Selling and Marketing 3 – Course, Workshops and Deposits

The Obvious  Problem : Not covering the costs of workshops and lessons due to students not turning up

Ok, this is another “Bev is learning the hard way” post in the series! I run workshops and courses and often find that although people say they are coming, when the day arrives, no one is there or 1-2 people turn up and I can’t cover the room hire, let alone anything else!

Whilst this is a problem in itself, we go back to the problem solving steps discussed in the first post of this series, I have to look much harder – after all I can’t change the behaviour of the interested parties, so there must be something I need to do differently. Because some of the workshops are low cost I feel that asking for a 50% deposit is silly – after all half of £5 is only £2.50!  But actually if I had to pay £12 for a hall and had 10 no shows then at least I could cover the cost! So I need to rethink my strategy here and either charge a deposit or a full amount.

When I first started out running workshops and classes, I tried offering a discount for early booking and offering a weekly alternative  – but again I ran into trouble as this didn’t cover the room hire, I also trusted participants who told me they were bringing friends etc but didn’t then chase the friends up to at least get a deposit – with hindsight I now realise that if they weren’t willing to pay the deposit then they were highly unlikely to come along.

I’ve also realised my marketing materials are still not identifying Bits and Bobs as a brand, as I have a call booked with a marketing lady in the coming week I hope to have a solution to this soon!

The Real Problem

When planning a workshop I need to have a booking policy, take a deposit and ensure any early bird discount offered still covers the basic costs

The Solutions / Action Plan

1. Invest in marketing the workshop or course in advance in the local media

2. Develop a bookings policy which offers payment via paypal, cheque or cash in advance

3. Ensure all marketing materials are clearly written and have a corporate feel

4. Cost out all workshops and courses in advance to include: room hire, preparation time, teaching hours, refreshments, learning materials, paypal booking fee

5. Set a maximum and minimum number required and set the individual charge at the higher level, leaving me a margin for offering discounted places

6. Set a cut off date for bookings and then make a decision re running the course based on numbers

Trial Period

I am planning to trial this approach for the coming academic term – i.e. until 15th Dec 2012 and review

Next weeks post will be about  identifying a niche

Handmade Monday 80 – Buzzzzzzzzing Times

Welcome  to this week’s Handmade Monday, to join in head over to Handmade Harbour – not a blogger? pop over there anyway and get inspired by a fab range of crafty blogs!

Over the past few months Bees have dominated my working life, Ive written buzzy funding applications and flown off to meetings to present them, buzzed off to meetings that were hives of activity and joined a colony of worker bees to create a very special event!

Ropewalk Community Garden

Ropewalk Community Garden and Community Centre is an  oasis of green in the centre of inner city Southampton. Its a relic of the once proud and thriving shipping industry in the days of sail – the city’s only remaining Ropewalk – a long narrow area well over 100ft long where ropes were made for sailing ships. According to wikipedia they were the sweat shops of their day and fire was a huge risk to the men working there.

Its been taken on by a group of volunteers who work hard to make it somewhere for the local community to go and get involved in growing things. There’s also a large wooden gazebo in the centre that is used for all sorts of activities from bike workshops to drinking tea and enjoying Thea’s homemade cakes!

The building at the end is the community centre, a former primary school which was then an annex to a senior school and finally an advice centre. Its now been bought by the West Itchen Community Trust, repaired and revamped, providing offices, a community learning area, UK online centre and Taste of Enterprise training

  Southampton and Eastleigh Friends of the Earth, teamed up with the Community Garden team and myself to plan and

organise Ropewalk’s Summer Buzz. The aim of the event was a fun community festival that also shared ways to garden that helped sustain the honey bee – a species under threat. We had originally thought about having a couple of arts and crafts activities and some crafts but as we talked, planned and shared ideas we developed a mini festival. We were really fortunate too in that we got some really positive support with publicity from the local council, newspaper and community radio stations, as well as having a few people tirelessly handing out posters and fliers in the local area. The local FOE group have been running a variety of bee themed events, stands and walks this summer, all clad in bee costumes!

Saturday was promisingly warm if overcast and I was a tad worried about the weather, especially as we discovered it wasn’t going to be possible to get gazebo’s up on the concrete.  After checkign the layout plan we set to and with the help of a small team of volunteers of all ages got the kitchen set up as “Ange’s Tea Shop”, sorted out the technical glitches and got the Bee Movie running for kids of all ages and got the tables set up ready for all those coming along to either sell or share skills:

Bee Cupcakes from Little Penguin

Ican confirm the cupcake and honeycake was lovely but the little bee was helped by my daughter to buzz off into her tummy so I’m assuming that too was nice!

My friend’s children loved the Scrapstore zone ( please click the link and visit their shiny new website) where they made beesfrom buttons and pipe cleaners and wings from old net curtains and wires.

We had some lovely raffle prizes from Neals Yard and Red Beehive

Friends of the Earth and Slow Food taught us how to look afte bees and demonstrated what a world without bees would taste like

And LeezBees came along and showed how to make homes for solitary bees and got the children involved in making their own

And what did I do?

