Handmade In Keswick at Craftfest

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Stalking success - Lana Butters - Wishes On The Wind

Here's the latest episode in my 'stalking success' series, where I try to work out how the 'successful' have managed to get where they are.

Lana Butters

Hi, ok here goes My name is Lana, I gave up working in London over 7 years ago now, fed up with the rat race, packed in the office job to return back home to Scotland. My son was very young then, seemed ideal, more freedom. I started off selling vintage fashion, one thing led to another and here I am today making jewellery

Discovering The Product 

I always loved making jewellery as a young girl stringing beads together so it is quite natural to me. That and my love of nature and dried flowers. I have books from years gone by full of pressed flowers:)
The story of my product, begins with my love of nature, just gazing at different flowers, plants, then dreaming up new designs, great to find a job that allows me to daydream!! from that point to go and design, never to sure exactly how the new piece will turn out. I love every moment.

Achieving Sales

I have been blessed on folksy, sales started almost as soon as I was listing, and have reached the Folksy best sellers list.
A lesson I learned early in business. I got a large order, spent hours on the phone with customer, she placed very large order. I was quite naive in the beginning and took the order, just about completed the order without having received payment!! How foolish, I feel, looking back. Lesson learned, never start any order till payment is in place!! I can just about laugh about it now!!

Getting Known

Every sale urges me on to make more. Its always pleasing to know your work is being appreciated.  I am so thankful for that. Always struggled with social media advertising, I do a little bit of facebook, never got to grips with twitter, I have just auto feeds go on when I list new products. I think this is the side of business is my downfall. I really just dont like it!! I want to be dreaming up and making new designs not sat on facebook!!  

Becoming Successful

 If I manage to get to the end of a day, having perhaps designed a new piece of jewellery, or just keeping up with orders and some housework, family stuff, helping the young man with homework etc .. now that is a successful day!! Most days I keep on top, but there are many stresses along the way of course. 

Business success? hmmm. There have been many hurdles along the way, and most definently not an easy way to eek out a living, the idea of doing this full-time was the dream, however the reality, well it can get lonely of course working from home and in slow times recession etc it is always a constant worry. I have gained many grey hairs along the way!! Since joining folksy however I feel things have picked up and having reached the top sellers list to me is just amazing and urges me on:) 
 From the thought to the finished product. 

Well, Lana has a different approach to that of Jeff,
Suzanne,and Nicole, who all work one shop.
 If you want to see more of Lana's work, you can find it here at her Folksy Shop
and her Etsy shop  
and also her 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Stalking Success - Nicole De Bruin

When I was carrying out research in advance of this blog series, I found that there was a lot of (heated) discussion about whether a 'supplies' seller could be mentioned in the same breath as a 'handmade' seller. But how could I not feature the BIGGEST UK Etsy seller - fellow Craftfester, Nicole De Bruin?

Nicole De Bruin

I started off doing scrapbooking until a friend asked me to make her some adult birthday invitations, after that I made handmade cards for 5 years, somewhere along those five years I started putting detachable key rings on my cards, which proved very popular. We had an opportunity to go to Austria with my husbands company in 2008 , so although I packed up all my charms and key rings and took them to Austria with me, I didn't have the social network to sell many cards.
Discovering the product
One day I was reading someone's blog and they mentioned opening an Etsy shop, I went to look and opened one too, I didn't list anything straight away but did look around for the European equivelant and found DaWanda, where I listed and sold some of my cards, but I realised that shipping them was very difficult and risky and decided to sell the charms themselves instead. 

Achieving Sales
 When I did this, I also began listing on Etsy. My first sale on Etsy was a huge surprise to me, as I had only listed 10 things and really wasn't expecting to be found amongst the hundreds of things listed. From there it just grew, as I had more sales, I invested the money to buy more stock and so my business grew.

Getting Known
I've never really done any promotion.
I sold on DaWanda for about a year, Coriandr and Artfire for a while, Bonanzle for about 5 minutes, but none of these sites have the traffic that Etsy does and I found it wasn't worth splitting my stock over more than one place, so now I only sell on Etsy, but do plan to start my own website some time in the future.
Becoming Successful
I feel success is achieving whatever goals you set yourself, it could be as simple as letting 10 people into the traffic that day.

I felt that I was successful once I started getting sales everyday, because I sell supplies we need a high turnover as our profit margins are low.

I attribute my success to good customer service, to having named my shop by my name, as I always sold my cards under my name and thus having buyers see me as a person. Listing in Dollars so that the Americans aren't put off my shop by first seeing the amount in Pounds and then a higher amount in Dollars as well as many of them not realising I am not in America until it's too late and they have already placed their order.

