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    Poppy Treffry sewing

    It’s #meetthemaker day this weekend! I’m Poppy and little did I know when I set up my sewing machine in a Newlyn fish loft 17 years ago, that it was the start of an enterprise that would still be going strong today.

    With £200 in the bank and a very old, cranky Singer sewing machine, I began to turn my sketches of everyday life in Cornwall into products that people could use and treasure.

    Poppy Treffry chough sketches

    At every turn there was something exciting, tea cosies being snapped up by Liberty, a bespoke collection for Fortnum and Mason, writing two books and opening my own shop in St. Ives.

    Poppy Treffry St Ives shop

    I now work with a small team who cut, sew, pack and sell the products that I design and develop. Everything is either handmade in Cornwall or sourced from UK based manufacturers and we work with unbleached organic cotton.

    Although the studio’s bigger now, it’s still filled to the brim with fabrics, the kettle’s on and there’s a hum of sewing machines and scissors...

    Poppy Treffry studio

    So what is Spring Embroidery Club?

    So what is Spring Embroidery Club?

    Embroidery Club was one of those ideas that came to me in the middle of the night. As the country was shutting down, I’d sent all my team home on furlough and I was lying awake wondering what on earth was going to happen to my business and my team.

    I never dreamed it would turn out as it has. From day one I realised it was something special – not created by me but by the people taking part. Through the Facebook group, the emails, through the struggles and triumphs of everyone taking part the Club has become almost a therapy that has not only rescued my business but has given us all the creative, messy space we didn’t know we needed.

    The Christmas Club saw lots of the same people getting back together to sew again as well as plenty of new ones too and I can’t wait to see who joins us for the third club. The projects are looking gorgeous (if I do say so myself!)

    And, once again, I can’t wait to get started!


    But don’t just take my word for it, here are some reviews from our wonderful stitching community and pictures of what you could be making if you take part in Spring Embroidery Club 2021:

    It was brilliant. Loved it. The projects were great. The instructions were clear and easy to understand with added support of the videos/ Facebook. I learned new skills working with different textiles. Looked forward each week to the next project! Would thoroughly recommend it. 
    Sue B


    Had a fantastic 6 weeks with like minded people making Poppy’s unique designs. The projects were explained well and complemented with video instructions. It was great to see all the finished products, many of which had individual variations on the theme, opening up further the possibilities of creative sewing.

    Ann C


    It was a brilliant idea and so helpful. I didn't purchase the fabric but used my own and created some work that even I didn't think I was capable of. Knowing we were all in it together and working alongside each other, albeit remotely and not really knowing each other, gave me a boost. Then to be able to share our work was lovely.

    Helen F

    Meet the Padstow shop team

    We’ve finally got around to introducing our lovely Padstow shop team, hurray! Turns out they’re all a little camera shy, so we had to use bribery! (Cake, who mentioned cake?! Karen the shop manager at Poppy Treffry, Padstow So first of all... Karen, our shop manager describes herself as creative, fun-loving and outdoorsy. She says the best thing about working in the Poppy Treffry shop in Padstow is being surrounded by cheerful and bright textile products and the fabulous location, she even plans to cycle in to work from Wadebridge! When she’s not working in the shop, she can be found in her own sewing workshop making lampshades, spending time exploring the coast, and sitting in dark rooms at the dead of night! (That last one is because she enjoys taking part in paranormal investigations!) Karen drinks her tea the way of the builders, with skimmed milk, no sugar. stanya from the Poppy Treffry shop in padstow Next up, Stanya, our shop assistant, who describes herself as creative, kind and cheeky! She loves all the beautiful products, friendly customers with similar interests and the view - did we mention the view?! In her spare time, she enjoys making candles (which we sell in the Poppy Treffry shops), walking and taking photographs of the beautiful Cornish scenery, visiting local cafes and sampling their cakes (well someone has to keep the Cornish economy alive!) Stanya takes her tea with milk, one sugar or sometimes with lemon and honey. Sinead from the Poppy Treffry shop in Padstow And last, but of course by no means least, Sinead, our other lovely shop assistant, who describes herself in three words as creative, funny and a mummy. She loves being in a creative, colourful environment at Poppy Treffry and getting to share her PT knowledge with the lovely customers, oh and she says the view isn’t bad either! When she’s not in the shop, she can be found at home running around after her two boys and crazy Beagle. If she gets two minutes to herself, she likes to get her canvas out and paint. Sinead can also be found sampling lots of delicious foods with her Hubby, who's a Chef, as they are real foodies. If she’s not doing any of that, Sinead can be found snuggled on the sofa reading a good book (and eating cake, shhhh!) Sinead never drinks tea, it’s Coffeeeeee all day, everyday. Strong, milky, one sugar please. The view from the Poppy Treffry shop in padstow We felt it would be rude to leave without sharing that infamous view with you, now you can understand, we're sure, quite why all the girls mentioned it! Hopefully you can come and visit us soon and check out that view for yourself. We're not sharing the cake though, sorry! Find out more about our Padstow shop here. Find out more about the rest of the Poppy Treffry team here.  

