Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere to share the ups and downs of starting a craft business, with plenty of tips, mishaps and the odd glass of wine!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Easter Toys & Union Jack Swap

Sorry for the slight break in posting for the last week or so... our household has been hit by flu (first both kids, which meant I was run ragged looking after them and now me) so everything has been on hold till we all started to feel a bit more human.

Last week (before the lurgy descended) I was busy making Easter chicks and Easter finger puppets

The Chick in the plastic egg is being listed in my Etsy shop later today - as you can see from the second photo, it has a little pocket sewn onto the back with enough space to hold 2 Lindor chocolate eggs (which will come with the chick) so would make a perfect Easter present for a little someone who doesn't need yet another large chocolate egg!

The finger puppets consist of Larry Lamb, Chester Chick and Bertie Bunny and the prototypes have been robustly tested by Seren & Patrick (my 3 year old & 1 year old!) and have also been listed in the Etsy shop.

However the most exciting thing, which I wanted to blog about straight away (but of course didn't quite get the chance!) is that I have joined the Popular Crafts monthly swap which for April & May has a Union Jack theme. I have been paired up with a lovely lady named Cybele, who's blog can be found here - she makes beautiful things, mostly knitted or crochet and I'm really excited about my first ever craft swap!

Watch this space for pics once my makes are finished & have been received by Cybele (and of course, I'll be posting pics of the goodies I get in return!)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

5 Reasons I Love Etsy

I had never even heard of Etsy until I started designing and making things last autumn. A friend of mine who went to Uni in America (and is therefore far more clued up about transatlantic trends than I am!) told me about it when she saw my photos going up on Facebook. For those of you out there who have also not heard of it, Etsy is a website that allows people to set up their own web-based shop, selling either handmade or vintage goodies world wide, from one safe site. You don't need to have your own website or any experience to use Etsy, they make it really straightforward for you (which was a relief for me as a total novice at online selling!)

The 5 things I really really like about Etsy are:

1. Shop Stats
This means you can see how many people have viewed items in your shop over different time periods, what search criteria they've used to find your items, which items they have 'favourited' (sort of like bookmarking them, so they can find them easily again) and where they have originally come from - i.e. the number of people who read this and then click through from the blog to my Etsy shop. All these things really help a shop owner to know which areas to focus on, how best to label their items and what is popular at the moment.

2. The Teams
I'm part of three Etsy teams, all of which give me something slightly different. The Etsy's UK & Ireland Seller Support Team is brilliant for being friendly and helpful when you have a question, an idea you need sounding out or just need some confidence boosting! The other two teams I'm part of Seller Opportunity Tools and UK Felt Obsessors are both fun & useful, but I don't participate in them nearly as much as the first one.

3. Tagging
Etsy help make it easy for sellers to tag their items as they allow you 13 different tags for each item you list. You can also see the tags that other sellers have used to get ideas for yours. It makes a big difference from my point of view as the majority of sellers & buyers are based in the US, there are some terms that are used differently there, which would result in a lack of sales if you didn't take advantage of the tagging opportunities. For example, the word 'personalised' is spelled differently in America, so by just using one tag to repeat your item title but spelling it the American way (or the English way if you've used the American spelling in your title) means you hit that wider audience.

4. The amazing range of beautiful handmade items
There are SO many absolutely wonderful designers & creators who sell through Etsy, you could spend days lost on the site! My Father-in-Law and my Grandfather are both into golf, so for Christmas I came across a wonderful shop called Tiny Love Treasures who made them both a golf ball marker with my kids names on. So lovely & something I would never have found had I been out shopping on the high street - they'd both have ended up with yet more tees and a new book full of golfing jokes!

5. You can see how much the postage is going to be before you add an item to your cart.
One of the the other things I love is that when you are shopping on Etsy you can see how much the postage is going to be from the word go. Quite often if you are based in England and trying to buy off an American site, either you get to the payment section only to find that they don't deliver outside of the US or that the postage is going to be prohibitively expensive, so you end up starting all over again... with Etsy, you can see straight away if you can afford the postage (and more importantly if they will post overseas) which saves a lot of time & frustration!

