Careers in Sewing: Pattern magazine publisher Fibre Mood
Have you ever considered a Career in Sewing? Do you dream of ditching the 9-5 and pursuing your creative dreams? In this blog series we will be posting interviews for a range of different sewing jobs to give you a taste of what possibilities are out there. Today we interview Isabella who is founder and publisher of Fibre Mood pattern magazine.
We are really excited to now stock editions 4, 5 and 6 of the Fibre Mood sewing pattern magazine on our online shop.
Can you tell us about your job and where you work?
I always have to think of my job title, but it is ‘Managing Director’. I try to coordinate everything once the magazine is made, Teresa, as Creative Director coordinates the whole process of creating the patterns, the descriptions, the style advice, how to’s and choosing the fabric collection, etc.
I’m especially focused on the long term strategy and on daily basis with everything that has to do with building a community, marketing, collaborations with partners and fabric stores and exploring opportunities internationally, etc. We do have an office in the city center of Ghent, and our atelier is in Denderbelle, a small village half an hour driving from Ghent, where Teresa lives.
What is your background and how have you ended up working where you are?
When I was 5 years old I knitted my first pullover, and had a little sewing machine to make clothes for my puppets. Making things with my hands was my beloved way of spending my leisure time. But like all girls of my generation I also wanted to study. So I went to university to study literature and theatre science, while I was still sewing and knitting my own clothes. I worked in the culture scene for over 10 years, when a friend asked me: “Why don’t you do something with your sewing?”. This was the trigger for me to start thinking profoundly about it, since I noticed a lot of young woman had started to sew again. They would for sure encounter the same problem I had: the lack of modern sewing patterns with a very good explanation of how to make them. Out of my thinking process came ‘La Maison Victor’ (named after the street where I live in Ghent). I went with my concept to an editor and we launched it together. It was an instant success. It was as if women of all ages were waiting for it.
Since 2015 the editor ended up in difficult waters, selling titles and firing people. La Maison Victor was spared, but the editor wasn’t a safe haven anymore. Good people left the company, figures went down, except for La Maison Victor. Together with my right-hand Teresa, who drew all the sewing patterns, we asked for a management buyout in September 2017. Instead of taking our question seriously, we were fired in December 2017. Two weeks later La Maison Victor was sold to another editor. We both mourned the loss of our creation, but at the same time, in sorrow we found the courage and power to start over. Our story wasn’t finished at all, Teresa and I wanted to do so much more, bringing joy and enthusiasm to anyone who wanted to make her or his own stylish wardrobe. Fibre Mood was born in June 2018, a hybrid concept with basic information on paper and a very elaborated online platform, where like-minded people can find each other and all the necessary information to make a successful project. Today, after one year we welcome 25.000 Sewistas, selling Fibre Mood worldwide, and having the pleasure to serve subscribers in 22 countries. And it feels as if we are just starting ;-).
What do you do in a typical day?
I start every day with the orders in the webshop. I pass them to our fulfillment partner, an institution that works with disabled people. You can read more about them here. I’m really proud that we collaborate with them. And they are proud as well. The rest of my day always looks different. On Mondays we have a social media meeting: what do we post this week, is there a give away, what is the mood of the week, what will be written in the newsletter, is their extra content for the web (trend articles, interviews, …), a competition, etc? On Tuesdays we have content meetings: which patterns will be in the next magazine, what is the location of the next photoshoot? Which models do we see for the next magazine, etc; On Wednesdays I’m working from home and do in silence all my own to-dos. On Thursday we have marketing meeting and meetings with our conversation managers. Friday is my financial day. Invoices, payments, figures, etc. A very important part of every business.
What are the best and the worst bits?
Seeing every day so many beautiful creations from Sewistas with our patterns. They really inspire me and trigger me to make a pattern I wouldn’t have made at first. I love it!
The worst: in the beginning people struggled with the hybrid model we offered. After the launch of our first magazine, the reactions were so negative. People were lost, with only working descriptions online. We are the first to work in this way, and it really gave us stress: how can we convince people it is really a convenient way of working. We can give so much more information online and dig much deeper into every pattern. Luckily these reactions aren’t there anymore.
Did you always want a creative career?
Yes, and I’ve always had the luck to work in creative environments. And since La Maison Victor I created myself such an environment. I feel completely at home.
What qualifications, skills or experience did you need to get your job?
- Being stubborn and flexible at the same time. Being stubborn in what you want to achieve in the long term, in sticking to your values and vision, but at the same time being flexible to the needs of your audience and adapt your work to them.
- Listen well. What are people really complaining about? What are figures really telling you? Dig deeper and you will find a lot of answers.
- Like to work a lot: it never stops.
- Take care for yourself: since it never stops, you really need to block time to care for yourself, eat well, being with your family and friends. I could work day and night (and sometimes you need to), but on the long term this isn’t healthy.
- Have discipline.
What qualifications, skills or experience did you need to get your job? Have you continued to train since starting?
Yes, I’m always reading books about the topics management, community marketing, social media, etc. Things change quickly and at the same time they don’t. I need to know what is trending, and what is fitting our project. I do not want to jump on every trend, only when it gives an additional value to Fibre Mood.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to get into the same thing as you?
Once you have a good idea, you have to think it through and ask a lot of questions: why do you want to do it, what is your vision, what is your USP, what can you add to the market? Is there an audience for your idea? Is there a need? What are the values of your audience: do they share the same as you?
And then, find partners. Do not try to set up things purely on your own. Find at least one sparring partner, who has a different character than you. If you are a dreamer (like me), find someone with feet on the ground (like Teresa), so there is a balance at the end ;-).
If you could do anything else what would it be?
What is your favourite sewing tool and why?
Actually, my sewing machine. It makes me happy hearing my machine. I find it very cosy and relaxing. But it is clear I’m the only one at home who finds this. My husband and kids moved the sewing machine to the attic where I have my sewing room now!
What are you sewing right now/will be your next project?
I just finished a Vienna Dress and one of these days will start the Faye Dress (of Edition 6) and dungarees for my oldest son (5 years old) (it is an own pattern I made long time ago).
Follow Fibre Mood social media here: Instagram
Fibre Mood sewing magazines
Take a closer look at Fibre Mood sewing pattern magazine Editions 4, 5 and 6 here.