Entrepreneur turns lifelong passion into side hustle making £100 a week | Personal Finance | Finance

Jeanette Leib-Foster runs Knotties Sewing Services from her Portsmouth home, offering alterations to clothing and selling a range of products including Christmas items. She learned the trade from her father, who was a sailmaker in the Navy, and used the social media site Nextdoor to market her services to those around her.

The company started when Jeanette had to look for a new career in the “difficult situation” after being laid off for 10 years.

She decided to use her sewing skills to make reusable cloth face masks for people in her local community as she wanted pre-made masks to be used by frontline NHS workers.

Nextdoor catapulted her to fame as people were soon requesting handmade items as well as clothing alterations.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, she said: “I’ve been on Nextdoor as a public member and have occasionally posted things. When I posted about masks, I was inundated from the moment I posted it.

“The orders never ran out. It kept me going every day, five days a week, all through the first summer of the pandemic.

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“That gave me the money to buy an industrial machine. I would be nothing without Nextdoor, I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for this platform to advertise on.”

Now she can help craft and repair bespoke clothing, as well as seat covers and a growing selection of festive items.

Last year she made skirts for Christmas trees, wreaths for doors and some mantels.

She said: “The items were very popular and I ended up making 24 items in total. I will be making them again this year but with a few additional additions including padded tree ornaments and bows to help spread the festive spirit.”

Jeanette has also engaged in the manufacture of foam seats with cushion covers for garden or window seats.


She works five days a week, from around 8.30am to 4pm, and is currently making around £100 a week.

She kept her prices low to help the local community but last year she made a profit of £105 and she hopes to build on that as the business grows this year.

The seamstress said she has to carefully manage her time running her small business, with her busy schedule usually planned four to six weeks in advance.

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She said: “It’s difficult to plan everything. When orders come in, you have to stop what you’re doing and then focus on what someone is saying to you and get all the relevant and correct information down on paper.

“Then you can refer to it later. When deliveries come, you have to stop what you’re doing again, put paperwork away as soon as you get it.”

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One of her jobs was to make memorial bears for a woman whose mother had died to give to her grandchildren.

She said the cost of some materials has increased slightly, such as zippers, bindings and cotton, and that some of her suppliers, who are also small businesses, have had to raise their prices.

She said one of the best things about her business is the flexibility it allows and the joy of creating a special item for a customer.

Jeanette said, “I still stick to the work day and hours, but if a client says, ‘I really need this,’ I can go to them.

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“I like meeting and interacting with customers, be it on the phone or in person.

“Being with them at the beginning of their investigation and then following them through to receiving the material and showing them the material.

“Updating her on the progress of the work and then actually seeing her in her house and seeing her face light up.

“They are so happy they can’t believe that after an idea or a picture in their head they have this new accessory in their house and they are over the moon and excited about it.

“It’s a different kind of pay you get. The added bonus is that I love to sew.”

She said Christmas is the “perfect opportunity” for creative guys to find a side hustle.

She said: “For anyone else thinking of starting a side hustle this winter, there are other easy creatives that can make a little extra cash too.

“From designing and selling your own Christmas cards to personalized gifts and even helping Santa Claus!”


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