Tuesday 23 May 2017

TOP TIP TUESDAY - Are you getting enough? Sales that is, and what to do about it.

It’s now easier than ever to reach the outside world….
. so why do so many small businesses struggle with marketing their business and reaching their potential customers?

As most of you know, Steve and I get very little time off. Steve has a regular job 4 days a week and is self-employed for 2 more. Although I am in the studio Tuesday to Saturday, Mondays are usually reserved for catching up on housework and the garden.

Not every Sunday is free, but when it is we like to go out, find something arty or crafty to see and this also mostly involves visiting a small tearoom or café.

We love connecting with other crafters, finding out what they do, how they started and generally connecting with other like minded folk. We’ve both had to learn the hard way on setting up and more importantly sustaining a small, independent, crafting business.

It’s not been easy. We’ve made mistakes. I’ve read more books on marketing than I can shake a stick at. The main reason for wanting to set up Handmade Yorkshire was to help, advise and encourage others, who want to turn their passion into a full time or part time business and pass on the hacks and knowledge we have gained along the way.

We chat, connect and get to know many crafters, most of which love doing what they do but are clueless when it comes to marketing, social media, website building and other nasty things that get in the way.

A question we often ask, especially at craft fairs is:
 “Where can I buy your stuff?”
To which the answer is usually one of the following:
“You can email me”
“I’m at a craft fair next months at (somewhere I will have forgotten by the time I get home)”
“I only sell at craft fairs”

On prying further and asking again….
“Yes but WHERE can I buy your stuff”
we are usually met with a blank stare.
“Have you a website? Facebook page? Instagram? Twitter? Pinterest? Blog? Etsy? Ebay?”

Then comes the dreaded answer
 “No I’m not on any of those yet”.

Seriously! If not WHY NOT?
Apart from Etsy and a website the above are all FREE!
Yes FREE! And you are missing the opportunity of engaging with customers, building repeat customers and most importantly SELLING YOUR STUFF!.


1     “I haven’t time”
2     “I’m crap with technology”
3     “It’s not a real business… it’s just a hobby”
4     “I wouldn’t know where to start”
5     “I don’t think that it will help me”

Yeah and the list goes on.

Let’s take the excuses one at a time shall we?

“I haven’t time”

This is probably the lamest excuse ever. I know lots of busy mums, who hold a family together, work around them, have a multitude of other commitments but also run a successful business.
Try turning off that T.V. when there is nothing worth watching.
Schedule in a time slot where you will market your work.
Treat the above as a task, just as you would a project or commission.
Make it part of your daily routine.

“I’m crap with technology

  Well, hello and welcome to my world.
You might feel like you are crap at technology, but everyone has to start somewhere. If you never start, you’ll never learn! Simples.

“It’s not a real business… it’s just a hobby”

Well… you might not think of it as a business but I’m afraid that if you are making money from your hobby… it’s a business!
If it’s just a hobby, then why are you selling it?
To pay for more stock? Yes, that’s a business!

“I wouldn’t know where to start”

Well, ok I sort of get this. For years I paid other people to design websites for me. I spent a fortune not getting what I really wanted. When the businesses folded they left me with no code to get into my website, no passwords and no clue as to how to recover all the information I had on there. MEGA FAIL!

I cut my teeth with a Blogger Blog and really started blogging for fun. It was about me and my creative life along with my personal life. Everything mashed together in a kind of what you see is what you get fashion. 

I made friends, creative friends, spiritual friends, cat loving friends and small business owner friends. It was a great way to chat to others, learn how to write about myself and my life and it became part of my morning routine. The blog had nothing to do with my business, however I did post pictures and write blog posts about my work or what I was working on at the time.

I learnt how to add photos, link to others websites or articles and inspire and motivate others. I used it as a kind of on-line diary. I started it for me… however it got a huge following and interaction and it was probably my best teacher. I had no training, No direction and absolutely no idea. What I didn’t know about I used the help files, the forums and youtube. One step at a time. That was way back in 2006 and to be honest, I’ve never looked back.

