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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Progress Update - July

Thought I'd do the blog a bit early this month as I've got so much to tell you and couldn't really wait any longer!

July got off to a bit of a massive bang to be honest!
Came home from holiday on Friday the 1st and after wondering how to market the business with no budget I had two fab offers:

Amy of Zula Craft's offered me 50 free flyers in return for me promoting her page on my facebook page, on my blog (tada) and even on the flyers themselves.

And Where to in Carmarthenshire did me a fab free listing on their website here. Go take a look even if you're not in Wales :)

Then to top off a fab first day in July send in the troops asked their legion of troopers to march on my page. Not 100% sure of the total figure, but within 10 minutes I had 99 new likers, which is fantastic!

So what else happened in July....
  • I was approached by Lynn's Crafts to sign up to their craft newsletter and also sent my contact info, product photos and descriptions to be included in a later edition!
  • I was also approached by Theresa from Northampton Special Baby Care Unit asking me if I would donate one of my items for a charity auction to raise funds for the unit. They held an auction last month and raised a whopping £1000!
  • Had 2 card orders from the lovely Leanne - one of the older sibling cards for her eldest daughter and another one for her new baby daughter from her big sister. She loved the cards and then after the arrival of baby Megan (huge congratulations again, two lil girlies eek) and ordered 2 of the baby collages as well (available for just £5 each in any colour scheme)
  • I had an order for a welcome home card for a baby who was finally allowed to go home after being born 3 months premature. Couldn't help but feel sentimental about it, especially as I know the mum.
  • Had my 3rd folksy order (although one of them never paid so I guess technically it's 2nd) for the older sibling cards which are proving quite popular. I might look at doing some clipframes with the cute poem in as they'd be a lovely keepsake for a big brother or sister.
  • Received my 4th Folksy order for a happy birthday the first as my daddy penguin card. What I'm finding weird about these Folksy orders is that I haven't updated my Folksy page for quite some time as it wasn't getting me anywhere and I wasn't planning on renewing my listings when they expire in August, but now I'm thinking I might renew some of them as people are obviously managing to find them!
  • My friend Katie who I did a custom card order for a few months ago, recommended me to one of her friends for christening invitations. She has since changed her mind but great that I'm being recommended to people.
  • I went to the Biddulph Craft Fair thinking about what I could replace the ribbon with on the door hangers and room signs - garden twine. Ordered some from ebay in cream, red and blue then designed some wall hanging signs. Let me know what you think:

Thought these could be a lovely little wedding / anniversary present or even as a present for yourself as they're personalised with the happy couple's names at the top.
Turns out I was correct as my friend Rose ordered one two days later for her sisters wedding :)

And thought would look fab in the kitchen or the hallway? Made these into 9cm x 9cm fridge magnets as well

Craft fair news:
  • Adderley Green Festival Sunday 17th July - The less said about this the better, complete wash out! Lasted 3 hours before the wind and rain destroyed my stall and broke one of the gazebo poles! I did a previous blog for this one if you scroll back and have a look.
  • Biddulph Festival Saturday 23rd July - Must say that this was a lovely craft fair, the space itself was lovely and bright and the quality of the other stall holders was fantastic. Had my first (and only) sale within the first 15 minutes but had plenty of interest and positive feedback which was good. Gave out a few business cards as well as people asked to take them so that was promising. Also met some lovely ladies next to me. It was their first craft fair and must say they were very well organised. Monkey Sew, Monkey Do make gorgeous and very cosy looking quilts and some fab baby bibs. SoSo make beautiful hearts and heart bunting in lovely fabrics. So while I didn't have the most successful of events it was certainly the most pleasant.
  • Be Gorgeous Summer Sizzler Wednesday 27th July - This was a local event set up to raise fundsMarie Curie Cancer Care. There was no stall fee was just asked to donate a raffle prize and encourage 5 people to come along. Had a fab night as some of my friends came along so it felt like a girly night out. Sold 1 custom card but loads of people took cards away with them which was good.
Tried out one of those fishy pedicure things, bit weird if I'm honest but was only £3 for 5 minutes and at least I've tried it! Here's an amusing photo my friend Stacey took...