I have set up a coupon code for your blog readers, it is Blog25 this will give them a 25% discount.

So, I think that that counts as success worth stalking!  What do you think? And can you see the same similarities that I can in the approach that Suzanne and Jeff have as well?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Stalking Success - Suzanne Crawford - Coverupsurf

Well its a week since the last Stalking Success blog, so its time to hear from Suzanne from Coverupsurf, and her story.

Suzanne Crawford

I studied Printed Textile design at Art College in Scotland, and when I graduated in 2004 I got a job as a fashion accessories designer in North Yorkshire, where I have been living ever since. I have always had a great affinity with the beach, I love being at the coast and after moving to the Scarborough area I started surfing. The surfing lifestyle has been a strong influence in my work ever since.

I still work as a fashion accessories designer and run ‘Cover Up Surf’ on the side.

I love to paint and have sold my artwork in the past in a friends’ cafĂ© and on Folksy. I am always making things and sewing but my ‘Cover Up’s’ are the first product I have sold as a business.

Discovering The Product 

‘Cover Up Surf’ was just a little idea that I had one day, I was chatting to friends in my boyfriends surf shop, it was a really cold day and we were all freezing after surfing, about the problems of getting changed on the beach. I decided to go home and make something to help! I had no idea at the time what I was creating. I made a few samples first that we used ourselves to try them out before starting to sell them on-line and in our shop. The towels started to get noticed in the area and we would have people coming in just to ask about them. It was then that I realised that I could start a business from making them and introduced more designs and patterns to widen the collection.

Achieving Sales

  After selling in my boyfriends surf shop to begin with we would get customers coming in to ask for my ‘Cover Up’s’ after seeing other people in the local community with them. This really gave me the encouragement that I needed.

Cover ups have now sold world-wide to Australia, California, Europe and all over the UK

Getting Known

I advertise my product in magazines such as ‘Surfgirl’ magazine who’s readers are the perfect customer base for me.
I do promotional stickers/business cards and Christmas cards as well as having a facebook page  and presence on instagram and pinterest, and I sell online through Folksy
on my website

 Becoming Successful

Success to me is watching something I have created grow, and seeing people enjoy a product that I have hand-made. It’s exciting every time I get a new order or a message from a customer who can’t wait for their ‘Cover Up’ to arrive. It’s the little things that make all the hard-work worth while.

I am very lucky to be living in a place that I love, where I can see the beach from my studio. I think being successful is doing something you enjoy and that makes you happy. 

I am so lucky to be in a position where I can make that happen. I feel very privileged to have had the support and encouragement from the people around me who have helped to make my business successful.
I think success is something that can creep up on you sometimes. From starting to sell in our surf shop, creating a Folksy shop and a website it was a gradual process. It is a lot of hard-work starting something new but if you love what you do it doesn’t seem like a chore…it’s exciting and every time you see your product in a magazine or on a website, it makes you feel even more motivated. I love what I do and I think that’s the most successful you can be.

As a new small business you have to be really careful to keep an eye on the margins you make, to be successful you need to be making enough to cover not only your materials but your time too. I hope to be successful enough in the near future that I can concentrate on my own projects full time.

I owe my success to the people around me who have supported me and given me great advice. Also, to all the hard-work and late nights I have put in. It’s not easy starting a business, it takes a lot of dedication but it is so rewarding! I would encourage anyone who has got an idea or something they are passionate about to get out and start doing it!

We get up to a lot of crazy photo-shoots to get good images of my products; we can be out on the beach in the snow in bare feet freezing to get a good shot!

So there we have it - the second in the Stalking Success series. Dunno about you, but, although Suzanne and Jeff have completely different stories, I'm already starting to see some common denomination!
Whether you're a surf dude or not, have a look at Suzanne's Coverupsurf website and tell her what you like.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Stalking Success - Jeff Soan - Wobblywood and the Royal Seal Of Approval

  The first in my series of stalking success 

I can't remember when I first saw Jeff's work, but I know that I have been aware of it for a while, and when I was looking around for people to feature in this series, I noticed that Wobblywood was top of the Folksy Best Sellers.

I'm not surprised - the craftsmanship in this piece is obvious, even is the lack of mechatronics is not - but the tactile qualities here must surely be addictive.  Click Play to see what I'm talking about.

I was intrigued about Jeff's background, and it turns out that he took a rather circuitous route that many artists end up taking.

Jeff Soan

I studied Art and Design at Goldsmith's College in the
late 60's, taught for a few years, travelled for a while, before getting married and starting a family in the 70's, when I started a building business.
After 18 years in the building trade, I needed to start something new and enrolled on a toy making course at London College of Furniture, and set up my garden workshop in 1987.  

