Walk with me, every step of the way as i try to grow my teeny craft business into something sustainable… watch this space!


Time flies when you’re having fun- 2013 in review

I can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner and it’s nearly the end of 2013! I have mixed feelings about the impending new year as 2013 has been such an amazing year I’ll be sorry to see it end.

As they say, time flies when you’re having fun…

This year has been one of the most amazing years. It has been FULL of change, something I am usually scared of, full of terror and triumph, happiness and fulfilment, living on the bones of my ass, and of travelling overseas- a year of opposites in many ways. This year I ‘jumped’ into the unknown with no net by quitting my full time job, I also got married, spent all my savings on a honeymoon (while new husband and I were both unemployed) …making my jump into self employment as challenging as humanly possible. My husband got a new job (one where he works ridiculous hours most of the time… throwing me into a new kind of solitary, a new kind of isolation). This year I learned to self motivate, to time manage, about SEO, online sales and photography. I learnt that it’s important to stop to smell the roses and also how to bet on myself. Most importantly I learned what an amazing bunch of people I am surrounded with, and how I couldn’t have done any of this without them, without you.

Oh yeah, and I also launched TWO new lines, Major Tom & Ex Libris and was featured in a book!

Emily McDowell

An awesome card that says it all, by Emily McDowell (Etsy emilymcdowelldraws)

This year has overwhelmed me on every level, from what I am capable of when I put my mind to it, to the support and understanding of the people around me. It’s been a hell of a ride and I feel so grateful to everyone for coming on it with me. From those who I know in person who encourage me with their words and thoughts, and for taking what I do seriously (especially my ‘work wife’ Ria who keeps me sane in the day time). To those of you who like my Facebook posts, read my blog, stock my wares in your many shops, and of course those of you who buy online, straight from me. You can’t understand how much each one of those actions mean to me. So thank you.

This will be my last blog for the year, while I wrap up my internet orders for the year and have a couple of weeks off with family… but this Christmas I will raise my beer and say…

Here’s to all of you! To 2013, to working hard, kicking ass, and taking names.

…and of course all that 2014 will bring!

Happy New Year by Natali Strelchenko

Happy New Year cleverly made from paper by Natali Strelchenko



‘7 Simple Ways To…’ shut your browser

There were several factors that lead to my decision to be self employed, to make what i love and try to live off it. The first I read around a year ago, it was a blog post that I stumbled on purely by chance called ‘5 Lessons learnt from a Defunct Jewellery Business’ (written by Brooke McAlary) on Jess Van Den’s website. When i clicked further and further into Jess’ website i became more and more inspired. Jess makes a living from her successful jewellery business Epheriall, but she also teaches and inspires through her website/ blog Create & Thrive “If you want to turn your handmade hobby into a full-time business – to create AND thrive – you’ve found the right place to help you turn your dream into a reality! It’s a long road, and a lot of hard work… but it IS possible.” Jess’ approach is so honest it’s refreshing, she doesn’t paint a storybook picture of doing a tiny amount of work for a huge pay off, or of working from home so you can eat Bonbon’s in front of the TV while the money rolls in. She tells you how she succeeded, how much work it will be and how it won’t be for everyone (or necessarily work for everyone).

Jess van Den, manning her Epheriall stall

Jess van Den, manning her Epheriall stall

After discovering Jess I was inspired, packed with drive and I worked harder than ever. Receiving her weekly newsletters helped too, it was like I had a backer, someone who had been where I was and succeeded but also like a gym buddy, someone who made it easier for me to succeed as they had gotten up at 5am to go to the gym with me (if you’ll excuse the metaphor). I still hadn’t formed the connections that i would quit my job, but maybe if I’m honest it was a niggling idea at the back of my head. Who doesn’t dream of quitting their job and following their passion occasionally, right!? Then six months ago I discovered and devoured Kari Chapin’s book Handmade Marketplace. It was like it was written just for me, the advice was easy to understand, easy to digest and quite a bit of an ego stroke as i had already achieved half the things in the book. I suppose that was it, the moment the seed was officially planted and of course it helped that (mainly due to the Christmas rush) business was already booming. The timing was a bit rubbish as momentum was growing and I was planning on going away for nearly three months (probably not the cleverest move) but i made it all the same, here i am, self employed… week one.

Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin

Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin

Just to be clear I am under no illusions. I am no Jess van Den, no Kari Chapin, i am not writing this blog to inspire or help you grow your craft business (although if it does that is an added bonus). I am a humble maker and I have written it to document my own journey, and when I say to document I mean everything, when I am successful and when I fail. Hopefully we’ll have some laughs along the way and it won’t just be at the expense of my spelling…

My first week was far harder than I was expecting, but not for the reasons i was prepared for. I had no trouble getting up in the morning (my original concern), I was at my computer rearing to go on Monday morning at 9am (ok, ok, 9.30am). On Sunday night I had written myself some guidelines, a schedule if you will, for how Monday would ‘run’.  Not just Monday really, how every day should run, finding a balance is important and I thought I had found it. It went a little like this Morning: Read/ update social media/ internet. Middle of the day: Fill orders. Afternoon: Create new things. I had even written in scheduled food/ drink breaks, I thought it was genius, how could I fail with such a timetable!?

Everything I had read up until this point about growing or creating a successful craft business says you have to have a large internet presence. That you are pretty much dead in the water without one, both Jess and Kari spend a long time talking about it so i decided i better listen! That was my first job, THE INTERNET. No pressure. So i started by joining Pinterest, Pinned things, Pinned more things, Tried to close Pinterest, was unsuccessful. Started Blog. Wrote blog. Changed template about 6 times (and subsequently had to re-size/ re-colour/ add text to 6 different sized banners.) Banged head on table and said “this isn’t for me” several times. Joined Google Analytics’s, watched YouTube video of how to add the code to my website three times, banged hand on head in frustration, forwarded code to Lindsay (husband and website designer extraordinaire) to add for me, Lindsay informs me he installed Google Analytic’s when he designed the website, banged head on table again. Started collecting stock for three shop orders, made piles on the floor, even though I need the money very badly decided they could wait for tomorrow. Stayed in PJ’s all day.

So even though i worked an eight hour day it wasn’t quite the day I was expecting. Surely this will get easier, the balance will come.. however the rest of the week went a little like this…

Spent the morning with 15-25 tabs open in my browser, every management/ biz tip you can imagine. How to be more productive, how to handle fear of failure, how to handle un-productive days (ironic), how to market yourself through: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Blogging, Websites, Newsletters and how to do it successfully, with a market in mind, what works for what, which is better (comparing each against each other). How to take a photo, how to Photoshop a photo, create a cohesive Etsy shop, follow up on an Etsy purchase, make Etsy friendships, connections, craft groups, interactions. Why interactions on all of these sites can make or break your business. How to choose yourself, why fear is good, why fear is bad. Why SEO is important to your business (quick Google search: What is SEO), why you are nothing without SEO, How to use SEO on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Blogging, Websites, Newsletters, Etsy and how to do it successfully, with a market in mind, what works for what…

I read them all.

Most days I missed my scheduled lunch break (who knew I’m such a mean boss!) because i was reading these ‘helpful’ tips. Then towards the end of the week I had a breakthrough moment, an article called ‘Ways to be Insanely Productive’ informed me (paraphrasing of course) that people procrastinate/ don’t achieve things because the things they are trying to achieve in the first place aren’t fun enough and we should just ignore all the boring stuff and only do the fun stuff. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It was an enlightening moment, I had been sucked completely into thinking everything I was reading was written by an expert on the subject, that it was important stuff for me to read, to know. That i was learning. Although I’m sure that is true in some cases, reading this gave me a much needed laugh and a jolt back into reality. Oh yes, and the oomph to shut the ridiculous number of tabs i had open. Well, all but one…