Meet Eppie Thompson
Meet Eppie Thomson, stitcher, maker, interior obsessive and founder of The Fabled Thread who's embroidery kits are taking the world by storm. The inspiration behind her storytelling designs comes from traditional folk art. We visited Eppie at her colourful studio in Islington to watch her at work.
Firstly, so lovely to meet you and enter your lovely world of craft! Can you tell us a little about where your love of needlework begins and how you came to set up The Fable Thread?
Despite coming from good stitching genes, I only started sewing about 5 years ago. Two of my friends got engaged and I wanted to make them something meaningful as a wedding present so started stitching them a wedding sampler. The first moment the needle went through fabric I fell in love. The meditative motion of sewing and having a way to express my creativity became the antidote to my stressful job. Within a few months of starting to sew, I knew I wanted to make it become my life. If I got this much pleasure out of stitching, I felt others would too, so wanted to create kits and designs to hopefully encourage more people to give stitching a go. Fast forward 18 months and I left my city job and invested all my savings in starting The Fabled Thread. It has been a whirlwind 3 years since the business launched in June 2020 and our range of products has expanded to encompass over 60 different kits, framing, paints, fabrics and more. It is a joy to get to introduce so many people to this hobby which I fell madly in love with.
Before working on the business full time, what was your job and what did you learn from that?
I actually come from a Chemistry background originally and, having done a stint working in R&D in pharmaceuticals, I moved over to banking working with healthcare companies. There is so much of my old career which I apply to my work now and I am immensely grateful for everything it taught me. Most importantly, it helps me think commercially about the decisions we make for new products, growth opportunities, things that aren’t working etc. Whilst I can get very carried away with some madcap ideas, my background means I try to reign it in to projects which are financially viable – after all that is the only way The Fabled Thread succeeds. Additionally, my previous job taught me what I was capable of both mentally and physically. Long hours were the norm so I know what I can get done in a day if I have to! This was particularly important in the first Christmas period when I was still working on my own in my flat. Things went quite mad and I would be up till the early hours every day of the week preparing kits, printing fabric, winding thread, packing orders. Whilst I certainly don’t make a habit of that working practice, my experience of working long hours meant I just got on with it and I knew I could keep going even on minimal sleep.
What challenges have you faced since starting up your own business and how have you overcome these?
I definitely underestimated how hard running my own business would be – its certainly not for the faint hearted. It can be exhausting being the sole decision maker and I can’t allow self-doubt to creep in or I think it would cripple me. So the hardest thing is definitely having the confidence to take leaps – to launch new products, to design new kits, to invest in the business. I am fortunate to have an amazing support network around me in my studio team, as well as my husband and father who both spend a massive amount of time talking through aspects of the business with me. Having people around me whose opinions I trust, who care about the long term success of the business and who won’t hold back is so important. Whilst this is definitely the hardest job I have ever done, I wouldn’t change it for the world!
What has been your proudest moment to date?
The proudest moment was when we moved to our latest studio. It’s an amazing space, full to the brim with our products and all impeccably organised thanks to my incredible studio manager Georgina. Having worked in lots of soulless, corporate environments, I feel so lucky to get to come here every day and work with my wonderful team.
How did you first learn to sew and what advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I am lucky to have two incredible stitching grannies who have passed onto me everything they know. Sewing is so simple at its core – for the first couple of years I was stitching I only knew 2 stitches and that was still enough for me to launch The Fabled Thread... our signature The Fables range of kits only uses these two stitches because that is all I knew when I first launched the range. Whilst I of course know a lot more now, I almost worry that my work has become too neat. I love the simplicity that using a limited number of stitches forces, and I love the imperfections which add to the charm and character of a piece. So my advice would be to not get hung up on technique. My 100 year old granny has a rule to never unpick anything, and that is something I live by. Mistakes happen – celebrate them!
Do you often make your own clothes or do you stick to textiles and art for around the home?
To date my stitching has largely been limited to art for my home, however I did break that when I hand embroidered my own wedding dress earlier this year. Whilst it took an awful lot of time to stitch, I really enjoy being able to wear something which was so personal to me and definitely one-of-a-kind. So watch this space... there might be more embroidery on clothing coming!
Which PCP piece will you be wearing on repeat this Autumn?
With that previous question in mind, I am so looking forward to wearing the Sunset Jaal Amelia dress which I think till be perfect for special occasions, but also with a knitted vest and boots for walking my dog Roger. I am definitely a winter person, so look forward to wearing these pieces all year round!