A Crafty Parent Interview – Button & Bobbin

I am so pleased to have had two amazing parent crafters to have interviewed.  I do hope that you enjoyed reading my previous post – ‘Humming Bird Gems’ – and that you’ll enjoy this post just as much.

Untitled-1

11263062_10206892901746119_3239658561785716974_nHello! I’m Clara Rowland and I currently live in Aylestone, Leicester. I am the owner/creator of Button & Bobbin which started trading in January 2014, which is about the same time I started experimenting with my craft. My children are Thomas, 3 and a half, and Maxwell who is 2.
Up until April 2014, I managed a team of 20+ in a call centre. A very stressful job, but I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time. After having my boys and being spoilt with maternity leave, I realised I wanted to stay at home with my children. So I waved goodbye to office hours and overtime, and started making Christmas cards while my boys slept. In December 2013, we had some fun with salt dough, making handprints and gift tags, and so my clay crafting addiction began! Clay decorations were never my intention, but demand took over, so I’ve rolled with it.
My first creations were Christmas cards, but when my friends spotted my salt dough gift tags they encouraged me to sell them. I’ve come a long way since, and now make custom clay decorations for all sort of occasions. My favourite make is my clay kitchen tags. These were a big turning point for me. I made a set for myself and my Facebook followers went crazy for them. I’ve since made 100’s of them and they’ve remained a firm favourite with my lovely customers.
tags
As a Work At Home Mum, I am able to keep some control over my working hours, and work around my children. I am Tommy and Maxwell’s mummy first, and Button & Bobbin is all about me. It’s taken a long time, but with the help of my boys starting pre-school in September, I’m now finding my work/life balance. Although, I have to admit, I do pull a fair few very late nights when Button & Bobbin gets busy.
My children are fascinated when they watch me at work. They love to make their own creations with the help of play dough and little rolling pins. We make decorations together every Christmas now. I love that we now have this little tradition. Since the children are still very young, most of our creative play is messy play. A day with the paints out means I’m likely to end up with a mini Incredible Hulk as Maxwell likes to cover himself head to toe in paint which is seemingly always green!
If I were to host a dinner party, I’d definitely invite Nigella Lawson and Kirstie Allsopp. When I grow up, I want to have their apparent grace and elegance, and seemingly never ending talent to be able to make the most beautiful of things! I’ve always admired their passion and skills in their “crafts”. My third guest would be Tom Hardy…. Do I need to supply a reason for him?!
I’d serve goats cheese to start as it’s easy but delicious. I do an awesome Christmas lunch, so it’d be turkey and all the trimmings for our main course. I love to bake when I get the chance. I’d dish up a nice big fat chocolate fudge cake for dessert. I’m guessing they’ll be staying the night, as they won’t be able to move after that menu!
My top three pieces of advice for a new crafting business would be, patience, perseverance and confidence. It takes time to build up and retain your custom base. There are some very lucky crafters who just take off with what seems like little effort. This doesn’t happen for the majority of us, and that’s ok. Just have a clear plan in mind and go with it. Don’t give up! Keep chipping away, keep on crafting and showing off your skills. Confidence is a big one. Fake it until you make it, as they say. Don’t doubt yourself, don’t think you’re not good enough. Customer’s are  buying into you as well as your craft, so being confident and proud of your creations/pricing/brand is so important. Every order placed is still a massive boost of confidence for me. I am both humbled and filled with pride when I see a new liker join my Facebook page, or when I hear the Etsy “kerching!”.
You can visit Button & Bobbin here:  www.facebook.com/buttonandbobbin
Advertisements

A Crafty Parent Interview – Humming Bird Gems

I have always wondered how established crafters manage to juggle their crafts with their children, and vice versa.

I have been scouring several social media sites recently, on the lookout for a fellow parent crafter to interview, and I was fortunate enough to find Melissa.

Untitled-2

IMG_20150609_122814

Melissa Stuart lives in Aberdeen City, Scotland, and she is the owner of Humming Bird Gems.  Approaching its’ third birthday, Melissa has been crafting since her teens.  She was never able to find items that suited her taste, style and mood, so she decided to start making her own jewellery pieces so she could always have exactly what she wanted.

Melissa has two children – Brae, who is 4, and Lizzy, aged 3; and is a stay-at-home mummy.

Me:  “What made you get in to selling your crafting?”

