Throughout the month of march, I have been taking part in the March Meet the Maker Instagram challenge, created by Joanne Hawker. It is a great opportunity to learn a little more about other designers and their businesses, from how they started, to what their biggest learning curve has been. It has been fantastic to share stories, problems and successes, so when Amy from Vintage Child asked if I would like to write a blog post as an added extra to the challenge, I couldn’t resist. Below are five extra questions that we hope will encapsulate both Kate Sproston Design and Vintage Child, providing an overview that the daily prompts may have missed.
Can you introduce yourself in 500 characters or less?
Hello, my name is Kate and I am the founder and designer behind Kate Sproston Design. All the embroidery is created by me from my original sketches, and then digitised using a specialist computer program to convert the images to stitch. I love to read, sew (obviously), visit new places, and be outside with my border collie George. I have always been creative and knew I would have a creative job from a young age. I feel incredibly lucky that the plan has come to fruition, and I get to spend my days doing something that I love.
How did you start your brand?
When I graduated from Birmingham City University in 2009, my final project was selected by the Embroiderers Guild to be shown as part of their annual Graduate Showcase. I took part in three exhibitions in London, Harrogate and Dublin, whilst at the same time starting work as a pattern cutter in a high-end lingerie company. These two experiences got me thinking of how I could make my passion into a commercial business, and after quite a while (years in fact) I finally created some more commercial designs and applied to sell through notonthehighstreet.com. After working full time, and making and selling in the evenings and weekends, I was finally able to quit my day job and start working on Kate Sproston Design full time.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Well now I have a dog I would have to say George, but before he came along it would be the thought of creating something meaningful that others would treasure and enjoy. I try and design products that I would like to gift to my friends and family, and they are a constant source of inspiration, especially my goddaughters, nephew and five nieces! It is a special feeling when a customer tells me who they have brought the item for. I love to hear from couples who are using a set of our Christmas stockings to announce their new addition to the family, or when one of our reusable crackers has been brought to gift something special like an engagement ring. It’s nice to know I have contributed to a memory that will last a lifetime.
What advice would you give to your past self when you were first starting out?
Everyone was in the same boat as you when they first started out. Don’t worry about being worried, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice even if you feel like you are making a fool of yourself. You will not be fantastic at every aspect of running a business. Small business owners have to be designers, product developers, accountants, technical support, marketers, photographers and social media savvy. Accept that you can’t be everything, but the fact that you are willing to try and ask for help when needed is absolutely fantastic!
Apart from building on my existing design range, I would like to move into a larger studio space and find a few more outworkers. As a long term goal, I would love to be able to grow Kate Sproston Design to create employment opportunities for others. It is very important to me to keep production within the UK, and wherever possible fabric and materials are purchased from UK companies.
Check out Amy’s answers here, and learn a little more about Vintage Child leather goods. (I have not only purchased her beautiful designs for family gifts, but I am the proud owner of one of her leather backpacks!)
To learn more about Joanne Hawker’s March Meet the Maker challenge follow this link. Anyone can join in, whether you are a business owner or have a creative side hustle, it’s a great way to share experiences.
I hope you enjoyed a little extra insight into Kate Sproston Design. I will definitely be looking forward to next year’s challenge!