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Friday, 30 September 2011

Progress Update...So what happened in September

So much has happened in September that I've struggled to remember everything!

To start off September was officially the best month for sales since I started the business in February. Here's a few possible reasons why:
  • I posted the personalised baby bodysuits to my personal profile and got 2 orders within a few hours

  • The business car window sign I did for myself was well received by other businesses and again I got 2 orders within a few hours

  • The Vintage Craft Fair at Fat Cats

Speaking of which...I know I'd said time and time again that I'm doing no more craft fairs but the Fat Cats Vintage Fair was by far the best fair I've attended. It was really well advertised on facebook, in the local paper, at the venue itself and by worth of mouth. As such there was a steady stream of people coming in all day. Met some fab people, including some who are planning on putting quite a few orders in for themselves! The vintage inspired fridge magnets went down really well and from there I've also booked another vintage craft fair at the end of October :)

So what else happened in September...

I took part in Creative Connections CRAFTFest - for anyone that didn't see it was a 2 day online craft fair event. Over 150 stalls selling a range of craft items all online. Not only did I meet some fab people I learnt lots of interesting new things as well.
Good news is that there's another one in November and I've been asked to be a team leader for one of the avdertising groups! If you're interested in a stall then I suggest you get in quick. Check out this link for more info

Hopefully you will have seen some of the interviews I've had from other small businesses? Thought I'd try and inject a bit more life into my blogspot by having different things on here for you to read.

Introduced daily brain teasers to my facebook page which are being well received, especially as I'm offering free postage on any castle product to the first person to get it right! Got a few riddles coming up in the next two weeks so keep an eye out for them.

Pretty long blog already so without further's Octobers offer...

That's right 10% off all orders placed with the castle in October :)

Much love people :)

Christmas CRAFTfest

I'm sure most of you will have seen various facebook posts and tweets from me about CRAFTfest and if anyone is wondering what it's all about then all shall be!

CRAFTfest isn't just an online craft fair, it's a whole new experience when it comes to shopping online.

The appeal is from bost ends of the spectrum:

Sellers: Ever wanted to have a go at a craft fair but couldn't afford? Don't drive? Not quite worked up the courage?

Buyers: Ever seen adverts for craft fairs and would love to go but don't drive, don't want to cart the kids around with you, bad weather put you off?

CRAFTfest is for you as there's no travelling involved. Using interactive photo albums as your "stall" sellers from across the country will be showcasing their items and giving people the opportunity to buy these items from the comfort of their own living room!

There were over 140 stalls involved over 2 days at the one in September including me and from first hand experience it was fab! A lot of the sellers were working together to get it advertised locally using flyers, on facebook, twitter, blogs and the creative connections site itself.

If you would like more information about CRAFTfest visit creative connections website

All sellers are being allocated a team leader for queries and I'm very pleased to say I'm the leader of the pink team. Idea of these teams is to work together to discuss ideas, answer queries and publicise the event as much as possible. But we're also relying on potential buyers to spread the word for us too!

The whole thing is sponsored by Creative Crafting magazine and is available for 48 hours on 26th and 27th November so put it in your diaries and apply now to get your space as they're filling up fast!

Short and sweet Peggy's Collection interview

Here's the latest interview installment, this time from Peggy's Collection

Why did you chose your business name, when did you start the business, how you got started and what was your inspiration?

My business name originates from my late grandmother called Peggy. She taught me how to knit and that's where my love of all knitting and dressmaking started.

What it is you do, how do you do it and why do you do it?

I am a designer specialising in vintage inspired knitwear and clothing. I love what I do it's been a dream of mine to do this since I was a child so to own a business doing what I love every day is fabulous.

How can people find you and how can people buy from you?

Facebook - Peggys collection fan page

A weird and wonderful fact about yourself…
A weird and wonderful fact about yourself (not the business) ok fact is I have lots of tattoos ;)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A lovely interview all about Alzheimerama Crafts

Following on from my first few interviews I’ve had lots of interest from other businesses too so I’ve asked them a few simple questions.

The 3rd interview comes from a lovely lady called Alison who runs a non profit business in aid of Alzheimer’s, here’s her story…

Why did you chose your business name, when did you start the business, how you got started and what was your inspiration?

Alzheimerama Crafts came about as I have been making and giving away bracelets for years and I realised I could try selling them on facebook and maybe raise some money for charity at the same time. Alzheimerama is the strangest name I've come across but I wanted a name that said what my page was about without being too clinical and a wee bit fun and it's stuck :) When people ask the name of my page I always end up laughing trying to say it!
I chose alzheimer scotland as my charity because my mum has early onset dementia (eod) and we have had lots of support from Alzheimer Scotland in the 9 years since she was diagnosed. It seemed only right to try and give back in a small way and see if it worked. I don't make any money from my page, I run it as a non-profit business; a small amount each month buys supplies and the majority goes through my justgiving page.
I have some brilliant likers who send me their 'bead orphans' and that’s a huge help. One of the nicest things anyone did for me was to give me ten books of stamps! It was just so thoughtful and saved me a small fortune. Apart from fundraising the best thing about my page has been meeting such lovely people.