So that's it for this month, I'm off out Friday night to Neil's best friends in Tamworth - we bought him a wine tasting evening for his 30th present and tomorrow is the night.

If there's anything in particular you want me to blog about, just let me know, other than that I shall update you in August :)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Inspired...

As some of you might know, I don't appear to have much luck with craft fairs for a few reasons:
  • People want things there and then. They don't want to part with money and not take something home. Find it really difficult to explain (without sounding rude) that I can't possibly have a huge range of names of all of my products stock piled and that my products need to be made to order.
  • I get lots of "ooh that's nice" and "ooh that's different" then they walk past and I'm assuming it's because they don't need something there and then.
  • Despite coming to a craft fair event people genuinely come with no money, now I'm assuming this is a symptom of the recession so more people are browsing rather buying
A few times now I've said, that's it I'm not doing anymore, due to the costs involved eating into my profits. I'm rarely even making the money for the stall nevermind any profit. And when you consider the money I've had to put into creating a stall, the time spent there and the petrol getting there and back it's all adding up.

However, I have realised it does spur me on:
  • To look into further advertising opportunities
  • To look at my products - can I improve them?
  • To have new ideas about new products
  • To look at the types of craft fairs I'm attending
So while I may not be having a massive amount of luck money wise, business wise they're doing me the world of good!

Today's craft fair in Biddulph went OK, I had a sale within 15 minutes, gave out quite a few business cards and met some lovely ladies:

Monkey Sew, Monkey Do - gorgeous handmade quilts and baby bibs (really good quality)
SoSo - beautiful handmade hearts and heart bunting

And it's because of these lovely ladies that I had a brain wave. I've been thinking about the ribbon on the door hangers and room signs
Can't help but think it makes them look a tiny bit...well cheap!
So I've ordered some garden twine to replace the ribbon in blue, cream and red

So shall see how that works when I get it next week. Also designing some home decor signs as well for say the kitchen, hallway, bedroom etc. I do need some weird and wonderful sayings though, I don't want the usual ones you find in the shops, unless people request it. I am designing some ones intended as a small wedding present but you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for those in the next week or so :)

Anyways, hope you enjoyed my latest blog. If you want to see anything from me, just drop me an email

xxx

Sunday, 17 July 2011

How fair is a craft fair?

Let's start at the beginning...

I booked Adderley Green Summer Festival a few months ago with a bit of hesitation as it was an outdoor event but as it was scheduled for July I thought "What's the worst that can happen? It's July, if it's not red hot it'll just be a bit drizzley". How wrong was I!

It rained from the moment I got there (8:45am) to the moment I left (1:30pm way before the 4pm event finish time). Now when I say rain, it was varying degrees as of rain, from light drizzle to absolutely tipping it down. The sun came out for about 15 mins then disappeared. I've watched it get worse and worse as well as the days gone on so I'm glad I came home when I did. It was just a disastrous day really.

There might have been 2,000 attendees last year but we were lucky if we got 200 during the time I was there due to the weather.

Didn't sell a thing - I mean literally NOTHING! But wasn't just me, so many of the other stalls had the same problem not helped by the fact that a high percentage of the people who had turned up hadn't brought any money with them!!!!

But the final straw was the wind picking up, scattering my stall all over the grass and breaking one of the (borrowed) gazebo poles.

So I swiftly packed up my stuff and left, although even that wasn't easy. Got told off for bringing my car back on to the green but there was no way I was carrying it all the way back to the car park.

