Hello! Come in and dip your toes in Handmade Harbour! You'll find me on the harbourside chatting about digi stamps, sewing, painting, running a craft business and contributing to craft magazines. I have a finger in way too many craft pies but that's the way I like it! Hang around for Handmade Monday, a weekly linky party for crafters.
Come on in for tea - Karen from Beads by Design is here today!
Hello Karen!Good to see
you, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?
I would love a cup of tea thanks.Tea fuels my creativity and I’ve already had
several cups today.
So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
I’m based in East Yorkshire
in a beautiful village nestled into the
edge of the Yorkshire Wolds.I’m a mum
of three, married and have a workroom in our family home.I describe my self as a creative designer as
I am involved in many creative processes including painting, jewellery and
tiara design, card making, fabric creations including memory quilts, sock
monkeys and rag rug making.
I am a public speaker and demonstrate for the local interest
groups such as the WI and British Sugar Craft Guild.I also write projects for UK beads and
jewellery publications and teach crafts and jewellery making from my workshop
and also to groups at their chosen venues.
What inspired you to start your creative business? How did
it all begin?
I’ve got a background in nursing and childminding, but when
we moved back to East Yorkshire from London,
I wanted a new challenge that I could do from home and work around my
children.I took a course in
Professional Interior Design.I decided
that one way of publicising my business was to get a stall at the local farmers
market.I applied, but was turned down
on the grounds that “they don’t do that sort of thing”.So ever one to rise to the challenge, I got a
copy of their rules and set about making things that fit their criteria.I gathered driftwood from the river and made
lamps and frames, pinecones, berries and dried flowers became potpourri and I
had a few handmade cards and bits of jewellery.The jewellery all sold and I was asked for more and that was the start of
a new direction for me.
It was further
confirmed that interior design was not the right path when one day I had been
working and left some elevation drawingsfor a client on my drawing board, I left the room and when I returned a
few minutes later, my two year old was colouring them in.I put the interior design on hold and moved
with gusto into making jewellery.
How has your business changed and developed since it
I have been very lucky that clients have dictated the path
of my business.I started out purely in
jewellery, but one of my stockists asked me to make her some tiaras for a
wedding fair she was attending.It
seemed like a huge challenge and with little under a week to create them it was
either say no or say yes and jump in both feet together.I did the latter and the orders started
Public speaking, children’s parties, demonstrating and
writing magazine craft projects all developed because clients asked me to.
What are the main ways you promote your business?Which methods have been the most successful
I am a prolific blogger.I really enjoy the blogging and have 4 regular blogs (3 of mine and a
guest writer of the fourth). Blogging allows me to showcase my creations and
explain something of the thought behind each piece.I can also link the blog posts to the online
I do two three public speaking events a month and really
enjoy these as it’s an hour where you are paid to stand and promote yourself to
a captive audience.I make sure that I
have plenty of things to show the audience and always give each one a leaflet
detailing my work and services.
I do one market a month and have very regular clients, so
much so that I can make something directed straight at them and when they come
to my stall, nine times out of ten they will go for it.
I also use Craft Juice which is a great free to use resource
for getting all your handmade items seen and admired and I have had some great
leads come through it.
I’m a tweet about everything too.
What’s your workspace like?Can we have a sneak peek?And do
you have any workspace organisation tips for the rest of us?
My work room doubles up as a family room.It’s a large room with floor to ceiling
shelving and cupboards giving me display and storage space.I would describe it as creative clutter.I see potential in the humblest of objects
and save them for the day they come in useful.
The shelves support thousands of beads stored in large
Tupperware containers, polymer clay and all the equipment I use for that and
also fabrics, card, newspapers, brushes, paints, drawing boards and sewing
I also have my computer and desk in there as it is a great
resource for my crafting and promotion.I am very lucky that my family and friends ignore the creative clutter
that covers the room.
What are the best and worst bits of running your business?
The best bit of running a creative business is the joy of
creating. I also enjoy doing the village
farmers market in South
Cave.It’s great meeting people and getting
feedback on my latest projects.
I’ve “met” people from all over the world through my
crafting on the internet.The crafting
community area great friendly bunch.
The worst bit has to be the paperwork, but even that comes
with a sense of satisfaction once it’s done!
What other small (or not-so-small) creative businesses do
Just down the road from me is a creative business that
started off as a shed and a field and through the work of a few people grew
into a wonderful creative business.Mires Beck Nurseryis a social enterprise working with those
with learning /physical disabilities. It provides a learning and working
environment for over 70 people and produces wildflowers and their ethos is
“to provide a pleasant enjoyable environment
where people who have a learning difficulty or disability can develop their
skills, increase their self esteem and confidence.”
Having led a community art project there, I can tell you
what a wonderfully inspiring a happy place it is to be.
What tips can you give to others who run (or hope to run) a
small creative business?
Look into the legalities, make sure you are registered with
Inland Revenue and get public liability insurance.Don’t hem yourself in to one thing.Allow for flexibility for the future.I’ve made time consuming mistakes in the past
with things like my website where I didn’t allow for other arm of my business
to develop, leading to frustrating destruction prior to rebuilding.
Be open to criticism and ask for it.Without knowing where your weaknesses are,
you can’t develop your strengths.
I have always stayed away from fashion.I don’t look what everyone else is doing; I
just develop my own style and keep on trying new things that are uniquely me.
What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future?
World domination of course, but failing that I want to stay
true to the handmade ethics, to continue to enjoy all that I do and to be able
to stay afloat inspiring other people to have a go too.
Finally, where are the places we can find you online if we
want to partake in a little friendly cyber stalking?