Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone

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Today is to be a family day for me. Ironing, whilst watching create and craft tv, making a couple of cards to order, drawing Easter things with my daughter and eating lots of chocolate! Actually I’ve had half and egg and a cream egg and I already feel sick!!!!!!!!

Later today I’ll be spending the evening with my family, dinner made by my fabulous Mum and Dad (and cake made by Sue Brooks) and more chocolate. Time to catch up with my brother and his little family too. It will be great fun and a really lovely treat.

Duckling

Duckling

I hope you all enjoy the day.

Have a lovely Easter
xx

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The demise of a small retailer

Saturday was a sad day in our house as it was marked by the closure of my very local craft supply shop – Premier Card Craft.

I was very fortunate to discover this little gem only ten minutes walk from home. Ideal for those last minute makes and urgently needed essentials – usually glue. The shop itself was only small, but it was packed to the rafters with papercrafting supplies at very reasonable prices. Not all of the stock was to my taste – I’m not big on CD crafting and cutesy animals, but it was all good quality and the essentials – glues, glitters and cardstocks etc were fantastic.

Over the eighteen months or so it was open , the stock changed, bringing in more gifts and children’s toys, to cater for the clientele. This detracted somewhat from the core business and from the original target customer (ie me, a papercrafter), however, I understand why it was diversified, to increase sales and to cater for all the enquiries received.

More than the shop though, I shall miss the warm welcome from Irene, who remembered all about the family and what we’d been up to. It was a fabulous place to go for a crafty chat, to discuss card making trends, see what we were working on and how business was going – any craft fairs in the area etc. It was also somewhere I could happily take my daughter as she would always enjoy the walk (or bike ride) and looking at all the toys and stickers (I don’t think I ever left without at least one sheet of stickers or foam pirates!) It was such a warm and friendly place that I shall miss it immensely.

So I am now left with sourcing my crafting supplies further afield. Fortunately we have an amazing supply shop for all arts and crafts in Clarks Crafts in Ramsbottom. This really is an Aladdin’s cave of craft, catering for everything from painting to knitting and from papercraft to jewellery making. It’s quite a big shop too and they also run some craft courses. For all my other crafting needs I shall be back with Create and Craft. Its low prices and seemingly endless range means I can get my glues and Hunkydory collections very conveniently over the web.

What I’ll miss though is the crafting chat. There’s nothing like talking over a new idea, trend or project with a fellow crafter. So I’m now thinking about organising a craft group or coffee morning – well I’ve only got three weeks left in the high pressure world of office work and I’m going to have to fill my time somehow!

Good luck Irene and happy crafting
xx

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Starting up

Yesterday I took the first step on my way to becoming a fully fledged business!  In amongst all the books and magazine articles I’ve been reading over the last twelve months and taking redundancy from my permanent employment, I was given the opportunity to attend a half-day business start up workshop run by Blue Orchid, based in central Manchester.

What an interesting morning! As you can imagine there was an awful lot of information to get through and in only three hours, it was something of a whistle stop overview of starting up, but wow!  So much enthusiasm in the room for all kinds of business ideas.

HandmadeByKatherineBlack

We were given a huge amount to think about – from our skills and doing SWOT analysis, to financing, pricing, profit & loss accounts and the model buiness set up.  The advisor running the workshop was very realistic about going into business as he has had his own business and now helps others set up.  He’s a real numbers guy and tried (sometimes in vain) to explain tax and national insurance payments to a mostly bewildered audience!  However, I took lots from the day and not just the fifteen pages of notes I made!

It was good to see that the work I’ve done so far on promotion and cash flow is work going in the right direction.  I now need to spend time on the business side of things, registration, business plan and a stock take of all my equipment and materials!  There’s a lot to do, but I know I have support from my family and I can utilise the business support at Blue Orchid to refresh my knowledge of book-keeping for cash-flow, profit & loss and balance sheets.  Phew!

Personalised Wedding Card

Personalised Wedding Card

It wasn’t all just business speak (although there was a lot of jargon), I met a couple of other Mums that craft; one who decorates cakes and another who hand stitches leather handbags.  More crafty contacts! And I got some great feedback on an order I was delivering. It’s great to meet like minded people with passion and drive for what they do, but who, like me, are a little terrified of venturing into the cut-throat world of business.

Wedding card box

I have a very long to-do-list now, which I hope to make a start on over the Easter break, after I’ve completed my order list!

I guess I’d better get making.

Happy crafting

x

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New Easter Cards

Well Easter really is just around the corner and whilst it isn’t a holiday particularly associated with card giving, it’s always nice to send something personal and thoughtful to a loved one that you may not see.

