Craft Focus - February/March 2022 (Issue 89)

90 A family business Celebrating 30 years of business, Natalie Walker, Owner of And Sew On Fabrics talks to Craft Focus about the pandemic, favourite kits and what’s trending in craft! Tell us a bit about And Sew On Fabrics, when did you open and why? And Sew On Fabrics was started by my mother Cathy in 1991 as a business to run alongside her other work which was making costumes for dance groups and tracksuits for rugby clubs and ice hockey teams. At the time, she purely sold dressmaking fabrics until she started getting requests for quilting fabrics and eventually expanded her selection. You’re a family business, how does that make your business special? Initially I worked alongside my mother for 15 years and now continue to run the business myself with the help of my wonderful team of staff. It means there has been a continuity in the way we run our shop over the last 30 years and we try to keep our service as traditional and personal as possible. We know many of our customers by name and have come to consider many of them as friends rather than ‘just’ customers. You’re based in a craft centre, tell us a bit about your location! The craft centre here is full of independent businesses such as a yarn shop, art gallery, doll house shop, and a zero-waste refill store to name a few! We’re situated within converted stables and listed barns within the Essex countryside. We have free parking and a wonderful tearoom on site. We’re situated within easy access from the A120 and M11. How has business been over the past year? It’s been interesting to say the least! As a small business, we were very fearful about whether we’d survive but we’ve found various ways to continue to promote and sell things during the many lockdowns and I think there was a real shift in people making more effort to support the small businesses like ourselves. It’s certainly not been easy, but we’re still here! Have you seen a boom in the craft industry recently or a new type of customer? Initially, there was a lot of panic-buying which died down over time, but we certainly had a lot of people dusting off old sewing machines and beginning to either learn from scratch or to refresh their skills. It’s been lovely to see some of our customers transform from nervous beginners to confident and excited sewists! Tell us a bit about what you stock? We stock a vast range of fabrics and