What was a side-earner became a labour of love for Lisa Comfort, founder of Sew Over It.  Today, Lisa shares a peek behind the scenes of her business, the London-based sewing cafe which hosts classes, parties and shares tips and inspiration for wannabe sewers. The Red Hot Woman Award‘s One to Watch spills the beans….

Tell me a bit about your business, including how you went from business idea to ‘open for business’…
I own a sewing café in Clapham, London. We offer over 30 different  sewing classes, have a fabric and haberdashery shop and sell our own patterns and kits.  The idea came to me whilst I was still working in the bridal couture industry. I was teaching sewing to earn some extra money and realised I loved teaching more than my day job. I spent the next six months planning how a sewing teaching business could work, from marketing plans, cash flow forecasts and the rest. I then spent another few months finding the right property before launching in May 2011.
[Tweet “”I was teaching sewing to earn some extra money and realised I loved teaching more than my day job” @sewoverit via @emmagwillim”]
Describe your typical day/week schedule.
I now only spend three days a week at the shop as opposed to six the first year! When I am at the shop I usually teach in the morning. I like to teach our beginner classes and pass on my passion for sewing to those testing it out for the first time. After lunch I have meetings or develop new classes with my team. When I am not at the shop I am usually working from home, visiting wholesalers or running events. We have started running events in major retail stores such as Selfridges, River Island, H&M, Miss Selfridge and more recently, Gap.
How do you plan and organise your time?  What are your biggest challenges with this?  What tips can you offer?
Compartmentalising my week into shop and teaching days and days working from home helps me stay organised. When I am at the shop I cannot do admin and the business side of things – I do this when I am working from home. I try to make sure I have one day a week when I don’t have meetings and can be at home so I can get all the serious stuff done. But most weeks I have to be pretty flexible as events and other bits pop up and so I end up working late or at weekends.
[Tweet “”Compartmentalising my week into shop and teaching days and days working from home helps me stay organised” @sewoverit via @emmagwillim”]
What are your essential office tools?
My computer!
Are there any websites or apps that you’d recommend to other entrepreneurial women?
I use Google products a lot. Google Analytics is great for seeing peaks in activity and finding out where and why people are coming to our site. I also use Google Alerts. Then of course Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, which we couldn’t do without!
Describe your workspace and how it integrates with your working style.  How does it motivate/focus your work?
At home I have a very calming space. I work from our spare bedroom. The room is painted pale greys and blues which I find really relaxing. I also have to make sure the space I work in isn’t cluttered as I cant concentrate with mess around me.
What book has most inspired you?
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini as this made me realise how strong women can be. If I am having a bad day, it helps me put things in perspective and pick myself back up.
What’s your typical working lunch?
I often work through lunch and sometimes even skip eating which is a bad habit. I try not to as I notice my energy levels dip and, when you work as much as I do, it is important to feed the body and mind!
And how do you switch off once the working day is done?
A glass of wine and a good film or boxset usually does it. Otherwise my new yoga class does the trick!
What makes your life sparkle?
Feeling lucky every time I walk into my shop and I think, I created this. Seeing happy customers and happy staff. That really makes it feel all worthwhile.
[Tweet “”I feel lucky every time I walk into my shop and I think, I created this. Seeing happy customers and happy staff -that really makes it feel all worthwhile” @sewoverit via @emmagwillim”]

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