So all of this got me thinking about craft fairs and how "fair" they are. Whilst the organisers can't be held responsible for the weather, they were nowhere to be seen when everyone was struggling to keep their gazebo's pegged into the floor. Wasn't just mine that made a break for freedom you see. Neither of the organisers were about or answering their phones and only showed up to tell us we shouldn't have our cars on the green. She even said she couldn't blame me or others for wanting to leave. Which then begs the question: so why charge us the full £10 fee? Would it not have been decent and fair to charge a reduced free given the circumstances?

Whilst I can appreciate that they're not a charity, neither am I! I decided to attend the event, despite the poor forecast, after getting reassurance from the organisers that "a little rain never hurt anyone and it didn't put anyone off last year". Well it isn't last year, it wasn't just a bit of rain and it did put people off.

So to summarise, not only am I the £10 fee down, I've also now got to fork out for a replacement gazebo as well as replacing some of my stock that was either ruined by the rain or the highland fling across the wet muddy grass! And I just can't but feel a little bit aggrieved that the organisers just didn't seem bothered, offer any support or consolation of any kind.

Whilst this won't put me off craft fairs, it's certainly put me off outdoor events and it's very safe to say I won't be doing them again unless supplied with a gazebo or bigger marquee!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Wicked weekend...

Do you ever wait ages for something exciting that's been planned meticulously and then...2 days before you're ill?

Well it happened to me this weekend. Neil's best friend Wil turned 30 on Saturday and his surprise outing has been planned for aaaaages. We were off to Birmingham to surprise him there with a group of friends for a meal and a night out with a pub themed do the day after at his house. (Check out the amazing cake)


His wife Gemma had done a fantastic job of organising everyone and everything then Wednesday out of the blue I started with really bad back pain. Thursday I got up for work and my back was so sore it made me sick. Turns out I had a stomach bug and I was mortified.

So anyway, I missed work on Thursday went in Friday morning and was still not feeling 100% but had a good night and no hangover the next day woohoo!

Had a lovely few hours with our god children which is always such a pleasure and I do feel very honoured that I've been allowed to be a part of their lives and miss them terribly if I don't see them once a month. And of course, they make me broody as hell!


So yes, I've had a fantastic weekend and it's been nice to not have to think about work or the business.

Back on it tomorrow though, need to design a card for a new baby from a big brother and a welcome home card for a premature baby! Good job I'm not in work teehee :)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Off days...

This might just be because I've had 10 days off work and I go back tomorrow but I'm having an off day today.

I'm feeling sorry for myself, I'm feeling fat (I lost 2 stone last year then piled it back on again), I'm not feeling myself and I'm meepy (more feeling sorry for myself)!

I've got 2 orders to sort out and a load of tidying to do and I just don't have any motivation whatsoever. In general I'm feeling like this...


I'm trying my best to remember how lucky I am...
I've got a roof over my head, we can afford to eat, wash and cloth ourselves, we don't have a massive amount of money but we get by and do cool things when we can.
Whilst we may have our ups and down (like any couple), I'm in a loving stable relationship.
I've got 2 gorgeous goddaughters (although technically one isn't but takes too much time to explain it lol).
Whilst I could be closer to my family, I know they're always there for me if and when I need them and vice versa.
And whilst the castle is technically just getting started, it's looking more and more positive each month.
So I should really be feeling like this...

Maybe a day taking it easy and a night off watching a film will help...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Facebook business pages worth checking out...


I was luckily enough to receive a sock monkey from Donna for my birthday off my dad. I know there’s a lot of sock monkey makers out there but as I’ve had first hand experience of Donna’s handywork, I can definitely recommend her J


I’ve been friends with Happy Hands for a bit now and she’s been a godsend. She’s helped me out no end. And on top of that her products are amazing and have given me some food for thought for when I get married. I recently showed a friend who is getting married next year Happy Hands and she got so excited she’s sorting out her guest list! Well worth a look, especially the organza bouquet’s which are beautiful.


