How many years have you had your craft business?
I have been crafting all my life. One of my earliest memories is making pompoms and sitting by the fire with an old wooden cotton reel with nails set in the top to French knit! My crafting just seems to have grown with me over the years, creating gifts for friends and family, learning new skills such as crochet, felting and pyrography, and everyone kept suggesting I sell what I make. I have been blogging what I do for a year and a few months ago I signed up to an online course and finally took the scary step of setting up online as an artist and crafter.
Tell us a bit about the things you make
What I do is based on the season, so what I make is constantly changing. At the moment I am making pendants using the glorious autumnal bounty in the garden and hedgerows; I currently have pendants with delicate pelargonium flowers, fennel and ferns. I have also been collecting rowan berries to create protection decorations – they also make glorious autumnal nature table trinkets and my son usually puts ours on the Yule tree too. There are some acorns drying which I collected with the children last week, and these will be turned into medicine/spell pouches when the time is right. Pentagram/star decorations are currently being created ready for the festive season ahead. I am also busy bringing my drawings to life using colourful enamel paints and gold paint, I have listed some anchor stones and pendants already in my shop – with the darker evenings the use of paint will very liberating when the hedgerows are bare!
How do you fit crafting around childcare?
I include the children and get them involved. At first I thought crafting and the children had to be separate times, but this was energy draining and I thought, well why? Why do I have to fit this around them, and what message does this give to them about work and crafting? Maggy Woodley’s site and book Red Ted Art will show anyone that you can include children of any age when it comes to crafting. I have a gorgeous straw bag with a blanket and we usually go outside in the field or woods, they sit and play on the blanket with pens, glue, string, paper and glitter – or whatever they can find! We all sit together making and creating. Usually Alex comes up with ideas for pieces or has a genius moment that totally improves what I am doing. I often write posts showing what they have been making and doing and many people have commented how nice it is to see children joining in. It makes life so much easier and everyone has fun.
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 in the early stages at the moment but my creative business plan is that I will be making an income from this in the next 2-3 years. I love making and creating, I always have, my mum has drawings I produced when I was 3 upwards, I just never stopped crafting and creating so a lot of it is purely for the love of it. What more could you want, making some money doing what you enjoy – there are not many jobs that can boast that.
What are your inspirations?
Nature and my children. Being outside either in the woods, by the sea or in hidden areas in the town, there is always something to notice, inspire and feed the imagination. Often it is the children that will point or notice a detail, something busy adults would not even notice. I recently started using Instagram to capture what I see or what the children point out, I realised yesterday I have already taken over 900 images and my journals of doodles and ideas are bursting with future crafting ideas!
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?
For what I do I already had most of the resources for my makes as I am always tinkering about making or drawing something. However I did invest in various different paints, clays and finishes to test which gave the best finish with the pendants. I wanted a standard that I would want myself if I was purchasing them from a shop. For example, with the clay flower pendants I was not happy with the traditional acrylic and varnish finish, the flowers did not look shiny and it dried tacky at times. I wanted a smoother finish and a better texture, something that was pleasant to the touch and would not snag on clothes. I ended up contacting the clay supplier and was provided with lots of helpful information and the result was I now add to the clay and use a specialised gloss finish. This sounds pricey but for a few phone calls and an email I now have a far better finish to my handcrafted pieces and my original finish actually cost more!
What have proved the best avenues for selling your crafts?
Etsy. It is easy to use, with loads of tutorials, support and forums and it reaches people around the world.
Tell us about your future dreams for your craft business (e.g. having a day a week to yourself to create; supplying shops; branching out into different areas etc.)
I would love to earn enough to have a gorgeous shepherds’ hut as my studio and convert the back of my old series 3 Landrover Elsie so that she can be a mobile studio/shop. I would also love to provide hands on art courses and classes to adults and children, helping them access the inspiration of nature. We are all so busy, how often can you just stop and notice the patterns in a leaf or the middle of a flower, let alone work with that and create something?
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?
I think I have every social media under the sun and am constantly updating everything, sharing freebies and writing posts. All my sites are listed on my blog, including a You Tube channel that I will be adding more to soon. They definitely help to boost your online presence and get known and I find my Facebook page has lots of feedback and shares. The best advert is still a happy customer, they will go and tell people and share their experience and others will then look you up to find out more.
Any advice for crafty mamas just starting out?
Do it! Don’t look at the ifs, maybes or possibly – just do it. If we all listened to the what ifs we would never get far. There are so many talented people out there and it is a joy to see new ideas, creations and techniques. I would also recommend making sure you get a balance in place otherwise you will suffer burn out; I found timing myself to make sure it was just 10 minutes or 1 hour online, and I have one day a week where I do not make anything, otherwise I am tinkering and redoing things. Using something like Hootsuite and schedule tweets and posts also saves time. Also, carry a business card everywhere – I keep one in my phone-case just in case.
Find out more about Lisa’s nature-inspired creations here.