Today, we're talking with Trixi Symonds from SewASoftie.com. That's “sew” as in sewing, and “softie” as in a plush toy. Trixi is from Australia, and Sew A Softie is a not-for-profit charitable opportunity that helps kids learn how to sew.
Sew A Softie has been growing tremendously. Trixie's challenge now is figuring out what to do next and how she can grow her brand awareness and reach even more people.
The catch is that Sew A Softie is a one-person show, so Trixie is limited in terms of how much time she can devote to new projects. One key opportunity might be to find others in the arts and crafts space she can partner with.
A lot of people just dive headfirst into the deep end when they experience this kind of growth—and all of a sudden, they're drowning in everything. Today we're going to talk about how Trixie can avoid that dilemma and keep the positive momentum going!
AP 1208: How Do I Increase Brand Awareness through Partnerships?
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to episode 1,208 of AskPat 2.0. You're about to listen to a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. And today, we're talking with Trixi from SewASoftie.com. Sew as in sewing, thread and needle and softie, as in a plush toy. Trixi is from Australia, and she has a beautiful story about how she created a not-for-profit charitable opportunity for kids to learn how to sew.
Pat Flynn: And the way this thing has grown and who she is now connected with as a result of this is just absolutely tremendous, and we're going to talk today about how she can then further her reach and further her message. She wants to do this in a way that is efficient with her time, and she wants to do it in a way that will also be prosperous and most of all, get more kids to sew, which is what we're doing today. So here we go. This is Trixi from SewASoftie.com.
Pat Flynn: Trixi, welcome to AskPat, thanks so much for joining us today. How are you?
Trixi Symonds: I'm very excited. Thank you.
Pat Flynn: Good, good. I'm excited too. Trixi, why don't you tell me and everybody else listening who you are and what it is that you do?
Trixi Symonds: My name's Trixi Symonds. I'm from Sydney, Australia. Back in 2016, I started Sew A Softie. Sew A Softie is a not-for-profit initiative. That was my idea, and the idea was I'd been teaching kids to sew for years and years. And I could see that sewing gave kids not only a life skill, but it empowered them. It gave them a lot of self-confidence. This idea that I made something all by myself, and it's just really good for kids.
Trixi Symonds: And I could see this happening in my classes all the time. So I decided that I wanted kids all over the world to learn how to sew. The way I imagine it was that if I inspired mums and teachers to sew with their kids, then kids all over the world would be able to sew. In 2016, I started what was going to be a one-day event. It was July 16, and it was called Sew A Softie Day. And on that day, anybody who knew how to sew would teach anyone in their community who didn't know how to sew how to sew a simple softie. And I chose softies, I don't know if you know what softies are, they're plushies or soft toys.
Pat Flynn: Ah, okay.
Trixi Symonds: Might be an Aussie word. Plushie, stuffies?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you're not teaching people how to sew necessarily ripped jeans or anything like that. You're teaching kids how to... and parents to create little toys that they can have for life.
Trixi Symonds: Yes. I actually just focus on hand sewing, which is just needle on thread, because hand sewing is accessible to basically everybody, you don't need a machine. You just need needle, thread, some fabric and stuffing. So I just focused on hand sewing to make it accessible, and the idea of the softie or the stuffy was that kids had this little soft toy. It was something they could cuddle. And it was a new friend, the little softies. That Sew A Softie day back in 2016, that was the idea.
Trixi Symonds: And I had lots of blogging friends join in, and they each posted a simple to sew softie tutorial online, which was free. And there were Sew A Softie events in different cities all around the world. So that was Sew A Softie in 2016 day event. By the following year, it became a month-long event because there was too many things happening. And people said to me, "Look, I can't do it on that day." So it became Sew A Softie in July, a month-long event.
Trixi Symonds: And every single day in July, a different blogger would post a free softie tutorial and people... and just to inspire mums and teachers and librarians to show them how to sew really, really simply. And that was one of the things that I'd found over the years, that a lot of mums couldn't sew or thought they couldn't sew, and were actually quite intimidated by the fact that a needle and thread, "I can't do this."
Trixi Symonds: My goal was just to give the simplest softie sewing patterns, so that became a month-long event. And we had schools and libraries join in the following year. We had kid ambassadors join in.
Pat Flynn: Wow.
Trixi Symonds: So I had Sew A Softie ambassadors. So these were kids who would teach their friends how to sew a softie and they had parties and different things. And then the following year, so the Children's Museum of the Arts in New York City was hosting a civic kids program. I decided to found a new event, which I call the Global Kids Sewing Party.
