imogenwilsonjewellery

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


Leave a comment

Planning Ahead

Now that I’m back in the swing of things a little more and back doing that pesky stuff we all take for granted… you know, getting up and going to work every day… stock is beginning to pile up, and the scary looking to do list is shrinking rapidly. Amazing how you forget how much you can achieve when you don’t have ‘morning’ sickness all day.

I am currently finishing up a ridiculous amount of new Ex Libris stock (for release in the next couple of weeks) which I am making with leather from a reasonably new partnership with my favourite local shoe company, Minnie Cooper (so neat to add another string to both my ‘locally made’ & ‘re-used’ bow). It’s awfully daunting making stock in bulk that hasn’t been released yet. There is a certain amount of excitement, and a huge mental pat on the back when you see the containers and containers of finished work surrounding you. However with it comes that feeling in the back of your brain, and pit of your stomach, ‘what if no one buys it’. The difference between this stock and the other bulk stock I have made in the past (and recently) is that the other bulk stock is stuff that I have been selling for years, or months at least… and has been flying off the shelves. There is less stress and less on the line, because I know the products are already popular. This is more of a gamble, a big leap of faith, so I’m crossing my fingers and toes that it is popular… but not too popular, I’m hoping it will last me right through Christmas (I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d made LOTS).

Minnie Cooper Embossed Lizard Leather

Minnie Cooper Embossed Lizard Leather

As I just mentioned, I’ve been making bulk stock of other popular items too, in preparation for being out of action after the birth. I have been making like I’m on death row. The whole experience is such a roller coaster. So exciting, and daunting, and to feel on top of it all requires a lot of mental organisation and list making. Nothing like a deadline to light a fire under your bum!


2 Comments

Down in the Garden Shed…

Along with everything else going on at the moment making my head spin, we decided a wee while ago that we need to move. What’s a girl with a home studio to do!? We currently live in a 2 bedroom house up a million stairs (which will be much harder to navigate when I’m very pregnant or with a pram). It isn’t very large, but it has been a good size for my husband and I, too small for two and a half people though.

This kicks up a whole host of questions, problems and creative solutions for the ‘at home self employed jeweller’. Do we look for a three bedroom house which will cost quite a bit more, or a two bedroom with better access and I share an offsite studio with someone else…

The three bedroom will probably cost more than an offsite studio but I will have the luxury of working any time night and day (with the baby asleep in the next room, or playing on the floor…) a luxury the offsite studio does not provide. However I like the idea of it being a more serious work area, not mixing home and work too much so I keep focused and serious about what I’m trying to achieve. I tried to mix these two ideas together… what about a two bedroom house with a shed on the property. Now I’m not talking about a cold, damp, small, dark, garden shed. But something a bit more flash… with electricity, insulation and (at least one) window! Seems like the perfect solution to me (although of course a big catch would be finding a property with a big enough yard to house this magical dream shed) I researched it and it is very doable, as I’m sure you can imagine… but is VERY expensive and not hugely easy to move when we decide in coming years that we have to move (as we will be renting, not buying). There is also the awfully annoying fact that the range of a baby monitor probably won’t stretch to my wee creative shed… but I really do love the idea.

Roald Dahls shed

Roald Dahl’s shed

Back to the drawing board it seems.

We have looked at many houses over the last couple of months and I’m starting to feel a bit like goldilocks. One is too small, then one is too cold, where is the one that’s ‘just right’? I got so worried that my girth would increase to a size that would make me very unhelpful by the time we find somewhere perfect that I have started packing boxes now, while I still can, and I’m quite surprised how calming it is. It’s also quite nice having a good ‘ol cull. Still no idea where we’re moving too of course, or when, but at least my books are packed…

 

 

insert photo


Leave a comment

Luke, I am your Father…

I just wanted to start this blog with a wee thank you to everyone for their kind messages. I received a barrage after my last blog, through email and Facebook from both acquaintances and strangers, telling me their own pregnancy, and crafting with children stories. It was lovely to have such encouragement and for you to take the time to share your experiences with me. I also wanted to assure you that this blog will continue to be about being a self employed maker, not become a pregnancy blog… although at times (like the blog below) it will be vital that the two overlap, as my circumstances and the way I go about my day to day has changed.