What it is you do, how do you do it and why do you do it?
I started off making elasticated bracelets and suncatchers but kept seeing things I wanted to try; recently I started beadweaving and I'm now hooked. I wanted to try something different in the summer and looked around for something I thought I could make that would appeal to people and Alzheimerama Angels came about. I have made over 100 since then and they can be personalised with their own mini adoption papers. I am slowly branching out and am fascinated with wire just now... I have the scars to prove it :)

How can people find you and how can people buy from you?
I sell through my facebook page!/Alzheimerama
You can email me at
Ihave a justgiving page at where i pay in money every month and you can see the total creeping up; it’s now at over £1900 which is just amazing!

A weird and wonderful fact about yourself…
My day jobs both involve music. I teach piano and flute most evenings but also work for the local church running music groups and whatever else comes up. Both my jobs are lots of fun (maybe not the funerals) but i work some odd hours and meet lovely people. Soon I'll be in a primary school helping with their Christmas 'show' and that's lots of fun, too. I don't suppose everyone can say they have as much fun at work as I do :) at home I have two boys, two guinea pigs, two dogs and one lonely rat. Plus one long-suffering husband lol it is anything but dull round here.

Hope you enjoyed reading that, I certainly did :)

If anyone does want to donate any left over beads to Alison, please do get in touch as it's for such a good cause!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

An interview with...Junction Crafts

The response to the request for businsesses to interview has been great. So got some great businesses to share with you and 2nd on the list is Junction Crafts

I came up with the business name of the top of my head in amongst a few others but 'Junction Crafts' was the most popular name when it came to the opinion of those on the networking page send in the troops. The business started in my dining room at home :)

Junction Crafts sells handmade items, decorative items, and our most popular items are the wax burners and melts.

So where can you find Junctions crafts?
You can find us on facebook here
We don't have a website yet but we are looking in it
We are listed on HandMade For You under Soaps & Fragrance and also Gifts.

We have currently got 2 competitions running - one on What's Good To Do and one on creative crafting Creative Crafting

Thanks and we hope you pop over for a visit :)

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Interview with Perfect Patchwork

I thought you might be interested in some other businesses so thought I'd do some interviews with a few's the first one from Perfect Patchwork. I asked Felicity to tell me where she got the name for the business from, what it is she does and a weird and wonderful fact about herself

My business name is Perfect Patchwork, and this name was chosen to try and demonstrate what I do. I create patchwork quilts and quilt related items. I have a large range of items both on my website and in my Folksy shop , here you will find a good selection of the range I create. 

I like to create both traditional designs and some original designs that I have come up with. My policy is that all of my quilts are one-off designs, I never repeat a quilt, hence anything you have from me is unique to you, (some of the designs may be repeated but in different colour ways). Some of my smaller items, like Christmas deocrations and pin cushions have been re-created, but never a quilt. I pride myself on both the quality of my work and my materials. I only use 100% cotton high quality fabrics and high quality waddings; my current favourite is 80% cotton and 20% polyester. I have experimented with 100% polyester (washes well, but is not as warm as the cotton), and 100% wool, which I love, but needs extra care for washing and is very expensive.

I go through phases of 'favourite' themes for designs and have recently been designing wall hangings with a fairy theme, and this is where my logo has come from; the logo was created from a photograph of a wall hanging which I made and sold (could have sold that one 5 times over, so created a slightly different one in a different colour way). I am currently working on personalised items, and have added personalised Christmas stockings, baby bibs, and taggies.

I have a yearn to create some Landscape quilts designed around the beautiful country side in which I live,  I just need the time to focus on them.
I feel that it is the uniqueness of my quilts that makes me special, and my focus on quality. I feel that every customer deserves that Perfect Quilt (or quilted item) , and I do everything in my power to create it for them; also my focus on customer service which I feel is so important.

A weird and wonderful fact about me is that I spend alot of time chasing rabbits around my home (indoors); these are wild rabbits brought in by my cat BB (origionally named Black Bess by previous owners). BB loves to bring in rabbits (through the cat flap), and mice sometimes; she doesn't kill them, just lets them run around so that she can play. You will often see me in the early hours of the morning going down to the field in my PJ's carrying a rabbit to replace it where it belongs, (and to stop my other cat killing it). This also applies to mice, which I have to say are much harder to catch. (last Sunday 6am in the pouring rain - not amused).

Hope you enjoyed that, you see more of Felicity's work go to her facebook page

Friday, 16 September 2011

Bits and bobs

Well, I'm back from my work trip to Plymouth and while it was stressful and tiring it's a lovely part of the country.

