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Getting Some Help

Getting Some Help

Following on from my last post, Less is More, I’m continuing to simplify my business. Less is More is a paradigm shift for me. It only took 3 years, sewing tens of thousands of napkins and working mostly 7 days a week for between 12-14 hours a day, for me to realise it.

At one point I put myself in hospital briefly, because I stopped sleeping and had so much coffee to keep up with orders that my heartbeat became irregular (only temporarily – it went back to normal after a few days of sleep).

Having Otis and becoming a parent has been the catalyst. After 6 months of no sleep, I finally got it through my thick, stubborn head that, hang on a minute, I simply cannot do every single thing in this business myself. I’m a quick learner, huh?

I started Mr. Draper to make great linen and to try and achieve work / life balance after a busy period in the military. I wanted to make time for my family and friends.

More than just the making

There is more to a maker business, though, than just making everything. One of the best parts of my business is connecting with and talking to like-minded people about what I do. I’ve made some great friendships and met so many wonderful folk through this business.

I actually really enjoy writing these blog posts and (hopefully) becoming a better writer. As the business has grown though, I’ve struggled to balance the competing priorities. More often than not, blog posts and new creative work have fallen by the wayside while I jump back behind the sewing machine to sew the next 300 napkins. This is not sustainable; this is not the best use of my time. It doesn’t scratch my creative itch. If I wanted to just sew the same thing over and over, I could get a job in a factory.

I’ve tried working with Australian manufacturers, but most of them either aren’t interested, are only set up for clothing, have crap quality or are just plain dodgy (sending work to home machinists off the books).

 I’m still a really small customer, so I get why they aren’t interested. The exception has been The Social Studio, which is AWESOME, but manufacturing large bedding items is just not what they are set up to do.

Cost is not the issue

Let me stress, this is not about the cost. It’s about me getting a semblance of work / life balance. My linen, wholesale per metre, is more expensive than a finished quilt cover from many of the other Australian linen brands you see online. It’s just not even in the same ballpark. Cost has never been a driver for me.

It’s about having a reliable partner that I can work with. To deliver stock when they say they will. To have someone producing my core products, freeing me up to do more of the ‘creative stuff’. I’ll still be sewing – probably far too much – but I’ll also be doing more writing and photography. I want to start working with other great creatives to make unique and awesome products. Its about getting a little balance.


I’ve been working with Siulas for nearly two years now. They’ve been milling my sheeting since mid-2016. I know them and they are good people who run a great business. I haven’t been able to visit them in person yet, but I hope to remedy that soon.

In a world of people pushing their products and claiming to be the best, they quietly keep on producing amazing linen with little fanfare – much like they’ve been doing for nearly a hundred years… Being in business that long says something about your product.

Beginning with this new shipment of Cloud White, Siulas will now start sewing some of my bedding. Any items not sewn by me will be clearly labelled on the website. It will also be noted on your Thank You card where your linen has come from.

This isn’t a permanent or forever change. If an amazing Australian manufacture gets in touch, I’d be happy to work with them. Likewise, if I do ever scale enough to build my own factory and hire a fulltime machinist, I will. It’s simply about taking some pressure off me.

Please let me know what you think and don’t hesitate to drop me an email if you need more info.

Comments on this post (4)

  • Nov 09, 2018

    What gsm is your fitted linen sheets?

    Regards, maree

    — maree kim

  • Aug 07, 2018

    Dear Mira,

    Thank you so much for the kind words and suggestion :-) I have approached a few manufactures when I was Melbourne based but again they aren’t really interested in piece meal work or are crazy expensive ($100+ to cut and sew a single quilt cover). While bedding seems easy to sew, I’ve also had manufactures make rookie errors like putting the wider hem of a sheet on the length…

    When they are quite, they are more positive and open to the idea however as soon as an order from their business comes through I get pushed down the list. It can be difficult sometimes to even get a time with them to get the fabric back! I totally understand that they need to focus on their primary business first.

    Thanks again for your suggestion and I’ll keep my eyes peeled out Castlemaine way.


    — Alistair

  • Aug 07, 2018

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alistair. Best wishes.

    — Helen Hagen

  • Aug 07, 2018

    Hello Alistair

    I love your products, work ethic, and social conscience. Have you considered approaching curtain workrooms to sew your bed linen? They are geared up for wide width fabrics and volume. There are still a few of them around as most curtains are still made in Australia.

    Just a thought.


    — Mira Krulic

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