CuparNow KnowHow – Norry Custom Designs
In our latest profile featuring a business in Cupar, we caught up with Fiona Norry. As with so many small businesses, Fiona set up her own company as a family and lifestyle choice …
Fiona runs Norry Custom Designs – providing custom designed embroidery, clothing & accessories. She explains: “I started my business as I have 2 disabled children. Working for others did not fit in with my family life.” But it was not just the ‘here and now’ that led Fiona to step out on her own. She made her decision very much with an eye on her children’s future: “I realised that their employment possibilities would be limited, so I aim to provide positions for them when that time comes if they should choose to work in the family business.”
Fiona spent time as a child in Germany. “When I was young, my Dad was in the RAF and we lived in a German town near the camp.” That time of her life sparked her enthusiasm: “A lot of the shops there were family run businesses.”
Fiona learned to sew when she was a child and would spend time cutting up and reworking any fabric she was allowed to use. When she left home, she studied Theatre Costume in Edinburgh and met her now husband who was studying Technical Theatre.
In 2005, Fiona gave birth to their twin sons. Living away from family didn’t work for them, so they moved to Cupar – home to her husband’s family. “I dabbled in lots of different crafts and even tried my hand at making mohair collectible bears.” Four years later, Fiona had her youngest son. She says: “I still crafted ‘here and there’ but had very little time to do much. My twins were diagnosed with Autism and a learning disability.” Life was very tough – and Fiona and her husband became carers to their twins. Fiona adds: “I put all aspirations of starting my own business on hold whilst we established a way of life that worked for us.”
In 2013, the family moved to a larger home in Springfield. “The move gave me the space to think about our future. How I could keep the routines we’d developed but also create an opportunity for employment for my children when they reached adulthood. I had no idea where to start … but I knew it would be creative.”
A selection from Fiona Norry’s Pinterest page.
Whilst searching for a new sewing machine one day, Fiona came across an advert for her embroidery machine: “I instantly fell in love with it!” She traveled to Glasgow one weekend to see it working and just knew: “This was it. This was what I wanted to do.”
The saving and planning began. “I spent the best part of 3 years trying out fabrics and threads and clothing brands and researching the embroidery software. I spent many hours washing hoodies and T-shirts over and over and over … tumble drying them on high heat so I knew the most reliable brands.”
Then the day came when her machine arrived. “I spent the next few months perfecting the design process. It can be very tricky – especially for larger designs.”
Fiona knew what she wanted to do: now she had to find a place where she could do it. “I had been searching for a place and found it quite difficult. A lot of places were too far out or out of my price range.” A chance passing of Chas G Anderson and her husband spied a sign saying they were advertising offices to rent. “I went in and enquired. Long story short – I have been in the back office ever since.”
Norry Custom Designs launched on the 25th June 2019.
Fiona says the location is ideal: “It works for me. My machine is loud and I don’t disturb anyone with it. It isn’t a huge office but with just me working in there it suits me just fine. I am very grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to do this.”
Just over a year on, Fiona is working hard. “I work closely with customers to achieve exactly what they want. I can customise garments … I know how difficult it can be sometimes to find clothing that fits and is comfortable to wear. This is one of my most popular services.” She also offers a local drop off and collection.
A stitch in time …
We always ask those featured in our profile if they can name a personal or business achievement of which they are most proud. “I was approached by a customer who asked if I could cover up the logo on an old set of football strips with a new logo he had designed. They were being donated to a team of guys he had met whilst working abroad. He had forgotten about it and it was very last minute. His cause was one I felt I should do even if I wasn’t going to make a huge profit as it would mean a lot to the recipients. I worked so hard on them and they were almost done when he called me to say that the first letter of the team name was wrong so I unpicked every single first letter and restitched them. They were delivered to him the night before he flew out. It was the one and only time I have had to go in at the weekend and stay very late to get them finished on time … but I did it and the shirts looked great!”
Fiona adds: “Receiving emails from new customers that say I come highly recommended makes me feel extremely proud.”
We also asked what Fiona would recommend to anyone visiting Cupar for the first time – or for the first time in a long time: “Eat!” she says, adding: “I love good food and Cupar is full of it with more and more small businesses opening up all the time. There is something for everyone – from small sandwich shops, bakeries, cafes, restaurants, butchers, chippies, takeaways, pick your own fruit farms and other independent farm shops … and now even dedicated dessert shops, most of which even deliver to surrounding areas like Springfield. That means if we have had a very long day, we can just order over the internet and have it come to us.” Fiona adds: “Of course there is also our outstanding views, country walks, sports facilities, etc etc etc … but by far my favourite thing about this area is that no matter what mood I am in, there is a place that will make me exactly what I want to eat. And I’m not just saying that as some of these places are also customers of mine!”
Thanks for reading!