Late last night I opened the fridge to see that we had run out of milk so I groaned, swapped my slippers for shoes and went to the late night shop (I coudn't wait until morning to go and buy milk because until I get my coffee fix I am not a very cuddly person).
So I made it in time to the local Tesco Metro (one of those smaller versions of the large supermarket shops), I picked up some cow juice and thought mmm...I might eat a sneaky Danish pastry on the way home (and Al will be none the wiser). I got to the baked good aisle to find a member of staff emptying the contents of the baked good shelf into 3 bulging black plastic sacks. I asked him if the Apple Danishes (still on the shelf) were still ok. He said they were fine, having only been baked 2.5 hours previous.
I asked about the fate of the 3 sacks of the (rather mouth watering looking) bread and cakes...thinking I have no problem with gorging myself for the next few days and I have a spritely older lady neighbour who helps out at a local charity coffee morning who would LOVE to be able to treat the visitors to some cakey goodness. You can probably guess what happened; the member of staff (who was a lovely chap) explained that he could loose his job if he gave me the sacks of cakes as it was company policy to throw it away. He got his manager to speak to me and the manager said much the same; the tied up sacks cannot even be taken out of the bins as there are cameras on the bins and removal of waste from the bins (in their eyes) amounts to theft. I thought to myself "Tell that to someone who is homeless and starving". I know that these large companies are just trying to cover themselves, but surely common sense can sometimes prevail over policy?
So because Tesco (and all other supermarkets - no doubt) are happy to sell me a cake because it is still on the shelf, but not willing give me that same cake the moment it is transferred to a black bag I didn't buy said Danish and felt really glum at the thought of the vast amounts of food being thrown away daily all over the world. SIGH!
So rant over. I got 2 very nice deliveries yesterday; a bolt of dreamy Amy Butler fabric and a nice pressie from a pal, a cappuccino cup and saucer. Funny how the 2 deliveries look so good together, with hardly any artistic arranging involved :)
As you can see, the Amy Butler fabric is for the latest batch of our Fortune Cookie Clutch Kits. Over half of them have already gone (thanks!). I now have pinking shears handles indents on my hands.
Yes, so I've now posted 400 times on my beloved blog (I'm giving my blog a big cuddle right this moment; it's brought me so much happiness). And doesn't the number 400 itself look so official and sturdy?
Thanks to everyone who has congratulated me on my moments of joy, laughed at me and with me, commented, read, used my tutorials and told me that you are having a great time making bags. As for me, I am just as enthusiastic about sewing a bag as I was 400 posts ago (if not more so). The only difference is that these days I am more confident in my skills. Because you are so generous in your support I have you lovely readers to thank for that :)
Right now I am really enjoying designing bag patterns and kits and with the possibility of writing a bag making book in the future I need your valuable feedback. But before I ask for your esteemed opinions here is what you could win in return for your help...
New & unused finished bags and purses (made by yours truly) craft, knitting and sewing titles, a sewing pattern, a pair of bag handles and two of the yummiest (and priciest) frame and handles from my shop.
Silver Ring Of Roses bag handles (both looking rather gorgeous on some white dupion silk - perfect for a bride. Silk not included in draw).
Draw Details (please read carefully)
I'll send big, fat and fab prize 1 lucky draw winner.
IMPORTANT: to enter all you have to do is 2 things (EACH TIME YOU ENTER):
Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org(DO NOT comment on blog - email only please)to let me know what techniques and bag making advice you'd like covered in a bag making book and/or let me know what PDF sewing patterns or purse frame kits you'd like to see designed.
Then, after you've emailed me please comment on this post by saying "I've emailed" because I will use the total number of comments to put in the Random Number Generator. You can enter as many times as you like - by emailing (with new suggestions) then commenting each time :)
SORRY, THIS DRAW IS NOW CLOSED.
Contest Official-ness :
I'll randomly draw the winner in 12 days time (UPDATE contest has been extended) - 5th 7th April and announce the winner the following day-ish. Good luck!
I'll need to ask the winner to make a donation for the postage.
