Handmade In Keswick at Craftfest

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Promoting artists and craftspeople

Following on from my post about selling statement jewellery and resin bangles, this week I'm promoting both my Folksy shop and my WowThankYou shop via Craftfest.

Some of you will know that I'm a bit fan of this method of promotion as pictures get lots of clicks, which sometimes result in sales, but always results in greater online exposure.  You'll also know that I have, for those very reasons, taken a lead in promotions during fests.  This time though, I've stepped back, as the event is now so HUGE that it needs a number of people to co ordinate all the promos going on during the week.

Garreth from ScentCosmetics is co ordinating Teams of Pin Likers, Commenters and Repinners.

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Tania from ColaCreations is leading the Tweetfest 

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

Kerry from ScrapbookKerry is directing events from Facebook

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

and Gill from Personal Space Interiors has us all blogging, commenting and Stumbling

Find more photos like this on Creative Connections

So far, its all going extremely well.  You can see Craftfest for yourself here

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Selling statement jewellery and resin bangles online

A little experimentation

For a while now, I've been wondering how to assess which selling platform is the best for my business.

It all started with a...

When I first started selling online, there weren't as many different selling platforms as there are now, but there was still a choice to be made as to which one to use.

was such a big market place that work just got lost in the crowd and that Folksy, the platform for British sellers
was the way to go.  Well call me shallow, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to be associated with a business with such a naff name...yes a lot of the platforms, including Etsy
have ridiculous names, but, to me, the word Folksy
conjured up an image of unwashed banjo players wearing tank tops fashioned from rag rugs. 

To be honest, every time I hear the word, I do still have that image flash, but at least our culture now includes Mumford and sons to counter balance it with 'banjo cool'.

So anyway, I digress...rather than making a precise business decision and sticking to it, I opened on Folksy
tried a few things, sold a few things, hung out in the forums for a bit, then decided to try a similar technique on Etsy.

Show Me The Money*!

The results - well very similar to be honest.  My Etsy shop  
achieved over double the amount of visitors (who also stopped and had a look round while they were there); the platform is easy to use and there is a vast amount of business info and advice on the site.  But my Folksy shop made a similar amount in actual sales.

And that's the point isn't it - its easy to get sucked into the numbers of views/follows/favourites, but the only number that counts is one which includes the spondoolies* hitting the bank account.

And so there was nothing to choose between either of the sites. I had a look round and found I was not the only 'platform tart' - some people use 4 or 5 different selling sites and (stress makingly) put the same items in all of them so when an item sells it has to be removed from all.

I decided that the best policy was to completely ignore the issue (ahem) and concentrate on offline selling for a bit, but then I was introduced to WowThankYou which was receiving a positive response from other sellers. And did I think, 'oh no, that's not for me - I already have two platforms'? Of course I didn't!  I forgot about ignoring things, and launched straight in.

Within a short amount of time, the monetary value* of sales had almost exceeded both the Folksy and the Etsy shops put together.

But it wasn't a level playing field.  I started selling resin bangles in my WowThankYou shop and put the other two shops on holiday mode while I pondered the best business approach. (Strangley enough, for many weeks my Etsy shop
continued to receive more visitors than the others even when it was in holiday mode). 

So here we are


I've added some resin bangles to my Folksy shop
and I'm going to be doing the same promotion for both Folksy and for my WowThankYou shop and I'm gonna be monitoring the results very carefully.

It won't be a precise comparison as there will be some variations re time of day of postings, plus I haven't yet brought the Etsy shop  into the equation, but I do have a nerdy spreadsheet and that's good enough for me.

How have other people decided the best venue for selling their goods?  (Leave me a comment and tell me) 

*cash, dough, readdies, lubbley jubbley, dosh, 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Judith Brown -Stalking Success

Well here we are again with the latest instalment in the Stalking Success series.
I met Judith Brown at a show at Penrith, adored the way she makes very 'of the minute' jewellery, upcycling buttons and haberdashery, but in a sophisticated style which is instantly recognisable as her own.

Ever since that meeting, it seems that I have seen her work almost every time I've picked up a leaflet, read something online, or opened a magazine - this woman gets exposure!

Judith Brown

I’ve always been a maker and remember making clothes for my dolls at a very young age! My Mum taught me to sew and knit and as a teenager I made and sold bead jewellery to my friends to fund my hobby. 
Eventually I went on to do a degree in Embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University. Following that I lived in Italy for a while and didn’t really do anything very creative until I discovered fine copper wire. Some friends of mine made and sold jewellery and I was “playing “ with bits of wire and realised that I could stitch with the wire, and that’s where it all started. When I moved back to England I started experimenting with coloured wires, beads and eventually a button from my Mum’s button tin, which was the beginning of the development of my current collections. 