The moral of the story? Pick 1 platform… yes just 1. Start at the beginning, learn as you go. Use help files, forums and groups to feel your way through and I promise you in no time, if you stick to it, it will become second nature.

“I can’t see how any of this will help me”

Well, I have news for you! 

The vast majority of the worlds population is now on the internet.
How do you expect people to find you if you are hiding away in your workroom and only coming out for breath when you attend craft fairs?
What happens when the craft fair is over and you decide that next month you will be at a show somewhere else?
What is someone was visiting the craft fair on their holidays, bought something from you and want to buy more.
What if someone loves your stuff but somehow this month they haven’t the spare cash?
What if what they saw they really liked, but it was a little over their budget and would definitely come back for it next week or month.
What if someone liked your stuff so much and just knew that her friend would also love it?

The simple and hard truth here is… if you have no internet presence then that super customer will go elsewhere.

You are simply throwing sales away.

You are really missing a trick.

And the saddest thing of all here is… it's mostly FREE! It costs nothing or very little to set these up.
With the world wide web, people can buy anything they want, from whoever they want and whenever they want.
If you are not there, it certainly won’t be you!

So: What is stopping you?
What are your sticking points?
What are you struggling with?
What do you need help with?
And How can we help you?

Leave a comment in the comments section below, contact us on facebook or simply pm us with your questions and we’ll answer them both here and in a future blog post.

Remember: We are only too happy to help! 

Warm wishes and happy crafting,
Sue x

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Top Tip Tuesday - Getting the most out of your craft fair or market

Your very first Craft Fair or Market can be a daunting task, so here's a blog post for the newbies.
A little how to. to get the most from your craft fair or market. 

Turn Up In Good Time:
There's nothing worse than turning up late, especially if it's your first or one of your first craft fairs or markets. Turning up early and having time to have that first cuppa once you've set up your stall will set you up for the day and help you relax into the experience. 

Make an eye-catching display

Colour and branding is really important here. If you sell Vintage Furniture and dress your stall in Gothic colours and your business cards and promo materials are different again it can confuse your customer.
Stay on brand! If you sell Vintage make sure EVERYTHING you do and the way you display thing is also VINTAGE. Everything from your logo to your packaging should reflect your products and brand as a cohesive whole. Avoid this at  your peril. HOT PINK next to Black and White is one example of colour playing an important part in catching your customers eye.

Consider bunting, a large sign or banner. 

And as a footnote here: Make sure your table cover is STRAIGHT and lines up with the floor. (Sorry its my pet hate).

If you can, Demonstrate
Demonstrating or working on your craft while at a fair or market works on many levels.
It shows your item is hand crafted by YOU.
It engages people with conversation. 
People love to watch something being made.
People love to buy things from people who make. 

If you take commissions - Tell them!
A simple card on your stall will show people that you are open to making something bespoke and to their requirements. The same goes if you are willing to sell to trade. 
A card saying TRADE ENQUIRIES WELCOME or COMMISSIONS UNDERTAKEN is all that is needed. 

Price clearly & Price to Sell

Your item may have taken you forever to make and as far as you are concerned youd like £1,000 for it. All very well if you are selling through a gallery, but at craft fairs and markets people dont generally carry around that kind of cash. While its not unusual to sell items for £40-£50, you are far  more likely to sell things at £10-£25 .

 However it's always best to have some of your higher end products on your stall too. 
Alternatively if your product is generally higher than average, have some less expensive things on your table too. The more varied the price range the more likely you have of selling. 

While were on this topic make sure that you price things clearly. Avoid pricing things on the bottom.Think about it. If you go into a shop and nothing is priced would you feel comfortable asking How much’or would you assume it's too expensive.