Sorry I can't notify winners, so please
keep an eye for the winner announcement. This is made easier for you if you subscribe to this blog so you don't have to keep checking back, although it's always great to have you pop-in for a read :0)
Prizes which are not claimed within 3 weeks of the winner announcement will be carried forward to the next draw.
Sorry I can't reply to contest/draw comments, but I do love reading
every single one :)
Hoo-flipping-ray!!! I feel so relieved to have finished my homework (various writing and designing gigs). I have to learn to say 'no' sometimes. These last few weeks poor Al has been living with a grizzly bear with tooth ache! I was feeling a bit sorry for myself until last night, I was hunting around in my huge photo collection for a sewing related shot and I found myself faced with a mass of happy digital memories. To me these memories were as refreshing as a frothy cappuccino. I want to share a few of them with you:
My Electra bicycle in our garden. London, June 06.
Drool! Cloth House in London. May 08. One day I will have this much fabric and I will store/display exactly like this, yep exactly like in the picture.
My other life as rock drummer. London, Jan 07.
3 happy faces. Big in love - after all, Al had proposed the day before Cambodia, Sep 08.
Booby Lady diver. London, Feb 09. If truth be told I can be pretty grumpy pants once a month, so Al and I have devised a little system where he marks the start of 'grumpy week' by drawing on our calendar what we call a 'Booby Lady' on the appropriate day. Each month he draws a different Booby Lady. This way I get a giggle from his funny pictures, it serves as reminder and he knows that during that week he has to agree with everything I say and treat me like a princess :)
Monks giving and receiving alms. Luang Prabang, Sep 08. At about 5.30am every morning these monks walk a network of streets to fill their urns with charitable donations of food from the local inhabitants. The monks will keep some of these donations to feed themselves, but they will also give some of these donations back to the very poor. The locals will line the streets, some of them to donate and others to receive. In this way everyone is looking after everyone with love and with dignity; seeing charity in action like this was so moving.
Cuteness outside our bungalow on holiday. Thailand, Oct 08.
i did this for my room in some lovely red and some patterned fabric, looks lovely!
love the book, especially the skull purse, hope i win yay!
please step forward and claim your prizes.
Sorry to all who didn't get lucky this time. I will be having another draw in 3 posts time. It will be my 400th post (blimey - how time flies!) and what better way to celebrate than with a bag making booty give away?
Thanks to everyone to had a look at Artfire and then went on set up their own shops. I wish you all lots of luck and I hope you have fun with your business. I'll keep you posted about my goings on in Etsy and in Artfire.
I am going to start sharing my craft business experiences on this blog
- instead of on CraftBoom! I have now stopped blogging on Craftboom! I
was very grateful to be invited to write on the Sparkplugging network in the first
place, but eventually I found that I was too short on time to post
I might not have business degrees and such, but I do have a business background and I personally have gained much confidence and satisfaction from running my own business. I love it when other women feel empowered by something that they have created for themselves - it doesn't happen often enough. U-Handbag helped get me out of a low emotional point in my life and I want to share what I've learned in the hope that my experiences will perhaps be helpful to you and perhaps that is good Craft Business Karma for me.
Good (candles and) karma...
So to kick off here are some of my fave craft business tenets to work by:
The best business transactions are where the customer and trader feel that they have both benefited in equal measure.
If you can; go beyond serving your customers; find ways to delight them. It will make you so happy when they let you know how happy they are.
It's often scary putting yourself out there and as a crafter you will have invested emotional energy into creating your products (so you worry), but it's essential to believe in yourself. Even if this doesn't come at all naturally you have eyes don't you? If you think something you have made looks nice there's no reason (at all) why others won't come to the same conclusion.
Have fun and love what you do (though at times it might be very tiring!), you will hear this time and time again and time and time again you will find that in most things that you do it's one of the great secrets to success.
Don't be afraid; be a little nervous and have butterflies in your tummy, but don't be scared into submission or you'll never know how great you could've been. Take those first baby steps in order to learn how to run.
