100th Post – What a Journey

Wow, post number one hundred!

As I was going through the past posts to see what a journey our shop OliVen has taken us on I realised I never spoke about the shop itself other than the move from Isle of Wight to Suffolk … so let me tell you little story … make yourself a cuppa and sit down in comfortable chair.

I always loved sewing and was making a lot of clothes as teenager as we didn’t have much money and this was the way how to be original. But once I left school and started working there was not much time or opportunities for sewing. When I came to UK at the age of 24 and started working as a waitress I knew I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life … I always admired people which turned their hobby into a living. And so I set myself with the question what is my hobby – after millinery course, upholstery class and several piano lessons, I ended up on beginners patchwork class and was hooked from the day I choose fabrics for my little sampler. Fast forward few years with our big Australian holiday and birth of our daughter and couple of unhappy hospitality employment, we found ourselves on the Isle of Wight with no quilting shop in sight.

Olivier building our counter and everything else in the shop
Olivier  in the door of our first shop in Newport on the Isle of Wight 

We dreamt about having our own creative business for a while at that time, so we grabbed the opportunity and with only 3 years of home quilting under my belt, Olivier and I took all our savings and opened OliVen. The first two-three years were mad, Jasmine just turned one week after we opened the shop, I had no idea there is anything like Quilters Guild, had to google what a calico is, because people were asking for it. I don’t knot what were we thinking!!  And on top of it all I started teaching! Thank you all my Newport students for your patience and for teaching me lots of new words I didn’t have in my vocabulary back then. Sometimes I was only one step ahead of my students but I never let them know and I wasn’t afraid to admit that I don’t know everything, and I always made them feel that they can achieve more than they think, gave them encouragement and praised them a lot.

This photo was taken on the first day in Newport – Jasmine was one just 5 days after that. 
Look how tiny our workroom was – for those who’s never been there it’s not a picture of a half of the room, this is the full room – quite a change from what we have now, isn’t it?

After three years in Newport the town centre was just going down, so with 3 month old Balthazar we moved to Ryde. We lost some customers and gained some others. I have slowed down a bit and started to care about myself rather than spending every waking hour thinking about the business. Since we opened I have made lots of project with a classes and students in mind and only dabbled into embroidery, surface design or painting onto fabric. Creatively I was very much finding myself. The traditional patchwork was done for the living/classes. But inside I felt much more attracted to textile art. I admired and followed blogs of several textile artist longing to have my own style. So I tried many techniques, went to lots of workshops but it all came when we moved to Suffolk.

The decision about the move wasn’t easy, we knew we will be starting from the scratch, but the Island didn’t “work” for us – as a family and as a business – with children about to start school, the only time we would be able to leave the Island would be school holidays and the ferry price is double at those times. Also the potential of the business was limiting with the stretch of water. All the opportunities to exhibit or have a stand would always include the expanse of the ferry which makes you think twice if it’s worth it. And so we made the best decision we could have done. We still miss the Island, the beaches, plenty lovely customers who still read my newsletter and often send me pictures of their finished work or just kind words. But the opportunities we have here can’t beat the beauties of the Island. And we have it only an hour to the sea!

Around the time we have moved I also started some online courses – drawing/painting/creative one called Life book and artful self discovery course called Mandala Magic which I’m doing for the second year now. Both gave me the chance and confidence to try and do different media and different themes. It brought messages/meaning into my work and I guess my style has begun to emerge. I’m not really interested in squares and triangles as I call it, but I love to paint and quilt and embroider my work. And this is where my teaching is now heading, it’s a bit scary because I don’t know if people will like to learn things like this but I’m trying to follow my passion just like I did 5 and half years ago when we opened the shop. At the same time I’m really loving our Scissor Sisters sewing club – it’s about enabling people to make the projects they want to do – from curtains, cushions, finishing quilts they have stated ehm years ago to dressmaking and even teepee! It’s for those who needs help, encouragement and inspiration and that’s what I love to give to people.

So it has been quite a journey so far as you can see … but this is not the end and I will evolve as will my work – maybe on my 500th post I’ll be writing about completely different projects … let’s see what the life has in it’s sleeve for us!

Thank you for reading


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