One of my favourite parts of the new-style Bustle & Sew Magazine is our “Meet the Maker” interviews introduced by Rosie. I absolutely adore “meeting” so many talented designer/makers and only wished that we had room for hundreds of interviews in each issue. I was talking about this to Rosie when she said (in typical daughter style!) “Oh for goodness sake Mum, why don’t you include some maker interviews on your blog too?” I think I might have mentioned before that I can be rather slow on the uptake and although I’ve enjoyed reading other online interviews, it had never occurred to me that I might do the same. So, thank you Rosie, and without further ado, I’d like to introduce the very talented Gina of Rosie Bull Designs ….
Hi, I’m Gina Axell, owner and designer at ‘rosiebull designs’ and based in beautiful East Sussex. My small business was founded from a love of sewing and is named after the person who taught me all I know…my lovely mum, Rosie Bull!
Lovely to meet you Gina, thanks for agreeing to be Bustle & Sew’s first-ever online “Meet the Maker” Can you tell us please, how did you get into crafting?
I was taught to sew by my Mum, who was a tailor, when I was very small. I would sit and watch her sew on her old Singer sewing machine. My love of sewing grew from there really, and I’ve been making things in some form or another ever since. I used to be a teaching assistant in a primary school and to make a little extra money, I would make things to take in and sell in the staffroom to my colleagues!
How did your business come about?
I’d heard about notonthehighstreet.com after receiving their catalogue one Christmas. I decided to put in an application with them, hoping to make a little extra money alongside my day job. I was accepted pretty much straight away and ‘rosiebull designs’ was born! I named the business after my Mum, Rosie Bull as a tribute to her and all she taught me. After featuring in notonthehighstreet.com’s Christmas Gift Guide a few months on, sales exceeded all of my expectations and I was able to give up my job at the school! That Christmas was life-changing for me and my family, and had it not been for notonthehighstreet.com, I’d probably still be working as a teaching assistant today! The business has grown so much that I now work from a home studio rather than at the kitchen table, and I launched my own website, www.rosiebulldesigns.co.uk, at the beginning of 2014!
Do you have a favourite design you have made, and if so what is it and why?
At the moment my favourite product is my Handmade Felt Poppy Brooch as it combines both machine and hand sewing. I absolutely love hand sewing and really look forward to the evenings where I can sit and add all the tiny details! I redesigned it this year after making one last year, popping it on my coat and then selling it to a lady in a local gift shop after having worn it for about 15 minutes! I was so busy around that time that I didn’t get a chance to make myself another one until recently!
Have you had any crafting disasters, and if so what were they?
There have been numerous crafting disasters over the years where projects have been discarded in the bin, but my most notable disaster happened when I was about 13. I had been given a sewing machine by my parents for my birthday and was enthusiastically sewing away when I suddenly got my finger caught under the foot and the needle when through my fingernail! Needless to say, I ended up in A&E having it removed and came away much more cautious of my new machine! That was a very painful lesson!
Why do you think there has been a resurgence in homemade/handmade?
I think the recession has meant that we’ve all had to be a little more cautious with our money, and as crafting can be so cheap yet so satisfying, it has become really popular in recent years. TV series like the Great British Sewing Bee have also influenced our new-found desire to create handmade items and are slowly introducing a younger generation to the idea of crafting. Having said that, I do think there is a real lack of sewing and other crafts in the curriculum, so much so that I fear it is a bit of a dying art amongst children. In my opinion, it’s so important to be able to do a little bit of simple sewing like attaching a button to a garment.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to turn their hobby into a business?
I have spent years and years trying to turn my love of sewing into a business, and the advice I’d give is to never give up. Keep on persevering as in my experience, dreams do come true!