To have a browse on Etsy either follow the link to my shop or have a look at just a couple of the other lovely shops that I have come across:

Happy shopping xxx

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Monsters in the Workshop!

Well, after thinking that I was all set for my workshop and that I couldn't be any more prepared after doing so much last week, I was totally thrown today by two of my students (both 11 year olds) asking to make monsters! I had to think on my feet with this request and luckily both were brimming with immagination, as you can see:

Pretty scary looking beasts!

Thankfully, so that I don't have nightmares for the next week, my other two students (both adults!) wanted to make slightly prettier things:

The flower is going to be an embellishment for a bag and the owl on purple background will be a bag, but the lady making it has arthritis so couldn't go as fast as she'd have liked!

All in all though a very satisfactory session and a nice way to end the run - this was the 6th one I've done this term and I'm taking a break now till May as we've got almost all our weekends jam packed with friends coming to stay, going away ourselves, a play to perform, a hen weekend and a wedding! Phew, now I think about it, I might need a stint at an eastern meditation retreat to get over all of that!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Workshops & Elephant in Progress

After a nice positive set of comments about my first blog post (and fortified by a large glass of wine!) I thought I'd offer another. This week has been all about workshops & an elephant in progress.

The workshop I actually only ran today, but I've spent most of the week preparing for it. Given that my first series of workshops were billed as being 'felting classes' when they were actually sewing with felt, I had a mixed reception (although all of it very polite!) So this time round I asked Babs from Zigzags (in Coleford, where the classes are run) to make it quite clear that these classes were for those fairly new to sewing or children as it's more about the sewing, than the felt, the felt just happens to be the medium we're working in. I realised if I had more young people or those very new to sewing in the class, I'd need to be really organised and prepared, so all week I've been making a range of templates, photocopying and making lists of required materials for each item. Phew.

So today the class ran, and I'm glad I was so prepared... although it wasn't that busy, the participants were all in need of quite a lot of attention, so it wouldn't have been easy otherwise!

One thing they were quite keen to see was the elephant that I've been working on this week:

I'm not quite sure what to do with this little guy... he could be another brooch, but I sort of like the idea of turning him into some wall art (maybe framed) this could just be because I am additcted to elephants (espcialy Indian ones, like this chap!) and have a LOT of them framed on my walls. Given that I'm at a drama rehearsal tonight (I'm part of the local Am-Dram group) I've still got a bit of time to make my mind up.

I've got a few things that I've been asked to create by a couple of my lovely customers... an owl cushion is first up so I'm going to have fun designing that today in my lunch break (at the day job!) and then we're moving onto a Miffy inspired rabbit, so watch this space later in the week for photos. Have a good Monday everyone xxx

PS. The owls (from my previous post) are now available in my Etsy shop

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Owl Brooches - a cute gift for Mother's Day

Hello? Is there anybody there?

Okay, well I'll assume there's hundreds of avid readers already (hey, a girl can dream, right?) and plough on! So for those of you who know me you'll know that Grace's Favours started last August (2011) and whilst it has not quite gone viral in that time (we've ascertained that I'm prone to the odd daydream already!), it's not doing badly at all and I thought a blog would be a nice addition.

So for my first post I thought I'd tell you about these owl brooches, which are a new line for the shop, just created this week and about to go up onto the etsy shop www.etsy.com/shop/gracesfavours and I think they would make a fab Mother's Day gift, which is of course just round the corner here in the UK (18th March)

What do you think of these little fellas? They can be made in any colour scheme, I think of the 3 so far the blue one is my favourite!

I created them because I needed a thank you present for a lovely member of staff at my childrens' nursery, who left on Wednesday and another lovely member of staff at the nursery who turned 21 at the weekend (so young... I think I vaguely remember turning 21!!). They were really fun to come up with and I love the way they each seem to have their own little personality!

Okay, I suppose now I'd better get on with listing these little critters onto the shop and try to stop my 3 year old daughter (Seren) from emptying out the entire contents of my sewing box onto the floor in an attempt to find something interesting to play with!

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