It’s our pleasure today to feature Allie Olson, the creative force behind pattern distribution website Indiesew. Since its launch in May, Indiesew has taken the garment-sewing world by storm. It’s a delightfully simple premise: provide a hub to shop for independent patterns so that folks don’t have spend hours Googling to try to find them, and then offer a bit of community space for sewists to share and offer tips/details about their creations. It’s awesome.
I started following Indiesew shortly after we started our respective sites, and it was only in the last couple of months that I learned that Allie is a fellow Boulderite. I knew I had to meet up with her and see if she would be willing to come on RST to share her story and insights into the online pattern world. (Bonus: it was really nice to meet her in person, and we’ll definitely have to get together again soon for some sew-time. Local sewists FTW!)
What’s your background, Allie?
I grew up in Montana and learned how to sew at a young age. My mom is a quilting artist, so I grew up with it! I went to college at Portland State University for Finance, and after I graduated I went into accounting for public agencies. I ended up deciding that I had a hard time working for other people (ha!) and so I ended up getting my MBA in Entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado.
How did you come up with the concept for Indiesew?
Steve [Herschleb, Indiesew’s co-founder and technical “brains”] was a classmate of mine at CU, and it was about six months after we graduated in 2013 that we came up with the idea for Indiesew. As a sewist, I noticed that other people crafting garments worked on so many different platforms (Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, etc.). It was hard to find what other sewists had done with patterns. I came up with an idea for a pattern app where we could share our creations, and then Steve encouraged me to flesh out the idea. Now we have the social network aspect, but we’re also a distributor for indie patterns.
You’ve been really busy since May! What have been some of the biggest challenges and surprises since you launched?
There was a learning curve for figuring out how to use the blogger network. Sewing blogs are huge, and we’ve recently started partnering with some of them to feature our patterns and maximize our exposure. It’s been a challenge to “break in” to the industry, and getting traffic via social media has definitely been a longer process than we anticipated. I’ve also been really challenged by the lifestyle of owning my own business. It’s hard work being an entrepreneur, and I find myself thinking about work all the time. I’m working on having some “me” time, though!
We’ve also been really surprised and encouraged by the support we’ve gotten. Hey June and Imagine Gnats signed up to work with us right away, and they’ve both been huge supporters and fabulous to work with. I also can’t say enough nice things about Abby Glassenberg at While She Naps, who has offered a lot of guidance and also promoted us in the context of our readiness for the VAT changes.
What’s on the horizon for Indiesew?
We release seasonal collections of curated, modern patterns four times per year, and then as we grow we’ll start to release more mini-collections as well. Our spring collection is coming out on February 16, and we’ll be co-sponsoring Selfish Sewing Week in March with Imagine Gnats and Kollabora. We’re keeping busy!
Right Sides Together is excited to be joining Indiesew’s blogger network! We’ll be reviewing and writing about our favorite patterns beginning next month, and can’t wait to get stitching. Thanks, Allie!