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Fochabers shop has national award all sewn up

By Lorna Thompson

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A FOCHABERS sewing shop has been named the best independent retailer of its kind in Scotland.

The Sewing Shop, on the village High Street, came top of the shops in Sew Magazine's British Sewing Awards 2020.

Owners Jane and Alan Williams have been nominated for the Best Independent Retailer in Scotland for the past three years, making the finalists list on two occasions.

The award was finally bagged this year after a public vote, beating off stiff competition from a large independent Glasgow retailer, Mandors, and Karelia House, in Perthshire.

The Sewing Shop is the latest incarnation of the family business, started by Alan's dad in 1973, which included Elgin Sewing Centre.

Alan returned to the fold after some years in other jobs, and Jane, with her trained graphic designer's eye, led a rebrand of the business.

Prior to opening at their current site the couple ran two separate, related businesses on the High Street – Jane selling haberdashery at Number 29 and Alan at The Sewing Machine Shop. The two were merged under one roof in 2017.

Jane was a finalist for three Moray Business Women Awards in 2017 and the shop has been nominated for Best Independent Haberdashery in Scotland every year since.

Jane and Alan Williams, owners of The Sewing Shop in Fochabers, have won Best Independent Retailer in Scotland 2020 in the British Sew Awards. Picture: Becky Saunderson.
Jane and Alan Williams, owners of The Sewing Shop in Fochabers, have won Best Independent Retailer in Scotland 2020 in the British Sew Awards. Picture: Becky Saunderson.

Jane said the couple prided themselves on offering the personal touch. She said: "We always remember a face and a name, whether the customer is buying a high-end sewing machine or a reel of thread."

She added: "We are proud to have produced years of happy customers and look forward to continuing our work for years to come.

"Our love for sewing drives who we are and what we do.

"Together we wish to wholeheartedly thank every single individual who took time out to nominate and vote for us. It means the world to have that appreciation from not just locals, but supported by folks across the country.

"This is more than just a job to us. It's our passion and it's what we know about."

Jane said they had witnessed a resurgence of a "make do and mend" mentality throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and the popularity of TV shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee brought a new generation of sewing enthusiasts to browse their shelves and racks.

Jane said: "There's a big trend in bespoke clothing and buying clothes from charity shops then embellishing them or altering them to make them more funky.

"Interest in sewing seems to have skipped a generation. Grannies have passed on the interest to the younger generation who are picking it up again."

Jane said she would love to stock more Scottish-produced fabric lines and to perhaps one day create and sell her own range of fabrics.

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