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For today’s interview please welcome Fiona from The Sewing Directory.

1.       Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you are based, for example in which country and part of that country? Hello, my name is Fiona Pullen, I’m 29 (big 30 in October!) and I’m based in Cardiff, Wales but originally from Cornwall.

2.       Please tell us a little about the nature of your craft/design based website. My website started off as an online directory of sewing businesses (sewing classes, sewing suppliers, sewing groups & sewing services) throughout the UK.  It’s been constantly evolving from the start and is now more of an online sewing magazine with industry news, articles, projects, interviews, details of sewing events and of course competitions.

3.       How did the idea for your business/website come about? My mum runs a few sewing shops in Cornwall and I used to manage the online side of her business.  It was whilst working on the SEO of her site that I realised that although there were generic craft directories there was nothing specifically for sewing businesses to advertise on, and for people to find sewing businesses.  I realised that when looking for suppliers etc you could spend ages trawling Google to find what you wanted, so my aim is to bring all that information together into one place.

4.       How long now have you been established? I launched at the Sewing For Pleasure show in the NEC end of March 2010, so I’ve been running just over 15 months now.  It’s amazing how much has happened in that time!

5.       How do you decide what to write about and feature, and how do you come up with your great ideas for blog posts? Very good question!  There’s no one set answer really, it’s a combination of things that people ask me about, things I am interested in and things that I can’t find much information on so decide to write something myself.  I was a bit worried I’d run out of things to write about after the first year, but I still have a huge list of subjects to cover!

6.      Do you undertake your business/website on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? The first year was particularly hard as I was working full-time on the business, and looking after my young son full time too!  Thankfully he has just started nursery so now I’m part-time childcarer and still working full time on the business.  I’m also studying Welsh too so it’s quite a balancing act to fit them all in.  Not much time for anything else unfortunately but I have just got a new helper (Beth Edmondson) who just started a couple weeks ago so hopefully one day in the future I may have some free time!

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7.       Tell us a little about your typical day and what is involved in running the business/website? After the school run the first thing I do is update the website with a news post, and update Facebook and Twitter.  I then check my e-mails and respond to as many as I can, and update my accounts.  That generally takes me until lunchtime.  I then do another update to Facebook and Twitter around lunchtime and maybe add something to the site like an interview or article.

In the afternoons I try to research/write articles, blogposts, news updates, plan competitions and continue replying to e-mails (I get a lot of e-mails, around 50 a day).  I then stop from 3pm (after doing another social networking update) to around 8pm as I pick my son up from school and spend time with him.

In the evenings I start up again around 8pm, replying to e-mails that have come in during the afternoon and planning/writing what I will put on the site the next day.   I generally work until 11pm most nights.   Throughout the day I also check for new listings on the site, and keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter so I can respond to any queries as soon as possible.

8.       What advice would you give to others who are considering running a craft based business/website? Be prepared to put in a lot of work, you need to be updating and interacting regularily to keep people’s attention.  Also a lot of new sewing/craft sites have popped up in the last 12/18 months so there is more competition, you need to have something unique to make you stand out from the others.  Personally I am a big advocate of social networking, I don’t believe my site would be what it is now if I didn’t spend to much time social networking.

9.       As this is Art of Crafts I have to ask, do you enjoy any crafts yourself? If so, please tell us more. When I was younger (in my pre-business/pre-child days when I actually had time!) I used to enjoy several different crafts.  I would sew, make jewellery, make cards and was quite into painting too.  Now I am so short of time I struggle to do anything.

I did start learning patchwork and quilting just before I launched the site, but then didn’t have the time to keep going to my group.  I do sew if I have time but unfortunately time is a precious commodity at the moment so I’ve only managed to make a few things since launching the site.

I know it’s not quite a craft but the way I prefer to express my creativity is through writing, I write the majority of the content on the site, and I’ve started several books but haven’t had the time to work on them for ages.

10.   Finally, if people want to learn more about your business do you have a Facebook page/ Twitter profile where they can find out more ? Yes, I have both (and  as mentioned above update them regularly) you can find me on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/TheSewingDirectory.  You can find my website here: www.thesewingdirectory.co.uk, and my blog here: www.thesewingdirectory.blogspot.com.

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