I was born and raised in Belfast, a city filled with stories. I come from a long line of story tellers, a whole nation of people who will never use just one word when there might be a story to be told. So this is the story of my Elevator Pitch. I know! It feels weird to me too but you see, the question I dread most at parties is “and what do you do?”
I’m taking a course related to marketing my business and one of the first exercises is to consider my Elevator Pitch. I’ve tried this before and found it incredibly hard. I skirt around the edges, it’s one of those grown up bits of business that just sits uncomfortably with me but it’s also something I really want complete even if I have no intention of ever pitching to anyone in an elevator, because quite apart from anything else, it might make me feel easier at parties.
What do I do?
Well I sew things. I’m a designer-maker. I create personalised gifts and accessories out of linen. I run my own small online business. I take my own photographs. I write the product descriptions. I work out how the heck to market the products, (I’m especially awkward at this part).
These answers, even when stumbled out all at once, feel incomplete, they don’t really tell the story. They don’t begin to explain the stories threaded through the products I create, why I make them, why I am passionate about the stories told by the things we own.
Stories make a home
I have moved house many times in the last 25 or so years and what I have learned is that it’s not the building that makes the home. It’s the people of course, and the things they have made, the things long owned. The sofa saved for, the gifts received and the blanket made. It’s the chips and the dents. It’s the knocks that tell a story, spark a memory and warm the heart.
It’s the huge mug with the small crack, the one my husband had before we even met. Bought from a charity shop when he was a student. Moved from house to house. It’s strangely proportioned and not that pretty. It sits at odds with my collection of handthrown pottery and antique cups, but I love that it means so much to him, that it’s been with us all these years and sight of it on the shelf makes me think instantly of him.
Then there are my rather ancient Le Crueset pots. They tell the story of my childhood. My mother cooked in them (not very well if truth be told), my father crossed the Irish sea to bring them to me. They are unfashionably orange and I could not love them more. They hold the story of a family, told in stews and soups. The good ones and the bad ones.
I recently re-decorated my teenage son’s room. A long overdue coming of age makeover. Toy cars, Lego and childhood treasure were carted out but I couldn’t quite part with the patchwork quilt I made him all those years ago. Too small for his new adult sized bed, it perches awkwardly at the end, sewn from from old shirts, scraps of linen and worn soft with memories of picnics, movie nights, adventures read and comfort given. The story of his childhood, frayed edges and all. The jar of marbles stayed too, along with that first teddy bear and a stick whittled by his grandfather on a summer’s day in Suffolk.
Our homes tell the story of our lives and not just in bricks and mortar. My kitchen table, with its bumps and scratches, tells of meals argued and laughed over. Spellings learned, airfix models glued, toddler painting sessions, wine drunk and many a point well made.
I want the items I buy to hold meaning, the memory of a day trip or a junk shop visit. I want to look at my groaning book shelves and remember the beach I read that book on or which birthday or who gave me that one.
So after a great deal of navel gazing and consideration I finally came up with my Elevator Pitch. An almost pithy explaination of ‘why?’
I believe that every item in a home should hold a memory or evoke a feeling. I work with natural, tactile fabrics to create beautiful handmade products that tell a story. A date remembered or a gift received. Items that are beautiful and thoughtful.
It comes from my heart. I do what I do because I love stories and I love the idea that the products I make might go on to form a small part of someone else’s story.