Trixi Symonds: And the museum joined in with me and we hosted the Sew A Softie Global Kids Sewing Party, where kids sewed a softie, which they would then give to someone in their community. And the idea of that was just to show kids that they can make a difference. That just because they're a kid, it doesn't mean they can't change somebody's lives. They don't have to wait until they're adults, and they could give it to anybody in their community, a teacher, the catch-all to whoever. Of course then, people said, "Oh, is this event happening next year?"
Trixi Symonds: So by the following year, 2020, 2021, I now have two global events. Sew A Softie in July, which is a month-long event, the Global Kids Sewing Party, which is in March, which is also a month-long event. And last, in 2021, I had 220 groups that schools, libraries, families, Scout groups for over 30 countries join into the Global Kids Sewing Party. And I had two books published this year, too.
Pat Flynn: Amazing!
Trixi Symonds: My one-time event sort of cascaded in a way that I could never have imagined. So it's-
Pat Flynn: How does that feel, to have that kind of impact and that kind of a reach, after just an idea in 2016? How does that feel?
Trixi Symonds: It's amazing. And what actually amazes me more is that I continually get emails and DMs from moms and teachers saying they can't believe that sewing with their kids, how excited the kids are. And I've actually had teachers say to me, "Look, I gave needles and scissors to a class full of kids and I thought, oh, this is going to be chaos. And the kids were very calm."
Trixi Symonds: And I get messages continually from people, and that's what really inspires me, these continual messages from people thanking me for inspiring them to sew with their kids. So, yeah.
Pat Flynn: Wow.
Trixi Symonds: Yes.
Pat Flynn: Congratulations. That's absolutely incredible Trixi, and I'm curious because it sounds like things are going pretty well, how can I help you? What's on your mind?
Trixi Symonds: I guess I've got to this point where like I said, I could never have imagined that Sew A Softie would become so big, and so I'm wondering, one, is how I can reach more people and increase the reach of Sew A Softie, and also what other things, what can I do next? Without adding more events or doing more, because I run sew A Softie by myself.
Trixi Symonds: One of the books that was published this year, The Zenki Way, which is a guide to showing parents how to sew, not only sew simply, but to show parents or teachers that sewing, it has to be fun and it's easy, and that it doesn't have to be anything complicated. And I guess the other thing is just how can I get my book into more libraries? Is that too many questions?
Pat Flynn: No, this is great. This is a great place to start. I love that you started with some constraints. Like, "I want to do this, but I want to make sure that these things in my life are still the way they are or I have these boundaries." I think that's really important. A lot of people when they experience this kind of growth, just dive head first into the deep end and then all of a sudden, they're drowning in everything and are trying to... What happened? How did we get here?
Pat Flynn: So I appreciate you thinking clearly about, "Okay, well, what is the future of this?" But also how do you fit into it? Are you just doing this on your own right now, in terms of how this is being spread around? Or are you working with anybody to help you with anything related to this effort?
Trixi Symonds: No, I basically do it by myself. I'm on Instagram and I contact people individually. I'm really lucky. I've got some big companies like Clover, Singer, Aurifil, who are really lovely and help me to always promote my events. So I'm really lucky, and I've got a couple of little other smaller craft companies that really happy to spread the event.
Trixi Symonds: I've got a couple of editors in some magazines who will publish the event or write about the events that I have, but I contact basically people individually, which is a nice way, because I like that individual connection. It's very important to me, but it's very, very time consuming.
Pat Flynn: It is definitely time consuming. It's not necessarily scalable, in terms of trying to reach more people. It's one person at a time, but it is so important. I think a lot of us are on the other side. We're trying to scale and we have all these tools and ability to reach thousands but then we forget about the intimate one on one and that real relationship that's there. So it's interesting because you're working backwards here and I like the idea of you getting in front of audiences and hearing your story, because your story is so compelling and where this came from.
Pat Flynn: Excuse me for saying this, but before I hit record, you were quite nervous-
Trixi Symonds: Yes.
Pat Flynn: ... here on the podcast. And you're doing extremely well right now. You're very eloquent and you have this amazing story. I think more people should hear this story and when the story gets out there, I think more people will talk about it. And I think even from this episode, people are going to start talking about it. Have you thought about sharing your story on other platforms, on other podcasts, or being a guest on other people's YouTube channels, for example, to even demonstrate a little bit for that person and their audience as well?
