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Crafty ladies

by Hannah Thomson

Everyone loves giving and receiving gifts (especially receiving) but isn’t it that extra special when a gift is homemade?

Entrepreneurs of crafts have boomed in last few years with the rise of bloggers and apps such as Pinterest.

In 2012, there were an estimated 4.8 million businesses in the UK alone which employed 23.9 million people, and had a combined turnover of £3,100 billion. With so much to consider and so much to learn, hearing from those who have created a successful business could be useful when making your career move.

I spoke to three crafty ladies who told me why they decided to make a living out of homemade crafts. Kirsty Lathangie from Dundee uses a craft-knife to cut a unique pattern which she uses for her handmade cards for her business Kirsty Lathangie Art, Beth Campbell from Glasgow who creates her own baby clothes, handmade jewellery and Christmas baubles for her business Dashitt and Diamonds and Marion Crest who uses embroidery to create handmade cards for her business Embroidered Originals.

Kirsty Lathangie Art

Milestone birthday cards

Milestone birthday cards

Q: Where does your inspiration come from?

A: The handcut idea came from not only the love of other artist’s handcut pieces, but also a ‘light’ project in which I made interesting handcut lightshades that projected amazing pattern effects over the floor and walls. Little things like this have all taken part in inspiring the work I now create.

Q: What kind of success have you had?

A: I have had success in that I do manage to sell my work and also sell cards through different shops. I have participated in exhibitions, open days and wedding exhibitions. It is hard to say how successful I have been so far, but I know that I am still in the early stages of my business, and hope that my success will continue to grow.

Simple blank cards and baby cards

Simple blank cards and baby cards

 Q:How do you promote your business?

A: The internet, in particular social networking (Facebook), has been the most successful way to promote my business. At first I was unsure about using Facebook, thinking that I should focus on my website, but it has been excellent for sharing photos and information, whilst receiving feedback and comments. I do also try to distribute business cards and advertising postcards when possible.

Q:What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs hoping to make a business out of homemade, personalised crafts?

A: My advice would definitely be to keep creating and not give up. If you truly enjoy what you are doing, it should be worth it if you work hard. You will learn from your experiences along the way, enjoying the highs and not allowing the lows to stop you.

Dashit & Diamonds

Unique Bracelets

Unique Bracelets

Q: Where does your inspiration come from?

A:My inspiration comes from my granddaughter, she is such a girly girl and loves anything with sparkle, and as people see the finished products I am getting more and more requests for my work.

Q: What kind of success have you had?

A: My success began when the local boutique where I had bought the original bib noticed a very pretty bib that my granddaughter was wearing during a visit and asked if I would supply some for the shop. After supplying the shop for a time my daughter and I looked at setting up a page to offer my designs for sale as they had been very popular in the shop and I was quickly struggling to supply the shops requests.

Handmade dress with tutu

Handmade dress with tutu

Q: Where did your business idea come from?

A:The idea for my business came from looking for a special outfit for my granddaughter. My local boutique were selling fancy bibs, I bought one to complete an outfit and although it was expensive it was really pretty, unfortunately the stitching came undone after the first wear, and here is how my business was formed, as I could design and make my own clothes etc.

Q: What have the main challenges been?

A: For me the challenge has been keeping designs new and interesting and not to get disheartened when it appears that no one is interested in your goods. I have been going now for almost 2 years and it is only now that I can say that I am beginning to see the business building.

Embroidered Originals

Personalised 21st card

Personalised 21st card

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your business?

A: I started the business a long time ago from very small beginnings. I was an art teacher having a career break until my two children started school but instead of going back into teaching I looked at how I could work for myself. I started by making little scaled down versions of the textile pieces I had been making for exhibitions since Art College. I came up with the idea that I would have a better chance of a sustainable business if I sold an affordable product to a lot of people rather than an exclusive high priced item to relatively few people. That was how the idea of a card business was born.

Q: Where does your inspiration come from?

A:At first my inspiration was in the colours and textures of the threads and fabrics I was using. Each card was unique, hand stitched and abstract in design. Gradually through listening to the requests of the public I realised that of course people wanted to buy cards for specific occasions  – births, weddings, birthdays etc. So I developed my designs to be more suitable. Now the basis of our business is definitely the cards with the Scottish theme and my inspiration is the Scottish dialect and gentle humour, a long way from embroidery!

Cheery Christmas Wishes

Cheery Christmas Wishes

Q: What have the challenges been?

A:The challenges have been to make the business strong enough to support a growing family. Also to be aware of changing trends and to keep the business fresh. We have been careful not to put all our eggs in one basket as well, keeping the retail side going with our website and the various craft events we do ( not so many now) as well as the trade side supplying to shops.

Q:What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs hoping to make a business out of homemade, personalised crafts?

A:My advice would be to be prepared to work hard, to live and breathe your business 24/7. There are an awful lot of fledgling craft businesses out there thanks mainly to the Internet, and not all will make it. If you have a good idea, backed by skills and work ethic then you stand a chance. But be prepared to hone and develop your ideas to suit your market.

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