People will not pick things up from your stall and nor should they have to, its not bargain basement, your hand crafted goods are precious. Price large and clear and avoid loosing that sale because someone is too shy or embarrassed or thinks its too expensive to ask that all important question How Much?.

Promotional materials

Its always handy to have some form of promotional material with you. Pop a business card into EVERY sales bag, hand out leaflets showing your work and where you can be found. Add personalised labels to your product so that when the customer gets home and a friend asks
Oh wow! Where did you buy that? you can be found easily.
Ive bought many things at craft fairs and Im astounded when people say they havent got a card.
Think of these scenarios.

So what if I want to buy some of your other work in the future?

Im on Etsy but I havent got anything with my business name on right now, do you want me to scribble it on a bit of paper?

You can always email me

"I dont have a website or anything Ill probably be back here sometime in September

Any of the above IS NOT AN ANSWER

People may not buy from you on the day, but if you give away promotional material youve every chance they WILL buy from you in the future.

Be cheerful & attentive. Engage in conversation

I know, sometimes its hard if you have had a pretty rough day but theres nothing worse than going to a stall and seeing someone sat on a chair, head down, playing on their phone. Some stall holders dont even notice you there never mind acknowledge you.

A simple hello with a big cheek to cheek smile will go a long way and could make someones day!

Offer something FREE

Yes. You heard that right!
Theres a reason supermarkets employ people to stand at the front of a store and give away samples of a product. Even if its just a bowl of sweets, nothing will draw people to you quicker than something free.

Offer a FREE prize draw for one of your items.
This is a great way of collecting peoples Names, Addresses and Emails, so you can contact them in the future and keep them up to date with your latest offerings.

Packaging Is Key

Many people will buy your product as a gift. Packaging your item and presenting it as a ready-to-go gift will appeal to someone far more than something loose lying on a table. If they are considering something as a gift  then it saves them the time and trouble of finding something to put it in once taken away.
If your customer is short on time, you could very well miss a sale.

Packaging will also increase the perceived value of your item and is also another opportunity to brand your work.

Dont forget the little extras:
Bags and Packaging,
Business Cards,
Table Covers,
Warm Clothing if it's a cold day
Cool clothing if it's a warm day.
Warm clothing if it's a hot day
and cool clothing if it's a cold day.

I know... I bet you are thinking I've completely lost the plot.....
but I have been known to have to rush away and buy cooler clothing on what started as a cold morning, only for the sun to come out and have me nearly passing out with the heat.
I suggest layers that you can add or remove whenever necessary. 

And last buy not least.  .
Something to eat
Something to drink

Above all else, have fun, make connections, show off your work, network with other crafters, share ideas and knowledge and build relationships. 

What advice can you offer others about getting the most from Craft Fairs and Markets?

What works for you?

Did you find this useful? Please share using the share buttons on the post.

We love hearing from you so please leave a comment below.

Warm wishes and happy crafting,
Sue x

Monday 20 February 2017

Meet the Maker Monday - Introducing Andrea Johnson of KippleTraders

At Hand Made Yorkshire, we want to introduced to you our artists, crafters 
and designer makers, their wonderful work and where you can find them.

This weeks Meet the Maker is brought to you by the lovely Andrea Johnson owner and designer maker at Kipple Traders based in Darlington

Andrea designs and makes naturally inspired fine silver jewellery.
Here's what she told me.

How long have you been a designer maker?

18 months

How did you become a designer/maker?

I taught science in a secondary school for 17 years and felt my life was passing me by and my children were growing up without me.  I used to design and make all my own jewellery when I was a teenager and still had all my old tools and beads. During a bout of depression my partner suggested I take up jewellery making again.  At the time I had been going to pottery workshops as part of the Durham Exchange so we looked into working with PMC, bought a kiln and some moulds to get started, my partner has become a dab hand at casting leaves in silver.   I mostly have enjoyed working with silver wire and glass beads, and hope someday to use the kiln to make my own beads.  Who’d have thought that something that I used to enjoy 20 years ago, still brings me so much joy today.

