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.
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!”
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