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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Progress Update - June

I’ve been doing my monthly progress updates on my facebook page but since I’ve found blogger I’ve decided to start doing them here instead.

June’s been a funny month:

On the one hand it’s been the best month for sales since the business started in February. When I’ve looked at sales, they’ve got progressively better as the months have gone on, which is great and I’m hoping it continues!

But on the other hand, the craft fairs that I thought I’d so well at have been utter disasters. People have been more interested in buying tat (and as harsh as that sounds it’s true). At one people were throwing money at the tombola to win carbonated water and a bottle of shampoo! And the other they were buying the cheap as chips jewellery that breaks after 10 mins by the bucket load.

The flipside of those disasters is that they have really made me think about how to sell and where to market myself. So I’ve decided to do the craft fairs in July and then take stock of the situation and see where to go from there.

On the selling front, my biggest sales at the moment are custom card orders and the more unusual gifts like the christening frames and day you were…frames. So since I’ve sorted out the fridge magnets, I’ve got a good portfolio of products so I’m sticking with what I’ve got.

On the marketing front, I’ve got a fab presentation with all of my products on, brief descriptions and prices etc which will hopefully help. I’ve also thought about where to advertise and my friend Natasha Michel suggested children’s centres. So I’ve emailed all the local ones and got a response already which is fab. So got at least poster going up. I think when I get back from holiday what I might do is just post a poster out to them all!


So what else has been going on…

·         The castle got a new logo courtesy of Happy Hands who made a doodle that my friend Leanne did and turned it into the logo
·         Extended the product range to include fridge magnets and feedback has been great so far

·         Created two day you were born laminated keepsakes for friends daughters for their 1st birthday’s

·         Had two orders for the will you be my godparent postcards

·         Did a custom card order for Craig which his wife loved so will make that available as a template now too


The progress report is a bit early this month as I’m on holiday tomorrow for a week so the castle is closed. I’ll be celebrating my birthday while I’m away which is weird…I’ve never been bothered about turning a year older, but this year I’m going to be 25!!!

The castle is now 5 months old so fingers crossed that July is a bumper month J

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Exciting times...

Evening all!

Had an interesting few days!

After emailing all the children's centres in the area at the weekend I've had a response from one who have agreed to put a poster up in reception for me. So posted that off today with some business cards. Fingers crossed that goes well and the others get in touch! Here's the poster I've sent to them:


I received my first wowthankyou order recently for x2 will you be my godmother postcards and the buyer said they'd also be buying the matching godfather ones too. I emailed them checking when they wanted them due to me going on holiday (more on that shortly) and they ordered and paid for those and posted those today too.


Had a bit of a brain wave whilst drinking my horlicks in bed last night so hopefully a new magnet range coming up this evening or tomorrow...

But by far the best news is the email I've received from someone whose looking at organising a  newspaper/newsletter/magazine type publication to promote small-medium size businesses and charities in the UK.

So thought I'd share with you the info I've sent over:

Business Name: Jeeberella's Craft Castle
Location: Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire but can post all over the UK
Contact Details:
Email: jeeberellascraftcastle@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Jeeberella

100-200 words on what your business does/offers:
The castle is all about personalisation. Whether it's cards, bookmarks, door hangers or keepsake frames, it's all personalised with names / dates / anything else the customer wants. I design everything myself based on what I like and what I think others will like, however, if my customers want something tweaking e.g. a different font, different wording etc. then I'm more than happy to change it for them. I like to offer both a personalised, tailored and unique service to my customers so they get exactly what they're looking for.
When I’m giving gifts I like to give something that’s a little bit different, so that’s where a lot of my inspiration comes from. The day you were born and married keepsakes make a fab alternative gift for any age birthday, any new couple or anniversary present (you won’t be the one buying yet another toaster). And as they’re keepsakes they can be kept and displayed all year round. Plus my other ranges can be given to friends, family and colleagues. The door hangers, bookmarks and fridge magnets make perfect little gifts for anyone and would be perfect stocking fillers at Christmas!
 
How much could a customer expect to pay for one of your products/services:
My products range in price due to the different products on offer.
A6 cards are £2.50 each, A5 cards are £3.50 each.
Blessing bags £7
Bookmarks and fridge magnets ranges from £2 - £4.
Laminated day you were...keepsakes are £5.
Clipframe keepsake gifts £7.
Door hangers £3 each.
Pick me up poem and name meaning clipframes £3-£4
Will you be my...postcards £2 each or £3 laminated
Announcement postcards £Dependent on order quantity
Invitations £Dependent on order quantity
These prices don’t include postage which again varies due to the size and weight of the products.

