‘It’s the most creative time of year’
The kits made by Nancy Nicholson, from Rye, East Sussex, are the ideal gift for craft lovers
‘Something about Christmas makes people want to get creative, and that’s good for business! All autumn, I’ve been putting together my festive crafting kits, working in a nearby village barn that I’ve transformed into a colourful haberdashery full of paper, thread and fabric.
Customers across the world can then follow my instructions to stitch their own fabric baubles, make 3D Christmas cards or create paper angels for the tree.
I set up in 2012, after years of being a textiles teacher. I’d wanted my own business for a while, but it wasn’t until going through a hard time personally that I decided to do it. First, I lost my mother, Joan, who was a celebrated embroiderer and designer. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This dark time really put things into perspective. After I recovered, I left teaching and got myself into action.
From my kitchen table, I made colourful 3D cards. I set up a website and an account on Etsy, which is a marketplace where crafters sell their products, and the orders trickled in.
I spent many happy hours experimenting with materials, fabrics, colours and designs. But I realised the best thing about craft is not just the finished product but the act of making it. I decided to focus on making kits, with all the materials, thread and fabric for customers to make items themselves. I started with embroidery kits, and it was warming to have a great response. Bit by bit, I expanded the range, adding cushions and small fabric decorations.
HITTING THE BIG TIME
Three years in, a buyer from John Lewis came across my kits online, and asked if they could stock them. I was thrilled. Even today, it’s surreal to walk into a store and see my kits on the shelves! I now rent a unit in a local converted barn, with more space to be creative. My mother’s influence is visible in all my work – characterful birds and vibrant colours are inspired by her sketchbooks. I’ve also written two books about the craft she loved: Modern Folk Embroidery and Big Embroidery. I know she’d be very proud.
Orders for my festive range fly in when winter hits so, every year, from September, I’m frantically putting together kits for hanging baubles and fabric reindeers. The thought of adults and kids spending their Christmases stitching my designs together makes it all worthwhile.’ • nancynicholson.co.uk
‘It’s surreal to see my kits on shelves in John Lewis’
Nancy’s festive craft kit business started life at the kitchen table
Customers love crafting Nancy’s charming designs