Textiles graduate turns hobby into thriving quilting business
A textiles graduate has made good use of his creative talents to create a successful quilting business.
In the interview below with Hartlepool Council’s communications team Alan Teather explains some of the happy circumstances behind his current success.
It was by pure chance that Alan Teather spotted the sign advertising creative degrees posted on a door at The Northern School of Art (then called Cleveland College of Art and Design) in Church Square, Hartlepool.
By his own admission, he didn’t normally visit that part of town and had no reason to be there on that particular day, other than having been in the nearby Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
As a hobbyist quilter, he decided to find out more and went into the college – now The Northern School of Art – where an open day was taking place.
That was to set in motion a chain of events which resulted in the former Royal Engineer who has experienced long-term mental health problems since breaking his back in an industrial accident, launching his own quilting business.
“It seems as though it was just fate and meant to be,” said Alan, 60, pictured at the top and below.
After successfully completing a one-year Access to Higher Education course and a three-year degree in Contemporary Textiles and Products, he set up Alan Teather Quilting in November 2019 at The BIS in Whitby Street, Hartlepool Borough Council’s award-winning centre for creative sector start-ups.
Expansion into a larger unit at The BIS followed before Alan moved in March this year into an empty shop in Church Square, part of an area of town designated by the Council as an Innovation and Skills Quarter (ISQ)
Ironically, the shop is just yards from where he first saw that fateful sign!
Alan is grateful for the support his fledgling business received at The BIS, a Grade II listed former General Post Office building that has been renovated to provide 28 units – a mix of studio, office and workshop space – ranging in size from 13sqm to 172sqm with specialist business support. The facility offers flexible rental terms and competitive prices.
He says the staff based there were “absolutely magnificent” in the way that they supported him.
The business is now going from strength-to-strength, with orders coming in from a far afield as Australia, USA, Spain, Egypt and Hong Kong.
Caron Auckland, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Enterprise Manager, said: “I am delighted to see Alan’s business doing so well and the company is a real success story, both for The BIS in particular and Hartlepool generally.
“I would urge anyone keen to launch their own creative business to contact us and we would be happy to talk to them about the excellent facilities, services and support available at The BIS.”
Alan makes a variety of patchwork quilts using 100% cotton fabrics, with the number of fabrics in each quilt ranging from as little as three or four up to several hundred and even thousands, depending upon the size and complexity of the quilt.
In addition to quilts, he can produce wall art, throws, cot quilts, play mats, cushions, lamp shades and much more besides – he’s also happy to sit down with customers to discuss bespoke designs.
The origins of quilting can be traced back to the year 3,400BC in Egypt, and the quilting market in the UK alone is currently worth £2m-£4m.
Alan makes his quilts from scratch in the traditional way with three layers of fabric – the quilt top, the insulating wadding and the backing – stitched together. Each is a labour of love that can, in some cases, take many hours to complete.
Such has been the growth of his business that Alan who is assisted by his wife Amanda, is now planning to take on staff.
“I never have fewer than six quilts in the queue and at the moment I have nine,” he said.
Alan’s quilting skills have also been recognised by his peers. He is one of only 10-20 men who are members of the Quilters Guild of the British Isles out of a total membership of some 140,000.
In addition to making quilts, and running a retail outlet, the company also holds regular quilting workshops and classes, details of which can be found on its website at www.alanteatherquilting.com or Facebook and Instagram. Contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about The BIS go to https://www.investinhartlepool.co.uk/locations/the-bis/, email email@example.com or telephone (01429) 363150.
Further details of The Northern School of Art’s current textiles degree, the BA (Hons) Textiles & Surface Design, are available HERE