Although still classed as new business – awarded the small business of the year 2017 from Keighley Business – The Stitch Society is rich in value and history. Founder Charlotte Meek has been sewing since childhood, a skilled learned from her maternal grandmother who was a dressmaker. Growing up Charlotte made her own clothes, often adapting her mums’ 1960s outfits. She went on to study Textile Marketing at the former Huddersfield Polytechnic.
But it was while teaching crafts that Charlotte, in her words ‘struggled to find an apron to suit my needs, to be comfortable and have large pocket, so designed and made one for myself.’ Then she started to receive request from others and has been designing and selling them ever since.
The company’s studio is based in the world’s largest Salt Mills in Yorkshire, which is the heart of British textiles. Charlotte finds the Salt Mill a positive place to have her studio,
‘Salt Mill is the most wonderful place to work. Not only are you surrounded by fabulous architecture, but the village is inspiring.’
In fact, each apron has its own identity and its own name. This idea was inspired by an exhibition held at the Salt Mills, where the mill workers’ names were woven into a piece of art. Based on this concept, The Stitch Society went onto naming their designs after people they knew, customers who asked for particular designs or have tested their aprons.
All aprons are hand-made from British sourced materials from cotton moleskin, denim, twill and linen. These materials were chosen for their hardwearing and hardworking benefits. The price of the of the aprons range from £49-£80 the price does reflect the durability of the aprons. Moreover, The Stitch Society offer a 10-year guarantee covering all their workmanship and including minor repairs from the company free of charge. Not only do they sell aprons they are now selling their popular designs patterns at £15, for their customer would want to make their own.
Charlotte and her team are continually developing and expanding their range, they work closely with their customers to strive for their perfect apron. This year will see a wider range of patterns, as well as working collaborations with designer markers to improve the range, material and adding design features of the aprons.
When asked to offer some business advice, Charlotte says the ‘main tool is passion and self-belief,’ she also recommends not to ty and do everything yourself.
‘There are areas of the business that from the first day we employed people to do as they were much more capable then myself, it also means you have loyal staff from the beginning.’
Planning is another crucial part when it comes to running a successful business with that being said The Stitch Society plan their yearly aims based on the pervious year, in addition to their yearly goals the company have monthly plans and reviews. According to Charlotte her company have one-, two-, three-, five- and 10-year plans that drive the business forward. Personally, Charlotte herself uses a diary day to day, which she calls her ‘bible’ and plenty of lists to keep her organised. Charlotte finds long terms goals are best when it comes to business ‘this is the best planning tool as it puts the ups and downs of running a business in perspective.’ says Charlotte.
Charlotte started her company because she ‘wanted to do what makes her happy’. She says,
‘I love what I do and I think that changes how you view work. It is still work, but I don’t clock watch, time flies by and that is the difference. Ultimately it’s the freedom to think and act to bring out the best of you that makes the difference.’
She leaves on an insightful note, ‘In doing what I am doing now, I know that I am the best I can be, and you can’t really ask for more than that in life.’