————————————————————————

 

It took me the better part of the first trimester of my pregnancy to come to terms with the juggling act that my life had become. That sentence originally read ‘was about to become’ but I decided to change it to ‘had’ as something that surprised me most about pregnancy was the immediate life change that occurs from day one. I have many friends with children and babies and none of them had ever talked to me about pregnancy in, what I consider to be, an honest way. I’m talking about the bad stuff. Perhaps the difference between us is I complain and they don’t… either way… from day one all I did was eat, cry and pee. I lived in the kitchen in a way I never expected. I love food, always have… life has always centred around food for me, so what a surprise it was when all I wanted to do was eat, but the idea of food and the act of eating was boring. It was constant and it was hard to achieve anything when I was either preparing food, eating food or cleaning up the kitchen after I’d finished (rinse & repeat) at all times of the day. Awfully hard to make jewellery stock for after the baby comes (or even to fill current orders) when I couldn’t stay away from the kitchen for 5 minutes. Add to that getting up three times a night (at least) to use the bathroom, means not getting much sleep and having to stay in bed till quite late most days… not very productive sadly. Just after coming to terms with the fact the business might suffer in the long run (you know, in 9 months) I came to realise it had already started to suffer… and there wasn’t a hell of a lot I could do about it. I decided to be proactive. A lot of what I do involves smelly glues, sprays and varnishes. So off I went to the safety store to buy myself a proper protective mask so that baby (and I) would be protected from the barrage of toxic smells. It’s something I should have done a long time ago, although in my defence I don’t usually sit around amongst the smell. I glue and then leave the room, but it’s not a chance I feel I can take any more, now that I’m growing someone else’s brain for them… it all seems a bit more important.

My sexy new mask

My new, not so sexy, Darth Vader mask

I decided instead of stressing myself out with could have, should have, and would have been- I’d map out the year. New products for Imogen Wilson Jewellery, Ex Libris and Major Tom, what they would be, what I needed to do and buy to make them happen… when they would need to be photographed, and released and how I would tell the shops I stock that I would be on maternity leave right over the busiest time of the year (Christmas) and how I would deal with it. So really mapping out over a years worth of work to complete in six months… what’s stressful about that?

Must be time for a lie down…


Leave a comment

Letting go of the Holidays- The slow beginning to 2014

When I decided to quit my job and become self-employed full-time it was a whirlwind of busy. I quit, got married, went on honeymoon then got home and threw myself into it 100% from day one. I was originally worried about self motivation, time management, and most importantly… getting up in the morning. I was worried I would sleep the day away, surf the net, be lazy, go shopping, see friends… and not do the necessary knuckling down to get stuff done. To my delight the opposite was true. Last year I worked harder than I ever have, I worked long days, I pushed myself and I worked – longer hours than I imagined, structured days, timetabled weeks. I learnt HEAPS, made new connections, got stocked at new shops, launched two new brands and… as you can imagine, was a bit exhausted.

When my husband and I decided to go away for a week over Christmas I thought it would be stressful preparing, December is the busiest month of the year after all, was it a good idea in my first year of self employment going away? I wrote lists, I filled orders, I made sure all the brick and mortar shops I stock were full. Multiple customer orders (via Etsy, Felt, email and Facebook) came in every day, and I was able to fill them easily as I was busy through winter making stock for just this reason. The closer it got to Christmas, the week I was worried about taking off, the calmer everything became and I had a lovely time. Totally the opposite of what I was expecting. I had never thought about it that hard, and of course shop wholesale orders slow down closer to the big day, as stuff needs to be in store well beforehand in order to sell, and online customer orders slow down as shipping time is an important factor. Imagine my surprise that my busiest Christmas to date, my first as a self-employed maker, was also my most relaxing, my calmest.

