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.