Do what you know and have a good understanding of. I think (at least I hope I have) managed to combine my love of crafting with my craft business. A few my passions are teaching craft, forwarding the craft movement, doing craft and...um...paying my bills.
Last night I set up another shop (partly for craft business research
purposes). It's a craft mall site like Etsy, but unlike Etsy; listing
and selling items is free...uh huh! Yepperoo! FREE. Well,
actually there's a very reasonable membership fee (which at the moment
is a seriously tempting £4.95 ($7) a month and that's it, there are no
other fees to pay.
I have to say I am very very impressed with
Artfire. Here's why I like it (over an certain craft mall site) in
easy to read bullet points:
After the tiny monthly fee there really is nothing else
to pay, there are no catches, no extras no nada! Selling on Artfire is
simple, a lot cheaper and a lot less complicated. Let's face it, no one
likes them Etsy listing and selling fees With Artfire you can list and sell 5 - 5million items without paying a red cent!
It's dead easy to set up shop (and the shops are brighter and more
personal looking than a certain other craft mall site). Listing items
is as easy as falling off a log and you do it all in one page - very
handy. If you've had a Etsy shop you'll have your Artfire shop set up
in less time that it takes to drink a cuppa - honest.
You can have 1 - 10 photos per product, it's up to you. And they
load up pretty quick because you can load up several at a time.
Artfire has all the shop seller features of Etsy - plus more. The
shops look nice, the site looks nice and the site is run professionally.
Getting yourself noticed and featured on Artfire is fair
and it's free. When you list you appear on the front page and so on until
other people list - simple. If you want to be on the featured hot spot you just
apply (for free) and join a queue. It can't get fairer (and less
political) than that.
Right now you can get Artfire memberships for just £4.95 ($7) a month for life, with no contract,
if you don't like it you can just pay for one month and walk away...
After those bargain memberships have gone the fee rises to $20 a month (which
is still very reasonable). At the time of writing there are just over
1000 of these bargain memberships left. You may not have a shop now,
but I can't think of a more cost effective and feature packed
site in which to test the waters and open up a wee little shop for
yourself. If you are thinking of opening a shop in the future grab a
cheapie membership now and open one when you are ready.
If you fancy buying anything in Artfire you won't need to set up
any account to do so. In many cases you'll find that items cost less
because the sellers don't have to pass on any selling fees to their
If you refer 10 folk to Artfire your own membership will be free! Tell friends, work colleagues, family members or blog about it (like I am) and if they join, your membership is free for life.
I think the Artfire folks are very smart; they have listened to
what sellers and buyers want. They have built their site on what
people want and they have deliberately charged kept the charges very
low and fair to tempt folks over - and it's working. I think other
craft mall sites should watch out and take heed...
A few of you have run up some Highbrow Hobo Bags already. And they look great! Writing bag patterns is not rocket science, but when you design a pattern you do feel responsible and you want folks to enjoy using your pattern (without tearing any hair out!) You feel a big sense of relief when you start to receive positive feedback, that's for sure!
These puppies are late for submission. I have just had the busiest 2 weeks ever (what with the shop, various other work commitments, publisher, a new pattern and blah) so I think I have a good excuse for being tardy.
In May we have gone eyelet-tastic. These 3 bags are variants of the same pattern. Because at the time I had so much on my plate I have to admit that I was pretty much stressed out and in a stroppy mood for the whole time during the design and making of these bags. I hope it doesn't show in my work:
Eyelet handles and eyelet flap and strap. I used these handles and these eyelets.
Some of you have asked me about the frog hook that I always use to hang my bags from for pics. Al bought it a long time ago and neither of us can find another source - sorry!
Eyelet handles and eyelet tie and bow detail.
Eyelet handles and a bit of Heidi/Japanese-y folksey style band trim thing.
Almost finished writing up the instructions and I can submit today. What a relief that will be!
Tomorrow I'm going to post some pics of your Highbrow Hobo bags (yep you folks don't mess round!). If you want a chance to be on the blog tomorrow please post your Hobos to our Flickr. Ta!