Handmade In Keswick at Craftfest

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