Two weeks ago I wrote a post asking why there isn't a site like Ravelry for sewing. The post provoked quite a bit of interest in the broader online sewing community and the response was pretty tremendous. There was a lively discussion in the comments and I received quite a few emails from people who are working to create Ravelry equivalents. One email stood out to me, though. It was from Amanda Clow, one of the founders of of Threadbias.
I've decided to publish Amanda's email here in full, with her permission.
Truthfully, Amanda's email wasn't an easy one for me to receive. There's some tension, and some hurt feelings here. But not everything in life is easy. I feel very strongly that it's important to write honestly about what I see happening (or not) in the sewing community, even at the risk of rubbing things a bit raw.
Here's Amanda's email in full:
Hi Abby –
My name is Amanda Clow, and I am one of the founders of Threadbias, an online sewing community. My partners and I have thought a lot about this email, and whether or not to send it at all. It was actually a blog post of yours that inspired me to sit down and write to you. Although the subject matter is different, I felt the idea of using this opportunity to create a relationship remained the same.
As always, we follow any mentions about our site very closely as we are always looking for ways to improve the Threadbias community. We were very interested by the conversation on Twitter the other day about sewing communities and why thus far there isn't one that has taken off like Ravelry has. We have our own thoughts and theories of course (timing, different types of crafts, the use of Flickr, etc) but it's always interesting to see what others have to say. As the conversation continued, and your blog post went up, we were dismayed by the dismissive tone about the communities that do exist, including our own. We thought (and perhaps too personally, felt) that we were unfairly portrayed as a failure – a sewing community that just wasn't right and never would be. To be perfectly honest, it was discouraging and we became defensive. Then as we saw the comments on your post we realized that most people don't really know us and our story.
After a lot of thought and conversation, and reading your blog post that we linked above, we decided it was best to just write and tell you a little about who we are. We are a small family company, and we may be just getting started, but we have huge vision for what Threadbias can become.
There are three of us – Alex, Rebecca, and myself, Amanda. Alex is my brother. Rebecca is his wife. Alex has been a software developer for 20 years. He is a talented, top level Ruby coder and has single-handedly created every feature on Threadbias. He has done this all while working an additional full-time job as the Ruby on Rails architect and a lead developer at Originate in order to support his family.
Rebecca and I love to sew. We both learned as children, from our mothers. We continued to sew, quilt, and stitch throughout our lives and are active members of both local and online communities. When Alex came up with the idea for Threadbias three years ago, we were so excited. We absolutely loved the idea. It seemed perfect: an online community where all sewists could gather! We wanted it for us – and for everyone else who has wished for a place to connect and share with others.
We knew Threadbias would take a lot of work – and it has. We spend weekends and evenings working on the site. We Skype until 2 in the morning because Alex and Rebecca live in Las Vegas and I live in Portland and these late night meetings are when we are all able to connect; discussing and making plans for the site. I also work full time as a teacher and my husband has jumped in as our designer to create new, more streamlined look. Alex and Rebecca have a son, I have three daughters. We have all given so much to this site, and continue to work on it every day. We are entirely self-funded and have not taken in any outside investment to support our idea. We have sponsored large events to get the word out about our community. We support small blogs because we think what they are doing is great. I tell you this not to complain, but rather to indicate how committed we are to the Threadbias community. It has become a huge part of our lives, and we love doing it.
We have done this because we believe that Threadbias can grow to be the kind of community you are asking for. We believe that our users can take this site and make it their own – we can create the space and adapt it as desired by the users, but the community will only be what the users are willing to put into it. That has been the vision from day one. We take pride in rapid response to our "Feedback and Suggestions" forum, implementing small changes at once and adding more complicated ones to the queue. In fact, one of our changes was to remove the fee structure from our pattern shop, in part based on some helpful feedback you gave us. All pattern listings and sales are now free (excluding PayPal fees). We put this into place on May 1, 2013.
We are working hard right now on a complete redesign to make the site easier and more fun to use. We know Threadbias can be so much better. Our site has evolved and changed so much since we launched in April 2012. We have a lot of feedback from our users and with the recent release of Rails 4.0 we know it's time for some major changes. It will take a bit of time to get it ready, but we are very proud of what we are working on. We expect to launch the redesign in the fall.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I hope this has given you a chance to get to know us better. We welcome your ideas for what would help make a great online sewing community!
I'm curious to hear what you think after reading this.