Open Book by Elizabeth Mayville

Open Book by Elizabeth Mayville

The week before Christmas I put my online shops on ‘holiday mode’ and tidied my studio. My plan of attack for 2014 slowly formed in my head and new collections, ideas and promotions slowly swirled and came slowly into focus.

Then we flew North, for a week of reading in the sun, drinking beer and sleeping in. It was bliss. I took my workbook with me, and some printed out calendar months, thinking I would start writing down my plan of attack for 2014 while there… but instead, I didn’t. I relaxed, truly relaxed, for the first time in over a year. No work talk, no work planning. No making of any kind. I love my job, I love what I do… but it was WONDERFUL. Thanks to Facebook’s new ‘scheduling’ function I didn’t go online for the better part of the week either, which was a new kind of bliss I never could have imagined.

When we got back I decided to give myself one more week off, as my husband still had a week of leave left. We relaxed a bit more, caught up on some chores replied to pressing emails and pottered in my studio when I felt like it…

A week into January Lindsay (my husband) went back to work, so I decided I would too. I had a handful of customer and shop orders in my inbox so attended to them first. I used some of the $$ made from holiday sales to buy in bulk all the necessary packaging and findings to see me through till (hopefully) mid year, then when I was finished with all of that, I treated myself to a half day and read in the sun.

Every day that week went a little like that. Sleep in, a bit of work, a bit of play, a bit more work, finish early. It had gotten to the point where I was getting worried that I may have lost my momentum from last year. My productivity was out the window… even though I was filling orders I wasn’t moving forward with anything new… paper work had gone completely by the way side too. Till late last week. It took a whole month of chipping away at it, but finally I’m back to some kind of routine. Who knew it would be such a relief, almost better than the holiday… knowing I’ve pulled it together. Must try harder next year…


4 Comments

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


Leave a comment

2013 Christmas Gift Guide- Something for Everyone!

Well it’s that time of year again, fair season, gift season, when the weather warms up but the shop windows and TV advertising still features trees covered in snow and snowmen. It’s a weird hemisphere we live in.

The busiest time of year for everyone, but hopefully also the most fun in lots of ways!

To make shopping for the perfect gift easier I have created a ‘Imogen Wilson Jewellery 2013 Christmas Gift Guide’ as having three separate lines (and therefore shops) can seem daunting to navigate at times (even to me) I have compiled an easy to navigate, thorough guide with suggestions from the three lines for everyone from your wife to your boss, and don’t worry there are ideas for men in there too!

christmas_bunting_hero

You can view the guide here

For your Sister- Imogen Wilson Jewellery Yellow Crane earrings!

For your Sister- Imogen Wilson Jewellery Yellow Crane Earrings!

Making the guide was loads of fun, and a tiny bit challenging. First I made a list of all the people you might buy for, then I made a list of all the gifts that might be appropriate from each line… then I edited and whittled the gifts down to the perfect one for each person… it felt a bit like playing Santa…

For your Brother- Major Tom space cufflinks!

For your Brother- Major Tom space cufflinks!

Next year I will make the list a little earlier, as I left it a bit late this year. Also fine tune it a bit as I worry it’s a bit long… But I suppose that is/ can be the beauty of the internet… Ctrl F is your best friend!

Ex Libris orange brooch- sSomething for everyone, either sex

Ex Libris orange brooch- Something for everyone, either sex

I hope you enjoy it!


Leave a comment

To Market, to Market, to Buy Handmade!

My first stall, where I sold origami crane earrrings, mini toppers (tiny hats) and gingerbread

My first stall, where I sold origami crane earrings, mini toppers and gingerbread

I made my first pair of cranes because I wanted to wear them myself. They were so fun to create that I made another pair, and another, and another… Soon I had 30 pairs of crane earrings hanging off a vase in my lounge and nothing to do with them, so I decided to attend my first craft fair and see if anyone else thought they were as cool as I did.  

