Rebecca Page is a great example of someone who has turned their hobby into a thriving business. Keen on sewing since childhood, Rebecca started drafting her own digital sewing patterns after she was disillusioned with the traditional store-bought offering. Now her easy-to-sew patterns, with a focus on excellent fit, are just one part of the growing online business www.rebecca-page.com that includes fabrics, supplies, learning and a monthly subscription.
Co-founder Janine Manning complements Rebecca’s skills and together these two are truly disrupting the global sewing industry ‘one stitch at a time’. With a community of 800,000, highly active and engaged Facebook groups, 300+ brand ambassadors and 150+ contributing educators, the ecosystem helps engage and retain customers in a unique way.
Rebecca Page serves a female-centric target market by doing things differently than other start-ups. The company not only has a female board and a remote-based, flexible, female team, but over half of the investors are female.
An entrepreneur by heart, Rebecca is a huge advocate for moving away from fast fashion to beautifully fitting hand-made clothes.
Where did the idea for rebecca-page.com come from?
I started to design and sell digital sewing patterns on Etsy while I was on maternity leave. When my designs began to sell, I started to think about whether I could turn my love of sewing into a sustainable and successful business. As a New Zealander (Kiwi!) living near London, I signed up, in January 2018, to a group 12-week start-up program run by the New Zealand Business Women’s Network. As I progressed through the programme, we identified that there was a huge opportunity to digitally disrupt the old-fashioned, traditional sewing market. Janine Manning, the mentor of the group, joined forces with me in March 2018, we registered Rebecca Page Ltd, and the rest is history!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’ve always been quite disciplined at dealing with day-to-day tasks and this means that they don’t build up and become difficult to manage as deadlines approach. The business has scaled quickly, which meant we had to make the conscious decision to pull my fingers out of every pie! Building a capable team around me gives me the confidence to ‘let go’. This means I have time to work on strategic projects that have the potential to add exponential value.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Janine and I talk about our ideas first up, and then we have a clear division of skills to move forward. I studied Computer Science and Psychology at university, so I focus on tech and marketing. Janine is a qualified accountant with an MBA, so she deals with finance and planning. We all work remotely at Rebecca Page, so we try to meet for a day a month to focus on future ideas – this hasn’t been easy during the pandemic!
What’s one trend that excites you?
The move away from fast-fashion to beautifully fitting, hand-made clothes.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I spend maximum an hour each morning replying to Slack messages and emails. Then I close all of that so I don’t get distracted during my day. I’ll check back in a few times a day, but I keep it all closed while I’m working for maximum focus. I also prioritise my to do list into things that are urgent, and things that will actually move the business forwards the fastest. Interestingly, they are hardly ever the same things. I’ll then make myself work on the things that will have the biggest impact first. If done the other way around, the urgent things fill my time and I never get onto the biggest impact things. By doing the biggest impact things first, I’m prioritising growth…. and I somehow still get the urgent stuff done!
What advice would you give your younger self?
To think more about creative solutions that solve day-to-day problems for the masses.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Many people buy-in to the image presented by the media that young people are ‘snowflakes’ who are more interested in their personal well-being than being ambitious and hard-working. In my experience, this is not true.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
To be a lifelong learner!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Focus on data! From the beginning we picked a couple of key metrics that we knew would have the most impact on business growth. For us, it was building the numbers in our community, conversions through our freemium model and conversions into our membership. It really helped us focus day-to-day on the things that would make the biggest difference verses things that might be important to other businesses but weren’t necessarily going to result in similar revenue or valuation growth for us.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It’s hard to let go of something that you’ve invested time in and hasn’t turned out the way you planned. As entrepreneurs we need to be resilient, but we also need to constantly be tested on whether we are being realistic. I overcome this by having people around me who challenge and question my assumptions.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
To launch a sustainable alternative to fast fashion by offering well-fitting clothes, hand made by local makers, to consumers who struggle to find high street clothes that fit properly. It’s a simple and creative 21st century technology solution for a 19th century industry.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
During the pandemic I created some craft patterns that have been a real hit with our community. Although the fabric and materials didn’t quite add up to $100, this was definitely my best money spent. Seeing the feedback, posts and photos of people’s special, ‘one-off’ creations has brought me (and them!) joy during a time when social interaction has been limited.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Slack keeps communication in one place and helps me to manage the volume. In saying that, I do close it down while I’m focus on my to-do list!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
‘The Lean Start-up’ by Eric Ries has been our go-to book from the beginning. It’s a tried and tested process to follow to build an excellent business. Now that we are rapidly scaling globally, we look to apply lessons from ‘Blitzscaling: the lightning-fast path to building massively valuable companies’ by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh.
What is your favorite quote?
Janine sent me a card very early on in the business with the quote “She thought she could so she did”. I saved it and still have it up on my wall today. It really says it all to me. Anything is possible. The key is believing you can.
- Align the purpose of your business with your passion and values.
- Commit to being a lifelong learner.
- Build a capable team around you so that as you grow and scale you have the confidence to let-go of different functions.
- Determine the key metrics for your business and focus on the data that measures these.
- Don’t forget to enjoy the journey!
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.