Craft Focus - Page number 86 - August/September 2021 (Issue 86)

86 Eco-friendly embroidery With sustainability and social responsibility at the core of her modern embroidery business, Sammy Bishop, Owner & Founder of Paraffle, is proudly flying the flag for Scotland! Tell us a little bit about the company. Where are you based? When did the company start? We’re based in a studio in Edinburgh – it’s a building run by an arts charity, full of artists, small businesses and charities, which is a fantastic environment to be in. The company started in 2017, as a small Etsy shop, before expanding. What’s your background and why did you start the company? My mum taught me to sew and use a sewing machine when I was young – but my embroidery is all self-taught. I started the business while I was doing my PhD in Edinburgh, and I had decided that the academic world wasn’t for me. I made my first piece of embroidery for my mum as a Christmas present when I wanted to give her a meaningful gift (on a student’s budget!) – embroidery quickly became a hobby that helped me cope with the stress of university. I came to realise that I loved designing my own pieces – and that there was a gap in the market for fresh, modern kits that people would be proud to display once they were finished. I put together my first few designs, started a small online shop and Instagram page, and went from there. How has the company evolved? I completed my PHD just a couple of months before lockdown, so I was well placed to scale the business according to the huge increase in demand. In the midst of processing hundreds of orders a day, I registered for VAT, became an employer, enlisted the services of a fulfilment company, worked on improving my internal processes, started selling on TV, and made sure I was taking my environmental and social responsibilities seriously. My partner Ali then joined the business, he has nine years’ experience in project management and lean process efficiency, which has been incredibly valuable. As the company has grown, I’ve enjoyed producing new designs and innovative new ranges and I’ve done this keeping customer reviews and feedback in mind. The input from the thousands of reviews I’ve received has been put to good use.