Background to Stitch in Time
When she became pregnant Jane Edwards soon discovered that her usual clothes no longer
fitted. She found that her favourite skirts and jeans were uncomfortable and as the baby's
delivery date approached she could not even get into most of her clothes. Dismayed with
the available choice of maternity clothes ("too expensive and they make me look like
an over-made bed") Jane looked around for alternatives. Her husband John was very
understanding about her wearing all his sweaters, but she still had trouble finding
something to fit her expanding waist. It struck her that leggings would be ideal. However,
all the leggings in the shops were overpriced, too short (Jane is six feet tall), or
both. Added to that, they would only fit for a couple of weeks and then she would need a
larger size. So, Jane decided to make her own stylish leggings and to make them with a
waist line that was expandable so that they would last her for the entire
Jane bought suitable material (with Lycra) from a local haberdashery and made herself
half-a-dozen pairs of very comfortable and expandable leggings, and at a fraction of the
After the twins were born, Jane decided that she did not want to go back to her old job
but neither did she want to spend all her time looking after the twins. So she took a
part-time job as a cashier at the local supermarket where she could work two evenings a
week. This helped to supplement the family's income and also provided Jane with what she
described as "something to stop my brain rotting away".
Whilst working at the checkout she noticed many expectant mothers in the shop. She got
to know a few of the regulars to talk to and discovered that many of them were also
looking for alternatives to the available maternity wear. Jane asked a few if they would
like her to make them some leggings at £15 a pair. The other women agreed and a week
later were sporting their very comfortable new clothes. Word spread and soon Jane was
taking orders from mothers-to-be from all over the town.
The process of making the leggings was very straightforward and
it took no longer than
one-and-a-half hours to make a pair. Before long, Jane was finding that her legging
business was bringing in three times as much as she made at the supermarket and so she
decided to set up a business which she called "Stitch in Time".
It is now five years on and the business has been a great success.
Now that the
twins are in school and Jane has the daytime free, she wants to expand the business.
Stitch in Time sells a range of leggings in all sizes and a variety of styles. Although
she began just making maternity leggings, many of her customers liked the leggings so much
that they wanted to carry on wearing them after their babies were born. Consequently the
company now makes both maternity and every-day leggings. The surprise element was Jane's
husband John. They both discovered that he had a natural flair for finding new fabric
prints which sold very well. Also, he had a hitherto undiscovered talent for the sewing
machine and could make the leggings 50% faster than Jane. Jane and John feel that if they
could expand the range even more then the business would soon be able to support them both
and he could give up his job as a Sales Manager to work full-time in Stitch in Time. John
has had the idea of selling self-assembly legging kits as well as fully-made garments. The
kits would comprise the material panels cut to the right size, a quantity of thread and
elastic for the waist band and instructions for assembling the leggings. These could be
sold for less than the finished garments as they would take less time to put together. The
couple is also in the process of establishing direct supply of materials from textile
firms as their expansion would allow them to buy material in sufficient quantity. This
would reduce their costs and consequently would allow them to review their pricing policy.
John is also pursuing the idea of designing his own patterns for the legging material and
is talking to several textile firms about this possibility.
Since John started helping out Jane has been able to focus on managing the business
which she particularly enjoys.
Presently, the company sells products to order. Orders are placed either directly by
the customer visiting the house or by mail-order (which includes telephone orders). If the
workshop is very busy then answering the phone becomes very time-consuming and
The Edwards keep a list of legging types and styles available, but have not got round
to organising a proper mailing list of regular and potential customers. Also, the product
list is purely descriptive and contains no photographs of the fabric styles available.
This means that even more time is spent explaining things to people over the phone and
usually results in the customer coming to the house anyway to look at the designs. This
seems very inefficient to Jane and John. Furthermore, if they are to expand the business
beyond the local environment then they will have to have a better way of getting detailed
information to potential customers.
The product list is given to anyone who asks for it and is displayed in strategic local
positions (such as in the library and the newsagent's window). Adverts for Stitch in Time
appear each week in the local press. Adverts placed in national women's magazines have
also met with some success and even a large high-street department store chain is making
enquiries about carrying stock of the company's products.
Whilst the Edwards' are very enthusiastic about the developments, they are also
slightly apprehensive. For John to give up the relative security of his present job he has
to be sure that the expanded business stands a realistic chance of prospering. They are
also concerned that if they don't improve the way they do things then Stitch in Time could
become a victim of its own success and not be able to meet the increased demand.
As they are keen to make the most of the new marketing opportunities, Jane and John
feel that the necessary reorganisation will be greatly assisted by the introduction of a
computer system. They would also like to explore the possibility of setting up a site on
the world-wide web.