Tag Archives: craft

Can your business afford not to be involved in the weddings industry?

30 Sep

Despite most of us having to cut back on our expenditure over the last few years, the weddings industry has continued to boom.  You only get one (hopefully!) chance at a wedding, so most brides are determined to get it right, and aren’t willing to make too many sacrifices for their big day.  Most weddings will use several suppliers, from florists, to bridal boutiques, caterers and cake makers, to photographers and portaloo hire.  Some of these are obvious necessities for a wedding, but with growing creativity in weddings, there are opportunities for many not-so-obvious businesses to turn their hand to weddings.  Whatever your business sells, if there is a way to make it relevant to weddings, it could be your best business move yet.

I got married back in April, and we used a venue that provided a venue, a handful of chairs, and a cake knife.  The rest was up to us.  That meant we used a whole host of suppliers to make our day.  It was a logistical nightmare, but it was worth it for such a unique day.  I wholeheartedly recommend each and every one of the suppliers that we used, and you can see a list of them here.  Do take a look if you are planning any type of event.  (And again, I’m sorry if I have missed anyone of, I’m sure I have!)

A special mention goes out to The Very Vintage Hire Company Ltd.  Started just two years ago by a young single Mum, this is a business that has gone from strength to strength.  They now have a beautiful, inspirational, wonderful shop, The Attic, in the perfect setting of Exeter Quay, and hire props out to several events every single weekend.  The majority of events are weddings, though they have also dressed wedding fayres, summer balls, and various photoshoots.

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A Paper Rose

15 Apr

On getting engaged last year, I went straight onto Etsy and Folksy looking for inspiration for planning my wedding.  One of the first things I came across was Laura Gamble’s beautiful Paper Bouquets.  Laura has a Fine Art degree and started making paper flowers for her own wedding.  After everyone loved them so much at her own wedding, Laura decided to start a business making paper flowers for other people’s weddings.  She opened her shop on folksy in December 2011 – six months after her own wedding.  Laura also works as a classroom assistant.  She has just launched her own website.

For my wedding, Laura made me a bouquet, wrist corsages for my bridesmaids, windmill favours for the kids, and decorations for our cake.  I love that we can keep all of them forever, the flowers will never die and I don’t have to dry them our or press them or anything.  Everyone loved them on the day too, they really are beautiful.  (I promise that’s the last post about my wedding!)

How did you get started with A Paper Rose?

I studied Fine and Applied Art at the University of Ulster in Belfast, where I specialised in painting, but always loved craft and working with paper.  When I got engaged I decided I wanted an alternative to real flowers (I have quite bad hayfever so wasn’t loving the idea of sneezing all day!).  After a lot of experimenting, I settled on making my bouquet, the bridesmaids’ bouquets and the gents’ buttonholes from paper.  They were all roses.  I also made the table centrepieces, they were tissue paper carnations.  It was so great because on the day there was no stress about the flowers dying and I could keep my bouquet as a memory of the day.  I got so many compliments about the flowers that I decided to keep making them and see if any other brides-to-be would like them too.

What social media sites do you use, and which have you found to be the most successful for marketing your business?

At the minute I mainly use Facebook and am also on Pinterest.  I’m thinking of joining Twitter, but sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them all.  Facebook has been the most successful way of marketing my work in terms of raising people’s awareness, also after having taken part in a wedding fair and giving out business cards you can see a jump in “likes” on your page.  I sell my work online through Folksy and more recently Etsy, these have been my most successful ways of getting orders.

What is the best thing about running your own business?

I love the feeling every time you make a sale, that someone has chosen your work for such an important event in their lives.  I love that I can be creative and make some money doing it.  I work in a school, but during school holidays I love the days when I get to work on the business 9 – 5.  I really enjoy doing a variety of tasks, especially the designing and making, but also the admin side of things.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

Never having enough hours in the day to do everything you want to! Trying to juggle working a job, caring for family, still seeing friends and then making sure I don’t neglect the business.  It’s very important to try and get the balance right!

What advice would you give someone wanting to start a craft business?

Go for it, even if it just supplements your income it’s a really rewarding way to be creative, it does however take a lot of time and hard work.  With Etsy, Folksy and other online sales platforms, you can work from home and make some sales even if you don’t have time to sell at all the craft fairs.

How do you manage your time between employment and self employment?

It is frustrating because I feel that I could go much further with the business if I had more time to work on it, but as a classroom assistant I’m sort of spoilt with my hours, I work 8:30 – 3:30 – so can get an hour of work done each day when I get home, before it’s time to make dinner etc.  I also have the school holidays to work on the business – which is great.  I usually spend an evening or two per week working on A Paper Rose and try and do a few hours on a Saturday.  It depends how many orders there are or if a wedding fair is coming up.  In the next few weeks I am doing a couple of fairs so I will be working a lot more hours to get ready!  Lists are a really helpful way for me to focus and get things done in a tight time frame.

