Posted 19th Nov 2014
Unimpressed by poor quality, often imported Christmas Santa sacks and stockings, Caroline Quinn decided to make a change once and for all, turning her love of the festive season into a full time job
The idea was to have a 100% British company where every item sold was designed and produced in the UK with provenance at its heart, and the result was Santa Sacks, launched by Caroline in 2011. Over the years Caroline has created a collection of beautiful, natural sacks and stockings which combine traditional crafting skills blended with high quality fabrics and yarns. Each piece can be personalised with the accompaniment of a handmade leather luggage tag or hand-painted solid wooden heart, resulting in a Christmas sack or stocking that can be handed down for generations to come, creating memories to last a lifetime.
The family-run company is based in Witley, Surrey, where the sacks are designed and made with a little help from Surrey knitters, sewers and crafters for a truly united British company. You could say what makes them unique is their specialist crafting techniques. Caroline is constantly striving to re-discover forgotten talents and skills. From knitting, crochet, hand embroidery and printing to macramé, felting, appliqué and stamp work, she tries to breathe fresh air into old techniques to utilise the very creative and talented people she has working to make these beautiful stockings and sacks.
We spoke with Caroline to find out more about her festive venture:
Tell us a little more about how you first got involved in making Santa sacks and stockings
Unimpressed by the poor quality Christmas sacks and stockings and with an absolute love of Christmas I started Santa Sacks as a hobby. However it wasn't to stay as a hobby as soon we were being featured in publications and gift guides. It became a full time job but fits in perfectly with my family life.
Is Christmas always a big event in your household?
I have always loved the excitement of Christmas. I always dreamt of a large family and perfect Christmases and that is what we have. My children love it. Santa Sacks is now a part of the run up to Christmas and you often find one of the children in the studio helping to pack orders. All my children (Charlotte, 20, Laura, 15 and twins Luke and Harvey, 12) are creative in some way.
What is it about this time of year that you find so special?
I find it magical. The Christmas Spirit, the music, the cosy nights in front of a log fire, mulled wine and the magic. I also love the thought on Christmas morning that children all over the world will be opening our Santa sacks and stockings filled with presents from Father Christmas.
What inspired the designs behind your Santa Sacks and stockings?
I live in the country and surrounded by woodland and deer. I love the country and natural feel to my products.
Do you come from a craft background?
My mum and gran taught me to sew and knit so I've always had an eye for anything to do with art and design.
When do you start planning and producing Santa Sacks and how much of the year do you spend thinking about Christmas?
We actually start in January. We never stop coming up with new ideas or adapting our own designs further. We tend to relax after the Christmas rush but are ready to go again once the children are back at school. We go to fabric fairs and Christmas fairs that are on throughout the year.
What does a typical work day look like?
My routine can differ from day to day. My first few hours are dealing with printing off orders, checking stock and packing new orders ready to be posted late afternoon. My team and I all work on creating and making. We also have ladies who knit and sew from home so they pop into the studio to drop off and pick up new orders to make. It's a lovely atmosphere to work in. I deal with the day to day running of the business but my true passion lays in the designing and I am forever coming up with new ideas.
Any exciting new projects coming up?
Being someone that loves anything in designing, I also design houses too. Whether it is for myself or friends, I love anything to do with interior design. So the rest of the year I am still working on Santa Sacks however I get involved with home design projects too. We are also launching a new company called Harveymoon.co.uk. This helps to keep our ladies who work from home or in our studio in work all year round. Harvey Moon produces handmade letter cushions and gift and baby products. This is still a new company though and it's in it's early days.
By Natalie Crofts