Trixi Symonds: I've actually tried. I've been on an art teacher's podcast. I have tried a couple of podcasts, tried reaching out to people with podcasts, but I've only had success with the art teacher's podcast. I've never tried getting onto anybody's YouTube channel. I guess, yeah, I don't know exactly how to do it other than writing to people.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, it could be interesting. I mean, you are already using Instagram, and that's a great way to initiate a conversation. I can imagine, for example, a popular mom blog or mom videographer who has a... I mean, these channels on YouTube and these podcasters, I mean, they have raving fans. They have super fans who just anything they do, and guess what? You can do them a favor by offering them an activity that they can show to their audience.
Pat Flynn: You can do the work for them to find something fun and exciting for their kids to do. And in exchange, if they happen to feature that or talk about it and maybe you help out their kids or demonstrate something for them in some way, shape, or form, it becomes a beautiful mutual, beneficial relationship, and you're going to have more eyes and people come your way, and learn about your book or your next event.
Pat Flynn: You could even utilize an opportunity to bring some influencers and some of those people with larger audiences to your events. You can invite them. You can have them show up and make sure they get the VIP treatment for example, and they're going to bring their cameras there with them and bring their kids and show that off. And again, spread more awareness in that way.
Pat Flynn: And I think that that could be a really interesting way to get the word spread out there, because it just can take one or two really big people with a lot of influence to really start. What if you were on Oprah? Oprah over here in the States.
Trixi Symonds: That's been my dream for a very long time.
Pat Flynn: I think you can have that dream come true. I really do. I really do, especially for what you're doing and how you're helping and everybody's on their screens nowadays. I mean, there's a trend toward screen-free activities now. I mean, this is perfect, especially with the pandemic and everybody on their devices all the time. Let's get back into hands and tactile and feeling things and touching things.
Pat Flynn: And there could be a really, really interesting dream of yours coming true of having a person like Oprah talk about this and share your book. And it just takes putting yourself out there and building these relationships. And it can be hard to strategically do this. Like, "If I talk to this one person, I know they know Oprah and I'm going to hopefully get them to talk about me the next time they have dinner together."
Pat Flynn: It shouldn't even be like that. That's doing it for the wrong reasons. I think you do it because you know that you can spread this word and that you have this valuable thing that you could share with other people. And you are utilizing these people who have spent the time to build trust with their brands to spread that message even further and provide more value everywhere, and the world has this beautiful way of paying back those who push forward and provide value in that way.
Pat Flynn: So that would be one way that I would recommend it. It's not an overnight thing. It's not a send an email and then everything will happen overnight kind of thing. It's a relationship building thing, and you seem to be pretty good at that already. So just a little bit of guidance toward who might we be able to build a relationship with I think could be really cool. In terms of your book, there could be some really interesting partnerships.
Pat Flynn: I know that there are people, for example, who are also in the arts and crafts space who might love to work with you and partner with you in some way, shape, or form, where you could do something for each other. Maybe they have a skill that could come into the sewing world that you do. Maybe it's an artist who can help you take your plushy or softie and then be able to draw on it with a certain kind of ink. And they teach you how to do that to your audience, and then you come on and teach their audience how to make a softie for them to draw on.
Pat Flynn: And there could be a really cool again, it's all about relationships and how do we help each other in this? I could tell you keyword optimize your website. I could tell you to pay for ads and all this other stuff, which probably isn't going to be fun for you. And it's not really fun for most. I think as long as you continue to share your craft, that could be amazing. Are you doing anything in terms of content creation?
Pat Flynn: I once heard that content creation is networking for introverts. And I really love that feel. It's like, "Okay, I'm going to write," or "I'm going to create videos and share these things, because it's hard for me to go out and talk to a lot of people." So I'm going to talk to the masses on a YouTube video or a blog. How much organic content creation are you doing? And if so, where?
Trixi Symonds: So I have a YouTube channel where I do lots of tutorials. Instagram, I'm on Instagram, and I've got a really amazing, really lovely audience on Instagram. I've got my blog, I publish a lot of free tutorials for people, and just information about what I'm doing, and I also have a Sew A Softie Facebook group.
Pat Flynn: Gotcha. What is your YouTube channel?
Trixi Symonds: It's SewASoftie, S-E-W-A-S-O-F-T-I-E.
