Charlotte Harding meets up with an Eastbourne mum whose business was started by accident.
Sewing seems to be in Naida Crystal’s blood.
“My mother taught me to sew when I was really young so I have always been able to make my own clothes,” the Eastbourne mum of two explains. “I was quite small growing up so when I was a teenager I was still in children’s clothes so I would make my own, and my mum had always made her own clothes as well.”
Naida set up her business Handmade by Naida Crystal four and a half years ago when her daughter Amber was born.
“The business started by accident really,” she smiles.
“I just started making her clothes little skirt and vest sets and leggings out of old jersey dresses.
“I posted them on Instagram, this was before anyone was really using it, and then friends asked me to make some for them, and then friends of friends and it grew and grew.
“I think back to those skirt sets though and I cringe, but I am proud of the jeggings I was just starting out so my work has just got better and better.”
Through her business Naida makes clothes for babies up to eight years old, her collection includes the Valentina dress which includes a cut out heart at the back and raglan tops featuring different prints.
“My best seller especially this time of year is anything using tartan people just love it and I get a lot of orders throughout the year that feature tartan,” she explains.
“The Valentina is also really popular.”
Naida did a degree in silversmithing and jewellery but did a top up course in corsetry
“I really enjoyed the course and I do wonder sometimes why I didn’t do a textiles degree in the first place,” she explains.
“With what I make now I do use elements from the corsetry course such as the panelling for pieces I make and putting in inserts such as the lace hearts and things, so some elements do copy over.”
As a mum to Amber, four and a half, and Jasper, one, Naida says there is no way she can get anything done when they are awake.
“Jasper only naps for like 20 minutes now so I will get up at 5am,” she explains.
“I work for a couple of hours before they wake up and then work in the evening or go to bed late.”
The pieces are made in batches so Naida will cut out all the pieces one day, then sew certain bits over the next day or two. She uses three different machines so for her it makes sense to do it that way.
“I can put something together in about 20 to 30 minutes so I have got it down to an art now,” she smiles.
Selling through her website Naida has sent orders to America, Dubai, China and Canada all of which she says is ‘amazing’.
“I have seen people out and about in my pieces which is cool especially when they don’t know you, it is surreal,” she says.
She also uses Instagram as a ‘working diary’ while admitting that she used it before anyone really did.
The website has a number of items in stock in different sizes and Naida can also do custom pieces.
“Some people want my designs in particular fabric or matching items for their children,” she explains.
“I like about three weeks to turn them around in but if I have the fabric but I can it around pretty quick if desperate.
“I can also do made to measure but have the stock which I tend to send out.”
As she has been sewing for a number of years it seems that childhood dreams can come true.
“I always hoped when I was younger that I would be a designer,” she recalls, “but I never thought I would be.”
Naida is offering etc readers 15 per cent off any purchases up until January 1, 2019 just enter the code ETC
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