With thirty years-experience working in the textile fashion industry as a fabric designer and a degree in Historic Preservation & Conservation, it is no surprise that Maria Maidment’s passion is working with vintage historical fabrics, embroidery and goldwork.
While living in Lincolnshire, where she completed her degree, Maria worked with the National Trust as an Assistant Conservator, alongside a role as an Assistant at a local museum. During the lockdown she was furloughed and at this point she made the decision to make use of her skills and knowledge to set up a business – Old Maid New.
“I wanted to share my knowledge with others to help them to get creative and so I started to sell historic stitching kits online,” Maria explained. She began to promote her kits on the Create and Craft TV channel, where in 15 minutes she sold out completely. “During my degree I did many presentations which helped to give me the confidence for these shows which continued, eventually moving to another bigger, channel, HobbyMaker.”
Maria expanded her range to include a larger range of kits and woodblocks which were particularly popular with parents and children. She also used her experience as a parchment tutor of 15 years to produce embroidered paper products and a range of threads. At this point, she was referred to the CPCA Growth Hub Start and Grow programme by her local Jobcentre Plus for their workshops and the grant scheme.
She got in touch and was “delighted” with the support they provided. She describes the advice they provided her with as “really valuable to help me focus on what I needed to do to put my business on a more professional footing.”
“The Start and Grow grant money meant that I could purchase a camera and overhead stand to create better quality video content which is really important to both my sales strategy and the profile of the business,” Maria commented.
It also saved her the travelling time to the HobbyMaker studios, which were a three-hour drive away. She is now able to create the videos for the tv channel which remain popular and are a great sales tool, and also tutorials and workshops for customers to share her knowledge and skill with others. She combines this activity with face-to-face craft events where sales are very strong due to her profile on the TV channel and online. The grant money also helped her to purchase a marquee to use at these events.
“Mine is quite an unusual business with its roots in heritage crafts and embroidery and so it was crucial that I could find a way of building awareness with my target market. The video production was a key part of this, and I am grateful to the Start and Grow programme for helping me to achieve it.”
Part of the grant money also helped her to purchase a cutting machine for fabric as well as an upgrade to her website plus the marketing activity to help promote it to a wider audience. This included adverts in relevant craft magazines to sell her products which she would not have been able to do without the grant money.
“The grant application process was helpful in terms of pulling together the financial information related to the business which I would have needed to do anyway. The 1:1 coaching helped me to collate the information and present it in the required way,” stated Maria.
She has big plans to move her business out of her house and into premises which she is now exploring along with ideas for additions to her product range. She is also keen to develop her contacts within the heritage sector with a view to promoting and selling her products in their shops. “The future looks positive, and I am excited to be my own boss and running a successful business. If sales continue to grow, then I could potentially take on an apprentice and look at sharing my knowledge with others through lecturing at a college.”
The Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority and its partners received £2,529,600 funding from the Community Renewal Fund (CRF) for this business support and grant programme (Start and Grow), which was delivered across Peterborough, Fenland and Huntingdonshire. It helped to equip new and existing enterprises with the business skills they need for sustainable growth and creating new jobs. The project was also supported and in partnership with Peterborough City Council and Fenland and Huntingdonshire District Councils.