Woman quit her job amid pandemic and launched The Patchwork Punk - Richmond Times-Dispatch

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“I’ve been sewing since I was a little kid,” Scott said.
“I got off at the next exit, called and quit my job,” Scott said.
I was like, ‘This isn’t going to work for me,’” Scott said.
“I realized, ‘I’ve got to hustle,’” Scott said.
Scott said she would like to make enough money to get her own place, but with the increase in rent prices around Richmond — which are now up to $1,300 a month in the metro area, according to data from the CoStar Group — she doesn’t think that will happen anytime soon.

Woman quit her job amid pandemic and launched The Patchwork Punk - Richmond Times-Dispatch

On a busy Sunday afternoon, Liz Scott chatted with customers about her wares at the Lakeside’s Local Makers Market. Known as The Patchwork Punk, Scott creates handmade pillows, figures and bags from her home in Mechanicsville and sells them at local markets around town. It’s a far cry from her former job as a cake decorator at BJ’s Wholesale and, before that, as a shift supervisor at Taco Bell. Scott was one of 47 million people who quit or shifted their jobs during the pandemic, also dubbed The Great Resignation. But instead of starting a new gig, Scott used her stimulus checks to buy a “fancy” new Singer sewing machine and launch her business as The Patchwork Punk. “I’ve been sewing since I was a little kid,” Scott said. During the pandemic, she started sewing masks before they were mass-produced. Once homemade masks were no longer in demand, she started going through her old sewing patterns and found a pattern for plush stuffed animals. “I was like, Hey, I could make that!” She started to make stuffed animals with big eyes and brightly colored anti-pill fleece. People responded. Then she learned how to make the basic structure on her own. Now, her stuffed animals are more complicated — she makes dinosaurs, bearded dragons, crested geckos and more, selling for anywhere from $45 to $125. Scott began selling her items on Etsy and at local markets, but stopped selling on Etsy when the site increased their rates. Now, she sell her items on Instagram and on her own website. But she says she sees the majority of her customers at such local venues as Lakeside’s Local Makers Market and Safe Space Market. “The pandemic wreaked havoc on the labor market. At one point, all non-essential businesses were told to close if employees could not do their work from home,” said Chris Chmura, CEO and chief economist at Richmond-based Chmura Economics & Analytics. “Then when it was safe enough for more businesses to open up, the time away from work gave people the time to consider alternatives. Some chose to seek out jobs with more flexibility. Others found new careers, alternative employers, or even created a new startup. “Workers often contemplate such changes over their career, but the pandemic gave them a quiet place to incubate the next chapter of their life.” More than 472 million payments totaling $803 billion in financial relief went to households impacted by the pandemic, according to the U.S. government. In Virginia, more than $19 billion in stimulus checks was released to households during the pandemic. Most households spent their first stimulus check on household essentials, according to data from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, while the second and third stimulus checks were saved or used to pay off debt. And some recipients, like Scott, used it to start their own business. But it hasn’t been all easy for Scott. Now 37, she had to move back into her father’s home in Mechanicsville to make ends meet. And she’s working harder than she ever did before. But it’s worth it, she said. When she was working as a shift supervisor at Taco Bell, she said she was driving to work one morning and was so fed up with the inconvenient hours and low pay that she daydreamed about driving into oncoming traffic. “I got off at the next exit, called and quit my job,” Scott said. After that, she transitioned into a job decorating cakes at BJ’s Wholesale. But again, she ran into the same issues: inconvenient hours and low pay. Even though she was working part time, she said she was scheduled to work up to seven days a week. “That was the breaking point for me. I was like, ‘This isn’t going to work for me,’” Scott said. Local at-home lactation and family consultants helping Richmond families On a recent afternoon, Stephanie Lee sat on a chair in a first-floor bedroom, breastfeeding her 1-month-old daughter, Margot. She was joined b… She tried looking for another job, but she couldn’t find one. “I realized, ‘I’ve got to hustle,’” Scott said. That’s when she started The Patchwork Punk. Scott said she would like to make enough money to get her own place, but with the increase in rent prices around Richmond — which are now up to $1,300 a month in the metro area, according to data from the CoStar Group — she doesn’t think that will happen anytime soon. Regardless, the job change was worth it, Scott said. “Before this, I’d never been satisfied with the work I did. It was never anything creative. It was food service and retail. I just got fed up with it,” she said. Now, she gets to be creative on a daily basis. Whether she’s picking up hard-to-find fabric at local quilting stores like Quilting Adventures on Lakeside Avenue or branching out into new merchandise like bags made from recycled materials, every day is a new challenge, mentally and physically. Scott hopes to grow her business and is saving up for an embroidery machine. “I’m working harder and longer for less money, but I don’t want to drive into oncoming traffic anymore,” she said. “And I’m starting to get close to making the same money I did before the pandemic.”
The Original Article can be found on Richmond Times-Dispatch

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