You might not know it but Zara is the crafty pair of hands behind an awful lot of those bows you've seen on Instagram! Under her alias Thread Maker, Zara makes bows for weddings, for hair, for Christmas trees and frankly anywhere you want to hang one. And now she has added embroidery to her repertoire too - you'll have to get behind me in the queue to have your kids drawings embroidered onto clothing!
I met Zara through Made East, a collective of creatives in East London who run pop-up shops and concessions, a few of which I've taken part in. I immediately loved her enthusiasm for all things creative and the community we live in. She juggles it all alongside three kids, so I'm delighted that Zara agreed to answer my twenty nosey questions and tell us what keeps her inspired.
When did you first start to love the thing you do, or was it always there?
It was always there, I’ve always been obsessed with making things. Me and my friend set up our own art club when we were about 6 years old. We made membership badges and we would just spend every weekend making!
Describe your style in 3 words.
Glam, scruffy, practical - I’m a total contradiction
What inspired you to build the business you have now? What impact do you hope to create?
I started thread maker in a completely back to front way. I was making and selling, mainly to people who I knew for a couple of years before thinking I could/should think of a brand name and get myself a separate instagram account! I don’t think I could have done it any other way. Having 3 young children determines the time I have to work and to be honest I’m not a big risk taker so I wanted to see if I could build a small business for myself before actually launching it properly. Most of what I make is made to order so I have very little waste. I hope to bring joy with everything I make (i get the best thank-you notes) and I want to show my kids there’s different ways of working outside of the 9-5.
Where, who or what experience taught you the most invaluable lessons about the work you go now? Was it university, career or the school of life?
The school of life - I love to hear how people spend their time and what they do for a living. I’ve been consciously taking notes since I was young on people I admire and how I want to set up my life, how I spend my time and who I spend it with.
It’s your day off, what do you do? How do you unwind or find inspiration?
I had a day off just before Christmas, me and my husband started the day with an early breakfast at Borough Market. We took a long walk along the river with a mulled wine in hand (yes, it was a little early). We stopped by the Tate Britain, took in a few exhibitions, caught a bus up through Soho to check out a pop up and then we were still home in time for pick up. It was a perfect way to unwind and find inspiration. An early morning trip to Kempton Antiques is another favourite way to spend my hours off.
What’s on your lifestyle shopping list at the moment? (Clothing, beauty, home, anything!)
I’m on the hunt for the perfect seating to fit our living room. We have my husbands childhood piano which i love though our space is limited so I have my list of measurements and I’m currently stalking Vinterior, ebay and antiques markets.
Song you can’t get out of your head right now (or an all time fave):
I’m playing The XX - On Hold, non stop. I harmonise badly with their voices! My boys get annoyed that I swayed our end of year Spotify round up so much as it was a country song I was obsessed with last summer and it featured heavily in our lists!
Someone special is taking you out for dinner next week, where would you most like to go?
Silo in Hackney Wick is the real stand out place I’d love to go to again or we love a supper club.
A favourite staycation recommendation:
The New Forest is such a magical place, we’ve stayed in a few places there or Settle in Norfolk is so beautiful with the most perfectly put together railway cabins to sleep in.
Favourite place to travel abroad:
I don’t usually like to go to the same place twice though staying by the lakes in Biscarosse is somewhere we’ve been to a few times now. It’s perfect for a family holiday, the calm waters of the lakes, huge beaches and the Dune du Pilat is spectacular. You should make the trip to the tiny island just off the sand dune if you do ever go! (warning: the climb back up the dune is tough, especially when carrying beach gear and little people)
Words of wisdom, what’s the best life or work advice you’ve received?
I can’t think of a single piece of advice though I take inspiration from an old boss of mine. He has a sharp mind, an honest manner and balances fun with work - it’s kind of how I like to approach things now.
Who’s the funniest person you know?
My friend Suzie, we’ve known each other since I was 12 and she has the memory of an elephant. We’ve had many ridiculously funny times together that she remembers well and loves to remind me of so I’m sure she’ll keep me laughing until we’re old. We send each other those pictures of the stylish old ladies who dress outrageously, cackling whilst wandering the streets - we always say that will be us.
Your desert island book?
I am rubbish with books, I’d love to be better. I always admire my well read friends though I just usually take my sewing places and sit and make if I get a chance. I couldn’t join the local book clubs as I just know I won’t read the books.
What item in your home gives you the most joy? Where did it come from?
My tableware collection which is cheating slightly as I have quite a few shelves full of linens, plates, serving plates, glasses and vases. I usually pick something up from every place I go. I found a fabulous silver shell serving platter with tiny silver conch shell feet that no one will ever see though I know they’re there and I love them!
What historical figure would you most like to meet?
I’d love to meet my great great auntie sissy again. She died when I was young, she obviously seemed ancient from the point of view of an 8 year old! She had long grey hair down to her bottom, she travelled the world back in the 1950s, collected lots of things and definitely loved crochet and lace tableware as I have some of her monogrammed pieces now! It would be so interesting to sit and talk with her.
If I came around for dinner, what would you cook?
In all honestly I would ask my husband to cook up a Mexican feast (he’s so good) and then I’d spend my time making you a special table, paint a tablecloth or embroider a napkin, definitely add flowers and just make the most of the occasion. Me and my friend Lou laugh that the chef always gets the complements though I create the ambience! She always makes an effort to thank me for making the table look pretty and the house look good.
Your favourite season and why?
Spring, the feeling when you can take a few layers off and sit outside for the first picnics and I love to watch the spring bulbs come up. Remembering what I’ve planted is also a nice surprise!
A guilty pleasure?
The TV show Sort Your Life Out. Stacey Solomon emptying peoples overrun houses, makes me cry every time!
What’s the most surprising fact about you?
I spent 18 years working in TV before Thread Maker, MTV and Cartoon Network - so much fun.
Proudest recent achievement?