talking about

Are you joining me for #makersforfashrev?

Last year I had all these grand ideas for what I wanted to do for Fashion Revolution Week. As is the case with a lot of my grand plans, I realised that I had left it too late and there was far too much to do for me to get it happening in time. So I went for second best (or what I thought was second best at the time) and decided to run a little Instagram photo challenge. I have seen a lot of them run very successfully, and I knew it was a good way to spread the word and raise the profile of an issue, so I quickly made some daily prompts and put it on Instagram with the hashtag '#makersforfashrev' to let people know what it was all about.

Oh boy was I surprised when people started sharing it and putting the hands up to take part too! Suddenly it wasn't just me, but countless makers from all around the world, jumping on board to spread the word. As of today there are 1 378 posts with the hashtag. I was thrilled to see others thought it was an important issue to discuss too. 

I still love the idea of hosting some kind of event for Fashion Revolution (maybe next year), but I also  appreciate the incredible power of the internet. From my little studio here in Sydney I can spread the word about Fashion Revolution far further than I could by hosting a class or an event, and for now, that's exactly what I plan to do!

What is Fashion Revolution?

So if you are new around these parts, or have not come across the Fashion Revolution movement, you can check out my blog post from last year to get an overview of what it's all about.  

In short, what it's about is asking 'Who Made My clothes?' It is about questioning working conditions, work practices and the overall impact the fashion industry has on people and planet.

The reason I thought it was important for makers to get on board spreading the word about this issue is that we are the ones making our own clothes. We appreciate the time it takes to make clothing and the skill required to do so. Why should the garments handmade by us be valued, appreciated and worth more than the garments handmade in a factory in a third world country? They shouldn't be. All clothing is made by hand and this needs to be remembered and never devalued or discredited. 

We have the power to spread the word amongst our friends, and communities, to promote and acknowledge that clothes are valuable and use valuable resources to create them. We should love them, take care of them and nurture them. We should keep them out of landfill at all costs. We should also question the working conditions of those who make them for us.


To promote this amazing movement amongst the making community online I have decided to host another photo challenge on Instagram for the week of Fashion Revolution (24-30 April). Although some of us may not buy our clothing from retailers, there is still a lot we can do to encourage change, and I would love if you help me spread the word (and maybe even encourage more people to start making their own clothes).


Each day during Fashion Revolution Week, I will post a prompt on Instagram to promote thoughts, discussion and inspiration related to a particular aspect of the revolution. If you would like to play along, simply use the hashtag #makersforfashrev, as well as the official Fashion Revolution hashtags - #FashRev and #whomademyclothes - this way we will all be able to find each other. I'll choose my favourites each day and do a little round-up! You can find me on Instagram @inthefolds.

If you would like to let the world know you are taking part you can post the image above on your blog, Instagram or Facebook page. The further we spread the word, the better!


  • Slow down! Do you really need all those clothes? Take your time to make one beautiful garment instead of five hurried makes. Spend extra time by working on beautiful finishes or decorative techniques. Use your making time to upskill rather than fill your wardrobe with more and more.
  • Make for others when you have enough in your wardrobe.
  • Use sustainable materials to create products.
  • Teach others your skills. Encourage others to make their own clothes.
  • Work out ways to reduce waste (this could be in relation to your studio / office space, the packaging you use to wrap or post your products, etc.)
  • Recycle whenever possible
  • Consider using second hand whenever you can (I use second hand fabric for the majority of what I sew)
  • Make plans. Don't buy things impulsively. Take the time to think about it and work out if you actually need it. 
  • Sew from your stash.
  • Go to clothing and fabric swaps.
  • Ask your suppliers and manufacturers about their labour practices.
  • If you have your business, consider manufacturing locally.
  • Be disruptive and embrace change.


Talking about: Planning and goal setting


If you have been following along with me lately you may remember that I have been talking about my desire to be little more open about the struggles as well as the little victories of my day-to-day life as a very new small business owner. Since getting all your lovely responses on the topic, I have been busting to get started, as I feel there is a huge amount of value in this exercise. For me, it will provide an opportunity to consolidate my thoughts and ideas on a topic, keeping a record of it for the future (when I will most probably read over it and cringe), and hopefully for you it will provide inspiration and food for thought - or hopefully, some encouragement for your journey. 


Planning + goal setting for 2016

As it's the very beginning of a new year (okay, okay, three weeks in... where did the time go?), I have been thinking a lot about planning and setting goals for 2016 - as I am sure many of you have been doing too. I think it's only natural to see the end of one year and the looming of another as a time to reflect and make some changes - in the hope of being happier, healthier, more productive etc. in the new year. But what I have finally accepted is that these changes will not happen over night and all big changes are about commitment, dedication and making these changes into a habit or ritual.