I have been making two types of card for Easter this year, those that lend themselves to being not too messy and can be made while entertaining my pre-school daughter.  So I’ve carried through my ‘hearts and flowers’ themes, using the collage technique to make Easter Eggs and stamping and colouring Easter Egg shaped flower wreaths on to plain card.

Collage Easter Egg Cards

The collage eggs are nice and bright to bring in the feel of Spring – very welcome at the moment as it’s so cold outside!  I’ve used bright coloured base cards and added ribbon and a bow to each egg to add that touch of luxury.  I’m offering to put personalised greetings on the cards, and I also have a number of cards already made up in packs to buy ‘off the shelf’. Stamped Happy Easter cards

The stamped flower eggs are bright and cheerful with hand-coloured flowers in a variety of spring colours.

I hope you’ll agree they would brighten up an Easter mantlepiece.  I know we will certanly be sending some to our far-flung family and friends.

Happy crafting

x

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Whitefield Spring Craft Fair

Well, the craft fair is over and I’ve had a few days to reflect on the day.  I can take some positives from the experience and I am definitely learning with each new venture into the public.

The fair was held in a fabulous room and there was a good variety of crafts on offer.  Unfortunately there was very little in the way of advertising around the venue, a couple of banners and that was about it.  The flyer I was sent by the organisers was an article from their group magazine calling for donations for the tombola stall! And the advert put in the local paper was marginally bigger than a postage stamp!

Anyway, I set up my stall and was pleased with the result.  I’d had a manic few days looking for baskets, and ended up with a couple of hat boxes and some large gift boxes. 

My Stall at Whitefield Spring Craft Fair

I did spot the fallen logo at the front of the stall before the fair opened! I’m thinking of ways to get more height at the back of the stall for any future fairs I do. The hat boxes do help, but I think I need something more. I’ve been thinking about ways to get more bunting above the stall maybe draping from bamboo canes at either end of the table, but I’m now sure how to get that to work yet. I shall keep thinking on that one. One tip I picked up from some of the larger craft fairs is the use of technology to show more of my work. So I again called the family digital photo frame into use and it did make people stop to have a look.

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Unfortunately due to the lack of advertising of the event, it wasn’t that well attended. However, as I said there are some positives I took from the day. I was able to gauge more public reaction to my cards and gifts and even though sales were slow, several people did take one of my business cards, a couple of people placed orders for bespoke cards and there were a number of positive comments. Also I was happy that I had enough stock for the day and with the look of my stall.

So I’m revising my wish to do four fairs this year, down to three, one in Summer and another for Christmas. I think this is more realistic. And my main focus (once I have my orders completed and my Easter card collections added to the website) will be to launch my Etsy shop.

Happy crafting
x

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Busy weeks of personalised cards

What a busy few weeks it has been – Valentine’s Day, a Spring craft fair to prepare for, Mother’s Day and the run up to Easter!  I’ve hardly had time to make all my cards to order, let alone blog!! Apologies to all my blog followers and I hope to resume normal blogging service very shortly. 

My main focus has been developing my Spring collections and I am looking to increase the personalisation I can offer to customers on cards and maybe on knitted items (but I’m not sure quite how I’m going to do that yet).

Adding a personal touch to Valentine’s cards has offered something a little different to my customers. I have trialled this with my colleagues at work and they have reacted well. Giving me ever more weird and wonderful greetings / names to add on to their chosen cards. I think my favourite was the card pictured.

Personalised Valentine Card

I have continued to add personalised greetings to my Mother’s Day cards and will carry on for all my future card collections.

I have recently been concentrating on my hearts and flowers collections and have expanded this with a small number of sunflower cards for Mother’s Day. Always being one to try and reuse as many items as possible, I made use of a broken umbrella and the lovely sunflowers that adorned it. I was devastated when it broke, but I have had additional pleasure crafting with the parts!! This provided me with 8 beautiful large sunflowers.

The colours of the flowers are so cheerful, so I raided my ever expanding card and paper stash to find something beautiful to co-ordinate with them. I’ve used some Hunkydory foiled and embossed cardstock in dark brown, bright green card from Create and Craft, yellow flower embossed card from Paperbox and some gold mirri card. Instead of using my traditional straight line framing, I have used my most recent purchases – some circle and scalloped circle nesting dies from Spellbinders.

Recycled Sunflower Mother's Day Card

Do you like them? They certainly make me smile.

I’ve been asked to do a few other cards as well for specific occasions, one for a friend and another for a colleague who has moved house.

Thinking of you flowers

These flowers would certainly cheer me up. How about you? Let me know what you think……

Happy crafting
x

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