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June 14, 2024 —

Meet the Maker: The Fabled Thread

In 2020, embroidery enthusiast Eppie Thompson left her job in finance to pursue her passion - and now she has created over 100 kits, under her brand name The Fabled Thread, helping many others fall in love with the art of storytelling through stitching...
Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread inside her embroidery studio with embroidery kit
Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread inside her embroidery studio
Verity Gaida
Writer,

Photography

Jesse Wild
Photographer,
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Hi Eppie, why & when did you decide to start your business?

My embroidery background stems from my granny, who has always sewn. I’d never particularly taken it up, but when two of my best friends got engaged I wanted to make them something unique for their wedding. I started stitching a sampler and just fell head over heels in love with the process within the first few stitches. It was amazing for me because it controls your hands (so you can’t do any other work), allowing you something quite intense to focus on – but not so much that it’s stressful. It totally freed me from my office work. I thought it was amazing but there were no kits on the market that I wanted to make.

After moaning about that for six months, my husband said, ‘Well, why don’t you do something about it?’ I don’t think he anticipated what I would go on to do! I quite quickly then decided to start A Fabled Thread, staying in my job for 18 months while I saved before eventually quitting to start the business.

Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread inside her embroidery studio with ship and sea embroidery kit in frame

What had you done previously?

I studied chemistry at university before roles within finance and healthcare and later, accountancy. I ended up in an incredibly intense role at an investment bank working really long hours and every weekend – it was really challenging. I think if my job had been okay I wouldn’t have had the push to start The Fabled Thread. I was ready to take a risk because anything was going to be better. In the years before launching the business, I didn’t tell anyone, although I did hire my branding team (who were the first people to know about it). My first sampler range was actually designed in secret at work, using Excel!

How does your location inspire you?

I adore London and the ability I have to find inspiration here. You can travel all over the world within London, either through the different areas of the city itself, or through the galleries, exhibitions, everything. We have this overwhelming amount of culture: within half an hour I can go to museums covering every single region of the world. I haven’t travelled that widely but all my inspiration comes from world textiles and folk art movements around the world.

Inside Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread's embroidery studio in London

Inside Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread's embroidery studio with framed embroidery kit on wall

How would you describe the brand’s ethos & your signature style?

We’re on a mission to empower everyone to discover their own creativity through enabling anyone – regardless of their skill level, experience or background – to create art. And, importantly, to value the art they are creating. In terms of signature style. I think it’s very maximalist. It’s folk art inspired. It’s storytelling. It’s colourful. And it’s a bit weird.

Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?

I have a really structured method about how I choose colours; how I look at, combine and draw from my inspirations, how those inspirations are then structured into a design and turned into a kit. So, I always choose colours before I do any design work and then at some point, combine the two. I think doing it in this order forces me to think in a slightly freer way. For example, just because there’s an elephant in a design doesn’t mean it should be grey. Anything can be in any colour. I don’t think it works for everyone, but I find that having a structure around my approach to creativity means that when I get stuck, I have something to refer back to.

If you focus too much on the idea of creativity being innate it can become really overwhelming but by taking the spontaneity out of the process, there are fewer creative blocks. It is incredibly hard to think outside the box – creating a structure forces you to think differently and is why I so strongly believe creativity can be taught. Different structures work for different people but I think everyone should be able to find a way that enables them to do their best work.

“If you focus too much on the idea of creativity being innate it can become really overwhelming but by taking the spontaneity out of the process, there are fewer creative blocks.”

Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread inside her embroidery studio

Inside Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread's embroidery studio with framed embroidery kit on wall

Which is your most popular product? Why do you think that is?

Our most popular kits are our Fables, the original designs we launched with. Each one tells a different fable. They’re beginner friendly with simple stitches but look a lot more complicated than they are.

Hard question: do you have a favourite product?

I think my favourite one is our Woollies, which are the really big ships – they’re totally revolutionary in the world of needlepoint kits, because they are true pieces of art, but they’re also a kit. They are the epitome of what I’m trying to achieve, something that anyone can do at any skill level but looks like it will last hundreds of years.

Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread inside her embroidery studio with embroidery kit

Inside Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread's embroidery studio with framed embroidery kit on wall

What does a typical day look like to you?

Despite being quite structured in my creative work, I’m remarkably unstructured in my life! I don’t feel any guilt about it because I have a team who are very organised. I’ve tried so many apps to plan my day but I now trust that everything will get done and how I do it doesn’t really matter. I get super excited about things and have big ideas I want to get on with so time-blocking or having a typical day just doesn’t work for me.

How do you approach marketing & PR?

There’s been no savvy strategy, it’s just doing what feels right and being really open about what we’re doing, sharing the highs, lows and what’s going on behind the scenes. I like the naturalness of it and it’s worked really well because we’ve built a relationship where people want to feel part of what we’re trying to achieve. Until recently, it’s just been me doing all the marketing but we’ve just recruited Jen to help. It’s now about finding this balance of spending time committed to it, but without losing touch with who we are.

Inside Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread's London embroidery studio

Inside Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread's London embroidery studio

If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business – what would you say?

I think the key one is this whole idea of finding a purpose. It defines you, guides you and makes decisions for you. For example, we don’t sell finished pieces and so wouldn’t do a collaboration of finished cushions, because my purpose is to inspire people to be creative. If you can just buy it, where’s the creativity? If you want longevity in business, it’s okay to start with ‘the minimum viable purpose’ and then develop it as you go. But you need to always keep your customers front and centre: if your purpose only serves you you’ve got no business. I personally think you’re better to start and iterate than think you’ve got to have it all figured out at the beginning. My purpose to begin with was that I just wanted a way out of my job, and now it’s what it is, and maybe in ten years time it will be different again.

“You’re better to start and iterate than think you’ve got to have it all figured out at the beginning…”

Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread inside her embroidery studio

Inside Eppie Thompson founder of The Fabled Thread's embroidery studio with ship embroidery on wall

What’s been your highlight so far?

Probably when we moved to our current studio in Islington. We’d been in a smaller one, and before that in my flat working from the kitchen and bedroom. It’s super exciting moving into your own space, a feeling like buying your own house. But to be honest, I’m not great at celebrating achievements. It’s hard to feel proud when it still feels like there’s a long way to go and the day to day is just as hard now as it was four years ago. But I’m more invested in my work than ever.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS


Describe your work in 3 words:
modern folk art

What are your creating rituals? My rituals around creativity are not having any rituals. Totally freeform

Tea or coffee? Tea

Mountains or sea? Mountains

Night owl or early bird? Early bird

I wish someone had told me… how much more exciting life is now!

thefabledthread.com

@thefabledthread

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