Business development · 16 August 2018

How Sew Me, Wear Me founder used ecommerce to grow her business

Alice Gallagher runs Sew Me, Wear Me alongside her day job

Self-described “sewing addict” and lover of 1950s vintage style, Alice Gallagher has been sewing since she was a child. While on maternity leave in 2014, Gallagher was inspired to take her passion to the next level.

In addition to running local and boutique workshops in Ampthill, Bedford and London, Gallagher now creates her own sewing patterns which she sells online. When she won web hosting company Fasthosts’ competition for a new website, Alice moved from her previous website provider and is now enjoying the additional benefits that the Fasthosts’ Website Builder offers.

Sew Far, Sew Good

“It’s been busy,” Gallagher confirmed. “I’m in the process of listing new products on the website at the moment, having completed a series of workshops earlier this year. Since the site has gone live, I’ve had chance to record a series of how-to YouTube videos ready for release to accompany my products.

“One of the best features of Website Builder is the ability to list variants of a product, in different colours like white or navy. The ability to check stock levels is also really handy as it helps me know when I need to order new fabric. I’ve also set up some discount codes, so that when I send out an item, the buyer can get 15% discount on their next purchase, or I can provide the option to add a free gift at checkout.

“It’s been so much easier for me to keep everything in one place and I can tweak things as often as I like. My website works really well and is really easy to manage – my previous site was so fiddly! Managing the break points on mobiles and tablets was so difficult, but everything is automated with Website Builder and that makes the process a lot easier.

“At the start I thought ‘Will this be as good as [global marketplace for vintage and handmade items] Etsy?’ and I’m pleased to say that it is! My Etsy shop is still running in the background as my business continues to grow, but now I will be directing any social media enquiries directly to my website, and of course one of the added bonuses is that there are no fees when I sell directly.”

Seamless

With the new website doing its job, Gallagher has been able to focus on creating a series of instructional videos, which customers can easily find by scanning the QR codes on each pattern if they need additional support.

With vlogs, online workshop bookings, and her new website, Gallagher is making the most of everything digital and tactile when it comes to the Sew Me, Wear Me brand. Additionally, Gallagher ensures that each purchase, whether a pattern or full dressmaking kit, is sent out beautifully presented.

“Linking the patterns to tutorial videos makes it so much easier for my customers to get help. It seems easy when you’re sat in a workshop and the teacher shows you how to do it, but it’s also very easy to forget once you get home. Being able to easily get help is essential for my customers, and since having my new website I’m beginning to focus on getting the balance between digital and traditional marketing just right.

“As many people running a second business will know, the trouble is finding time. With a full-time job and children, it’s all about making the right choices and finding the most effective, yet simple, way to implement them. Website Builder has certainly made things easier for me, and it’s given me time to work on the videos, and also allowed me to find out from my customers what they are hoping to see next.”

“As a result, I’m currently working on a new pattern for older children – something a little more grown-up, but still age appropriate. I want to create a design that’s comfortable to wear, but special enough to be worth spending the time making. It’s lovely to make something out of a fabric the child has chosen, it’s all about the special touches.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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