 I started making to sell in 2004 and now I have my own studio in Staffordshire and sell work in galleries and at events all over the UK.

 At first I experimented with the different gauges of wire and coloured beads and to find out which stitches worked best, almost straight away I started doing small fairs and events and selling through local galleries, this meant I could learn which colours and designs had widest appeal.

 Then I started using old buttons in my designs that I had found in my Mum’s button tin, I remember a lovely carved button and thinking that though it was beautiful as it was, surely it would be more appreciated if I could turn it into something wearable for more people to admire, rather than sitting in a tin in a drawer for years to come. 

So alongside the coloured wire jewellery I had my Vintage Mother of Pearl Button collection made with silver wire, which sold just as well. 

Once I started making designs in black with hooks and eyes and press studs this Vintage Noir range really took off, and I decided to focus more on upcyling and recycling vintage haberdashery, and creating something elegant and wearable from ordinary everyday forgotten objects

Achieving Sales

I don’t remember a particular breakthrough point though it was probably at some point in 2010 when things started to come together, looking back it was probably because I had learnt so much in the years before and had developed a coherent collection of designs which I had learnt to display well. 

I also began to be selected for the bigger UK contemporary craft fairs. Now I sell in around 40 outlets around the UK which include small craft galleries and boutiques as well as museums like the V&A and the British Museum, there’s a full list of stockists on my website. I also sell through my own online shop as well as Notonthehighstreet and Madebyhandonline

I also take part in various craft events around the UK and exhibit at trade fairs.

Getting Known

This is something that has built up over time from attending events, selling in good galleries and working on my online presence. From time to time I have advertised in magazines like Craft and Design and Crafts, though budgets don’t allow for many ads! Through doing events I have made contacts with writers and editors and have been featured in Craft and Design Magazine and in Embroidery magazine. In the last 18 months I have also used a PR agent who has helped me to get featured in other publications.

I use social media a lot and am a bit of a Facebook addict, I have recently discovered Pinterest, which I think is my new favourite. I tweet too and use all of them to network with other makers and make new contacts as well as showing what I’m up to.

Twitter: @Judithjewels

Becoming Sucessful

If the 18 year old me could see what I have achieved I think she would be impressed, but me now is always striving for more! I have achieved a lot and am proud to have my jewellery in prestigious museum shops and to have been featured in Embroidery magazine (I was an Embroidery graduate remember!) I like to keep moving and keep improving my work and my business and feel that I’m doing that so that I can keep growing personally too. However economic times are hard for all and though money is certainly not the motivator for my making it is necessary for me to be able to continue, so earning a little more of it would make me feel a bit more successful! I think my achievements are due to lots of hard work, sheer determination and constantly learning and evolving, and of course my passion for making!

Attend a workshop

I run full day and half day workshops making jewellery with wire inspired by my collections. Details of these are on my events page. I am looking for more venues to run workshops, so please contact me if you are interested.

Fairs and Exhibitions

Also on my events page, a list of fairs and exhibitions that I have in my diary for 2013.

Special Discount

Readers of this blog can get a 15% discount off purchases made from Judith's online shop up until 24 March 2013 by using the code FoundInKeswick15.

Wow right? Those photos by Holly Booth are fantastic too - I think product photo envy is my current vice.

If you're quick, you can see more by visiting Judith this weekend (8th, 9th & 10th March 2013) at the Contemporary Textiles Fairs at Teddington

And if you can't make that - it'd be nice if you just get a chance to rifle through Judith's online sites and tell her what you think. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013


Colour and layer

Layer and layer

Layer and more layer
Block and Line

Chunk and Bangle

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Stalking Success - Laura Howard - Lupin Handmade

In this week's instalment in the Stalking Success Series, we have Laura, who has a different approach to the 'product' in that she is flexible and moves her business along as likes and dislikes change.

Laura Howard

Hello! My name is Laura but lots of people call me Lupin. I’ve just turned 30 and have spent the past 6 years or so running an online business, Lupin Handmade. I sell handmade felt accessories I’ve designed & sewn myself, PDF patterns for people to sew their own creations, plus felt squares and other colourful craft supplies sourced from wholesalers. I’m also a crafts writer (writing tutorials for craft books) and I write a craft blog (bugsandfishes.blogspot.com) about all my crafty adventures, with fun things like free tutorials and crafty book reviews too.

Discovering The Product

I was one of those kids who grew up making stuff. When I left University I was unemployed due to ill health - I returned to my old crafty hobbies to keep myself from getting too bored, and really enjoyed it. I discovered Etsy at around the same time, and made it my New Year’s Resolution to open a shop the following year.

