Why did you sign up to the Women and Broadband programme?
Sass was attracted to Swift because she found herself at a particular point in her business where, after having done it for 20 years, she needed a boost, to revive and rethink. She particularly liked the idea that Swift was an all-women programme and therefore the participants were likely to understand how tricky it is to balance work and home life and it came along just at the right time.
Sass had been a couturier for 20 years mainly working for other people and saw that they were getting all the glory and the cachet of her work. She wanted to change that and make it her own business…
“I left a job and found myself completely adrift and so Swift was just perfect to pull me back together, to rejuvenate what I was doing and remind me why it is that I do what I do and why I want to do it.”
How have you benefited personally?
“I've particularly valued the social media sessions. I’m at that age where it’s kind of passed me by and I wondered, why do I need it? It’s been really enlightening and it’s provided me with a new tool for an old business to enable me to move forward, to promote my business, to connect with people who might be interested in seeing what I do. My skills have improved beyond measure to the extent where I feel I can compete with other businesses across the realms of social media. I was completely ignorant of how to do this before but am now addicted and it is paying the sort of dividends I could only hope for before I joined Swift.”
“The other side of the programme that’s been really useful to me is the networking and the peer groups. When you work for yourself you can be very alone, you can lose sight of so many things, both professionally and personally, so meeting up with other women who understand these things made me realise that I was not alone in my concerns and reminded me that I am okay and that I’m moving forward. In fact we are all moving forward together. I got a lot of good feedback and support which is ongoing. I was also able to give support and feedback which was well received.”
“I learned some valuable lessons from other peoples’ experiences which I have put into practice. Above all though, I have been able to make contact with like-minded women who have the same trepidations and insecurities as I do, mostly borne from working in isolation as a sole trader, which have been minimised and put into perspective as opposed to allowing them to take over and diminish my potential.”
“Coming on the Swift project has been great because I've always had two strands to my personality. I've had all the couture training and experience and those skills are very formal, very professional, but they didn't ever express my passions and thoughts. Swift has helped me to focus on the fact that I don’t want to do that anymore. One of the workshops we did – the one page business plan – was described as a contract between yourself as the employer and yourself as the employee. The things that I was saying to the facilitator just weren't ringing true. When I said them out loud, they just didn't make sense to me anymore, so I went home and did the whole workshop again. I realised that I wanted to approach my work in a different way, by decorating the surface of the fabric, as opposed to making individual clothes. I now want to be famous for making fabrics that can then be made into clothes, or wall pieces or accessories using the same skills but a completely different remit. My work has changed from producing just another ivory wedding dress to being an expression of my own interest, my own thoughts and comments on social context.”
“The project has been invaluable to me. I have met some wonderful people with some great businesses. If more women could be encouraged to engage with the world of business, given support when other people think they shouldn't even bother and give their ideas a try then the GDP would not be the problem it currently is. This country used to lead the world in so many fields that have all but died out when manufacturing moved abroad. Times are changing and foreign manufacturing is not what it used to be, industries are returning home, where they should be and women can contribute so much to this trend that it would be stupid not to support them to enter into business.”
What happened next or what are you planning to do next?
“My goals as far as the project goes have been achieved: I wanted to attend the sessions, meet other people in the same boat and learn some tools for improving my chances in business.”
“As far as my business goes, they are ongoing but I now have a much clearer view of my short and long term goals and how to go about achieving them. I am also more aware of the wider context and have a better toolkit to deal with it all. I have much more confidence in approaching retail outlets and how my pricing works.”
“My business has diversified greatly in the last year which is why I needed to join the Swift Project. I have transferable skills and wanted to make the most of them. I am now producing much more mainstream items for sale alongside my bespoke commissions.”