Home Business Heroes, in association
Every week 1,400 people join 2.8 million others running a
business from their home. Together these entrepreneurs contribute
£284bn of GDP. With this is mind we decided, along with Viking,
that these businesses are the heroes of the UK
To continue our search of the entrepreneurs swapping a desk
in the office to work from their kitchen table, we tracked down
founder of OriginalStich, Catherine Lloyd-Evans.
Name: Catherine Lloyd-Evans
What's your business?
I run OriginalStitch, a recycled fabric homewares and
accessories business, specialising in personalised, custom and
bespoke home accessories such as kids' artwork cushions,
tailor-made cushion covers for a new interior, and lovely
personalised Christmas stockings and bunting for kids (or
What were you doing before?
I worked in media sales in a magazine publishing company before
having my children, so I'd had a good grounding in many aspects of
How did the idea come about?
I decided to start a blog about my efforts to only make presents
for a whole year - not buy them -so many friends loved their gifts,
and told me I should go into business, that one day I found I
Do you make the products yourself?
Yes - along with my business partner Amanda. She was the
first stitcher I recruited to help make the products.
How did you fund it?
We both invested a small amount initially, but it is very much a
kitchen table business - we refuse to get major funding because we
feel in this current economy we have to get 'proof of product' -
i.e. sell enough items, and also get repeat bulk orders, which is
not in line with the bespoke nature of the business.
How did you market it?
We are an online business, and we use social media and word of
mouth as much as possible - most of our orders are repeat orders
from loyal customers who come back with more and more customised
orders, which we are able to deliver.
How did you find suppliers of all the
All our fabrics are vintage, pre-loved, recycled or second-hand
because the ethics and fundamentals of OriginalStitch are that
cotton growing is a disastrous environmental burden on the
planet. We acquire fabrics where we can - either buying things
from second-hand sources such as charity shops, or often taking old
soft furnishings, fabric remnants and bedding off our friends'
hands. We also have several interior design consultants who
don't need their sample books each year once their new collections
come in, so they are grateful that we take swatches from them -
beautiful designer fabric scraps that we use in our work. All
other materials are scrutinised for the eco credentials rather than
their pricepoint; we will only use products with good green
How do you store all of the products?
We don't - we work to order, unless we are doing a photoshoot to
show off our work; generally we have only around 20 samples at any
one time, so space is not too much of an issue.
Where's your office?
At home - I use both an office, and my workroom; for discipline
reasons this works best. If I'm too close to my sewing machine
and all my towers of beautiful fabrics I have been known to just
leap up and start sewing, instead of finishing a computer-based
Do you have set working hours?
I work while the children are at school - if they're
occupied with their own stuff I often also get an hour in the
afternoon but of course that might well be interrupted by demands
to help with a science experiment or a craft project of their
How do you make sure you're focused and never get distracted at
I don't find it hard to focus - I enjoy being immersed in
something; it's very much in my nature to dedicate hours at a time
on a task, so I actually have to set the alarm on my phone to tell
me to go and get my children from school.
What was it like at the start?
Tough - I never found the designing, sewing, or even the social
media or blogging tough, but I found the legalities and
technicalities of business daunting. I think we started off too
'formal'; I would recommend kitchen table businesses now to just
get going on selling before worrying about taking on sole
trader or limited status, as long as they have informed HMRC and
are keeping receipts and sensible accounts, and have
insurance. We also set up business banking too early - again,
the bank was rather threatening about using personal accounts for
business, but our turnover was so low, and remains very modest,
that we were simply not big enough to deal with the very punitive
business banking costs - it swallowed up our profits, quite
simply. I was so worried about being in the wrong that we
spent a lot of time and effort getting all those things done,
rather than actually focusing on our business plan.
What's the worst thing about working from home?
There's no separation from the sink full of dirty dishes. It can
be difficult to run a family and a business in the same space -
when you work in an office you don't have voices in your head
saying "Oh darn, I'd better just put a wash on." Even the post
arriving with a distracting bill can be enough to throw your work
to-do list off-course. And friends and family may also not
view it as 'work' when you work from home. It is quite a mental
leap in many ways.
What's the best?
Flexibility, which is essential when you are also the primary
child carer. I have been able to show my children I support
their efforts at school, and their need to see me share in their
successes by being able to attend their harvest festival or class
assembly, without going through the tremendous stress of having
time off work. It's how we roll in our setup at home; I'm the
one 'on call' for the kids, geographically and because I'm my own
For more information on on the OriginalStitch, click here.
Home Business Heroes, in association