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.

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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.
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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
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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.

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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!”

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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…

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This is what he looks like as a plush toy…

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And this is my personal take on one…

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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