On my way to burn out

A little back story. If you saw me on December 22nd last year, you would have seen a pretty haggard excuse for a person. I was most probably hunched over my sewing machine or computer (or maybe even both by that stage ... There was a moment when I'd become so overwhelmed by my to-do list that I had my sewing machine set up in front of my computer, and would jump between the two) and had given up on wearing make-up or anything apart from jersey sacks, or even washing my hair. Not good. Obviously. On this particular day I spoke to a friend about how exhausted I was, how little time I had to do anything for myself (including exercise, grocery shopping, seeing friends or even washing said hair) and how burned out I was feeling. I loved my little business, but it was literally taking over my life. Yet I was persistent that I was just going to work through the holiday period, convincing myself (and no one else) that I would feel better in the new year if I just kept soldiering on and knocking things of my ever growing to-do list.

After I said it out loud, I realised how stupid it sounded. Did I think some magical New Years Fairy was going to come and sprinkle fairy dust on my head and I was going to wake up, somehow recovered from one of the biggest, scariest, craziest, most challenging years of my life, and be ready to do it all over again?

The answer is no.

No matter how much I love doing what I do every day, I have learned that, there are times that it is more beneficial to my business (and probably yours too) to step back and take a rest. This probably seems very obvious to a lot of you, but this was quite a realisation to me. Coming to the end of year, and reflecting on the awful state I was in, emotionally and physically, I realised that I was going to have to make some huge changes in my life if I wanted to create a business and a lifestyle that would be sustainable, and wouldn't have me totally washed up before I turn 28. And before any of these changes could take place, I needed to take a good long rest. I took a week off work, in which I spent my time catching up on sleep, friends and TV series. Utter bliss. Suddenly it didn't seem so daunting to wash my hair or write that email that I had been avoiding replying to. If you follow me on Instagram, you may even know that I even found the capacity to iron every garment in my wardrobe (yep. Seriously. And I mean EVERYTHING, as I had not ironed in six months!)

So after a much needed break, I was finally in a fit enough state to start looking forward again. Just in time for New Years eve!


New years resolutions

I always have new years resolutions, although for the life of me, I cannot remember one I have ever set, and therefore no idea if I have ever accomplished one of my goals. I guess I just thought everyone had flakey goals and setting them was more about having something to talk about over the new year period - and then forgetting them by the end of January. I must admit, this year was no different. I set some really flakey goals.

Sitting on the beach with an esky full of picnic food and drinks, a friend asked me what my resolutions were for 2016. I answered, 'To have a happier and healthier year than 2015." When I asked him what his resolution was, he told me he wanted to do an Iron Man. Bang. The moment when I realised how tangible his goal was compared to mine. At the end of 2016 he will know whether or not he has achieved his goal, with a straightforward yes or no. Me? Even if I remembered my Flaky Goal, how would I measure it? Do a happiness pie chart? A health graph? I don't think so. This is the moment I remembered what I had learned on the small business short course I did in 2015 and it was time to actually use it.


Goals need to be S.M.A.R.T


Goals need to be smart as well as S.M.A.R.T : Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely. This means that instead of my Flaky Goal, 'I want to have a happier and healthier year,' I would need to consider a goal such as, 'I will schedule in at least one weekly dinner with a friend which will help me feel happier and more connected to those around me,' or 'I will go swimming twice a week to work on my fitness.' 


Breaking goals down

Although the S.M.A.R.T method does really help when creating the right goals (I now have a list of goals for 2016 that I will be able to reflect on at the end of the year - and they are written down this time so that I don't forget them!) I do find big goals to be very daunting. Particularly when it is really difficult to predict what will happen in the future - which is definitely the case when you have your own business.

This is when breaking down a goal into smaller pieces makes the world of difference. When I say I want to release a pattern by x date, I instantly get butterflies in my stomach, thinking about the sheer amount of work that needs to be put in to create a pattern. Suddenly the goal no longer feels achievable and I begin to stress, rather than just getting started. 

By simply breaking the goal down into steps, I have realised that the Big Scary Goal becomes much more tangible, and also allows me to work out where to start.

For example, for this goal of releasing a pattern, what is involved? First, I need to come up with the design, make the initial pattern, make a sample and fit the pattern on a fit model. I then need to continue sampling and fitting until I am happy with the pattern. Once that is done I need to scan the paper pattern into the computer and digitise it using Illustrator. When I have done that, I next need to grade the pattern to my size range, take photographs for the instructions, write the instructions and test the pattern. I need to consolidate the testing feedback, create the listing and then finally release the pattern.

