Meet Sarah Brangwyn
How did it all start?
I started Made and Making when I took voluntary redundancy from a role as Branch Manager at one of the large Insurance companies. I realised that I loved the people side of the business, although I do still love working with numbers, but also mentoring and training staff.
The story behind the name…
When I first set the business up I was making curtains and blinds to order in addition to teaching to try to maintain an income whislt the teaching side of the business grew. I felt that I wanted to represent both side of the business in one name. Things that I ‘made’ and things that others were ‘making’. We have now been going over 10 years and due to workload I now do less of the making and more of the teaching and business work.
Where are you based?
We are based on the border of East and West Sussex in a village called Hassocks. It is 5 miles north of Brighton. We are in the grounds of a large and brilliant garden centre with two thriving café areas and it’s like a mini hypermarket really. There is so much to choose from.
What inspires you?
Often it is the simplest things. I like to find projects that will appeal to people because it is on trend or is useful and then use those projects as vehicles for teaching new skills and building the confidence in our students. My aim is to help people come and learn new skills or just take time out of a busy life to reset a little.
What is your creation process?
Trial and error. I’ll draw something by hand, work out measurements and then proceed to make a few samples so that I can see what skills we can include and share.
What makes you, your brand or products unique?
It’s the atmosphere… whether in the studio or on retreat with us. Some might say that a lot of it is down to ‘me’. That sounds a bit big headed and it not something that I am comfortable saying. But we have a lot of repeat customers and they tell me they enjoy the environment I create. It is fun and friednly and relaxed. I just like to make people feel welcome, to make them feel that they are somewhere where they are being looked after (we always make the tea and do the washing up our students are there for 100% fun) and I also think it is really important to make everyone feel that they are capable and can have as much of my time as they need to succeed.
What is your next project?
Well, I have dressmaking and patchwork both on my table at the moment. Plus, a crochet project by my sofa in the lounge. I’ve always got a busy brain and way too many projects on the go.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
Over the next 12 months we are going to offer more online classes and also expand the number of retreats that we run.
What is your biggest achievement?
From the perspective of Made and Making I’m very proud to have created a business that survived the pandemic. It was hard hard work but by being creative and flexible we got through it. I also find it the biggest compliment when someone I have never met travels miles to come on of our retreats.
What is your best-selling product/line?
Our sewing retreat weekends. We have sold out all 30 spaces each year bar one, when we decided to run one in May and I think the ‘gardens’ won
Your experience of your first Knitting & Stitching Show (year, exhibiting or visiting)
I was a visitor and I loved it. There was so much to see and be inspired by. So much choice and so much energy. I came home with lots of goodies and loads of motivation to start yet more projects!
What do you love about The Stitch Festival?
As a tutor I love being able to help more people. I get such a buzz from sharing my skills and I know that not everyone has a sewing class near them. When they travel to show I think it is great that they can book in a class as well and there is such a wide variety there will always being something new to try.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
Be patient with yourself, enjoy the process and if all else fails… make a cuppa and have a biscuit!
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
What you observe as a customer or a follower of a business is a small fraction of the work that goes in behind the scenes. Be prepared for long hours and having to learn lots (sometimes about things that are really boring). BUT if you love what you do that hard work and your passion will lead you to create the business of your dreams.