Stitch timing makes a successful business

November 20, 2019 BY

So many colours: Alison Cole, world renown embroidery expert, matching thread to her design in her studio shop come classroom. Photos: CAROL SAFFER

A MAN walked into the embroidery shop where Alison Cole’s work was on display and slapped a fifty dollar note on the counter saying, ‘I will take that embroidery on the wall.’

Ms Cole laughed and said the kit to make it is worth $60, it cost $180 to frame and there is 600 hours work in it.

“If you want to give me $1500 for it, I might consider selling it,” she said.

He said he was serious and willing to part with his $50. She said, “So am I, so get out.”

Ms Cole blames her mother for her all-consuming love of embroidery.

She said her mother was a seamstress who had her stitching when she was about eight years old.

“When I was nearly 15, I got my hands on some Semco tablecloths that someone was going to throw out and that was when I started stitching like a woman possessed,” she said. “I stitched every day, on the school bus to and from home and everyone thought I was mad.”

Alison Cole working on her latest creation, which will take many hours to complete.

Stump and gold embroidery are her specialities.

Stump work is three dimensional and gold is regalia or ecclesiastic stitching using metal thread.

“I like both of them because they make you sit up and look at them, they make you take notice,” Ms Cole said.

After leaving school she worked as an office manager and after her children were born she became stay at home mum and resumed stitching like a mad woman.

As a member of the Embroiders Guild, word got around about her exquisite work which resulted in the next stage of her career as an embroidery teacher.

With no formal qualifications Ms Cole is self-taught and highly sought after to pass on her skills and excellence to the global embroidering community.

“I spend a lot of time all over the world teaching embroidery,” she said. “Up to six weeks in America, two to three weeks in Canada and a couple of weeks in England on a regular basis.”

Ms Cole was also the approved embroiderer for the Australasian region for Christian Dior and up until three years ago was handling commission work regularly from the French fashion house.

Now days, her business selling embroidery kits worldwide is marketed through her website, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

As Ms Cole is working on a design, she photographs it as she goes and puts it up online.

“I am a commercial artist. I am very practical in how I go about what I design,” she said.

By the time it is finished and ready to go out as a kit four weeks later she said, “I will have sold 25 kits before we even start packing the first kit.”