Pat Flynn: Okay. So I mean, you have 580 subscribers. You're publishing maybe one video a month. I think that YouTube, especially for what it is that you're creating, some little demonstrations and tutorials and things like that, and especially, more than just you showing people, "Hey, here's a technique," if you could somehow capture moments where you are teaching somebody or another mom is teaching, or another teacher is teaching somebody, and we could see the kid's face light up, and see what that does for them, and just the transformation of, "Wow, I can do this right on the spot," that would be leveling up that content creation to a point where, "Oh, that's why we're doing this."
Pat Flynn: It's not because we want to sew a softie, it's because well, what does a softie mean? And how does it actually empower somebody? And I think that showing that on video could be great, and I think YouTube would be an amazing strategy because what you are seeing is very visual. What you're teaching is very visual, and I think that if you even published two videos a month, it could create that momentum and a little bit more exposure for you and the brand. And I think especially, when you have these events, make sure your YouTube channel is mentioned there, to bring more people in and just the YouTube channel would then become a great way to continue that conversation with people and to continue to teach and to inspire and motivate in between those events.
Pat Flynn: And I think that would be really great. And of course, the larger you grow that audience on YouTube, then the more clout you have, and the more ability you have to spread the word even more through partnerships and relationships and such, and with these partnerships that you have with these companies that you mentioned, I don't know if you're necessarily getting paid for them, or if they're just helping you spread the word. But again, the bigger your platform, the more likely you are to command a little bit of a return on that as well.
Pat Flynn: So I'm really excited. If I were in your position, I'd be stoked for all the different things that I could do and always keeping in mind, because my problem is I want to do it all. No, what are the one or two things that you want to focus on this coming year that are going to grow your brand? And let's just master those. Maybe it's YouTube and partnerships, or maybe it's Instagram and YouTube, or one or two things that you could really learn about, focus on.
Pat Flynn: If you're going to for example, learn about YouTube, okay. Let's find people who are good at that and absorb as much as we can from them, because the problem that I had a long time ago was, "Okay, let me be on LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram and Stories and Reels and Vine and all these things." And I could do all of them like 5% well, because I'm only showing up 5% on each. So just a little guidance for you based on my own mistakes and past experiences.
Trixi Symonds: Yeah. YouTube is one of the things I realize that it's quite good, and I've been thinking that I need to post more tutorials on YouTube. Instagram I don't want to leave, because I already have a really amazing audience there.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. Yeah. You can lean into it even more perhaps.
Trixi Symonds: Yeah. And working how to do that. And the partnerships is good, but because sewing is such a very small niche and it's just hand sewing, that it sometimes is a little bit difficult to work. There's not a lot of companies out there in my space, in the sewing space, or kids' sewing space. So I can't often find a lot of people who to contact. The companies I have are actually... who I do work with at the moment are really, really lovely companies, who help me more than I publish, I'm helping them. But it's amazing. They're really lovely.
Pat Flynn: That's great, actually. And the fact that you're already working with companies like that is good. I would potentially see how you might be able to provide more value to them. Reach out to them and see what else you could do together. I mean, it doesn't have to be just about these events, but you could potentially have a say in some of what it is that they're doing, and have some ownership or I've gotten to the point where in many cases with companies that started off initially as partnerships, I actually went on to become an advisor, because I just really had a good vibe with them and I offered as much value as I could to them.
Pat Flynn: And you have a unique perspective in the space that they don't. They need you just as much as you need them. And I think understanding that allows you to command a little bit more back and also think about, "Okay, well, what else could I offer to them?" Those partnerships are really key, and they also have relationships as well. That is of value to you. "Hey, can you introduce me to this other company that I've seen you work with before?" and those kinds of things can initiate a recommendation from a friend or somebody who you know already is always going to be better than a cold outreach.
Pat Flynn: So you can use the contacts you have already to begin expanding your network even more. And again, why? Because you'll reach more kids and you'll reach more teachers and you'll reach more parents. Always just remember to keep that in mind, because it's very common in this stage of business to just get really lost in the opportunity and lost in the growth. And as long as you remain true to your why, and what you're doing this for, then you really can't lose.
Trixi Symonds: Yeah, no, I love what I'm doing. So it's just what else? I guess I got so much, I think, how else can I just get more people seeing what I'm doing?
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, you got to show up. You got to be in places. And I think that's why content creation like on YouTube, for example, and on Instagram would be great because the beauty of YouTube, more than any other platform other than perhaps TikTok, and I don't know if you want to do the TikTok thing-
Trixi Symonds: TikTok's not good for me.
