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Women’s history month – Diane Warburton

Diane Warburton - Stitchscape

What do you do?
I have run Stitchscape since 2014 when I started business training and looking for premises for my sewing studio, which I opened in the Warrington area in March 2015. I want to pass on my love of sewing in bright, colourful, inspiring places which ooze friendship and connection. I relish the idea that I’m proving an escape away place for women who can feel isolation of many kinds. I have been in a studio in Merseymade since it’s opening in November 2019, where I sell some of my patchwork and quilting projects and run workshops and what I call ‘sewcials’. They are sessions where you can bring along an existing sewing project and sew amongst others; we can all help and inspire each other. Women connecting with like-minded women is powerful in so many ways.

What is your favourite thing about working in the creative industry?
I get to mix with people like me, which is so reassuring and motivating.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
Leaving my Warrington studio was difficult yet that was because I moved to the Wirral, which was definitely a good thing. The lockdown made my business offering illegal, which is something I still struggle with. I haven’t been able to go to my studio for over 7 months in the past year. No workshops/sewcials, no chatting to customers, no seeing my studio buddies, no sharing my patchwork joy and realising that so many of the women I know are also so lonely at home. Trying to find a way forward has been very difficult since I didn’t feel that online workshops were something I could enjoyably and professionally offer.

What has been the biggest highlight in your career so far?
Through all that difficult year I have to remember to be proud of what I have achieved during that year and before. My biggest achievements are when women tell me the positive impact my sessions and retreat had on them. That makes it all worthwhile. Last year I ran a Zoom sewcial quilt-a-long, which was 5 sessions a week for three months and that group is still going but only meeting once a month now. I also set up a podcast called ‘patchwork play’, which has 12 episodes you can listen to. I applied for an Arts Council grant, which is a huge undertaking and helped me create a future plan and I formed a new creative business partnership with my friend Laurel, called ‘Mollie is a Quilter’.

Who is the most inspirational woman to you? Did they inspire you to pursue a creative business?
I am surrounded by inspirational women, so it is really tricky to select one. My whole business was formed with the wish to select creative women to be in my life. They are of all ages and from every kind of background and that’s how I like it. I will name Holly Tucker though as a strong public influence in keeping me going when the tough hits the fan. Her enthusiasm, knowledge and firm belief in the power of women in small business is hard to ignore. I don’t want to ignore it, I want to relish in it. We need lots of female founders, such as me and you maybe, to promote how fantastic a life it can be, above and beyond all usual business trials.

What is your advice for women who want to start a creative business or who want to pursue a career in the creative industry?
Don’t do it because your friend is successful at it.

Don’t do it because you want what she has.

Do it because it feels so right.

There will be times of doubt at your sanity but every decision holds that fear. Even if you have to run your creative business as a sideline, if you feel called to it, do it in a small way. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic, world changing business to be successful for you. It needs to make you feel good about earning money doing what you love. If you don’t love what you do, it’ll feel ridiculously hard, so why do that to yourself?

Believe in your passion,

Diane.

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