Although there is a lot to do, suddenly it doesn't seem so daunting. With this list, I have a much better chance of scheduling the right amount of time for the project and setting an achievable deadline, and knowing exactly where I need to start. It also allows me to plan things in advance. I should be fitting by 'Week X', do I have a fit model organised? I should be ready to take photographs of the process by 'Week Y', do I have fabric on hand, or will I need to purchase something? Having things pencilled in, means I can avoid stressful last minute runs to the shops, and wasting days not knowing what to work on. 

I really like the Goal Pyramid by Matthew Michaelwicz, which provides a simple, yet very visual way of breaking down goals into smaller milestones. 


Celebrate the victories

By having smaller goals, that lead to a larger goal, there are many more chances to sit back and reflect. Am I on track? What do I need to do this week, or even just today, to achieve this goal? As well as a chance for little celebrations along the way.  I don't want to have to wait until the end of the year to give myself a pat on the back for all the hard work I have done - and this means stepping back and celebrating the small achievements that will contribute to the success in the big goal. My celebrations aren't anything extravagant, but they are a time in which I allow myself a chance to say 'Well done! Go you!' A moment to sit back and feel very proud of what I have achieved. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I sold my fiftieth Rushcutter dress, and to celebrate I danced on my bed (the 50th pattern was sold while I was asleep). It is a lonely business, having a small business, so instead of seeking a high-five or a pat on the back from others, I have really had to learn to celebrate my own achievements in my own little ways. 


To-do lists vs scheduling

As I mentioned, this time of year is a very obvious time to be having thoughts about goal setting and planning, which means I have been running into great pieces of advice, suggestions and blogs everywhere I turn. While somewhere in BlogLand, I came across a link to this article about millionaire's not using to-do lists, and it really encouraged a light bulb moment for me.

I have not been able to function for the last six months without my to-do list, but then, when it gets to the end of the day and I have once again not managed to get everything crossed off the list, I feel like crap. Like really crap. What I had been overlooking is that a to-do list has no concept of time or priority. Basically, I just write down everything I can think of in the order I think of them, and then work my way through (normally leaving the most painful and time consuming tasks till last) until it is time to leave work (or was time to leave work three hours ago). This advice, to schedule things in a planner is very obvious, but has already really changed the way I work through the day, and the way I feel at the end of it. By scheduling tasks into a planner that is broken up into the hours of the day, I suddenly need to be realisitic about the time a task will take, and therefore don't end up with a list of things that could never be completed in a single day.

I still have my to-do list (as it's a really great way to get everything out of my head to make room for others - as apparently we can only hold 4 things in our head at any one time!) but once I have written my list, it doesn't stop there. I take the list and work through it - scheduling in each task and allowing a realistic amount of time to complete it. If, for some reason, something doesn't get done on a particular day, I reschedule it. Allowing nothing to be left behind - and preventing those moments when I wake up in the middle of the night, realising I have forgotten to do something. This is a great episode of the Note to Self podcast, about the science behind getting organised, if you would like to hear more. 

I am currently trying out the Passion Planner, and so far it seems to be doing the trick. I love that it has a section for 'Today's Focus' as well as a 'Weekly Focus,' which is a constant reminder that I need to accomplish the small milestones in the hope of one day achieving the Big Scary Goal. A great reminder to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and to night get caught up in the end game. 


The importance of rituals

I find setting goals as a great way to give me the motivation and focus I need to get through the day-to-day grind of running a business. But this year, particularly after reading this article from Seamwork Magazine, and then binge reading Sarah Starr's amazing blog. I have been thinking a lot more about the importance of rituals and how I can bring some new rituals into my routine. I am not talking about massive changes, just small things that will add to the overall experience.

One of the first things I thought about was how much time I have been spending on my phone, and how unhappy that makes me. Particularly in the evenings, I want to get better at putting my phone down and focusing on something outside of my work (as my phone is becoming more and more associated with work as this journey goes on - when an email comes through I think I have to deal with it then and there, whether I'm still in my towel after taking a shower, or already in bed), which has lead me to going to the library to borrow books and reading before I go to bed, instead of scrolling endlessly through my Instagram feed. I find this much more relaxing, as the online space tends to stimulate me much more than a book, and I end up flooding my brain with more and more ideas, instead of focusing on winding down.

Although not as enjoyable, I have created a ritual out of grocery shopping. By scheduling it in my planner at the same time each week, I no longer see it as a chore, or something that can be sacrificed if I am too busy. It needs to be done as it is important that I have access to quality food at home, so that when I'm tired or busy I don't end up skipping a meal or eating junk.