I started out selling my own work, then added craft supplies to my range and have very recently started selling PDF tutorials. I first started selling supplies because I wanted to order special colours from wholesalers and had some excess felt to sell off and they've been part of my range ever since. My tutorial-writing started out as a fun thing to share on my blog, and turned out to be something I really enjoyed doing.

Achieving Sales

One of the great benefits to being your own boss, and to selling online, is that you can be quite flexible and kind of go with the flow of what sells and what doesn’t, and with what you enjoy making/doing/selling and what you don’t. My creative style and interests have also evolved over the years, and my business has developed along with it.

Super-Cute Felt
I have my own online shop (lupin.bigcartel.com) and stores on Etsy (lupin.etsy.com) DaWanda (lupin.dawanda.com) and Folksy (lupin.folksy.com), and my book (Super-Cute Felt) was published last year. 

 Getting Known

At the end of my first year selling online, Etsy made me one of their Featured Sellers which made me feel like a superstar! It was the first time I’d really thought I could turn my little shop into a “proper” business.

I promote my work through my blog (bugsandfishes.blogspot.com), and I use Twitter and Facebook.

 Becoming Successful

I guess I knew I’d been successful at that when I quit my part time “day job” and became completely self-employed a few years ago.  

I think success is all about setting goals for yourself (whatever they may be) and reaching them. It can be super hard to judge your own “success” though, especially when you're self-employed as it’s natural to be constantly looking to the next project and how you can grow and improve your business.

As long as I can make stuff I love, and pay the rent, etc, while doing it I’m happy!

  I’m especially thankful to be running my business at a time when there are such great resources available online for small business owners -there are so many useful blogs and how to guides out there covering every aspect of selling online / running a business. I've learned a huge amount since I first set up shop, and it's very inspiring being part of a community of such amazingly creative people.

What a positive story Laura tells.

As usual, you would be the best reader if you would have a browse round Laura's shops, blog etc and tell her what you think.

And don't forget to comment on here too. 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Giveaway Results

The Draw

We've finally got to the day of the draw for the Verry Berry Fabrics giveaway.

I hadn't reckoned on so much interest to be honest - I had completely forgotten that all of Ali's fans and Very Berry customers
would be interested, and well, a bit desperate to win.

Some of the more observant among you will have notice that I was, well, a bit remiss with replying to all the comments, but it had got to the point where there was ALWAYS a batch for me to publish (along with a bit of spam to zap).  I did read and enjoy every single comment though (less so the spam obviously).

As we have now established that you're all a bunch of fabric feelers, I'll jump straight to the result of the draw. (This is the bit where I had every intention of pasting in the image of the random generator I used to make the draw, but I can't remember how to do it, so you'll just have to believe me.)

The winner is comment number 29, Karen.

After going through her profile at Karen's blog at Red Apple Tree
and a bit of googling, I'm off to find her and tell her the good news.  If you see her before me, then let her know, won't you.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Stalking Success - Barry Bulsara

When I was looking for businesses to feature in this Stalking Success series,
Barry Bulsara was another one of those names who kept popping up in various places - maybe its because a lot of his work appeals to my 
inner geek.

Barry Bulsara

Well I'm 38, live in Loughborough a small university town in Leicestershire. I've always been creative, from an early age I was always painting, drawing or making some sort of space ship from empty washing up liquid bottles and such. But it wasn’t until my secondary school art teacher Mrs Sheffield gave me a sketchbook and pencil for doing well on my homework that I realised that I might actually have a future in art & design. I didn't realise until I went to university that I was dyslexic, so that probably explains why I spent so much of my time doing art as I wasn't very good at much else! I ended up taking the usual route, A'levels an art foundation course and then a degree in Graphic Design. Then sold my creative soul and got a job as a Graphic designer.

Discovering The Product

Last year I wanted to get back in to my art as I found my day job wasn't giving me creative satisfaction, so enrolled onto a weekend screen printing course at the Leicester Print Workshop and have been hooked ever since!  


I used to produce large canvas painting and have them on display in local bars in Leicestershire but after the recession they stopped selling so I needed to find another commercial creative outlet, screen printing is ideal as it allows me to be creative with my designs and as my prints are in edition of between 100 to 500 it means I can sell individual prints at affordable prices. 

Achieving Sales

Only a few months after I learnt to screen print. I had a number of designs and set up my Folksy shop and started to get regular orders, which only encouraged me to produce more.

Getting Known

I've been very fortunate that a small pub chain in my area called the Orange Tree display some of my work in their bars around Leicestershire and Nottingham, but I'm always looking for new places to exhibit. 

I also sell my work online through Folksy  and Etsy. I have also recently started selling my prints through Unicheinteriorfurnishings and I've just managed to find a gallery New British Artists in London that now represents me.

I also try and do as many craft fairs as time allow, and  I promote my work through my blog, Facebook page and 

 There are some one off boosts as well - I was just in Craftseller magazine...

