From the Heart: RAN Veteran Builds an Embroidery Business
Navy veteran and mum of two Sacha de Wit is getting creative to build her own business with the help of Prince’s Trust Australia.
In the Sunshine Coast village of Pomona, Navy veteran Sacha de Wit is growing a small business that combines her passion for technology and her flair for creativity.
Swaggy Threads Star is a bespoke machine embroidery business that recreates images and logos on fabric.
Sacha began the business two years ago after popping into her mum’s house just to have a play with a new embroidery machine.
Up to that point, the 45-year-old had never considered doing something creative as a career.
I've always created. It's something that's always been there but when you're at school you're directed to avenues which are less creative and more career focused.
The Sunshine Coast local was accepted into the Australian Defence Force Academy straight out of high school and studied IT before embarking on a career in the Royal Australian Navy.
She left full time service in 2002 and last served as a reservist in 2010 at the rank of lieutenant.
Now, as a mum of a 17-year-old and a four-year-old, Sacha is building a business that works around her family.
And it all started with a burning desire to push the limits of that embroidery machine.
It came with this really great software. I found it intuitive straightaway. You can do amazing things like shading with threads so that you get that 3D effect from a 2D object. And having that computer background, it just ticked so many boxes for me.
Sacha started creating wedding keepsakes with her mum but demand for the products just wasn’t there yet.
There was a little shop in town that took some of our creations and so we had a little bit of success. Then we got another embroidery machine that allowed us to embroider t-shirts, which was game changing for us.
We started Swaggy Threads Star, going down the avenue of putting my designs onto t-shirts.
Sacha was responsible for creating the designs while her mum operated the embroidery machine.
The design starts as a drawing on a page and then I digitise the image which allows me to send the file to the embroidery machine. Instead of printing in ink on paper, we print in thread on fabric.
Swaggy Threads Star also began offering a service where customers could have their own logos or designs put on textiles and clothing.
That’s more the avenue that I would like to go down. Allowing others to see their drawings go from the page and reimagined as threads on a t-shirt. I want to share that joy you get from creating.
And while Swaggy Threads Star seems like a world away from being a Navy officer, for Sacha, both roles are at heart about service.
Whatever the service or product is, it's about what you can do with it for other people.That's the driver coming from that service environment.
Recently I was working with a girl who had a medical incident that completely changed her life. Using her art work, I recreated the images for her onto t-shirts.She was sitting beside me as we were going through the design on the computer and deciding where she wanted to add shading. I was looking out the side of my eye and I could see the joy in her face.It was so nice to do that for her.
At the start of 2022 Sacha got an extra boost of entrepreneurial confidence when she linked in with Prince’s Trust Australia.
Sacha said PTA’s programs allowed her to network with other veteran business owners and helped her with the “millions of ideas” running through her mind.
It allowed me to move through those ideas and focus on what I needed to. I also learned during Prince's Trust to identify a change in tact as are direction and not as a failure.
Sacha said she planned to continue growing Swaggy Threads Star and potentially work with some ex-service organisations and other veteran owned businesses, made possible through the networking opportunities PTA provides.
I'd also love to be a stall holder at the Handmade Canberra markets – maybe as a collaboration with another Prince's Trust supported business, bringing multiple talents together.
Check out Sacha’s business: https://www.etsy.com/shop/swaggythreadsstar/
Follow her business journey on Instagram: www.instagram.com/swaggy.threads.star
To register for Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme, visit our events page: https://bit.ly/3weVjrw
This article is written for The Trust by an Australian Defence Force spouse, freelance copywriter, and Enterprise program alumna Courtney Snowden.
The Enterprise programme is proudly sponsored by Accenture ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Howden Group Holdings and SAAB Australia.
The Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme received grant funding from the Australian Government to support veteran owned businesses.
This project received grant funding from the Australian Government Family Support Funding Program to support Defence families into self-employment.