Suffering through the grief of losing her mother and main support person 10 years ago, Suzie Quartermain used sewing and creativity as a way to escape the devastating loss she was feeling. She was inspired to start selling her beautiful products and Avie Designs was born. Alongside her full-time teaching role, she has channelled her love and knowledge of early childhood development and created a place to purchase a large range of developmentally appropriate goodies for your children, along with some of her gorgeous hand-made creations. Here, Suzie shares her business journey so far, the challenges she has overcome, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
My Mum. She taught me to sew when I was a child. 10 years ago, she was tragically killed in a hit and run whilst on holidays. I inherited her fabric, machines and other treasures so I started sewing. One day after hours of sewing, I realised I hadn’t cried, been in pain or even thought about the accident for that period of time. It became my therapy. I started getting more and more creative and decided I’d like to start selling my products.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I just began selling my bits and pieces locally on Facebook. Then I started my page Avie Designs and began doing markets. I have been a single working parent all this time, so my business has grown very slowly. It has also evolved a lot. I have made just about anything you can find on Pinterest!
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Following Covid 19 lockdowns (although I am in another one as I write this), I began to think beyond my day job and discovered Global Sisters. I decided I wanted to hone in on a particular product (my gift boxes), which meant I could still hand-make items but also add other gorgeous items to the boxes. I did the Global Sisters course and for the first time in my life, I felt like someone believed in me. Total strangers cheered me on, so I went for it.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
It is getting easier as my daughter is now 17. I have been a single parent since she was a baby so I was too busy to sew for years. In the last 10 years, I have been able to sew when my daughter was playing or now going out (or hiding in her room!). I work full time as a teacher so people always ask me where I find time to sew. Sewing and creativity was an escape from grief. Now it is an escape from stress and real life. I make time.