Samira Ahmed's blog
but, also, the news reporter Samira Ahmed recently got in touch asking if she could use a picture of one of my prints to illustrate a story on her blog, that was cool! 

  Becoming Successful

I consider myself more fortunate than successful, fortunate that I have a talent and as I make my work soley to please and amuse myself. I consider it happy accident that there are people out there that are prepared to part with their hard earned cash to buy it.

So, what do you think of Barry's work?  Tell us which of Barry's pics is your fave - and feel free to include quotes from Star Wars in your comments!

(And if you like this blog post, maybe you'd also be kind enough to give it a Craftjuice vote here

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Stalking Success - Ali Burdon - VeryBerry - and a giveaway

After (ahem) a short break since the last post in the Stalking Success series, I'm back with a piece about another seller who seems to be everywhere that I am on the internet.  Ali has a different story to tell in that she recently added a fabric business to supplement her handmade. Here's Ali.

Ali Burdon

After a highly enjoyable career working as an archivist (and going to far too many pubs...) in London, I had my children (twin boys) in 2003. They were both diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum when they were toddlers, and at that stage I decided I would not be going back to work, and would concentrate on finding ways I could be at home to be with them, and help them reach their potential. 

All of that coincided with me getting thoroughly into crochet and sewing, and I started my blog - veryberryhandmade.co.uk, and sell things that I'd made online (in my Folksy shop - Very Berry Handmade) in 2006. 

Discovering The Product

I started with hand-sewn and crocheted products, and I hope to continue with them, but I found requests to make the same thing over and over were sapping my creativity and so in 2012 I added to this and have diversified into a second shop selling small cuts of Liberty fabric at Very Berry Fabrics.

I love Liberty prints with a passion. I love the heritage of the product, and I love the fact that the history of the fabric and brand is firmly based in the UK, especially when in this country, the majority of the quilting cottons we use are from the USA and Japan. Liberty prints are gorgeous to use in quilting and making small accessories, but it is quite tricky (or very expensive - I think some Ebay sellers rely on people not being able to do the maths!) to get hold of small pieces or patchwork packs.

I think the bottom line is that I love beautiful yarns and fabrics. I love art, design and colour, and I try to be creative and make beautiful things that make the most of the gorgeous fabric and yarn that I buy. I like to try and follow my inspiration, so my handmade products are quite often unique pieces.  In my fabric selling business, I love to buy my favourite prints, and put together beautiful combinations of fabric that I hope will appeal to fellow designer-makers and quilters. I also really enjoy the pleasure that other people take in buying and using fabric from my shop.

Achieving Sales
The fabric sales started very quickly - over 400 sales in just a few months.

Getting Known
My promotion is through my blog (veryberryhandmade.co.uk) and on Facebook. I have tried to use Twitter in the past, but I have to say that I don't really enjoy the fast pace!  I have regular promotions, and also a presence on Flickr.

I have also worked with other bloggers to promote my fabric business with giveaways.  

(Ali's giving away some of her beautiful Liberty fabrics to all Found In Keswick Readers - details at the end of this blog - Lu) 

                                                           Becoming Successful

I want to feel happy that I am providing people with beautiful fabric at a fair price.   I hope I can provide a good value service as with lots of inspiration on my blog for people who want to sew Liberty.
I find great contentment in my life and work, and that works for me!  I have only been selling fabric for about 6 months now - I have high hopes for the business, but I do not have a lot of spare money to invest in it, so I am having to grow it quite slowly.

Its important that I maintain my creative integrity and I also want to maintain my standards - for me it is very important that my handmade products are professionally made, and the fabrics that I sell are beautiful, and that my customer service is excellent, and not ripping people off,  And I still need to have the energy to enjoy my family!

And now for the Giveaway


There are 12 pieces of gorgeous Liberty Tana lawn. 
If you have encountered Tana Lawn cotton before, it has all the strength and durability of cotton combined with the feel of silk. Each piece is 9"x12", which is the main size that I sell in my shop. You can use these gorgeous fabrics for quilting, accessories making, applique, collage.... the list goes on. My Liberty Inspiration Pinterest board has loads of ideas for people who are new to the loveliness that is Liberty Lawn.

Entry'll be by draw, and to enter, all you need to do is have fun, browsing through that gorgeous Liberty Inspiration BoardAli's fabric shopHandmade shop and leave a comment, here on this blog starting with the words 'I WOULD USE MY VERYBERRY FABRICS TO...'. 
Oh and Ali says she's more than happy to post overseas, so all can enter. (I moderate posts rather than that trickey 'prove you're not a robot thingey' so if your comment doesn't appear straight away, please be patient, I will get to it. -Lu

So... what WOULD you use your VeryBerry Fabrics for?


You can see the result here