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MEET: Jane Lindsey of Snapdragon
Today we are pleased to meet embroidery expert Jane Lindsey of Snapdragon from Scotland. Jane is known for her freehand embroidery and is heavily influenced by her love of horticulture.
Please tell us about yourself and how you got started?
I used to be an art gallery curator - specialising in British art - especially print makers of the 19th and 20th century. Then, when pregnant with my younger daughter, I left academia and retrained in horticulture, starting a cut flower growing business. I needed something to occupy me in the winter months so in 2003 I began embroidering and sewing, selling the results at craft fairs. I had done a lot of freehand embroidery during my gap year back in the late 1980s and returned to that, embroidering in black thread on cream woollen blankets. That side of the business grew fast and now I work full time in the workshop and very little outside in the garden.
Describe your work setting, can we take a sneaky peek at your workshop/studio/office?
I work in a purpose built wooden cabin in a field behind our garden - it has views over the countryside towards Loch Lomond and is an inspirational place to work. I also have an old airstream caravan which I use as a studio and sometimes as a shop.
Here at UK Handmade we love the design you made for Dove Cottage, Grasmere. What has been your favourite design or product and why?
My favourite collaboration has been with The Cutty Sark at Greenwich - I embroider a complicated monochrome rigging pattern for them which is related to the etchings of ships that I used to catalogue back when I was a curator.
What do you love most about what you do and what do you find the most frustrating?
I love creating something from nothing - starting out with a blank piece of fabric knowing that each thing I make is subtly different. I find the concentration of work in the four weeks before Christmas very frustrating - where the workshop takes over my life and I am working 14 hour days seven days a week. I am thinking of making medals to give out to people who do their shopping early next year.
What advice would you give someone starting a creative business?
My advice would be make sure that there is a market for whatever it is you want to sell - just because you like making it doesn't mean it will sell - and make sure that you cost out your time.
Is there anything you would go back to and change?
I am pretty happy with how things have gone - we are growing steadily and I was able to make a lot of mistakes when the business was really small.
What's your definition of the perfect day?
A perfect day would be one with sewing in the morning, a happy team dispatching orders, and then a walk with the dogs, time for designing in the afternoon and some gardening in a (balmy) evening.
Do you have any special projects you are working on lately, if so can you tell us a bit about them?
I am working on a new printed range of mugs, bags and place mats which combines people's photographs with my embroidered scenes - the feedback and sales have been brilliant so far so it is a quirky side to the business that we shall certainly be developing further.
Snapdragon has become a team now, how did you know when to grow your business and how did you do it?
I decided to sell to the wholesale trade in 2008 and came back from my first trade show with way too many orders to cope with on my own so I employed the first member of our team, Isobel, to take over all the prep and straight sewing allowing me to concentrate on the embroidery. Since then I have also been able to delegate all stock control, dispatch, admin etc.
How do you get the word out about your work and where can we buy your work?
Snapdragon has been lucky enough to be featured in a lot of magazines, blogs and newspapers. We also have a great group of people follow us on Twitter and Facebook and read our blog. My house is due to be featured in Country Homes and Interiors magazine in February. You can buy my work on my website.
Snapdragon's website, blog and twitter: