Today, I want to share with you a little insight on a day in my work life as a designer, dressmaker, accessories maker, and alterations master! I want to do this now, early in the year, because it's a reasonably quieter time for me, and I actually get to have a little bit of variety in my day! Such as the luxury of writing a blog for example! During the busy pre-wedding seasons, it is often all dominated by a rotation of meeting clients / alterations / accessories making / trips to the post office, but at this time of the year, I actually get to do other things like some 'thinking'!! So today, my blog will actually be about my day yesterday!
8:55am: My work day always start after I drop my daughter to school. Thankfully, it's only a short trip to school and back home, and generally I am ready to start by 9am with cup of coffee. My first stop is always a look at my diary. Actually, this starts on the evening before, or first thing when I wake up.
I genuinely cannot function without my paper diary. Sometimes I use Google calendar and other online calendars, but I find myself having to duplicate everything and write things down again, so for the good old fashioned me, a paper diary is an absolute essential! So on my diary yesterday was a reminder to work on my website, working on Lizzy's dress, and meeting with new client Poppy at 10am for a wedding dress alterations.
Between 9 and 10, as it's not worth me starting to work on Lizzy's intricate back detailed dress, I work on my website, while listening the news on TV (dominated by the Brexit debates at the moment). At the moment I am trying to populate my shop with some of the accessories that I sell on Etsy. It is a little bit of an experiment to see whether I do get sales direct, or whether Etsy is the best source of online sale for me.
10:00am: Poppy arrives with her mum, carrying her gorgeous long train dress delicately decorated with laces. She needs the dress taking in and the hems shorten. With 8 layers of fabrics at the hem, the appointment takes over 1 hour. Thankfully mum and daughter are happily chatting away during the fitting, and Poppy's stilettos are not too painful to stand in! I always think that it's lovely when brides come in with their maid of honour, sister, mum, grandma, best friend, or anyone else who can give their views and keep them company in the process. Also, as sometimes some of the alterations affect the back, it's always helpful to have someone you trust give their opinion on what's going on at the back from close up.
After the pair leaves, I write down all the client details and alterations required in my work book and in a sheet which goes in with the dress. At the moment I have 4 wedding dresses upstairs, so it would be a bit of a disaster if I mixed them up! Between them leaving and lunch time, again I find that it's not worth me pulling Lizzy's dress out, so I keep on updating the website, and make myself some lunch.
12:00pm: Lunch is a good opportunity to catch up on more news on TV (which I stop when my clients are in, or when I need to concentrate on writing something), and to check social media, which I do both for personal and business reasons. For work, I post or share a few things on Pinterest, and check out some groups on Facebook. On other days I might add a photo on Instagram or a post my Facebook page, but I have found that in the last year or so, I have been less active on social media as a business.
01:20pm: I finally pull out Lizzy's dress, which requires some delicate work on the lace and net part of the gorgeous back. I spend a couple of hours working on this, with the odd breaks on my phone or tablet. I find out that one of the queries I had on Etsy is not leading to an order as the colours that I have in stock do not match the dress. (Last week I had sent small samples of fabrics to this lady, so that she could compare the material I have with her dress colours.) This is a shame, but as this would have resulted in a custom order made to a specific size, it is practically non-refundable, so I much prefer the client to take this approach than purchase and then be disappointed.
2:50pm: I find that when I'm working, whether I am doing some work on a computer or physically making or altering something, time does go really fast. It almost feels like working between 9am to 3pm is not enough to do everything that needs to be done. I normally stop at 3pm to have a general tidy up, since I work from home, and get ready to pick up my daughter back from school.
3:30pm: We are back from the school run and my daughter always has something to eat when she's back. We have a little natter then, and I often have a little snack with her too. Children often don't want to talk about their day at school when questioned. So I have learned to not specifically ask. I find that sometimes she'll just tell me things without prompting and I can probe more into it, more naturally, than if I try to question. I try to use the snack time to also cover her reading or spelling homework from school. Even though she's only 5, I find that there is always homework to do, even 5-10minutes at a time!
For the rest of the day, I'm on and off checking emails and social media, responding where needed. Sometimes I have clients who come after school or after work, but generally I tend to limit these.
5:50pm: Time to make dinner, and for today, nothing else is planned. Except the occasional email and social media check!
This was a really tiny little insight on one of the day in the life of a designer / maker / dressmaker in Nantwich! Today will probably be quite a different day and tomorrow will be different too. As with most jobs, no two days are the same. The best thing that I love about my job (other than the ability to work flexibly around my family life), is that I get to meet so many interesting people. I find that everyone has a story, no matter how ordinary they think their life is, they almost always have interesting bits to talk about. For me, it is always lovely to hear these stories - they make me appreciate the variety and richness of life, and let's face it, most people love a good love story!
Sharon is the designer and maker for Blue Lily Magnolia dresses and accessories, and also does alterations for wedding dresses, other formal dresses and even everyday clothes. She is based in Stapeley in Nantwich. For a quick chat, call 07766766573.