How did you choose your business name and what’s the meaning behind it?

KippleTraders was supposed to be the name for our start-up business, the one that we make all the mistakes with and then, when we have learnt what to do (and more importantly, what not to do!) we would change over to our proper name! 
I’m still making mistakes!

The word ‘kipple’ comes from a Philip K. Dick book called ‘Do androids dream of electric sheep?’  It is a term for the collection of useless objects one collects during life.  According to the book, when no-one’s around, kipple reproduces itself so eventually the entire universe will reach a state of total kipplestation!

Do you run your business full time or balance another job as well?

I still tutor privately in client’s homes and I mark GCSE papers for AQA but mostly I’m a Mum which is exactly the way I wanted it.  I no longer say to my kids “I’ll be in in a minute, after I’ve marked these books”.  We haven’t got two pennies to rub together but we are happy – phew!

How do you make time for it all?

I have a loving a supporting long-term partner of 17 years – that makes me sound really old!  We never did get married, maybe we can find the time now though!

What’s your favourite thing about running your business?

Keeping my own hours and meeting new people.  Woops, that’s two things I’ll merge them seamlessly into one – meeting new people in my own time!

Of all the things you’ve ever made, which has been your favourite?

I love my spiral rings as they look so elegant, they go with everything and I’ve never seen them anywhere else.

Describe your business in three words?
Inspired Silver Jewellery

I have a love hate relationship with?

I love?
My life!

I ignore?
People who say ‘don’t you think it is time to get a proper job!

What inspires you?
Working with the metal itself – what shape do you want to be today?!

Where can you be found
Tel: 07886869641

Maybe I should write something in there!



A big thanks you to Andrea for your detailed and informative interview.
 I love your nature inspired jewellery.

Monday 6 February 2017

Meet the Maker Monday - Introducing Catherine Jacksmon from Knit Sew Rosie

At Hand Made Yorkshire, we want to introduced to you our artists, crafters 
and designer makers, their wonderful work and where you can find them.

This week I'd like to introduce to you Catherine Jackson owner of Knit Sew Rosie based in  Melsonby.  Richmond, North Yorkshire.       

How long have you been a designer maker?
I have been working as a self employed designer for six months.

What do you do/make?
My main passion is creating beautiful embroidery hoop art. I especially enjoy the free hand design aspect of my creations. I love these colour therapy books but get bored colouring them in, so instead I free hand draw some basic designs on my fabric and embroider and appliqué them in instead. I love combining textures and work a lot with buttons, beads, different fabrics, crochet and knitting all fused together to create my hoops.

How did you become a designer/maker?

I have always sewn and embroidered from a young age, many of my skills have been passed down from my granny and my mum. After having my children and becoming a full time mum, I found that I needed something to do to relax, unwind and escape the everyday hustle and bustle of family life. I took up my knitting needles (not forgetting to blow the cobwebs off!) and started knitting. My creating then started to take off and I settled into my own unique way of designing and creating. I am also an avid crocheter I love making baby blankets and wedding shawls.

How did you choose your business name and what’s the meaning behind it?

I chose my business name to reflect what I do which is knitting and sewing. My youngest daughter is Rose or Rosie and this was added as it sounded good and more personal.

Do you run your business full time or balance another job as well?

I am a busy mummy to my three beautiful children. I run my business part time inbetween school pick ups and when they ve all gone to bed.

How do you make time for it all?

I often ask myself this very question. Sometimes one has to turn a blind eye to the cobwebs!

What’s your favourite thing about running your business?

I love the freedom of being able to work the hours that suit myself and my family. I enjoy being able to design and create what I like.

Of all the things you’ve ever made, which has been your favourite?

This is a hard one, I have two favourite things. Firstly I love and couldn’t be without my toolkit. One birthday my brother bought me some beautiful fabrics and I designed and created my own knitting needle and crochet hook case.