Discovering The Product

My first sales were made at the local craft market in Greenwich - I was known as the penguin man when I started because of the success of my waddling penguins
After a year of selling many new designs I started making a version of a Chilean folk toy - a wobbly rat, created by cutting the wood into narrow sections and securing it to canvas - that had been my motivation in taking the toy making course in the first place.

This is not a rat - although my husband may disagree - Lu

I was fascinated by the possibilities of the movement  and how I could link it to my love of the animal kingdom and I started developing many different creatures incorporating the technique.
 I try to express the essential nature of the animals, birds,
and fish I create, sometimes by simplification, sometimes by
attention to detail and very often by the sinuous movement
achieved with the technique of articulation. 

The first week I took some articulating fish to the market I realised that this was the future for me because they sold so quickly and a TV producer was passing and asked me to take part in a craft programme called "Handmade".

Achieving Sales

The real turning point was The Craft Council's prestigous Chelsea Craft Fair in 1991There was so much work that I needed help, and Julia Darke has worked with me ever since.
 A couple of years ago I decided to do more direct shows and stop supplying the galleries to extent I had been doing for many years. It was such a good decision.  My cash flow immediately improved . I used to have continual cash crises because of the Sale or Return culture ( return? when did I ever get anything back?) and 100% plus mark up that most galleries operate.

So now I get involved in Craft in Focus shows, which have good promotion and advertising;
I'm a guest at shows that the Sussex Guild put on; and one of the best shows in the year is Art in Action, which has a fantastic reputation.

I still supply the occasional exhibition maybe two or three a year. I am currently involved with the OneOak project 
and we have Open Studios here in Brockley in July and in Brighton in May, which advertised mainly via word of mouth.
I sell online via Folksy linked to from my website which is from where most of the sales derive.
 I'm not sure if anybody finds me on Folksy itself.

Getting Known

I sell well at shows and enjoy the feedback and ideas that people give me and give out hundreds of pictorial business cards which results in continual flow of work direct from the customer. I have a few very successful pieces which continually sell. 

 I have tried Facebook and Twitter for business but use neither now - I think I must be missing something.
I have a blog which is a mixture of work and life events. I started it when I injured my hand and couldn't work so I had plenty of time. Now it is a struggle to keep it up to date.

 Becoming Successful

I think that making things that I want to make and the fact that I'm still excited by it and being able to sell them is success in itself. That I can sell enough to pay an assistant and support my family and re invest back into the business seems pretty good too
Making enough money to also take time off from it is something I haven't managed though. That seems like real success.
That said, I measure success in terms of happiness. I am happy, inventive and creative on a daily basis and my work seems to delight people

And What About That Royal Seal Of Approval?

I have been involved with making  creatures for the Cutty Sark and they wanted me to make something for the Queen when she opened the ship this year. In the end they gave her Twinings tea.
  Later they had a dinner to which the Duke of Edinburgh was invited and they presented him with one of the seals I made from the deck planks. I was dead keen for some Royal or other to have one because I just wanted to head a picture with "Royal Seal of Approval" I got a wonderful quote from him " a craftsman at the top of his game" 


Wow! Well after no blogging for a while, I got a bit carried away there - but it was hard not to really. If you like the look of Jeff's work, why not visit his website and tell him what you think. And while you're feeling communicative, drop me a comment here too! What tips do you have for running a successful business? - Lu
Next Time Suzanne Crawford and Coverupsurf

Saturday, 27 October 2012

'It's All Gone Quiet At The Bar!'

A Distinct Lack Of Activity

It doesn't take a lot to notice that I haven't had a lot to say recently.
But interesting content is on its way!

A fair few of us wonder about the secrets of the success of a seemingly chosen few who seem to do well in their chosen field.  And so I decided to go off and ask a few of them.

I started with some of the 'top' sellers from Etsy and Folksy (although I may well stray into entirely different spheres as whim takes me), and I've asked them how they got to where they are now with their business, about their own definition of success, and whether they consider themselves to be successful.

The 'Stalking Success' series will be starting next week - look out for it here.     

Monday, 24 September 2012

Craftjuice Tuesday

 Just two today

Both simple, understated, and smart
Leather and lace journal by RenewedUponADream

Glass pendant by GlowingGlassStudio

and both waiting for you to click through and vote for them with the little blue up arrow.

The Crafty Folk: CraftyFolk Round Robin

More news of our collaborative work

Reblogged from The Crafty Folk Blog
the next episode

The Crafty Folk: CraftyFolk Round Robin: Our CraftyFolk lady has been very well travelled since the last update and we have to say, she's looking fabulous! First stop was with Daw...