The fair I chose was an outdoor fair, a couple of weeks before Christmas, at the top of Cuba St Wellington. I had a great time, got heaps of awesome feedback, made a killing financially, and best of all was approached by Jacki of Rex Royale and asked if they could stock my wares… that fair started my business, the excitement I felt and the confidence as a result of my success’ there. (Ironically given my recent experience and stresses with the tempestuous weather conditions, which you will read about below, I don’t remember being stressed or worried about the weather at all)

Selling at fairs has many perks, you are face to face/ one on one with your customers. You can gage their reactions to new products, engage with them in a way you can’t online. You can ask their opinions, test out pricing, be in an environment surrounded by other makers like you and give your products a face, a personality, a story! All going well you make a bit of extra money from the experience too. I’m not sure of the exact number of fairs and markets I’ve sold at since that first one, but it’s in the double digits. I’ve been part of some great events over the years, but more recently I have had a series of such disappointing fairs (some badly organised, others under publicised…) that I had decided to hang up my float and retire from the fair game. My attempt at attending the Thorndon fair was the final nail in the coffin, or so I thought…

I've been around the block when it comes to Wellington stalls...

I’ve been around the block when it comes to Wellington stalls…

Three years ago I decided to apply for the Thorndon fair, a fundraising event organised by a local school (the profits from table hire goes straight to them). It is a large event, outdoors, on the first Sunday of December. I applied, and was accepted. I prepared for ages, borrowed a trestle table (so I wouldn’t incur the extra hireage fee) and organised a lift there with my bags and bags of stock, displays and of course the table. The day of the fair it was horrible. Rain, lots of wind, plain old yuck. We packed the car and drove there, just in case, some people had shown up and were setting up their stalls (as there was no plan B) but nearly all of them had pop up gazebos, with sandbags, which I did not. Also of course, the product I was selling being light and paper… well, it would never survive. So we drove home, with me sobbing the whole way.

The next year I was more prepared. The weather wouldn’t win again. I applied, was accepted (with a slightly better spot) and I purchased a pop up gazebo so the rain wouldn’t stop me attending. The day of the fair Wellington had record winds. I could barely stand still in it, let alone sell my delicate wares. The gazebo just wouldn’t survive in weather like that. So I chalked the whole thing up to experience, safe in the knowledge that I tried (twice) and that at least the money I had wasted went towards Thorndon school not into someone’s pocket… It was my donation to children’s education, I tried to convince myself (while sobbing).

This year the application arrived in my mail box and I went online straight away to unsubscribe.

Craft 2.0 in the atrium, my stall is in the middle there behind those people...

Here is Craft 2.0 in the atrium last year, my stall is on the right just behind those people… The certainty of a venue you know will be rain free- Bliss

Weeks later a friend of mine, Nini from Things Unseen, emailed to say she had a spot (undercover no less, which was good as I had sold my gazebo after the last failed attempt) she wasn’t able to attend herself but didn’t want to loose her spot (as it would go to someone else if she declined… once you have a good spot it’s hard to get it back). She offered it to me, she would pay for the spot, I would just have to attend (weather willing) and sell some of her jewellery on my table. It seemed too good to be true!

I said yes to the spot around 6 months ago and on the Monday before the fair (with 6 days to go) I remembered it was on. I was totally unprepared so spent the whole week preparing, doing nearly nothing else except fair prep; making new stock, making new displays, packing my bag (a full sized backpacker pack plus a full bag in each hand). The weather forecast looked good, rain Tuesday to Friday then sun on Saturday and most importantly Sunday. It was true to form, it rained and rained and rained. Then Saturday arrived and some sun poked through… with light showers and 140k winds… it wasn’t looking good. My stomach knotted, I worried all day. Had I put ALL this effort in for nothing? I went to bed that night with crossed fingers and toes.

The morning of the fair was SPLENDID. The weather couldn’t have been better. It was sunny, warm, and mostly still (it’s Wellington, that’s really as good as you get here). The fair was wonderful. It was busy, I met some lovely people and saw many friends. I sold heaps, ate candy floss with my friend Heidi (who kindly offered to help me), introduced my new range Ex Libris.

…but most importantly it restored my faith in fairs.

My friend Heidi who helped out on the day, Thorndon fair 2013

Heidi who helped out on the day, Thorndon fair 2013