What are your plans for the future?

I would love to be in a position to work fewer hours in a job, maybe 2 days per week and the rest on the business.  I’m planning to set up a website in the coming months to hopefully increase my online presence.  I’d also like to increase my product range.  I currently make bouquets, buttonholes and wrist corsages, but would like to extend the range to table centrepieces, hair accessories, paper flowers for home décor – to name but a few!  I’d also like to make some new paintings.

You can find A Paper Rose on Facebook, Etsy and Folksy.

Laura on her wedding day DSCN0667

Simply Lovely!

25 Mar

Vicci was doing well in her career as an Internal Auditor, but craved something more from her career.  After finding out that she would be made redundant two years ago, she decided to follow her dreams and start her own business – Simply Lovely.  Vicci is 31 and lives in Cumbria in the Lake District.

mothers day card

“After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design I took a job, as most do, just to tide me over – after all a job is a job, right? Well 7 years later I found myself still in the same job, having worked my way up the ladder, I had a good wage and was fairly content working for an adult training provider as an internal auditor. I always wondered ‘what if?’ or ‘I wish I could just do something else’ – then I was hit with the bombshell that the company I was working for would no longer be trading and all staff were to be made redundant.

After 7 years this was such a blow but I knew that this would be my chance to follow my dreams. To pursue a career in the creative industry and even be my own boss!

It all happened really quickly, from the initial news of redundancy to leaving the company with my redundancy cheque being placed in my hands…my opportunity to do something for me!

I’ve always been passionate about design for print and decided to start designing for the greetings card market. I set up shops on Etsy and Folksy and opened up a Facebook page building my brand and customer base. Thankfully Simply Lovely has gone from strength to strength and not even 2 years into this exciting venture and I now have my own website, andwonderful customers who keep coming back for more!

Simply Lovely started as a dream, a concept, and now I’m designing bespoke wedding packages, event stationery, party invitations, guest books, photo albums, business packaging for other small businesses and I even offer branding packages to name a few things! It’s incredible how Simply Lovely has developed!

It’s been a roller-coaster and I can honestly say I’ve never worked so hard BUT it’s all for me, for the future and for my dreams. It’s certainly not easy but every sale and every happy customer makes it all worth while.

My redundancy was a blessing in disguise, it gave me the opportunity (and funds) to start something amazing and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to just go for it! If you don’t try, you’ll never know and may always be asking yourself ‘what if?’…”

And what makes it all possible for Vicci to run her business?

“I have an incredibly supportive family and friends that keep me sane and help out at extremely busy times, from post office runs to making reindeer bags!”

A Facebook Start Up Success

17 Dec

Effie Moss spent this summer perfecting the design for a teepee hideaway to make for her two year old daughter.  Her daughter loved her teepee so much that Effie decided to start a business making teepees for other children.  She set a Facebook page in October, offering a free teepee to one of her likers when she reached 1000.  She got to 3000 likes in just 18 days, two months on she has over 6000 likes and business is booming.  If you want to start a successful Facebook page, trying sharing your page and products on other pages such as The Supermums Craft Fair, Hike Those Likes, and I Run a Small Business, and of course Opportunity Plus South West, as well as any local business pages (such as the Devon Small Business Page) or pages relevant to your industry.

What does Just for Tiny People do?

Just For Tiny People creates unique, handmade magical hideaways for tiny people. Our main products are our teepees and our childrens dens. Lots of fun and perfect for a big imagination.

How did you get started?

During the summer I decided to make a teepee for my little girl. I spent 8 weeks perfecting the design, scrapping fabric and making an awful lot of mistakes. The final result was a perfect magical teepee.

How do you market your business?

Just For Tiny People will be launching our new website in the new year, in the meantime I use facebook (@Justfortinypeople) and twitter (@justfortinypeop) as my main mediums.

Have you got any tips for someone starting a Facebook page?

A Facebook page requires a lot of time to network and build relationships, likes will come in peaks and troughs as will sales. It is always a good idea to indicate your contact details in the about section and post content that invokes thought and conversation from your followers. Your facebook page is your virtual shop front – it takes an awful lot of work, but well worth it.

What is the best thing about self employment?

The  huge sense of pride when you put a smile on the face of your customer.

What is hard about running your own business?

Trying to juggle everything. You are a one man band who is a product manufacturer, designer, accountant, social media expert, website content writer .. there sometimes aren’t enough hours in the day.. but I wouldn’t change it for the world 🙂:)

Find Effie’s magical hideaways on Facebook and Twitter.