Pair hope to have market sewn up

Debbie Bunn and Donna Auchterlounie with Karen Westgate.
Debbie Bunn and Donna Auchterlounie with Karen Westgate.

Two Whitley Bay friends are hoping to have the children’s textiles market all sewn up with their new venture.

Debbie Bunn and Donna Auchterlounie have set up Dotty and Dibble Sewing Academy after receiving help from North Tyneside Council’s The Business Factory.

They will provide sewing and textiles classes for children and have already secured contracts with two borough primary schools.

Donna, a fashion designer, realised there was a gap in the market for children’s sewing classes, while Debbie, who works within the NHS, developed a passion for sewing during a career break where she sold her student fashion collection in a pop-up concession in a local boutique.

The two school mums set up a monthly craft night at Whitley Bay’s Jam Jar Cinema. It proved such a success that to meet demand they extended their offering to include children’s courses.

They received help from The Business Factory in drawing up their business plan and accessing a number of training courses, receiving confidence and belief from their business advisor that their idea was a viable one.

Donna said: “The Business Factory provided some very practical advice on steps we should take in order to set up the joint business on a solid foundation.

“They offered us the opportunity to attend some fantastic courses which really helped us to position our offering and identified a number of potential business opportunities we should explore.

“But the best thing they provided us with was the confidence and belief in our idea and that what we hoped to achieve was not beyond reach, just required lots of hard work and effort.”

Debbie added: “Going in to schools has been a fantastic starting point for the business and we have been amazed by the positive response to what we are offering both from the schools but more so from the students who have signed up to our courses.

“We teach topical, project based five week long courses and are delighted that most our students have signed straight back up at the end of each course.”

The duo have plans in place to develop their offering to older children and young adults both within schools and though commercial outlets and developing sewing kits that can be sold to the domestic market.

Coun Frank Lott, cabinet member with responsibility for business support, said: “It is great to see people using their love and passion for an activity to set up their own sustainable business.

“The Business Factory is here to support such talented individuals to turn their passion in to a sound business and help them to realise their potential.”