Melissa:  “I had some friends ask where I bought one of my bracelets, and I told them that I made it myself.  I would make things for family and friends, but it really wasn’t until my other half went in to college full-time that I thought about selling my work.  It was a way to help make ends meet.”

Me:  “So what made you choose your specific craft?”

Melissa:  “Since it (jewellery) was something that I had done before, it was easy.  With the crocheting, it was because I wanted to learn how to make teeny, tiny, little animals to put in to resin, and use with the jewellery making.  I haven’t gotten the skill up enough to make them, but people seem to be loving the bigger, cuddly versions just as well.”

Me:  “Did you try any different style of crafting before the one you do now?”

Melissa:  “Yes, I’m a very creative person!  I get a lot of enjoyment out of making things.  I’ve done origami, I’ve tried drawing (I’m horrible at it, by the way), and I had knitted in the past, when I was a young teen, but I can’t remember any of that now.”

Me:  “So tell me.  What has been your favourite make, and can you tell me why?”

Melissa:  “Oooh!  Now that’s a hard one!  I think it would be my resin make with dandelions and iridescent glitter.  It really looks like it’s dancing!”

IMG_20150620_102251

Me:  “Now I’m interested in your children.  What do Brae and Lizzy think of your crafting?”

Melissa:  “Brae doesn’t seem to have much interest in it truthfully.  Lizzy, on the other hand, is right in there.  She loves watching me, and asking questions of what I am doing.”

Me:  “Do they try to help you?”

Melissa:  “They do.  I’ll let Lizzy pick out colours or beads, and even let her string some of the beads on to wire.  I would let Brae also, but unless I’m working with something he has an interest in, he normally just ignores what I’m doing.”

Me:  “Do you do any other forms of crafting with Brae and Lizzy?”

Melissa:  “Lots of colouring, playing with PlayDoh, those kinds of things…  Crafts more suited for the younger ones.”

Me:  “So how do you juggle your crafting around Brae and Lizzy?  Do you have a set routine?”

Melissa:  “It’s a routine base.  Both of them are in nursery, so I have my morning to myself.  I try to get some networking done, but I often use that time to try and get things done that I can’t do with them around me.  Like resin work.  Whilst they’re at home, after lunch I will network, or bead, do some image template work…  Things I can often involve them in, or I can easily just drop in case one of them wants to play, or go outside.  The kids come first when they’re up and at home.”

Me:  “Do you think children taking part in (any type of) crafting is important?”

Melissa:  “I really do.  Kids are naturally curious about everything, and as the parents and adults, we really should be feeding that.  Nurturing it, so when the kids become teens, and indeed adults, they will still have that with them.  It can help them in life, with work, or even just play.  It can help them to relax, and it’s great for bonding and keeping that bond going!”

Me:  “Thank you Melissa.  Let’s move on to something ‘just for fun’.  You’re hosting a dinner party for a few celebrities.  You can invite 3 celebs.  Who would you pick, and why them?”

Melissa:  “Firstly, Robert Downy Jr. because…  Well, it’s RDJ!  He’s funny, and hot, and down to earth, and HOT!  (laughs)  Second on my list would be Jennifer Lawrence.  I hear she’s another down to earth celeb, and doesn’t stomp on the little people.  She’s still in the newly found “shell shocked” stage.  The last would be Dakota Fanning.  She’s been a brilliant actress since she was very young, and one of the few child starts that didn’t go in to drink or drugs.”

Me:  “Great choice there.  But let’s get to the real nitty-gritty…  You’re also doing the cooking for said dinner party.  You’re prepping a 3-course meal, so what’s on your menu?”

Melissa:  “Starts would be some kind of finger foods.  Three cheese mini pizzas, or popcorn chicken…  Something small that they could munch on whilst chatting.  Main course would be steaks with my homemade sauce, mashed potato and veg (corn or broccoli, or both).  Dessert would be lemon cake with a light lemon drizzle sauce.  Maybe some custard too.  Custard is yummy…  I’m hungry now.”

Me:  “Ha ha, ok, finally, let’s be serious just once more.  What’s your top tips for anyone who wants to start their own crafting business?”

