Startup Spotlight: Made to Sew

ntg Business bulletin: 28 November 2019

New Territorian Aneka Truman is delighted that the ancient art of sewing – a skill at least 20,000 years old – is making a dramatic comeback.

“It’s quite trendy nowadays,” she says.

Aneka, who moved to Darwin with her husband Nick last December, runs a company called Made to Sew.

She teaches sewing, dressmaking and tailoring classes, online and in person, runs a YouTube channel with 240,000 subscribers and sells dressmaking patterns.

Aneka’s expertise is in big demand – she has just returned from a teaching tour to Britain and America, and has big plans to expand her business in the new year by offering online services to her global customers and opening a studio in Darwin city centre.

“An increasing number of people want to learn how to sew,” she says. “I have women and men of all ages coming to me for lessons because they weren’t taught by their parents or at school.

“People gain enormous pleasure from making their own clothes. They can choose the pattern, material and colour to create something unique – and, most importantly, make garments that fit.”

Aneka held preliminary talks with Ironbark Aboriginal Corporation during the Northern Territory Government’s October Business Month about collaborating with Aboriginal people.

After attending an OBM talk called the Significance of Indigenous Textiles to the Economy, she began formulating plans to use Aboriginal designs on textiles in the dressmaking kits that she sells.

“I met individuals at the meeting that I was able to collaborate with.”

Aneka gained a degree from London College of Fashion and worked in the fashion industries in Belgium and the United Kingdom (UK).

She began her business career with a fashion label but learned quickly that business wasn’t always going to be easy after a London company tried to take her to court for trademark infringement.

“It was time to adapt,” she says. “I lost a lot fighting the trademark, and I had too much money tied up in branded stock.

“So I started teaching tailoring classes to bring in extra money.

“It is hard to believe I now run a global business teaching people how to sew.”

The couple moved to Australia after Nick got a transfer as an air traffic controller from the Royal Air Force to the RAAF.

“After the job offer, we visited Australia to see where we wanted to live. We chose Darwin – because it was different to our life in the UK.

“We weren’t moving across the world to have the same life.”

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