19 Nov Meet the Owner
Over the coming weeks, in the run up to the Christmas Market, we will be introducing you to a different local business owner, taking part in the event.
Today we are so pleased to introduce Annie Lucas from Start to Stitch and Aphina- Raw Brass Jewellery, based in Mount Hawke.
Annie, how would you describe your business in 3 words.
Empowering, Creative, Addictive
How long have you been in business?
I have always sewn professionally in one capacity or another, but I began teaching in 2015 after the birth of my first daughter. It was a sideline to another business, but after I had my second baby in 2018 I decided to focus more of my attention on teaching a wider variety of sewing skills in small, affordable classes.
Like many – I had a rapid pivot with the pandemic which has resulted in an online sewing academy, a community of about 1300 sewists, and students in as far flung a place as Australia and Canada
What is your favourite item on your menu?
My beginners course, although the most easy to teach because the skills are relatively unchallenging for me, is by far and away my favourite course to guide newbie sewists through.
I so often see sheer fear of their sewing machines from my students in week one, having had bad experiences in the past – and by the final week five they are flying, excited, confident and slightly in shock that they’ve managed to achieve all that they have in such a short time.
It’s my belief that with a few core and foundational skills you can go on to create pretty much anything, because as long as the foundation is right – you can learn from any mistakes you make.
Sewing is like engineering – its about understanding your materials and your tools, and making informed decisions about what to do on the basis of how your materials will behave in combination with either your tools, or each other!
It is the most empowering thing ANY person can do, for the planet, for their homes, and for body and personal confidence.
What are your top 3 tips for someone wanting to start their own business?
If on your business journey you don’t know how to do something – learn. Read up, skill up. Even if you end up ultimately outsourcing a tricky job to an expert, being able to speak to freelancers from an informed position will always ensure that the end product remains true to your original vision.
It’s hard graft and the lows can be as deep as the highs are, well high! At these times mindset is everything, very often what is part of a normal entrepreneurial journey can result in businesses folding. You need to develop some grit – remind yourself of why you started – your big vision, then dust yourself off, adapting to overcome the circumstances.
At the beginning especially, and in the troubled times, it’s easy to let work consume you and take over everything just to keep afloat – it certainly does me. Burning the candle at both ends can be very productive but it’s not a long term solution, and ring-fencing time for yourself is vital to stay sane and persevere with your big dream.
Describe your dream afternoon away from your business.
It’s the simple things for me – quality slowing down time is hard to come by. I love hanging out with my two girls and my husband and we recently inherited his grandfathers beloved T4 camper – some of our best times during the pandemic weekends we just took the van to a new spot, parked up with a picnic lunch, boiled up the kettle and played a board game or something. The van for me represents total simplicity – if there’s a dip in the sea, and a gin and tonic involved too then I would be extra happy!
What are your top 3, all time favourite films?
OUT OF AFRICA – I was born in Kenya, and the books of Karen Blixen are part of my family history, I’m a massive Meryl Streep fan too.
GONE WITH THE WIND – I started my career as a professional costume designer and it all began as a teenager when I became somewhat obsessed with period costume. I consumed everything I possibly could about all things historical wardrobe and started to recreate my own late into the night on an old Singer sewing machine my mum had bought when she knew Id caught the sewing bug. The film was a huge part of that learning – plus Scarlett O’Hara has such an incredible journey as a character – and she is certainly a woman who had grit!
COCO – I’m not normally a fan of animation and although I’ve seen a lot because of my kids, its not my go-to genre! This one is different though – the concept, the colour, the music – the hero’s journey, it makes me cry every time and is just a total joy to watch.
What is your favourite season in the St. Agnes Parish and why?
I love the Spring! Its a magical time when everything starts waking up, businesses come out of hibernation, the coast starts to come alive again, the days are brighter and longer and you have the whole summer season to come.
Basically for me it begins when Genki opens in March – and I’m there every week for a smoothie bowl – and life feels good, and calm, and friendly – and full of promise!
What are you asking for from Father Christmas this year?
Gosh I find this so hard to answer! I’m massively against the introduction of new stuff – and feel like I have everything that I need really in my family, and my home, and a business that gets my creative juices flowing and connects me with awesome people!
If I had to choose one thing – it wouldn’t be a physical thing. I would love to have more time to read, and for pleasure. It’s so hard with two small children, and a business to run, especially a digital one, to justify that time in the freneticism of everything.
I used to be such an avid book-worm, and worked as a bookseller back in the day, so to find a way to get back in touch with the magic of my imagination and the written word, would probably be priceless to me at this stage in my life.
Every year the children write to Father Christmas on tiny pieces of airmail paper and send the letters up the chimney in my in-laws beautiful Inglenook fireplace – perhaps I’ll give it a go myself this year!
You can find Annie in the Church Hall at the Christmas Market and at