Monday, 24 September 2012


The Critical Decision Shirt

grey superhero shirt 1

Last summer the lease came up for a very small shop near our house.  Shops hardly ever come up locally, this is very much a residential area.  I had a look around and found out a bit more about rates and costs from the current tenant, but then I went on holiday and it was snapped up by the time I came back.  Maddeningly, the new tenants never did anything with the premises (as in they never even unboarded the door) and every time I walked by I was a bit peeved.

grey superhero shirt 2

Friend Sarah and I had a business meeting on Friday (that means we went to the pub and I talked about work a lot), and I was going on about 'the shop that got away' as I am wont to do.  And then I walked by today and it's available again.

grey superhero shirt 4

Now- some things have changed since it first caught my attention.  Back then, I hadn't yet converted the spare bedroom into my sewing room so the appeal of a dedicated space was greater.  And the rent is 15% higher than advertised last year. 

grey superhero shirt 3

The space is small , probably not that much bigger than my sewing room.  But it's dedicated space and appealingly not-in-my-house; I hope I would be more productive and focused away from housey distractions. And Jamie and Maia won't want to share a room forever.

grey superhero shirt 8

It's funny how you can fixate on something being The Answer when it's not available and then have the bejesus scared out of you when it is! It would definitely be more of a studio than a shop as such, although I'm sure there could be some shopping-type events.

Pros of shop-dom:
  • Dedicated space
  • Makes it feel more like a 'real' business than working at home, and I would pull my boots up accordingly
  • Could run small workshops / classes
  • Reclaiming an extra room in our house
Cons of shop-dom:
  • Cost of lease immediately and dramatically affects profit margin
  • Not a lot of extra space than my no-extra-cost sewing room in the house
Tldr: risky but appealing.  What say you, hive mind?


  1. Love the shirt! As to business,well let me see...if the $$ is there for the lease and doesn't cut into what you need to live on money wise and if it will be increasing your profits in a reasonable amount of time, go for it?

  2. Jamie's new shirt is beyond awesome.

    And so would a dedicated studio be. I think it comes down to the math. IMHO, every decision in life is a cost/benefit analysis. Are the costs of renting the studio outweighed by the benefits of having your own space? Because those would be some amazing benefits...

  3. I say do it! I also say the 15% increase is a bluff. Offer them less and see what the response is.

  4. *dons Guardian Psychologist-style glasses* If I said you HAD to take on the shop, how would you feel? Now, if I said you could NEVER take on the shop, how would you feel? Hmmmmmm.....

    1. Very good questions! I will ponder that for awhile :)

  5. I agree with both KID, MD as to the cost/benefit analysis. And if you decide on doing it, offer less - maybe not the full 15% less, but that 15% jump seems a little fishy given that they never did anything with it thus did not improve the area in any way by their presence. I'm rather sure they *hurt* the surrounding area with their big boarded up door.

    And Jamie's shirt = SUPA! can I get one in a grown-woman size?

  6. Ooh how exciting! Can you make them a cheeky offer on the rent? Or take it on a really short term lease so you have a get out if its not working out financially. Its def worth asking with the way the market is at the moment. Loving that super hero t shirt!

  7. If you'd be more productive- enough to justify the cost- then go for it!! And the added benefit of hosting classes or having a friend come bug you with coffee is just icing =)

  8. Would you need 2 of everything? Don't you do lots of sewing at night so you'd have to traipse lots of stuff back and forth? As the area is residential is there enough passing traffic to bring the extra customers to bring the extra dough or would it be more of a studio space that workshops could subsidise? Just some ideas. It does seem spookily available at the right time, no? I find it sooo distracting working at home, esp. with kiddo around, damned near impossible. A change is as good as a rest so they say. (It's quite exciting and just a little intimidating I'm sure). There's a tiny school closing down just round the corner from me, I do dream of converting it into a sewing school / shop / just gorgeous place. Does it make you dream? x And yes, the t-shirt is amazing - as usual! x

  9. Do it! If only so I can visit one day and freak you out with my creepy stalker knowledge of your family and what you look like in a wonder woman bathing suit before revealing my true identity.

    On a less childish note, you would get major tax-reducing benefits too, right? And you could write off any new equipment?

  10. As you say, they will not wish to share a room forever. It may not come up again and then you'll be left with no where to sew (or a piffly little corner of the dining room table like i have!). Obviously do the costs juggling (thats v important)but as the psycologist in the list says - how would you feel if it never came up again and you'd missed your chance! (and your stuck on the end of the dining room table with fabric pileing up in the fruit bowl!) x

  11. What Kookatskate said. Plus, have you investigated other studio possibilities to compare prices? There may well be small studios tucked away nearby that you don't know about, might be worth getting in touch with a few local commercial letting agents to see what else is on the market. Where would you do your non-businessy sewing? Would you still allocate yourself a sewing corner at home for un-renfrew / superhero swimming costume time or would you be happy to go out in the cold and dark of an evening to your studio and pay to heat and light it?

  12. As above plus...Things being as they are in the UK at the moment business growth is generally fairly poor, I would offer a lower rent or negotiate on the lease length so you have a get out if needed. Much of the time a price is put out to gauge interest. You are not likely to get passing trade in a residential area so you would need to be sure that workshops and classes as well as on line sales would cover your rent. I really don't envy your decisoin. Good luck with deciding.

    1. Ooh, I would come to a workshop if you ran one!

  13. If you decide to go for it definitely negotiate on rent! Offer them last year's price or hold out for a decent (3 months or so) rent free period if they won't budge sufficiently on the headline rental.

    Whatever you decide - best of luck!

  14. It sounds like you're leaning towards a new yes.
    Before you created a sewing room at home did you look around for other space in the area? If you didn't, is the fact that this has come up now really a *need* for you.

    If you really do need space out of the house does it have to be a shop front (I'm guessing, but I imagine them to be more expensive than studio space.) You don't need a shop front to run workshops.

    Would you have the cost of fitting it out or could you use the stuff from the sewing room.

    Overall, I think an away from the house space sounds like a natural progression for your business.

  15. The ability to have workshops or meet with clients for fittings is not to be discounted.

    Here is my general advice on things like this, to get at what you really want. Flip a coin and look at the results. Do you feel elated? Crushed?

  16. i've been reading your blog for a while now and it's so fun to see your kids grow up. i just wanted to let you know how lovely they both are and their sweet spirits are evident in your photographs of them.

  17. Have you seen inside it - is it suitable? What about the parking in front or nearby for browsers and class attendees?

    Negotiate on the lease, try for last years price or perhaps even lower with the incentive of some sort of share of profits? They'll be keen to get someone in for the place to be kept warm and secure.