August Stockist of the Month: The Cosy Cabin

Feeling that her local area seriously lacked a high quality craft and fabric shop, Rudi Webbe and Tina Finbow took matters into their own hands...

After some time searching for a prime location, they identified the perfect spot - a beautiful log cabin at Risby Barns in Suffolk.

Five years on they have two air conditioned cabins colourfully adorned with quilts and projects offering a wide assortment of fabrics including Liberty, Michael Miller, Studio e plus a thriving workshop programme. The Risby Barns location have full disabled access and other onsite shops including antiques, furniture and plants making it a popular choice among other-halves too and offering a great day out.

We spoke to Rudi and Tina to find out more...


Tell us about the history of your shop and the team
 
Originally based in Lakenheath, Suffolk where we were running a Property Management Business, Rudi had decided he wanted to look at running a different style of business.  He had looked at several options, and I (Tina) suggested that we were seriously lacking a good craft/sewing/fabric shop in the area and felt there was a need for it.
 
Finding a location was the prime thing, easy access from main roads, good parking, and premises that would be suitable for a shop and workshop area.

 

We looked at a few high street locations but parking was always an issue.  Then one day, whilst browsing on-line, I came across a log cabin up for sale on the Risby Barn site.  So, we jumped in the car and headed over to have a look.  It was, at that time, a swimming pool shop.  The perfect location was found, lots of parking, brilliant access from the A14, but also brilliant disabled access, as its all on one level.  Plus, other things to look at on site whilst here… ideal for the other halves.
 
But Rudi still wasn’t convinced there was a need, so I sent him off to the Quilt Show at Duxford the following weekend.  I received a telephone call later that day “I have never seen so many cars parked on the runway and so many ladies with shopping bags coming from the show, there’s over 1000 cars here!!!”
 
That was it, the cabin was bought and we set too getting one business moved to the new location and the cabin ready to open at the end of June 2013.


 
We needed to do so much, in so little time, including finding wholesalers.  Strangely enough, a few years before, whilst running a quilting club, I had met with a rep from a company, with a view to stocking fabric for our group.  I couldn’t remember the name of the company to start with, but I did still have the rep’s business card, somewhere.    I found the card and rang the number and it was Simon Wilson from EQS!  What a small world it is!  And that’s where it all began, working with Graeme, Libby and Simon.
 
For almost the first year, Rudi and I (Tina) worked 7 days a week, to give the business a good start.  Jacky joined us in the first few months of opening, working on workshop days and then becoming one of our tutors too.  Jo joined us in the November of 2013, having been on a few workshops with us at the cabin.  Brenda has been with us from day one, she is a major help behind the scenes and at any shows we do.
 
What do you offer that makes you stand out from other retailers?
 
Our key thing is customer service, the Customer is the most important person.  We want people to enjoy visiting us at the cabin, come and do workshops with us and bring their friends along too.  We have parking close to the cabin with 2 disabled parking spaces as near to the entrance to the cabin as possible.  The shop is all on one level too.

What are you passionate about?
 
The customer response when they haven’t been to the cabin before, and they walk in the door and say "Wow!"  There is nothing better than hearing their surprise at what they see.  We are all passionate about the shop itself, how it looks, the colours etc.  The impression it creates as you walk through the door.  I must admit it’s a colourful shop, we try and use all the wall space and roof beams to display fabric, panels and workshop examples.


 
How do you chose what you stock?
 
Having been open for five years now, you gradually learn who your customer base is and what they like.  We are constantly looking for new ideas as we aren’t just about quilting; we also cover dressmaking, textile art, dyeing Fabric, machine embroidery and so much more.  We also listen to what our customers are looking for and take this into account as well when selecting and buying stock.
 
What do you love about quilting?
 
What we love about quilting or all sewing really, is seeing people learn on our workshops.  We have the benefit of two air conditioned cabins, which this year has been needed!  There is no better pleasure than watching people learn new skills and techniques and the enjoyment they get from creating their pieces of work, whether it’s a quilt, dress, skirt, machine embroidered picture, bunting and so much more.  We have run a Sampler Quilt course through the winter for the last five years and seeing absolute beginners with a completed Sampler Quilt at the end of the course is just amazing.


 
What projects are you working on at the minute?
 
We are currently looking at what new workshops we can offer with new tutors, which gives more new and exciting things for our customers to look forward to.  We try and take into account that not all customers want to travel great distances to do workshops so we are trying to offer different workshops closer to home.
 
Are there any future plans you wish to share with us?
 
We are looking to expand the business and offer an on-line service. 
 
We are also working with ‘Creative Stitch’ in Suffolk who offer replacement courses for the Patchwork & Quilting and Machine Embroidery that were formally part of City & Guilds curriculum.  We are their ‘outreach’ centre currently for the Creative Patchwork & Quilting with the group of 10 having just completed their first year of the two year course.  This September the Creative Stitched Textiles course is due to start, which is again a 2 year course.

Find out more and connect with The Cosy Cabin

Visit the Cosy Cabin website
Checkout the Cosy Cabin on Facebook

How do I apply for courses with Creative Stitch?

Email: annette@annettemorgan.co.uk, maryelmcintosh@gmail.com or tompkinsdiane80@hotmail.com

Or contact the WI at reception@sefwi.org.uk