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Interview; Experimental Space

June’s Luxury boxes included the pretty Lily Top pattern from Experimental Space, this was the fourth time we have seen a pattern from Andrea in the boxes and it’s always a pleasure!

How has Experimental Space grown and evolved since we last chatted to you in 2019?

This question really made me realise just how much things have changed since 2019! 

New studio space: Experimental Space has a brand new studio! I had given up my original office when its lease was over and moved everything home for awhile. Once lockdown kicked in my husband also started working from home and space became pretty limited! As of April I’m so excited to say I now have a perfect little studio that I’ve slowly been doing up and getting organised. It’s so nice having a dedicated space again. I’m also pretty sure the husband is grateful the house is no longer swimming in sewing materials!

New patterns: Since our chat back in 2019 I’ve added three new patterns to the Experimental Space collection! There are more in the works too!

Improved size range: The new size range increases the original seven sizes to thirteen. It started with the Lily Top, then Rosalee was updated to include the new size range as well. Evelyn is nearly ready for re-release in the new sizes and then I’ll be working on Casey and Josie.

Printing at the studio: I now have a large format printer so I can print A0’s right in the studio. This has made me so excited. I’ve been able to further improve the quality of the print by doing it myself, refining little details to get everything just right. I now print on 90gsm paper (even thicker and more durable than before) & the lines are darker and crisper. Environmentally it’s also been a huge plus. The print only travels a few feet from the printer to the assembling table rather than shipped across the UK with a courier. I can also do my prints in smaller on-demand style batches instead of the large quantities I’d have to place with a printer. I’d asked what people think her name should be, and I had such a lovely response from one woman who said I should call her Bertha because of a cartoon with a machine that pumped out magical items. I love that story so Bertha it is!

How has it been navigating your business through lockdown?

Ups and downs as I imagine most other small businesses have been. I felt a real struggle between trying to promote my patterns to continue making sales, while on the other hand seeing some people going through job security issues and feeling bad for promoting things they can’t buy. But I’ve always found the sales side of things difficult and awkward. I would much rather just do it all for fun if I didn’t have overheads and bills to worry about!

What does your typical day look like?

I start off the day with a huge mug of coffee while I work through admin & bookkeeping tasks. I’ll also pack up any orders from overnight first thing in the morning because then I can get it in the local post box before it’s collected for the day. If I’m in a testing / pattern design phase then most of the rest of my day will be working with the testing group or furthering the new pattern design. If not, then I’ll probably be working on some new content, like a blog post for the website or a newsletter. Or buying yet another new plant for the office. Sometimes if I can’t sit at the computer any longer, I’ll sneak in some cheeky sewing.

Have you got any new projects planned for the rest of 2021?

I have two designs I’d like to see out in 2021 although for time/schedule reasons it’s looking more likely it will only be the one. I’ve decided to postpone the new summer design and put that time into expanding the size range for the Evelyn Blouse instead. Once that is done, I’ll have some time to put into the late summer/autumn design which I’m very excited about. I absolutely love the whole design process of a new pattern and I can’t wait to get started on it.