Now then, the castle is closed from Monday 27th June - Sunday 2nd July as I'm off on holiday. Had it booked for 6 months and has come round just at the right time, both me and King Neil are desperate for a break. So we're off to Portsmouth for 5 days in a cute lil caravan and will celebrate my birthday while we're down there.

Signing off for now peeps!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Just a quickie...

Just a quick blog post today.

Wanted to show you all my brand spanking new logo courtesy of my friend Leanne who doodled it and then Gayle of Happy Hands (who does fab organza bouquets, favour bags, tiara's centre peices, all sorts) who turned it into the logo!

And I also wanted to use my blog to show you something completely random... a giant roosters potato!

And just before I disappear, whether you're a buyer or a seller you should check out WowThankYou on Facebook. It's a brill website for all UK handmade items

Monday, 20 June 2011

Struggling to switch your business brain off?


As some of you may know I've been struggling to sleep lately. I've always had problems sleeping but someone sent me this list of foods that can help to make you sleepy. Thought I would share this with all as I know how difficult it can be to switch off:
What is the secret to getting a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep? Head for the kitchen and enjoy one or two of these 10 foods. They relax tense muscles, quiet buzzing minds, and/or get calming, sleep-inducing hormones – serotonin and melatonin - flowing.

Bananas. They’re practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.

Chamomile tea. The reason chamomile is such a staple of bedtime tea blends is its mild sedating effect – it’s the perfect natural antidote for restless minds/bodies. (I bought some twinnings chamomile tea with vanilla and honey and whilst it's a bit bitter for me, it certainly did the job)

Warm milk. It’s not a myth. Milk has some tryptophan – an amino acid that has a sedative–like effect – and calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan. Plus there’s the psychological throw-back to infancy, when a warm bottle meant “relax, everything’s fine.” (I call it snorlicks because it tends to work for me, now I know why)

Honey. Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that’s linked to alertness.

Potatoes. A small baked spud won’t overwhelm your GI tract, and it clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To up the soothing effects, mash it with warm milk.

Oatmeal. Oats are a rich source of sleep – inviting melatonin, and a small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of maple syrup is cosy – plus if you’ve got the munchies, it’s filling too.

Almonds. A handful of these heart-healthy nuts can be snooze-inducing, as they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium.

Flaxseeds. When life goes awry and feeling down is keeping you up, try sprinkling 2 tablespoons of these healthy little seeds on your bedtime oatmeal. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a natural mood lifter.

Whole-wheat bread. A slice of toast with your tea and honey will release insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain, where it’s converted to serotonin and quietly murmurs “time to sleep.”

Turkey. It’s the most famous source of tryptophan, credited with all those Thanksgiving naps. But that’s actually modern folklore. Tryptophan works when your stomach’s basically empty, not overstuffed, and when there are some carbs around, not tons of protein. But put a lean slice or two on some whole-wheat bread mid-evening, and you’ve got one of the best sleep inducers in your kitchen.

So...I figure if before bed I have a turkey sandwich on wholemeal bread, bananas and honey, with some warm milk before I go to bed I should be onto a winner :)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

So where can you find the castle?

Hopefully my blogspot will catch on so thought I better tell you all where you can find the castle as it gets about a bit!

Facebook

I'm always on facebook so this is probably the best place to contact me if you have any queries. I rely on my facebook to publicise all of my products, get feedback and interact with people. You don't need to write on my wall, there's a contact form on the left where the wall, photos are etc or you can email directly at jeeberellascraftcastle@gmail.com.

WowThankYou

WowThankYou is a fab website. You have to be approved to sell on there and the initial joining fee money is used to market the website. Tracey who runs it is fab, sends regular updates and works very hard to promote the website and get traffic to the website.

Twitter

All of my facebook posts are linked to twitter which is a godsend, I need to get better at replying to people tweets though.

Castle website

The website is still a work in process, once it's fully updated I'll be publicising this alot more. At the moment, the facebook page is more up to date than the website

Blogspot 

Last but not least...I only started using blogspot this week but think it's fab and will be using that rather than the notes section like I have been doing. So the next progress update for June will be coming from blogspot. I like being able to play about with the backgrounds and stuff.