Accountability meetings

One final ritual that has become a highlight of my week, is my accountability meeting. When I first agreed to meet with two of the women I met on my short small business course, it just seemed like an interesting thing to try out. The shock of going from working amongst other people to working on my own day in and day out, had not yet hit, so the need for human interaction was not there. A month or so in, I realised how important it was for me to meet with these women each week. It gave me a chance to get out of the studio, see people and also truly connect to women who were on a very similar journey to me, feeling accountable to someone apart from myself.

I am so early on in this journey, but still looking back, I can see how naive I was to what it would really be like. I hadn't realised how much a journey like this is also a journey into who you are as a person, what you really want and the kind of life you are trying to create (but I will save all that for another day), and that it really helps to have understanding and supportive people around you - who you can share your doubts, fears and little victories with. Someone who knows you and your business is only a phone call away, and there is something in that which is very reassuring. And with the deadline of a meeting, there is a sense of needing to get things done on time. My meetings are very relaxed, which has been great, but I have been doing a little research this week on how we could go about creating a structure for our meetings (after half an hour free time to catch up, of course) so that is something I will continue thinking about this year. 

What about you?

As I think I have now made clear, I am no expert on this topic. It is just something I have been thinking a lot about, and reading a lot about, in the hopes that I will find a process that works for me - allowing me to get more done, with less stress.

I'd love to know how you manage your days, and if you think there's anything else I should be trying to make sure that 2016 is happier, and more productive, than 2015 (the Flaky Goal strikes again!)

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Talking about : Transparency - The Response

Happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely holiday period and had a chance to relax. I had a lovely Christmas with my family, and then enjoyed some much needed down time. Lots of reading and movie watching! Now it's back to the studio to get the ball rolling for 2016, which I find very exciting, as I have a lot planned for this year. 

In one of my last posts of the year, I discussed my desire to be more transparent in my business - showing more of what goes on behind the scenes, in the hope of potentially enlightening or inspiring others who are interested in this journey. I asked what you thought, and was so pleased with the response! 

Here are some of the responses, which I thought I would include as they may help you too, if you are on a similar journey, or a thinking about similar things to me! 


I think these will become great go-to quotes if I am ever in doubt!

Talking about : Transparency

My working pace has slowed down as the end of the year fast approaches, and the pace of my personal life has increased as I madly get prepared for Christmas (I left it to the last minute as usual). So there will be no new tutorials until the new year. I wanted to take this opportunity to post about something a little different today, giving you a little peak at what is going on behind the scenes at In the Folds (and chat about the potential of hearing a little bit more in the future).

I am spending a lot of time at the moment thinking about transparency, and it's place in business. Specifically, its place in my business. When I had the crazy (but great) idea to go into business, transparency was something I really wanted ingrained in my practice. Transparency about my thoughts, values and processes (and maybe even more).

Though, that is much easier said than done. Six months into my business venture, and I have revealed very little about what really goes on on a daily basis (okay, there was the time I told you I was eating rice cakes for dinner on instagram). There has been no sign of the struggles (and there have been many), the thought processes or even the small wins (and thankfully there have been a few of those too) that have come along the way. 

So that is what I'd like to talk about today - transparency, why I think it's important, why I haven't been very transparent (yet) and who inspires me in this particularly conversation. 

What do I mean by 'transparency'?

When I use the term 'transparency,' I am referring to a business model in which I would be open about what is going on at In the Folds HQ, in terms of processes, practices, thoughts (and maybe even finances), in the hope that my journey could help or inspire others who are on a similar journey (or those that would like to be on a similar journey, or are just interested in other peoples stories).

Why I haven't been transparent (yet)?

I guess there is a few reasons why I haven't been as open or transparent as I initially planned:

1. Number one has to be fear. When my business was an imaginary thing, the idea of opening it up to the world for judgement and scrutiny seemed totally fine. Now that it is a thing (albeit a very small thing), exposing myself on that level terrifies me a little (okay, okay, it terrifies me a lot).

2. Time is another huge reason why I have avoided a more transparent business model. I have not had the time to think about how I would like to do it, let alone actually do it. 

3. And the last thing that has been on my mind, when debating this concept internally, is concern that it will have a negative impact on my business. Will people judge me negatively if they know what my business looks like on the inside (as surprise surprise, my world doesn't really resemble the lovely shininess of my Instagram feed)? This is not to say that my business has any dirty little secrets! Just the reality that social media feeds are curated, and life is not! Which is something we all obviously know, but it is really easy to fall in love with the fantasy.