    Holly interviews Poppy

    Holly works in our St Ives shop whenever we can steal her away from her university course. When she graduates, Holly would like to open a business selling women's clothing and accessories. Here she interviews Poppy about starting your own business... Poppy Treffry early bags Q. When did you first start the business? I started making embroidered bags in 1999 when I finished uni. I set up as a proper business in 2004.     Q. What made you decide to set up your own business? I was at a bit of a crossroads having done three years voluntary and charity work overseas. I applied for all sorts of different jobs all over the world, alongside sewing to keep myself sane. The business was the first thing that actually fell into place so I just went with it! Guatemala sketchbook Q. What was the hardest thing about setting up the business? Having the confidence to sell my products was the most difficult things, and be able to price them fairly for my time and still believe that people would buy them. I was really helped by a great business advisor and Justin (now my partner) who I shared a workshop with. Q. What was the best thing? I loved being able to go to my workshop every day and make things and loved the thrill of people actually loving and buying what I was making. I had a part time job whilst I was starting up and it was a great day when I was able to hand in my notice and go full time as a designer maker. It was also great meeting other makers at networking events and shows. Poppy photographed by Mike Thomas Q. Is there anything that you regret doing when setting up the business? I don’t have any regrets – it could all have been a completely different type of business and I could of gone down the much more bespoke and one-off route and that would have been great too, but I love my job so no regrets. Q. Is there anything you would change about how you set it up? No I don’t think so. Q. What is the most enjoyable part of having your own business? I love designing new product ranges and love all the people I work with. I also really enjoy coming up with display and promotion ideas and, weirdly enough, I love doing my accounts! Team Treffry Q. Did you start the business online or straight into a shop? I started selling wholesale to galleries and shops but I had my own website with an online shop right from the start. Q.  How did you decide what products you wanted to sell? My first product range was mostly cushions, tea cosies, bags and pictures and it went down very well. I was able to take my lead from what was selling well, and what the customers seemed to respond best to, and develop more products that way. I introduced badges and small purses in my second or third year to give a better spread of price points. In about the fourth or fifth year I began to have a lot of copycats so I’ve had to constantly stay ahead of the game. First workshopQ. What is your design process for new products? We usually identify gaps in the current product range - it might be that we need more things in a certain price bracket or something that lots of customers have requested, and sometimes just something I really want to do! Then it will either be a tweak to an existing design or a complete start from scratch. I do lots of sketching, spend a lot of time sourcing materials then quite a bit of time working out patterns before I begin to hone down the products that we will take forward. Once the templates are worked out and an initial sample is made, the pieces all go to either the stitchers who work at home or our in house team for production.Breezy boat sketches Sketches of the tall ships regattaBreezy boats embroidery Sail boats initial embroidery testsBreezy boaty fabrics Boats pattern tests and final breezy boats design.

     Q. What inspires your designs? My inspiration comes from all around me and I try to make sketches whenever I can. It also comes from the materials themselves. Right now I’m quite excited about working with metallic thread and drawing geese and mermaids!Grey goose on the sewing machine Embroidering the grey goose design 

    Q. How did you start selling products elsewhere, abroad and in other shops? I attended a trade fair in my first year of business and at that I got quite a few shops and galleries in the UK ordering. Further shows lead to more customers, including some overseas ones. We now do an annual trade show in New York, which has helped grow our US customer base, and we sell to lots of boutiques, galleries and quirky gift shops over there. Poppy Treffry stand at NY NOW 2015 The Poppy Treffry stand at NY NOW (February 2015) 

    Q. Are you hoping to expand the business in any way in the future? If so, how? I would love to have more shops but it’s a big commitment and I want to make sure my St Ives shop is working really well before I expand the empire. Q. What would be your three best tips for setting up your own business?

    1. Be original
    2. Be yourself
    3. Get your pricing right
    St Ives shop refit - Poppy behind the counter Poppy behind the counter in the St Ives shop.

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