Chances are, you will have seen at least one Jennifer Lauren Patterns design made up in the sewing internet world. The Bronte top is super popular, with it’s overlapped shoulder detail and fittedstyle. Kat caught up with Jennifer from Jennifer Lauren Vintage to talk about her pattern label and where she gets her inspiration for her pretty designs.
Hi Jennifer! First up, tell us all a bit about your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
I definitely lean towards the styles of the 40s-60s but with a modern edge. Though I like to think people can interpret my designs to make them whatever they want them to be, whether that’s casual weekend wear, office wear or evening wear.
I also strive to provide people with designs that fit into their current wardrobe and that they can make again and again, with lots of options for translating the designs.
How did your come up with the name for your label?
I originally started blogging under a completely different name, but as my content evolved and I became more focussed on sewing with vintage patterns (as opposed to sourcing and wearing actual vintage pieces), using my full first and middle name made more sense. My birth name will never change, but my content inevitably will (and is, especially with the birth of our first bebe), as I do change and grow my focus, I have at least one aspect that shouldn’t outgrow me.
We’d love to know the story behind your business. What inspired you to create and sell patterns? How did it all start?
There isn’t really a big story behind it, in fact, I never actually intended to release a pattern at all!
I was about to start teaching sewing classes and while writing the content for my ‘Introduction to Sewing’ class, I found that I was really struggling to find a pattern that fit into what I wanted to teach in the allocated time frame (and within budget). Which is when I got the idea to make my own.
Long story short, making a pattern from scratch is an awful lot of work, both in the drafting of the pattern, grading it, writing and making instructional illustrations and in terms of getting all the techy bits to work (my poor husband!). After all that work, it seemed a shame that only a few people might have access to it, so I thought I may as well list it in my long-closed Etsy shop and tentatively announce on my blog that it was there if people wanted it.
The response was really overwhelmingly amazing and it gave me the confidence to release another pattern and all of a sudden my pattern line was born!
And looking forwards, where would you like your business to be in five years time?
I’m slowly learning to redefine success for myself and my business, and having just finished my first year, I’ve learnt a lot but I know that I still have so much more to learn. There have been definite ups and downs, but at the end of the day, I’d love to still be doing it in five years time! For the moment, I’m just trying to enjoy it.
Having said that, before I started some maternity leave, I’d been working on producing paper patterns which I’ll get back to in October and then look at starting to wholesale those towards the end of the year.
I’d love for my business to be supporting my family while giving my husband and I the flexibility to spend our time watching our first child grow up and doing the things we love. My goal isn’t to be the biggest or most famous or to make millions of dollars. At the end of the day, I pride myself on providing well thought out sewing patterns, fantastic customer service and the best sewing experience I can.
Where do you do all your work?
I do all my work in my home sewing room/office. We bought a small 1940’s 3 bedroom house in February last year and have spent the past year renovating. Unfortunately, my sewing room is the last un-finished room and I’m not entirely sure when we will get to it. At least the paint scheme isn’t as bad as some of the rooms in the house were!
What’s your favourite part of releasing a new design?
Releasing a new pattern is always fraught with a bit of anxiety – just because I like the design and have spent loads of time perfecting it, doesn’t mean anyone else will, and learning to not take it personally is something I’ve definitely had to do over the last year.
But when I do release a pattern, my favourite part is the first sale and the first feedback – whether that feedback is good or bad, it’s all relevant to how you move forward. As much as I love the buzz of amazing feedback every time, I also know that to grow and to provide people with the best sewing experience, you need that constructive feedback. I do get 99% of it before I release a pattern though from my amazing testers – I tell them not to hold back!
Thinking of your gorgeous designs, what’s your favourite of all your designs so far, and why?
Awwww shucks ladies – that is a hard question because I do really like them all (though I am supposed to considering I designed them I guess!).
Right now, I do really love my last design, the Felicity Dress, but since I’ve just recently given birth, I can’t actually fit into any of the Felicity dresses I’ve made! So, comfy knits are where it’s at for me right now, which makes my next favourite the Bronte Top. I’ve got a little tutorial on how to turn it into a Maternity top too, so it’s even more comfy for growing bumps or nursing.
Who or what inspires you, either with your designs or with your business? (Or both!)
This is probably going to be a bit of a cliched response, but I get inspired by all sorts of things, and most of the time, it’s when I’m not really looking for it. in regards to designs, it could be a small detail on the outfit of a person as they walk past that I’m drawn too, or I’ll be searching for something to wear or stitch up that’s in my head, but that I can’t find anywhere else.
Business wise, I get really inspired by other lady business owners, and not just those in a similar field. Anyone who is successfully (how ever they define success) running their own business is always such a great confidence builder and motivator for me, especially if I’m having a bad day (or week!!). It’s nice to know that even though I largely work alone, I’m not actually alone. Having people surrounding you, doing what they love, and who you can reach out to with an email or Skype date when you’re having a mini meltdown, is a great thing.
Do you have any new patterns coming out soon? Any hints you can give us?
I do have plans for more patterns, but they are going to be a wee while away at this stage since I’m taking some maternity leave.
Initially I had thought I’d do a maternity pattern, but I realised that I was being really optimistic with that one and that my focus is really more on making patterns that can be easily adapted and interpreted in lots of different ways. Making a pattern for one specific purpose doesn’t really fit into that idea, so the next pattern is going to be another knit that is breast-feeding friendly, while not masquerading as a maternity/breastfeeding pattern. I started working on it before I took maternity leave and will get back to it in a few months time once my leave is up and the bebe and I have worked out a routine where I get some sleep and a few hours to work each day. We’re currently in discussions…
Thanks so much for talking with us about your designs and your business Jennifer! It was lovely hearing about your story. And also – a huge congrats on your new arrival! So exciting!! 🙂
Have you made any Jennifer Lauren Vintage patterns? Which one is your favourite?