine) with the arrival of Mike in all our lives. We had a wedding to plan and once more my love of all things crafty rose to the surface as I made everything I could for the big day.
I made all the stationery, table plan, place names, the cake and I even made my own brooch bouquet. I absolutely loved the process and this is when my dream started to take shape as I realised I could work for myself, I was good enough and people liked what I did. Things at work had become very uncertain due to yet another NHS merger and as I went on maternity leave with Will I knew I really, really didn’t want to come back. I’d missed a lot of the bigger boys’ childhood through working and studying and I didn’t want that to happen again. And now my job had been moved to a hospital miles away I just knew there had to be something better out there for us.
I’d started sewing again and the lovely Lou Lou Moon (check her page out on Facebook, it’s a delight) in our village had started stocking some of my makes. It was Lucy who mentioned the possibility of me going it alone and starting my own business. The cogs started turning and I started to look into things properly and realised yes, I could do this!
So my dream became a reality really pretty quickly after I decided to go for it. I could spend all day with Will in my little corner of the world surrounded by fabrics, yarns and all things pretty.
How did I decide on a name you ask? Well, my dad sadly passed away in 2010 and I still miss him every day. I wanted him to be part of my new venture and he used to call me ‘Tilly Mint’ when I was little and getting a bit uppity. It was the most natural thing to call the business Sew Tilly Mint.
And so my dream was born. I now have a successful business doing what I love, surrounded by pretty things, which gives me time with all my boys too. And of course since then we’ve also welcomed Rory into our not so little tribe.
We’re part of the community too, our workshops are always fun filled and we help local causes in any way we can. I make emergency yarn deliveries when necessary and always love hearing about your makes and ideas.
So, in the words of my dad ‘If it’s for ye it’ll not go bye ye’. Timing is everything, hang on in there and it’ll happen.
Dare to Dream – you just never know ‘till you give it a go!
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