Melissa:  “Firstly, come up with a name that’s catchy, then Google it.  Make sure that it is not popping up with anything.  The only thing that came up with mine (Humming Bird Gems) where pictures of humming birds.  Make a facebook page and email address with the same name, but don’t publish the facebook page yet!  Secondly, know what you’re doing.  Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, do what YOU want to do.  Know what supplies you need, keep records of what you spend – you’ll need that for the tax man, make a few things, samples, starters, get some good photo’s of your things, and once you have a few photos and posts on your page, then publish it.  That way it doesn’t look barren.  Make sure that it’s (your craft) is something you love to do, and that even on your darkest days, you don’t give in.  Every crafter out there has wanted to throw in the towel at some point in the game.  The difference between the winners and the losers are those who give up.  As long as you love what you are doing, keep doing it.”

You can visit Humming Bird Gems here:  https://www.facebook.com/hummingbirdgems

‘Creeping’ in to an 18th birthday party

It’s my “baby” cousins’ 18th birthday party tomorrow.  I say “baby”, as she is the youngest “cousin” in my generation.  It’s shocking…  She’s certainly not a baba any more!!

Anyway, as she is an avid gamer, she’s hosting a fancy dress party with “gaming” as the theme.

My son (3 yrs old) wanted to go as one of the Avengers, which there are plenty of games that have the Avengers in them, but I wanted something a little more original. Buying a costume is always easier, so I set myself up with a HUGE challenge (well, it was for me…), to make him a costume of one of his favourite Minecraft characters.

The Creeper.

This is what he looks like in the game…

l55250-creeper-minecraft-28135

This is what he looks like as a plush toy…

f056_creeper_plush

And this is my personal take on one…

Minecraft  (1)

Minecraft  (7)

11026310_10155412881725790_5539864890661900574_o

So now I’m going to rightly “blow my own trumpet” and say that I am overly proud (isn’t that a Sin?) of my creation.  I made my own pattern, cut everything out, sewn everything together…  Eek!  I’m so chuffed, ha ha.

Now, some of you may be thinking “why is she so proud of that?”.  Well, let me tell you…  Before this little project, the most I have ever created on the sewing machine before, was a “traders’ apron”, and I thought that was fab!

Thoughts / comments welcome x

Trying to find a new hobby

I’ve been on the lookout for a new hobby to make my mind busy, but every time I think that I have come up with something, I either say it’s a bad idea, or I bottle out.

Take last week for instance…  I found a new dance class that was on the search for new class members, so I thought I’d give it a go.  It was on Tuesday evening.  It was a Burlesque (ha ha) class, but by the time Monday evening came, I was already thinking of reasons why I shouldn’t go.  I blinked, and Tuesday had already been and gone, and I never bothered to go.

It was the same a few months ago, when I found a belly dance class…  However, I did attend.

Getting back in to dance after so many years was amazing.  The class was brilliant.  Wiggling, and dancing; swaying to the music…  Really getting my shimmy on…  But the teacher was hopeless.  She didn’t ‘teach’.  She just demonstrated the move, then expected everyone else to follow suit.  She didn’t correct anyone when they performed a technique wrong.

I love to dance.  I’d love to get back in to dancing, and I would love to be able to find a belly dance class that actually ‘teaches’ you, rather than just expects you to know what you’re doing.

Alternatively, I enjoy crafts.  As I’m sure you all know by my previous crafting posts…  Ha ha.

I’m still in to making my jewellery and fashion accessories, my notepads and books, and now I’m moving on to woollen crafts (mainly personalised friendship bracelets), however it’s not enough.  They’re just not holding my attention like a hobby should.  I mean, when you have a hobby, it should be something that you love to do for you, and not to sell on (which I think my problem is).  You should be able to focus on that, and nothing else…  Basically, you should get lost in time with it.

There are lots of things out there that I would love to do / try, but they either seem to cost too much to start, or I just think that I am not physically fit enough to try.  Oh, and with the Burlesque dancing; that was because I felt too embarrassed.

On another note, I have tried blogging as a hobby, but as always, I struggle with what to write about.  That’s why there are some posts with nothing but a video..!

Speaking of videos, here’s a mix of old and new clips that I made for the Shi’hing School of Kung Fu recently.  If you don’t blink, you can see me perform a monkey toss on one of the students at approximately 1 minute in…

I wonder what else there is out there…  I suppose that’s why I’m struggling to find something.  Every time I adapt to a new hobby or interest, I always start looking for something else.

Total Bookworm

My previous post was about spinning ideas on writing my own book.  The problem that I am struggling with at the moment, is what genre I should go with.  Should I go back in time, to write a book similar to what I started, in the ‘Point Horror’ genre, or should I write a book in the thriller / mystery style..?