Why I would like to be more transparent

So now that I have highlighted the cons of introducing more transparency to my business, let's talk about the pros, and why it is on my mind at the moment. 

I just love businesses that are transparent about their processes. And I have learned so much from other entrepreneurs and small business owners opening their doors. I feel it is important to share some of that love and add something to the collective learning pool and conversation. 

I am constantly energised and inspired by other peoples stories, and it is often what keeps me going, particularly at the times when I am feeling low, or totally alone on this crazy journey. It is on my mind at the moment, as fantastic examples just keep on popping up around me.

Who inspires me?

Bjork + Lindsay Ostrom - Pinch of Yum / Food Blogger Pro

Although many businesses are now embracing transparency - which is absolutely fantastic, the first business that really stood out for me in this area is Pinch of Yum. If you know of this blog, you will know that it has absolutely nothing to do with sewing. It is a cooking blog. But the way they share (Lindsay and her husband, Bjork) the ins and outs of their business is truly inspiring. They publish a monthly income report, which details the ins and outgoings of the business, but it is not a way to show how successful they are (although they are very successful) but a tangible way to see where their income and traffic comes from, and how they have managed to grow these numbers, since the very early days. I was first introduced to the blog when I heard Bjork interviewed on the 'While She Naps' podcast by Abby Glassenberg, and was instantly mesmerised by his openness and frankness about growing a business. I was also very interested in his idea of '1% to infinity,' which has definitely become my business motto since hearing it mentioned. It was such a relief to hear someone say that the steps you take don't have to be massive, for you to see progress over time. Just keep moving forward each day, even if you are only improving by 1% each day, over time the improvement grows exponentially. That to me, makes perfect sense, and is something very tangible I can use to keep my business growing. Bjork also has his own podcast now, which although mainly focuses on guests from the realm of food, I find very interesting and relevant to my life as a small business owner in the online world.

Heather Lou - Closet Case Files - 'Make Boss' series

In the sewing world, there are some bloggers who show snippets of what goes on behind the scenes. I love the 'Make Boss' series by Heather Lou of Closet Case Files. These days I have very little time to read blogs, but I must say that I always take the time to read these posts when they pop up in my Bloglovin' feed. And I literally inhale them, and find so much of the information relevant to my journey. I loved this recent post, when Heather Lou discussed all the thought (and work, of course) that went into designing the cover art of her newly released paper patterns. This is true testament to how much thought goes into decisions like this. 

Start Up podcast by Gimlet Media

Over the last couple of weeks I have become totally addicted to the Start Up podcast. I have no idea how I didn't know of this podcasts existence (because I am an avid listener of the other Gimlet Media podcasts), but somehow I missed the memo. When it was mentioned twice in one day, by two different people, I knew it was time to play catch up. And boy, did I play catch up. I finished the first season in two days. And in another two, I was totally up-to-date. Which is sad, because I was absolutely loving binging on this incredible podcast.

Okay, back to the point (I am beginning to sound like a groupie), listening to a first hand account of starting a business, was absolutely fantastic. Hearing that many of the feelings I have had, were consistent with others, made me feel a little less alone in this venture. Obviously there are many differences between starting a huge podcasting company or an online dating company, and me, starting a business from my teeny tiny studio, but I was also surprised by how many similarities there are.

Reyna Lay Designs Podcast

I also stumbled upon the Reyna Lay Designs podcast recently (what can I say, I am a podcast addict) and was so heartened to hear her interview with Elisalex from By Hand London. She was so candid and honest, really laying out the struggles of what it is like to be an independent pattern designer. I had been following Elisalex on Intagram and on the By Hand London blog, but this interview just revealed much more of the story. There are many more great interviews in the archives, but this is the one that stood out for me.

These are a few things I have been following for a while, but transparency has once again come to the forefront of mind lately for a number of reasons.

Why now?

So why, after six months of business am I talking about this now? Firstly, 2015 is coming to an end, so with that I am consolidating my thoughts about the year. What worked? What didn't? What needs improvement? And also start thinking about 2016 and what my goals are for the new year.

I think 2015 was about me just getting this business started and releasing my first pattern. Hopefully 2016 is about building on that foundation, but also bringing much more into the mix, and creating the kind of business that I dream of.

Over to you lovely people!

So, what I am wondering dear readers, are you interested in knowing what goes on back here behind the sewing machine and the screen? Or are you thinking as you read this, 'No, no, no, I just want tutorials!' (which is totally fine) I am still not sure exactly how I would like it to look, but before I put pen to paper, I'd love to know if anyone is even interested in listening?