english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Supporting Independent Businesses / Ernest Wright & Son Kickstarter Campaign

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Given the referendum results, I think those of us in Britain currently feel awkward posting anything which sounds like it celebrates Britain. In the wake of an isolationist result, we don’t want to look insular or nationalistic.

However, regardless of UK and international politics, it’s important that we celebrate and support our independent businesses, our manufacturing industry (and the jobs it creates), & our artisans and craftspeople.

In fact, the referendum results make it even more vital that we support independent businesses, who are themselves facing a lot of uncertainty and new risks.

I keep in mind how much pressure independent businesses are under, and that it is often a real struggle for small businesses to keep operating, let alone profitably. If we don’t support the independent businesses we care about (with our time & support as well as our money) then they won’t be here.

That’s part of the reason why I’m supporting Ernest Wright & Son’s Kickstarter campaign. The other part is because I fell head over heels for the company when I visited them on behalf of Love Sewing magazine. I’m totally biased, not because I’m sponsored by them in any form, but because I think they’re a lovely bunch who made beautiful products.

P.S. If you’re outside of the UK, maybe take advantage of the current drop in the pound to support their campaign, or purchase a pair of scissors direct.

P.P.S. Have you seen the glorious gold plated scissors Ernest Wright & Son make on behalf of the New Craftsmen.

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A Love Story about Scissors

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

The current issue of Love Sewing Magazine (issue 25, on sale now until late April) features my profile of Ernest Wright & Son. The article discusses the company and the steps involved in making their scissors (plus there’s an opportunity to win a pair of dressmaking shears), but I also wanted to talk about my visit here.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

I proposed the article to Love Sewing and – having received a positive response – took a day off work and visited Ernest Wright & Son during January at their Sheffield factory.

If you’re unfamiliar with the company, they have been making scissors in Sheffield since 1902. Sewing/craft is one of the company’s specialisms (the other major one being kitchen scissors).

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

The factory has a small shop which is open to the public and is well worth a visit. Not only can you select a pair of their scissors in person, the shop also contains a display about the company’s history, and a window onto the factory floor where you can see the scissors being made.

Due to visiting on behalf of Love Sewing, I had the opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’ to see the full process of making a pair of their scissors, and meet the team.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

I’ve had the opportunity to visit and interview a few companies recently (mainly on behalf of Seamwork), and absolutely love getting the chance to mooch around factories and see things being made. But very few companies are as welcoming and as generous with their time as Ernest Wright & Son. I knew I was on to a winner when they made me a tea moments after I walked through the door;)

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Despite the fact that I am not a journalist or photographer (my full-time job is as a project manager at a University), the team at Ernest Wright demonstrated the full process of making a pair of scissors for me – including turning on the very noisy ‘rumbler’ and dryer machines which are used to clean and dry scissors, and painting the handles of their dressmaking shears so I could photograph them hanging to dry. (P.S. if you’ve assumed from the images online that the Colours range have coloured plastic handles, they don’t, they are metal handles which are painted by hand).

I left the factory totally in love with this company and their products. Partly, of course, because of the heritage they represent, as a fifth-generation family-owned company  which is one of the last remaining examples of a historically thriving industry. But most of all because of the great people who work there and their enthusiasm for the products they produce.

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

As a small independent business, the company face issues around cash-flow and seasonality of demand, as well as wider issues caused by the decline of the local steel industry and competition from cheaper machine-made imports. Given that their products are guaranteed for life, limited repeat business is also an issue for the firm.

If you are able to support the company (from buying their scissors, to following their social media accounts), they are a company who truly appreciate the support. And if you get a chance to visit them in Sheffield or at a craft show (they typically attend the Knitting & Stitching Show, & the Handmade Fair), do, and I suspect you’ll fall for the company too.

For more information see:

Love Sewing Magazine, issue 25

Two short films about the company: The Putter by Shaun Bloodworth, and Disappearing Art for the BBC

Ernest Wright & Son Website

Ernest Wright & Son on Instagram

The factory:

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Scissor painting in progress:

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield

Ernest Wright & Son, Sheffield