The second is a beautiful gift box from one of my closest friends and god mother to Rose. She had filled it with all sorts of things from fabric and beads to buttons and ribbons. In it she had written a note saying to make a keepsake for Rose. I felt very touched by this and will treasure this memory always. I created a cushion and incorporated all the items we had received on to it. The leaves were made using leaves from a Rose bush from the same friend for Rose’s first birthday  as a template.

Describe your business in three words?

Unique, Bespoke and Personal

I have a love hate relationship with?

My sewing machine

I love?

Fabric, more fabric and did I mention I love fabric?

I ignore?

Others comments, there are many who think what you do is not a justifiable job and that no priority should be given to it. I will prove those people wrong.

What inspires you?

Colour, texture and pattern. I really love Scandinavian, Indian and Hungarian designs along with anything from a folk background.

Where can you be found? 

Tel: 01325 717979

Thanks Catherine for letting me interview you and showing us your colourful creations. 

I love your needle roll! I made one similar to hold my calligraphy pens in. I hated the plain calico ones available on line and managed to get some green fabric with lettering on. It was much admired :-) 

And what a fantastic idea Rosies God Mother had of filling a box of bits and pieces to make something memorable. How creative was that?

Once again, thanks for taking the time to share your life as a designer maker and showing us your beautiful work. .

Happy crafting
Sue x

Monday 30 January 2017

Meet the Maker Monday - Introducing Steve Smith of Steve Smith Jewellery

At Hand Made Yorkshire, we want to introduced to you our artists, crafters and designer makers, their wonderful work and where you can find them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Stephen Smith (That's his Sunday name by the way), designer and maker at Steve Smith Jewellery, based in Northallerton, North Yorkshire.Steve is also 1/4 of the founding members of Hand Made Yorkshire. 
Here's what Steve had to tell me:

How long have you been a designer maker?

6 years making dichroic glass jewellery but was an abstract artist before that.

What do you do/make?

I design and make Kiln fired glass jewellery and include some silver smithing in some of my pieces.

How did you become a designer/maker?

For a long, long time, I painted abstract art for open exhibitions and before that did quite a few animal portraits.
When I went to art exhibitions the three-dimensional art always caught my eyes. It’s different shapes and form and watching the light change and bounce in different directions.
 I think this is when it started.

 I loved the idea of making glass jewellery but never could because of the cost of a kiln. Until I met my wonderful muse and partner, Sue. It was her who gave me the confidence to start designing and making and put the idea of asking for a kiln on freecycle to get me started. Within 48 hours I was fully kitted out with a kiln and all the tools to get started. Although, the very first time I plugged the 40 year old kiln into a very long extension cable and set it going outside in the garden, just in case it burst into flames.

I used that kiln for nearly 2 years before buying a more reliable one that didn’t have hot spots.

How did you choose your business name and what’s the meaning behind it?

 That’s easy, my name and what I do!

Do you run your business full time or balance another job as well?

I balance my business with a 4 day a week PAYE job as a Chemist.

How do you make time for it all?

 I don’t. But I do get most things done, eventually. (too much TV make me a lazy man)

What’s your favourite thing about running your business?

 The freedom to create whatever I want.

Of all the thing’s you’ve ever made, which has been your favourite?

That always changes, on a weekly rate. I make new designs almost every week, to pick one would be very hard.

Describe your business in three words?

Quality, Colourful and affordable.

I have a love hate relationship with?

Sunday nights, as I have to go to my PAYE job in the morning.

I love?

Designing, making and coming up with new ideas that work!

I ignore?

Sometimes common sense!

What inspires you?

Shape, form and colour of the things I see around me.

Where can you be found

At the studio on Fridays & Saturdays, 288a High Street, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL7 8DW

Tel: 07736 680 190

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SteveSmithGlass

See Steve making one of his pendants here

Thanks Steve for sharing your beautiful, shiny, sparkly, objects of dazzling, delight with us and for the video too. 
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