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Interview with Crafty Magazine

Hi everyone,

This week we were contacted by the lovely people behind Crafty magazine to do a mother-daughter interview. They were interested in mum-daughter teams working in the craft industry (turns out there's quite a few of us). We thought you might like to read our interview...

- What led you to set up your business?

(Vicki) The company was founded by my mum Annette with the support of my dad Phil. My mum has always been a fanatical knitter, dressmaker and embroiderer which is what inspired Minerva Crafts. I have lots of memories of my mum sewing and knitting when I was a young child and I was always encouraged to join in and make things.

- How long has it been running?

(Annette) We opened in 1998 - so we have worked together for almost 16 years now! There have been a lot of changes in that time. We started off as a traditional needlework shop in Lancashire and over the years we have expanded into so many more ranges including 1000's of fabrics, sewing patterns, haberdashery, knitting yarns, crochet supplies, card making, and so much more that we need a 24,000 sq ft warehouse and shop to fit it all in!

- How did you two come to work together?

(Vicki) It started when I was young. My mum would be working in the shop on Saturdays and my dad always took my younger brother to football, so my Grandma used to babysit for me. One week she couldn't, so my mum took me with her to work. From that day on I was hooked and went to 'help' out at the shop every week without fail. As young as I was at 8 years old, I remember priding myself on being able to help customers. I loved everything about the shop. I worked every Saturday and summer holidays and then when I started going to secondary school I even went down on the bus every night to help out.

- What's it like working with Vicki?

(Annette) Vicki absolutely loves her job and it shows. She is probably the most enthusiastic, driven, dedicated person you could meet...definitely a workaholic. She pushes the business forward with so many exciting ideas and new initiatives and it is a pleasure to work alongside her - most of the time anyway!

- And what's it like working with Annette?

(Vicki) I count myself as one of the luckiest people in the world. I have a job that I love and I get to work alongside my family every day. Some people would hate this, but I love it. I have always been really close to my mum and we have a really great working relationship. I wouldn't change working with her for the world.

- Is it hard leaving the business behind when you go home?

(Vicki) It really is. When you have so many ideas buzzing around in your head it is almost impossible to go home and not continue working. My mum is better at this than me and does manage to shut off every now and then. I will get there one day. I'm lucky enough to consider my job as my hobby so much of the time it doesn't really feel like 'work' anyway!

- Who's responsible for what at work?

My mum takes care of the Minerva Craft Centre store and is our resident craft blogger! I look after the online side of things. It  works out well as I'm more technically minded than my mum is, and she is great in helping customers face to face and giving knitting and sewing advice.

- Who's the bossy one?

(Vicki) Its me! I know it is! I like to think of it that I'm the one that's gets things done and makes things happen - my mum would just tell you I'm bossy! Its quite funny you ask this - for my birthday earlier this year a friend of mine made me a sign to put up in the office at work which says 'I'm not Bossy, I just have better Ideas'. It really made me laugh - its not just my mum that thinks I'm bossy :)

- What's the secret behind working with your mother/daughter?

(Vicki) Its quite hard to say really. Because I have always worked with my mum I suppose I don't really know anything else. I think if you both have the same drive, motivation and the same principles, then you will succeed.

- Do you ever feel you need a bit of space, working in such close proximity to one another?

(Annette) Not really. You do get some days where we can be a bit stressed and wish the days were elastic so you could fit in everything you need to do, but its not often I feel I need space from working together.

- How do you separate work and home life?

(Vicki) Not very well! Our hobbies are sewing, knitting and a lot of other crafts, so even when we have some down time, in effect we are still working as we share all our personal projects on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network on our website.

- Has working together changed your relationships with one another? Has it made you closer?

(Annette) I would say it has made us closer. We spend so much time together that if we didn't get on really well then it wouldn't work.

- What advice do you have for other mother-daughter business teams?

(Vicki) You have to both love what you do and be equally committed and focused. Even though you work together, you don't have to be in each others pockets every single day. Share the tasks between you that need to be done so each person has their part to play.

- What crafts do each of you do?

(Annette) I have enjoyed knitting and dressmaking for over 40 years and these are the two crafts I always come back to. I do enjoy a spot of crochet and cross stitch and have recently got into needle felting!