Is it really "all experience"?

I've had a weird few days. First I was preparing for what I expected to be a successful craft fair in Bakewell. Bakewell's a gorgeous little Derbyshire town that is a tourist hot spot at the weekend (if anyone's interested here's a link to Bakewell's website) as it's the home of the Bakewell tart. Although after visiting the bakewell tart I know and love isn't what you find in Bakewell, it's the traditional bakewell pudding that you'll find. Still gorgeous though!




I spent most of Friday evening sorting out a presentation for my laptop to take with me, which you can find here (feel free to share this with whoever you see fit)

However, after getting up at 7:15am, driving for an hour each way and being out of the house for just over 10 hours, it was a massive disaster. The rain put people off, there was a huge dog show just down the road but not within walking distance to attract people to the fair from there, majority of people that did come in were on the conveyor belt (walked round very quickly and straight out the door again), I had 2 people interested in personalised cards but they wanted to take them away with them there and then. Once I explained I had to do the personalising at home they weren't interested.

Now, I was sitting next to a lovely jewellery seller (Rocks and Silver by Clare, all sterling silver and proper gem stones, fab stuff I can tell ya) and a husband and wife team who make wooden clocks with pictures / characters on. They were trying to be helpful by suggesting I take my printer, laminator and all my bits and peices to craft fairs in the future and I know a few people have suggested doing the same on my facebook page, but it's just not do-able for a few reasons:
  • Not all craft fairs have power supplies
  • My printer and laminator are huge bits of kit to lug around
  • A lot of my cards aren't just simply printed off, they take assembly
  • It would be too time consuming making cards up while people waited
  • I would have to purchase 2 tables at any craft fair as I just wouldn't have the room otherwise, this would bump my costs up a lot
However, while it was a disaster sales wise, it gave me a kick up the backside to think of other outlets. So while still at the fair I took to my facebook page to ask people for other ideas and the ideas I've had have been great re: advertising:
  • Children's centres
  • Nursery and primary schools
  • Libraries
Plus the lovely Jane suggested I contact the local markets as there always seems to be space in Leek. And the more I thought about it the more I think that's probably one of the best ideas so far. The biggest issue with my stuff is that you don't always need it when you see it, if I can get a regular spot somewhere then people will know where to find me when they do need something!

So last night and this morning, I've emailed the local councils about the markets (hoping it's not a stupid amount of money), I've emailed all the children's centres in the area and I've just got the huge list of primary schools to go and find emails from so I can get emailing them to.

I may have waffled on a bit but if I hadn't gone to the craft fair and it been a complete let down, I wouldn't have asked people for other ideas and I wouldn't be doing what I am now to get the business promoted locally. So the next time someone says "it's all experience" I won't be quite so quick to dismiss it!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The castle continues...

I'm new to this blogging malarky after I've been putting off giving it a go for quite some time! So here goes...

Jeeberella's Craft Castle has been up and running since February and while progress may have been slow and steady I think I'm getting somewhere now.

The website is up and running
The Facebook page is now nearly up to 600 likers
Got a shop on WowThankYou which you have to be approved to sell on
You can keep up to date with castle happenings on Twitter with all facebook postings automatically going to there too

I try to have a balance between promotion and the more random things that happen in my life, such as what I'm having for tea, my weird sleep patterns and where and when I'm going on holiday.

I've met some lovely people along the way. Happy Hands creator Gayle has been a massive help recently encouraging me to join Blog TV as well as creating my lovely background page and offering to ease me in gentley by suggesting we do a joint live blog which could be quite exciting.

One area where I thought I'd be doing better by now is craft fairs. I've only been to 3 but apart from the first one, the other 2 have been disasters! I'm hoping it will go well @ the Bakewell Craft and Gift Fair this Saturday as Bakewell is a bit of a tourist attraction and the fairs are held every week so there is obviously demand for it.

I've updated both my stall layout and table cover in the hope that my products will contrast against it and it will get some extra attention
What do you think?
I've also invested in a rotating stand which I've attached my bookmarks to do they stand out a bit more

Thought it was something a bit different?

Other than that, orders are coming in steadily now which is great and I'm really enjoyign myself.
So yeah make sure you remember the castle when you need something a bit extra special!
Much love xxxx