So what's going on...

First and foremost it's CRAFTFest this weekend. If you struggle to get out to craft events then this is perfect for you. You don't need a car, you don't need to drag the kids and t'other half out unwillingly. Just sit back with a cuppa tea and check out a massive 175 stalls of crafty goodness over 2 days.

Of course including the castle. I'll be updating my CRAFTFest album today ready to get publicising the event tomorrow :)

For more info check out the creative connections website or find them on facebook

I thoroughly recommend joining the website as it's sponsored by and I've met some lovely people through the community chat. And I'm finding out lots of good info. Which leads me onto my next blog item.

Diomo Glass told me about CrowdBooster yesterday and I recommend it to anyone. It's a bit like google analytics but it's so easy to use, You just link your twitter and facebook accounts to it and it gives you all sorts of interesting info. I only signed up last night and I got this within 15 mins

Little did I know that some of my facebook posts are reaching 1100 people!!! Which is fab considering I've got over 800 fans. So yes recommend signing up as it's free and very easy to use.

Don't forget that there is still 20% discount on all castle products ordered before 30th September :)

That's all for now peeps :)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The castle needs you...

Evening all

Been super busy the last few weeks with work, orders, new products, more work, more orders and more new products!

So thought I'd drop you a note to say a huge thank for being a fan of the castle, over 800 fans is very impressive and I really am grateful.

I also wanted to ask you all a few favours...I'm trying to get the castle out and about there as I'm sure the more people know about it the more successful it will be. I already use my facebook page, twitter account, my blog and my personal page to promote products but here's where I need you.

There's a few ways you can help (only if you're willing to / have the time / resources to):

1. Newsletter - From 1st October I'm going to be sending out an email newsletter to everyone who signs up showcasing castle products, introducing the latest offers and anything else. It'll only be a one page attachment once a month. I won't be emailing you all the time and I won't be passing your info on to anyone else. For the newsletter to be successful, I need people to sign up to it. If you're interested or know anyone who is then please just email me: with the subject saying "newsletter sign up" or something similar.

2. Sample santa letters - I'm sure the more people see the santa letters the more popular they're going to be. If anyone works / has children in a pre school, nursery or primary school please get in touch. I'd love to send you a sample of the letter to show to other mums and dads. As an incentive, anyone taking a sample with receive a free letter for one of their children.

3. Spreading the word - My twitter is @jeeberella why not follow us there too and retweet any interesting tweets to your friends? Also if you work for a large organisation why not contact me about receiving a free poster to advertise on any noticeboards you have?

4. AOB - If you can think of any other ways to advertise the castle then please let me know, I'm all ears.

Another massive thank you to all my fans as well as the fellow business pages who do shout outs for me, much appreciated as always

Much love

Thursday, 8 September 2011

PPI Claims

Evening all, sorry I've bene quiet of late. Got lots going on at work which means I'm usually shattered by the time I get home. I'm off to Plymouth Monday - Wednesday next week with work and have been co-ordinating hotels, taxis, flights and train tickets for 12 people for the last few weeks! Also need to make a plan for the weekend so King Neil has enough food to keep him going while I'm away!

The other reason I've been busy is I've been sorting out my PPI claim. While this isn't really Castle related I thought it was worth sharing anyway.

In 2006 I took out a loan for my car then another one in 2007 for another better car. At the time I was told to have PPI as I "may as well". What they didn't tell me was:
  • As I was employed full time I'd be covered if I got made redundant
  • The PPI only covers you for the first 5 years of the loan, mine was over 6. So I'd be paying for a year that I couldn't even claim for!
So, few months ago one of my friends successfully won her PPI claim through a 3rd party company. Did a bit of research online and decided to give it a go myself.

Money Saving Expert have loads of info and templates letter to send out well worth checking out:
Link to relevant website here

So I rang my loan company to get a copy of my signed terms and conditions to see exactly what my loan repayments were for. Turned out that a 3rd of my loan was for PPI!

So I sent the template letter from Money Saving Expert off to them and kind of forgot about it. Received a letter in June saying I'd receive a decision by the 31st August. Set myself a reminder to give them a call a week later if I hadn't heard anything.

Yesterday I called them to check progress and it turns out they'd sent me an offer letter in July! They've accepted the mistake and agreed to refund all the PPI I'd paid so far and the interest on top. Called for a settlement figure today and just one more payment means I'll be debt free in October!

So two things:
  • Check any loans or credit cards you've had over the last 6 years to see if you have paid PPI
  • Ask for terms and conditions of these to make sure - they have to provide them by law
  • If you do want to put a claim in, have a go at doing it yourself so you can get all of your claim rather than having to give a high % to a 3rd party!
Hope that's been useful :)