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


A little bit of success

I know that this isn't the way Craftjuice Tuesday is supposed to work, but rather than featuring items that are looking for a vote, I'm going to feature the five items from the September Craftjuice Newsletter.

All are Craftfesters...I must get round to asking them all if they're going to do November...and all make lovely things deserving of the votes they got.

Jewellery Box from Norfolkwood Crafts
Kindle Fire Case by Loutul

Coin Purse by Kerri Robberts Designs
Necklace by Say It
Notebook by Handmade In Keswick
All the above have already been shared on the Craftjuice Facebook page and Tweeted to all their followers, and now, they are emailed to the 10,000s of Newsletter subscribers.  So that's got to be good.

Thanks to everyone who voted.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Weddings By Annabel

  Time for another interview.   This time with another local who does what they love.

Annabel Candler of Weddings By Annabel

Here's Annabel in her own words

My background is a mixture of PR, marketing and events including a degree in Marketing and a family PR business. I have always enjoyed creating and planning and was a very tidy but artistic youngster! I have had a very varied array of jobs which helped me hone my skills towards what I actually enjoyed doing. After my University of Huddersfield era, I found a husband and moved back to my home town, Penrith, to join my mum with her event business. After hard times working with marquees, I started my own little business, Weddings by Annabel.

Organised Creativity - That sums up my business. I add or inspire creativity and create or help develop plans. I think through all the details and ensure that events suit the purpose and reach goals. This applies to weddings too though they are much more personal and emotional therefore more difficult and important.

As I also work for Eden District Council, helping with events, I can start my day heading there; thinking through my day and what lies ahead. If its a WBA day then I start with a coffee! I love to keep a list in my diary which helps me concentrate on the important tasks for the day. It stops me getting overwhelmed too! My day would be a nightmare without my laptop, diary and the internet! The rest relies on my brain tapping into my organised creativity!

I love events. I love making people happy by ensuring their special occasion is perfect and stress free. I'm not daft though, I do this to earn money; work to live dont live to work! Reaching goals like that is very rewarding too.

Having a wonderful network of friends and a supportive family means a lot. They inspire ideas and help me stay on track. My husband is wonderful at offering advice and being a sounding board for my ideas. The difficult part is working most weekends!

I am a strong believer in networking and word of mouth to help business. I have created a Penrith Cumbrian Women in Enterprise group which is a monthly meeting for ladies to help share their goals and skills. Its been going for over a year and is wonderful! Other projects are ongoing with the council such as Penrith on a Plate Food Event, Penrith Halloween Festival, Penrith Winter Festival and Eden Markets.

I have also linked with special Cumbrian venues for whom I am their wedding coordinator: Lowther Castle Gardens and Heads Nook Hall. So much going on but I really love it! 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Beg For Votes

Craftjuice Me, Me, Me!

This week's Craftjuice Tuesday is gonna be a completely selfish grab for votes.

Click through to vote
Click through to vote



A Change Of Mind

Popped back to add just one more - from Karen of KKMarie's.  Karen didn't get signed up on to Craftjuice in time for the Big Craftfest Juice Up.
This was no deterrent for a member of  the In Your Face Promotion Team on Etsy, and she has just voted for all the Craftfest items on Craftjuice (did I say it was around 400 in my last post?  I think its more now).
This was long after most of the others have stopped voting, packed up and gone home, so I think that must qualify for some extra begging on here. 

Click through to vote


Weather In Keswick

Rained some more

What's next

Look out for a feature with Annabel Candler of Weddings By Annabel

Sunday, 9 September 2012

What happened to Craftjuice Tuesday?

The Massive Juice Up

I'm reporting this slightly after the event - I've been a tad busy this week!

After the initial excitement of Craftfest opening day, Stumbling everything in sight, on Saturday 1 September, and the Twitter Storm on the Sunday evening, Craftfesters took part in the blogging campaign on the Monday.

And that brought us to Tuesday.  The limited number of Craftfesters who had joined Craftjuice in time (there is a wait time), all landed on the site, loading their products on, and voting for each other.  This was no mean fete as there must have been around 400 items from us all on there.  

Within a short period Craftjuice were publishing each item on their Facebook page and Tweeting away.  We have to wait and see whether anyone got enough votes to be featured in the Craftjuice newsletter.

If you'd like to help us with that, please feel free to sling one or two votes our way here.

The week continue with another massive hit on Wednesday, this time on WANELO; some Facebooking on Thursday; and Pinning everything in sight on Saturday.  We had awarded ourselves a bit of a catch up day on Friday, but I must say, I'm still at it all now (hence this post).

Weather In Keswick

Absolutely glorious - come on over!