Issue 97 is out now
Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

27th August 2013

There are so many WAHMs making gorgeous things out there, we thought it was high time we celebrated their creativity and ingenuity. Juggling family life and a craft business can be hard work, and we’ve asked experienced Crafty Mamas to share their thoughts, dreams and advice, from getting started to where to sell your works of art. This week, we talk to Jasmin Wesley-Turner, 31, from Tamworth in Staffordshire where she lives with her husband, Alan, their two year old daughter, Rowan, and a cat called Badger. She started selling her crafts in 2010.

Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

27th August 2013

Lucy Corkhill

By Lucy Corkhill

27th August 2013

Jasmin now runs her craft business Pendulous Threads from home, making bags and accessories with an alternative twist.

How many years have you had your craft business?
I started sewing bags in 2010. After getting asked several times to sell my bags, I then set up a business selling them on an online forum later that year, and found out we were pregnant with my daughter a week later! So the first year and a half was a bit slow with pregnancy and maternity leave.

In May 2013 I closed that original business as it did not suit the direction I wanted to go in, and opened Pendulous Threads to focus my work on a more alternative audience.

Tell us a bit about the things you make
I largely make hand made bags as custom orders -so each item is a one of a kind and tailored towards what a customer needs to suit their individual style.
My customers get to choose their bag from a range of styles, then pick fabrics, add extra pockets, studs, trims or even add a machine embroidery design. The range of bags are generally very practical, as I myself am quite a practical person, but I have recently started to expand into prettier and decorative bags-which are great fun to make!

I am also working on a range that converts the art work of well known tattoo artists into embroidery to feature on the bags, and the new website has a new range of simple lacework accessories from vampire inspired chokers, and mini top hats, to beautiful masquerade masks.

How do you fit crafting around childcare?
This is the hardest part for me as my daughter needs to come first, obviously. She is only little once and I don’t want to miss out on anything – but I am very lucky as my parents live close by and so are a great help with childcare when I do need it. It’s tough when she goes to their house, but she adores them, they have great fun and they try to support our parenting choices too, which is important.

When she is at home it’s all very stop start, so sometimes I don’t get to work in the day, then I am up until 2am sewing! But that’s what I signed up for so it’s fine. I love what I do thankfully so it’s never a chore.
Do you find your business is a good way to generate extra cash or do you do it simply for the love of it?

I am not going to get rich making bags, but I love my job, sewing is what calms me and drives my creativity. I am happier doing this than I ever have been, it brings a great sense of personal achievement and customer feedback is so precious – if it helps towards the household bills too then that’s perfect for us.

I think being a WAHM is a wonderful thing to do if you have the opportunity, but from personal experience I would say expect that sometimes it can take a little longer to get to where you want it to be simply because juggling the two under one roof can be a little difficult. Really you need to decide what you want out of it. Personally I love working, but I also need to be around my daughter – so this is the perfect balance. I know I could earn more working part time elsewhere and it would be considerably less stressful, but sewing makes me happy, and then I can be a happy Mommy for my daughter.

What are your inspirations?
I draw my inspirations from a variety of mediums, some from styles and subcultures such as steampunk, then more obvious things such as music, film and the tattoo industry.

I find Victorian gothic and the associated macabre undertone fascinating, and the works of authors such as Edgar Allan Poe are a big influence on me right now. I am also trying to bring more of an influence from nature and animals into a few pieces I have planned.
Tell us a bit about how you started out. Did you purchase everything in one go, gradually build up the things you needed, or have it all already?

I had nothing when I started out. My machine was given to me by my husband’s Gran (I managed to blow that one up right away!) and I used scrap or cheap fabrics to test with.

Gradually as I acquired more skills and started making items for other people, I built up more of a ‘stash’ of vintage fabrics to the ever popular skulls, witches and comic book character designer fabrics that my customers love so much today.
I also brought myself a decent machine, and last year invested in an embroidery machine which makes my work stand out a little more from some other crafters. I think I may possibly need a new room for the fabric alone soon though…but you can never have too much fabric.

What have proved the best avenues for selling your crafts?
For myself, the best place to sell has been Facebook so far. As the business is predominantly custom based, I have found it difficult to sell at craft fairs. I am trying tattoo conventions for the first time this year though, so fingers crossed that goes well, and the new website will feature frequent stockings too.

Tell us about your future dreams for your craft business
On a very simple level, I would like to not have to work until 1am most nights and get at least one full weekend off a month!

That dream aside, I aspire for my website to be a one stop shop for alternative hand made crafts. I am deeply passionate about the UK handmade industry and I am so pleased to see that there seems to be a growing thirst for buying one off, bespoke items from UK crafters. As Pendulous Threads grows, I want to collaborate with and support as many small businesses as I can.

In terms of using online media to sell or advertise your business, how easy or difficult have you found using it? Do you use social media?
Social media really is the WAHM’s friend – it is a fantastic way to get your name out there. While I have been setting up the new website I have predominately used Facebook, but it comes with some challenges as changes are constantly made to the way that we reach our customers. Whilst this is irritating, and I admit at times it stresses me out a lot, it does keep you on your toes and makes you think of new ways to communicate with people.

Instagram is proving useful, and I am just starting to dip my toes into the world of You Tube – which is very scary! I am not sure how I feel about it yet.

Any advice for crafty mamas just starting out?
I think the most important things are finding balance between work and family life (something I am not great at I admit) and to decide what you want out of being a WAHM. Be it a few hours spent enjoying sharing a hobby with other people, or making a conscious effort to work a profit from your business as well as enjoying time with your children. Oh, and set a space aside just for work – sitting down on a toy tiger, or having all of your five tape measures go missing is a little distracting I find…

Check out Jasmin’s fantastic bags and accessories at Pendulous Threads