Sew Brum Meet-Up: Interview with Lauren Guthrie

Are you signed up for the SewBrum meet-up taking place on 04th October yet? If it seems like an age since I first mentioned it on the blog that’s because it has been! I first posted about it back in July as I couldn’t wait any longer to break the news, but the meet-up is now almost upon us. Over 60 people (listed here) have signed up to attend so far.

On the day of the meet-up we’ll be meeting in Birmingham and (after a trip to Birmingham’s fabric shops) travelling by bus to Moseley Village, home of Guthrie & Ghani (On a side note Phil is finding the thought of 60+ sewists taking over a bus highly amusing…). If you haven’t visited Guthrie & Ghani before the shop is absolutely gorgeous and there’s been lots of exciting things happening at the shop this year – including becoming Liberty Art Fabrics stockists back at the start of the year and the impending release of Lauren’s book Learn to Sew with Lauren on 01st September.

Want to know more? Well you’re in luck as Lauren Guthrie found the time to answer a few questions:

Lauren Guthrie

Thanks for inviting me over to your blog for a chat Charlotte. I’m so excited for the Sew Brum meet up in October and to welcome everyone to the shop!

Could you tell us a bit more about Guthrie & Ghani?

I opened Guthrie & Ghani with my husband Ayaz in April 2013 after spending just over a year completely renovating the building the shop is in.
We stock an ever-growing collection of beautiful fabrics including cottons prints, jerseys, wools, ponte romas, viscose, and Liberty Tana Lawn. We have loads of deliveries of Autumn/Winter fabrics in September too!
We also stock hand knitting yarns and a huge selection of Prym Haberdashery, threads, bag hardware, indie patterns, books and magazines.

A lot of meet-up attendees won’t have visited Moseley before. Could you tell us why you decided it was the right location for the shop?

Moseley is a really lovely little suburb of South Birmingham. We are just in the centre – called ‘the village’ – and there are lots of really lovely cafes, bars and restaurants around.
The area has long been known to have creative vibes and lot of creatives from artists and photographers to actors and musicians all love living here.

Could you tell us about the shop team. Who will customers meet when they visit?

Including me, Lauren, we have Lucy, Vanessa and Rachael who work in the shop. Occasionally Ayaz, my husband, helps out too and tries to chat the chat. Try asking him a technical question just for a giggle – he always does his best to get down with the lingo!

Guthrie & Ghani

There are so many great fabric / pattern companies, how do you decide what to stock?

I decided to just stock indie patterns when I first opened the shop and over the past year we have really increased our collection. I think it’s really nice to support small businesses when you are a small business yourself. I always find the individuality of the designs much more appealing too and the online communities around that are great.

Do you have a good sense of what your customers will buy – do they sometimes still surprise you?

There are always surprises in retail – but that’s one of the really fun things about it. I’ve feel like I’ve got to know my customers much better over the last year but we have brand new visitors all the time too so there is always something new to learn which helps keep things really fresh.

What are you excited about in the shop right now ?

I’m really excited about sewing with thicker winter fabrics and getting my teeth into some projects that are slow burns instead of quick summer tops and dresses. I always get so cold in the winter and have to layer up – but want to try and keep it handmade this year!

Guthrie & Ghani

What are your all time best sellers?

The best selling pattern since we opened is the Colette Laurel Dress. I think it’s just such a great easy basic for people so newbies and more experienced peeps both love it.
Overall we sell more fabric than anything else and cottons with smaller pattern repeats tend to be more popular. The best selling Liberty Lawn we have had so far was the Jonathon print from last season. It was navy blue with white swirls – meant to be like pencil sharpenings inspired by the stationary department in Liberty.

Was designing sewing patterns for ‘Learn to Sew with Lauren’ a new learning experience for you?

I have manipulated and altered lots of pre existing patterns in the past, but starting from scratch is a whole different challenge. A lot of patience is required as there are so many trial runs and tweaks to be done until you get things just the way you had planned. I really enjoy it though and it appeals to the maths geek in me.

Do you still enjoy fabric shopping?

I get to fabric shop all the time when I buy the stock for the shop, but yeh I do still really enjoy going to other fabric shops too. It’s always nice to see new scenery and get different ideas and inspiration.

Guthrie & Ghani

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