(Vicki) When I was younger I was lucky enough to do a BTEC in textiles at college, a degree in embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan university and then a masters degree in Design, so I have been lucky enough to be able to try so many different crafts and really push the boundaries with what you can do with different techniques and processes. Nowadays I still love hand and machine embroidery, but I also love Knitting and Sewing. My mum is such a good knitter and dressmaker so she is always on hand to help me develop my skills and learn new things!

- Whose idea was it to do the workshops? Who do you get involved to run them?

(Annette) It was a joint decision really. The Minerva Craft Centre is such a huge space (approx 5,000 sq ft) that it would have been a shame not to introduce a workshop program and craft groups. We have had a great response to them over the last couple of years, so much so that we now run 3 Minerva Craft Group meet ups every week! We run two crochet workshops alternatively every week and these are run by two fantastic ladies - if you don’t catch the crochet bug off these two I don’t think you ever will!

- What's your Mother's day message to your mum?

(Vicki) The best way to show you care is always with something handmade. I know my mum always really appreciates anything I have ever made for her. I will have to think of something special for Mothers Day.

- What's next for Minerva Crafts?

(Vicki) We are always working to improve our service, grow our product range with new and exciting lines and develop our website, and this will continue in 2014. Last year we launched the Minerva Craft Club and it has been an exciting development for us which rewards our regular customers old and new with great savings, a free membership to our Swatch Club and a VIP invitation to the Minerva Craft Club Christmas Party in December and Minerva Crafts Meet Up in June. We have had such an amazing response so far and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has signed up.

Bye for now,


Question and Answer with Rachel of House of Pinheiro

Meet Rachel from House of Pinheiro...

When did you start sewing and what inspired you to start?

I’m a creative and energetic person by nature. Sewing is an outlet that found its way into my life by chance. I always loved it but the feeling wasn't nurtured as creative arts as sewing isn’t very valued in Brazil. People mostly sew by necessity to obtain or reinforce their main income. It seems to be changing slowly and I really hope one day we can have a strong community like we have in the UK and USA.

What was your first sewing project?

 My 1st taster was an evening adult class in Sept 2009 . I made a denim skirt { simplicity Cynthia Rowley 2512} and never looked back. Christmas that year My fellow bought me a sewing machine and I been stashing fabric and notions even since.

What do you love most about sewing?

Besides escapism from the mundane, the opportunity to use my hands and get an outcome from my hard work. It feels go to go though the creative process of picking your materials and adapting the design to suit your personality and lifestyle. I love the social aspect of it and how many fiends I have made thought my sewing journey.

To thank the sewing community during Christmas I will release a free sewing pattern, the Brasilia Dress.

What made you decide to start blog about your sewing?

 I used to connect with others via forums and having a blog was a natural progression.

How are you liking being part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network?

 I’m trilled because I have connected with the people behind the business. It was lovely to meet in person a darling family, eager partner with its customers to help and encourage more people to take part. Being behind the scenes made me see all the hard work. Thanks for having me!

What 3 sewing or craft items/tools could you not live without?

 A good (that mean sharp) pair or scissors and rotary cutter

Tracing wheel & wax paper

My pincushions, I have grown quite a collection.

What are your favourite fabrics to sew with any why?

Cotton sateen ,viscose and wool. Easy to work with and I love the range of colours and textures available.

What/who do you go to for inspiration before you start sewing?

 When I start a sewing project I have only a vague idea of what I want and during the process that I develop ideas and make changes. I would say my closet is my main inspiration. Things I need and would like to replicate as starting points.

Are there any other crafts that you enjoy doing other than Sewing?

 Oh, Baking. Yumm Yummm...

Are there any other crafts you would love to learn?

 Im a very slow and beginner knitter. I wish I was better.

As you have inspired many others in the past to start sewing through your blog and Social Networking sites, what would you say to other potential sewers who may want to give it a try?

 Be yourself, don’t follow trends. Sew what makes your heart beat faster.

Don't be scared of mistakes. Its an integral part of learning and the seam ripper is your best friend. I have spent many nights undoing things but learned a great deal.

Join the conversation by commenting on things you love. Show your support to others and they will do the same with you.

Could you sum yourself up as a sewer in 3 words?

Experimental,social and fun.

Here are just some of Rachel's makes and see all Rachel's posts from the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network;

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