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I have a teeny tiny obsession with Ancient Egypt, so maybe I could write something based on my knowledge of the mystical surroundings of the great Pharoah’s of the promised lands..?

Anyway, whilst I’m contemplating over the genre of my ‘story’, I have had another idea on what I can do for my book.

I am an avid crafter.  I create my own jewellery and accessories.  I love to create things.  So, what a better way to show off my creative side that to produce a craft book, filled with projects that you can make at home?

Yes.  I like that idea very much.

Watch this space…

Pipe dreams

I have so many ideas for things to do, events, etc. but they never seem to go anywhere.  So I’ve decided that I am going to do something.  For a start, I’m going to list my ideas here.  My pipe dreams, if you will.  Maybe if I see then written down, I may be inspired enough to do something about them.

Craft Fair Extraordinaire

I already have a small “craft” type business set up, named ‘Treasures and Trinkets’.  I made jewellery, accessories, and other little bits and bobs…  You can view the page here: Treasures and Trinkets.  I do enjoy attending craft fairs, and table top sales to sell my wares, but something always seems to come up that I think could be done better…

I had an idea that I pitched to my husband.  I know a hall that I can hire for a very reasonable cost, and I will set up my own craft fair.  I will invite local crafters / sellers to ‘purchase’ a table, and I will have an event schedule for entertainment purposes.  In more depth, here are my ideas:

*  I would set up the hall with tables (and a chair behind each one) for other local crafters / sellers

*  I would find someone who does face painting, for the children who may come along to the fete

*  I would find a local company who can offer an “all-weather” bouncy castle to keep the children entertained…  I would not pay an up-front fee, but request that they take their money directly from the parents / children who wish to have a go

*  I would offer cups of tea / coffee for a small charge

The fair would be a mixed bag, type of event, with tables selling home crafted items such as jewellery, accessories, cushions, drawings, cakes, jams, etc…  More of a “country fayre” type event.  I’ve been to a fair few, and I enjoyed them every time.

I would have no problem setting up the event, or even finding people interested to host a stall, but my problem would be in the advertising of the event to ensure that enough people came through the doors…  Facebook is a good place to start, and I suppose a leaflet / flyer drop would be good too.  Although, the hall is situated in the rural area of a town…  It’s a little tricky to get to, but the hall is beautiful, and has free parking.  So where would I ‘drop’ the leaflets?!  I suppose I could also ask the local radio station to do a quick mention of the event, but normally they would charge.  Afterall, if I was looking to make this a regular event, I’d want to be making a profit myself, rather that putting all the money back into the event immediately.  I’m sure you know what I mean.

Play Group Mayhem

Today, I took my son (22 months old) to a play group.  It was based in a local leisure centre, and had a large bouncy castle, balls, spacehoppers, an area for crafts (today was decorating strawberry plant pots to take home), and an area with “fruit kebabs and chocolate”.  It was rather cheap to enter, and although it was on from 10am to 3pm, we were only there for an hour.  The only problem I encountered was that the group was for ages 0-11 years old.  I noticed that my little man was the only one under the age of 5…

On my way home, I mentioned (again, to my husband) that we could set up something similar to that as we have the access to the hall…

I had an idea that we could create a “Stay and Play”, where parents / grandparents / carers could bring their little ones and play with them.  I would limit it to 3 hours, and charge just a small amount for entry.

*  I would get a large selection of toys, including balls, hula-hoops, teddies, games, etc.

*  I would offer tea / coffee to adults for a small charge

*  Free juice / water for the kiddies

*  Free fruit (I like the fruit kebab idea) for the kiddies

*  I would limit the age from 0-5 years old

*  Perhaps have a different style ‘craft’ on offer each time (make a greetings card, painting, drawing, etc.)

Again, my problem would be where to start.  I’ve already had a brief look into it, and I have discovered that I do not need to register with anyone, and (although I already have a full CRB check) I do not need a Criminal Records Bureau check as parents will be staying throughout the sessions, watching their own children.  I could easily get my hands on a lot of toys…  So that just leaves insurance.  What type of insurance would I need, and where could I get it for cheap?  I don’t think I’d be doing this on a regular basis, and I don’t want to pay through the nose…  And again, it’s the marketing side of things that I would struggle on.  What happens if it is super successful on one week, then flops the second and third, but on the fourth week, the hall is full to bursting point?!  Hmmm…

Thoughts welcome.