Pat Flynn: ... would be the algorithm, and the ability for you to create a really good video with a title and thumbnail that really just... YouTube's like, "You know what? We love this video. We're going to send it to millions of people for you." That can happen. And the more you create, the more opportunity there is for that to happen. And who knows? Maybe Oprah's daughter might come across one of those videos one day and ask her mom to, "Hey, you should get in contact with Trixi."
Trixi Symonds: That sounds pretty good to me.
Pat Flynn: If we can think it, we can make it happen, for sure.
Trixi Symonds: I actually find that I say sometimes to my husband, "Oh, I wish Sew A Softie would do this and this. And all of a sudden, it happens. I started just teaching. For 20 years, I was just in my community and I thought, "I need to get out into the wider community." And then all of a sudden, I was teaching at museums and art galleries and I say, "You got to say this to the world and see what happens." And it grows-
Pat Flynn: Absolutely.
Trixi Symonds: ... in ways you never expect or I never expected. So it's like, "Wow."
Pat Flynn: I mean, what's stopping you from asking the museum that you work with in New York and say, "Hey, excited about this next event. Do you happen to know anybody who might enjoy working with me on another event like this, or who we can help to spread the word out even more?" I mean, one of them might know Oprah, you never know.
Trixi Symonds: Yes. You never know.
Pat Flynn: And you have so much value. You've already provided so much value. You have the permission to ask and I mean, what's the worst that can happen? "Well, I don't know anybody, but I'll keep my ear out for it."
Trixi Symonds: Yes. I learned that a long time ago the worst that someone can say is no. And so I've decided, okay, I'll just ask and put it out there and see what happens. And it's been really good for me to remember that.
Pat Flynn: I love it. So if anybody's listening to this and you're like, "Oh my gosh, Trixi's amazing. I love what she's doing. I want to help her," Trixi, where can people go to find your business and your website and all the things to get in contact with you?
Trixi Symonds: So I'm Sew A Softie on Instagram. I have a website called Sew A Softie and Facebook, I'm Sew A Softie, and YouTube, I'm Sew A Softie.
Pat Flynn: Love it. The branding's really good. I love what you're doing, Trixi. Best of luck to you. If you need anything, reach out, because I believe in what you're doing.
Trixi Symonds: Thank you so much. And I just really appreciate your hope and just being on your podcast has been so amazing for me.
Pat Flynn: Thank you. Thank you for the inspiration and good luck. We'll hopefully catch up again and talk about all the great things that have happened since. So, we'll talk soon.
Trixi Symonds: Thank you very much, Pat. That's amazing.
Pat Flynn: All right. I hope you enjoyed that coaching call with Trixi. I highly recommend you check out her website. It's just so cool what she's doing there at SewASoftie.com. And I do think there's a lot of opportunities for new partnerships and new growth here. And I imagine that down the road, even thinking about this after we finished up, there's a lot more different niches if you will, that she could help kids about.
Pat Flynn: Perhaps their favorite characters from shows and whatnot. There's just so many cool things that are possible, and I'm looking forward to catching up with Trixi in the future as we see Sew A Softie continue to grow. So thank you, Trixi. I appreciate you. And thank you for listening through. I appreciate you. We have a lot of great stuff coming, especially this year. You're going to notice that we are going to change up AskPat very shortly here.
Pat Flynn: I just recorded the intro for the new version of AskPat, which is going to be called The Smart Bar, which will utilize not just my expertise, but the expertise of everybody in our network to help you in one way, shape, or form, because I'm not all knowledgeable about all things. In fact, if you have a question about something, there might be somebody who I know who could help you even faster and even better. And that's what The Smart Bar is about. It's not just about Pat anymore.
Pat Flynn: It's about all of us and helping each other, so look out for that coming shortly. Again, that's The Smart Bar. I'm not sure if it'll be ready at this point in time when you're listening to this. It might be, and it might be the future and obviously, ready by then. But if you go to TheSmartBar.fm, that's where you're going to get redirected to all the places where it will be once it carries over.
Pat Flynn: So anyway, really excited about that. Kudos to the team, to helping to put that together and manage all that. And to our network, who's been just so excited to step up and also offer help here too. So TheSmartBar.fm coming soon, if not already available. So, thank you so much. I appreciate you. Make sure you hit subscribe so you don't miss out on that and other AskPat episodes that are coming shortly here after this one, and of course, we have a whole archive of questions that we've answered that may help you at this point in time as well.
Pat Flynn: Until I see you again, thank you so much. I appreciate you. And as always, Team Flynn for the win.
Pat Flynn: Thanks for listening to AskPat at AskPat.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. AskPat is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.