Donna’s one of the first people who I bought from on facebook and she was fab. Ordered lots of lovely fine glitters from her. Fantastic place to buy all of your bits and pieces from; ribbon, embellishments, beads and charms, all sorts


I ordered one of these lovely candles for a christening present and not only was the candle perfect, but it was very well presented and they were a pleasure to deal with. Definitely worth a look if you’re after a gift for a wedding, anniversary, christening or birthday as they can be personalised with photos as well as names and dates!


Amy of Zula Crafts is fab. Not only has she contacted me about going in a craft newsletter but she’s also offered to do me 50 free flyers as I have no marketing budget! Her prices start from as little as £10 and she could be a real allie for small businesses like me who don’t have big budgets for marketing. Go say hi and see what she can do for you!


This one’s a little different from all the others as it’s not a business page but a website. This takes you to my listing on the website and if you go to the home page you can like the website via your facebook page / profile.
Well worth a look even if you aren’t in Wales. Fab idea and a fab website


Perfect Patchwork is a relatively new page with just under 50 likers so seeing as she asked so nicely, go check her out. If you go to her folksy or etsy shop on her page you’ll be able to see the lovely quilts, wall hanging and other lovely stuff she does.


This page does exactly what it says on the tin…tries to save you money. I think it’s safe to say everyone has had to tighten their purse strings for the last 12 – 18 months a lot more than we would have liked. This page gives you great ideas on how to switch suppliers to get the most out of your money which will be a god send for the biggest things a home will have to pay for, gas and electricity!


I’ve known Crafty Cow’s work since I set up in February and cannot wait to be able to order something. She does fantastic handcrafted Mulberry guest books, scrapbooks and journals for all occasions. The designs are beautiful and would make a very special gift as they come gorgeously gift wrapped as well. Check out her sold and craft fair albums for some ideas.


I have a bit of a soft spot for the weird and wonderful which is why I love this page so much. I’m not surprised it has over 7,000 likers as the stuff available is fantastic. Easier for you to look rather than me trying to explain to be honest!


The best £1 supplier around. She accepts requests for stuff you may be looking for and comes highly recommended by a lot of happy customers, check out all of her reviews if you don’t believe me!

Another weird and wonderful page of yeti and monster sculptures. They are an American company but they’re fab things for weird and wonderful people like me lol

And finally…


I’ve known Alison since high school and she started her business around the same time I did. Go check out her lovely jewellery and cards, she takes bespoke orders too J

So there we have it, some fab pages I wanted to share with you all...enjoy :)

Friday, 1 July 2011

Holibobs!

Well, I'm back from my holidays and it's been fab.

We stayed in a caravan park on Hayling Island and the beach there was lovely, although to be honest we didn't really explore it as much as we would have liked as we had so much other stuff to do. Spent our 3 full days:

Beaulieu motor museum - fab day out, as even if you're not a car fan you'll recognise a lot of them and they have the abbey and the palace house to look at too

Blue reef aquarium - cute little aquarium but when you pay for your ticket you get your hand stamped which then means you can go in as many times as you like during the day so we went twice!

Spinnaker tower - Neither me or Neil are good with heights but I fared better than Neil did. The views were amazing and totally worth the ticket price!

Gunwharf Quays - fab shopping village. Closest thing we have like it round here is Cheshire Oaks but this was loads better, even if parking did cost us £8! As it was my birthday Neil bought me a lovely kipling purse before we went to watch transformers 3 which was a major disappointment (the story was too complicated, too much going on so nothing got explained properly, optimus prime doesn't have teenage fits, there wasn't enough of bumblebee, too much of carly just pouting, no chemistry between Sam and Carly, and the ending was just plain naff).

Historic Dockyard - Fantastic day out! First thing we did was go on the harbour tour and we saw so much was great. Got to walk around HMS Victory and Warrior which is amazing naval history!

Throughout the holiday I totally underestimated the sun and despite me caking on the sun cream, my arms, back and shoulders did pretty good lobster impressions!

So yes, not at all business related but there's my holiday lowdown!

Back to business as from Monday :)