Phil Powell of Aldershot Sewing Machines services and repairs sewing machines and occasionally completely renovates them. He has been based at the Aldershot Enterprise Centre since 1st January 2022 and business has thrived since moving in. The business will also soon be moving to the refurbished Victoria Road building in central Aldershot.
Starting the business
With a background in the service industry and before that, the military, Phil was trained in machine engineering and in his own words “has done all sorts over the years.” He ran a Haberdashery shop in Aldershot and realising a gap in the market, he started up the current incarnation of the business.
“I had a lot of mature ladies coming into the shop and asking me if I could repair their machines. I realised there was a market for it and after some proper training and certification, Aldershot Sewing Machines was born.”
The move to Aldershot
Phil knew about the Aldershot Enterprise Centre as he had known Assistant Centre Manager Jo Harper for years and he had also come and sold a car via We Buy Any Car who are still tenants at the centre. After sorting some stuff out over Christmas, he was able to move in at the beginning of the year,
“I was previously operating from home, which was a nightmare. Being at Aldershot has meant I’ve been able to have a bit more space to store the sewing machines and work.”
Growing the business
Since moving to the centre, business has boomed,
“I’m flat out. 25% of my work comes from Facebook, 40% from referrals and the rest from Google. But I have customers coming as far afield as Windsor, Slough, Reading and Portsmouth.”
He also has industrial clients and regularly visits textile companies, factories, upholsterers and even Elstree Studios. Surprisingly, despite it being a niche business and many in the industry retiring over the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still competition out there,
“I feel that I am competitive, I’m not the cheapest but I pride myself on my reputation and my high quality of work. I also offer 6 month’s warranty on all my servicing.”
The service from the Aldershot Enterprise Centre
Phil feels that the team at Aldershot enabled him to move in easily and he finds being a tenant there straightforward and uncomplicated,
“The biggest advantage for me is that there is one bill. I don’t have to worry about electricity or water bills, I just have my rent to pay. It’s fantastic that it’s all in one place at a very very reasonable cost.”
He also likes the cleanliness of the centre,
“You may not think this is a big thing, but I also really appreciate that the toilets are always so clean!”
The future of Aldershot Sewing Machines
With the current economic climate, no future is certain at the moment, but Phil would like to keep the business running, despite being close to retirement,
“I’d love to employ an apprentice to pass my skills on to, but I need to work out the logistics and finances of this.”
Phil is delighted to be moving with the Aldershot Enterprise Centre team, to the refurbished building in central Aldershot this Summer.
“It will place me nearer to the town itself and will be a lot easier for my clients to find!
I would never be able to find a workshop of my own at the same operating costs – for a small one-man business like mine it is absolutely ideal.
Having been here for 18 months now I cannot fault the backup I’ve had and Lorna and Jo are soooooo helpful too.”
Phil’s top tip for new entrepreneurs
Phil believes for anyone starting out in business, honesty with your customers is the best and only way forward,
“Keep it simple and be honest with your customers. If you can’t do it, or can’t do it on time, say so!”