A dancer who turned her lockdown side hustle into a nationwide soft furnishings business after catching the attention of a style influencer with more than a million followers now makes £12,000 a month.
Becca Thurston, 25, from Battersea, southwest London, works as a visual specialist for a homeware store and started her own business as a side project during the pandemic.
Becca, who lives with her partner, Harry, 27, who works in property, said: “I initially wanted to design my own cushions for our home because I couldn’t find what I was looking for.”
She added: “But I got a taste for it and decided to start a small side hustle making cushion designs.
“I’ve always had a passion for textiles, interior styling and designing products even from a really young age. I remember watching my granny being able to make everything from scratch and being inspired by her creativity.”
It was in the summer of 2019 that Becca first had the idea to design cushions for her home.
She said: “I was working as a hotel receptionist after struggling to secure a career in the dance world, which is what I had trained for and dreamed of for so long.
“I studied at the University of Chichester and graduated with a BA Honours in Dance in 2018, but it was in the summer of 2019 that I started testing with interior design.
“We had just moved into our first home and I’ve always had an interest in interiors and styling, so the initial challenge was to design and make all of the cushions for our house.”
She added: “I couldn’t find what I was looking for on the market so I thought I’d try to do it myself and I just really got a taste for it.
“I thought, ‘I love doing this, I’m going to go for it’.”
In November 2019, just four months before the first Covid lockdown, Becca set up her own business from home.
She said: “I thought I might as well turn to this interest of mine to help balance my mood but also see if it could help with my bank balance.
“Very quickly after designing and making cushions from my parents’ dining table, I had the brand name and took the leap and set up Sewn (formally Sewn by B).
“I knew I wanted to create a company that felt authentically British and sold a range of homeware items, with a focus on soft furnishing and featured my love of stripes.”
She added: “At first, I was making and selling cushion designs and my customers were mostly friends and family but over time, more people started to take notice.”
But her business quickly grew overnight after being spotted by style influencer Lydia Millen.
Becca said: “In May 2020, Lydia Millen found my Instagram.”
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw her follow me on Instagram and within the hour, she had purchased four of our Ayla cushions.
“Then I saw her social media post about it, and I was in shock. I sat and thought, ‘it’s all meant to be’. I was so grateful for her support.
“Within hours of her sharing on her social channels, I had thousands of orders and pounds in the bank. I felt such relief that finally, I was going to be able to support myself.”
With sales booming, Becca needed to take on staff.
“With everybody stuck at home due to lockdown, I think a lot of people were online and wanting to get things to make their home environment nice, which worked really well for me,” she said.
“It became too much to handle all by myself, so now I have a team of seamstresses to help with demand.
“I am really passionate about championing British craftsmen and women and where possible I always use British fabrics and suppliers.
“I look back now and can’t believe that within the first few months, I made £30k and that injection of orders and cash really set me off on the right path and quickly.”
Becca’s business now makes up to £12k a month, with her online shop now selling cushions, table linens, tea towels, homeware and seasonal products.
The 25-year-old has dreams of opening a physical store in west London and hopes to be able to focus on her business full-time.
She said: “This is still a side hustle as I’m still working as a visual specialist but I hope that in the future, this can become my full-time focus.”
And Becca is also passionate about giving back through her business.
She said: “£1 from every order is donated to a charity called Furnishing Futures, they support women who have fled domestic abuse and help furnish their homes.
“I also have a zero-waste policy, so any leftover scraps are repurposed for other collections or products, such as decorative pumpkins and other items throughout the year.”
Now Becca is excited about the future.
She said: “My family and friends have all been really supportive but I think they were gobsmacked to see how it’s actually taken off. It started as just a side hustle in lockdown and now my products are in people’s homes all over the UK.
“It wasn’t my first choice of a career and not my original plan, but I have to say it’s like everything has come together seamlessly. I can’t wait to see what 2023 holds for me and my side hustle.”
For the Sewn website, visit: www.sewn-london.com
And for Becca’s Instagram, visit: www.instagram.com/sewnlondon_
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