Well I started off by knitting and crocheting 14 mini bees, 12 of which were hidden around the garden. The children then had to find them and tell a volunteer where they were for some sweeties! We popped one in a banana palm on the theory that bees and bananas have a similar colour and it would be a great place to hide :-). Others lurked in lavender, huddled in holes and trailed around trees and one Queen Bee decided to hide by my feet in a plant pot, so she could approve of any additions the Beemakers created for her hive!

I also whipped up this cute toddler bee hat (which will be available in my shop soon) for the raffle.

2 little bees were chosen as models for my bee making workshop – I supplied knitting needles, crochet hooks, yarn and stuffing and got people making bees! I was also selling bees for 20p to those who wanted one but didn’t want to learn how to make their own. We also made up bee kits with 3 mini balls of  yarn and a simple knitting and crochet pattern. They proved popular so I’ll be selling them at events this weekend too! I just need to decide how to use 14 busy bees now…. and I want to develop some bee lavender holders that can be hung in wardrobes – just got to dry some out now 🙂

Bee Crocheting Workshop

The Finished Bee

All Clean Again!

My daughter with my little God Son Elliot – moments before he was covered in black icing having eaten the results of the biscuit decorating table. A great way to get kids eating digestives we soon discovered! Its good job Mum had a big box of baby wipes though!

Selling and Marketing 2 – Testing Testing

Ok so in last week’s post I talked about the concept of problem solving using a structured format, starting with identifying the problem and then moving on to listing possible solutions. Working through the problem identification phase took up a fair part of the week and helped me realise a few key barriers I needed to overcome:

Problems

My initial definition was:

“I’m rubbish at selling, I just can’t do it and I don’t know why I keep trying. It must mean I’m making all the wrong stuff”

However with a little more soul searching, talking to friends and colleagues and listening to their feedback I arrived at the following 3 problems:

1. I have a barrier to selling my work to others – it wasn’t easy to find the building blocks for this one as it was quite deep seated but I eventually came down to it being related to lacking in confidence in my ability to do what I do . And trust me, all the positive feedback in the world made no difference until I gave myself permission to believe it.

2. I feel very negative about how I present my work – I get really flustered about fairs and displaying my stock. I even had a friend help me with trialing layouts and went out and bought a few bits and pieces from second hand and vintage shops to help with the display but even then the voice was nagging away. And getting ready for my next fair seemed even more daunting

3. I have no mental concept of “working me” – in previous jobs I’ve always worn a uniform of sorts, whether a nurses frock or a suit and now I no longer had that comfort blanket, so I hid behind whatever project I was working on instead.

Solutions

So I now needed solutions for each problem – I arrived at a few possibles by discussing the key issues with friends and colleagues I trust – not the ones who would tell me what I wanted to hear, but those I value for their wisdom and honesty. so now I’m in a test phase working on:

1. Giving myself recognition for what I do – accepting compliments and not seeing a sale as the only way I know people like my work – I’d really got locked into that

2. Chatting with customers about crafting in general and building up rapport with them

3. Working on photography skills and investigating locations for taking pictures of my creations – home has terrible light levels and no matter what time of day I need flash

4. Trying the suggestions for laying out the stall and using the wire bowls, hanging hooks etc and then assessing customer response

5.  Deciding to adopt a uniform – give myself certain guidelines for what to wear to fairs and teaching sessions so that I feel I’m in work mode – phase 2 is to start identifying clothes that can be used to rebuild a work wardrobe

6. Taking projects to fairs but making sure they are suitable and do not give potential customers the impression I’m too busy to sell.

7. Contacting someone to help me sort out my marketing materials

 Stall layout: Before and After:

BEFORE

How Not to Sell

I also learned a valuable lesson this week from another stallholder as I took time to wander round, look at what worked for others and chat to them about fairs I organise, plus collect business cards for Christmas pressie shopping later in the year.

I admired a necklace on a stall and this is how the conversation developed:

Me: That’s lovely, can you tell me what the stones are

SH: That’s £39 with earrings and has turqoiuse in the centre

Me: Thank you

SH: I’m packing away now so you’ll need to hurry up

Me: I’m just gathering ideas at the moment, can I have a card please?

SH: No, I don’t do them this is just a hobby, I’ll take a cheque

Me: As I said I’m just looking at the moment

SH: Can’t you borrow the money from someone here then?

Me: No I can’t, and I don’t have enough on me to pay you cash and my cheque books at home

SH: This is your only chance to buy this you know

Me: Ok, goodbye

What did I learn? I learned that my approach of chatting to customers, providing them with information and discussing the price once they’ve made their mind up they want to buy is much better. All my stock is priced so I customers don’t have to ask, but obviously sometimes people might not have quite enough money and will want to ask if I can knock a few pennies off etc and if I can I do. This particular stallholder was not only rude and pushy, she was quite intimidating in her approach and a simple request about the composition of a necklace led to some pretty intrusive questioning. So although it wasn’t a nice experience for me, I did find it boosted my confidence a bit about how I sell.

 

Handmade Monday 79 – A Week in the Life….

Weclome to Handmade Monday, you can join in by popping across to Handmade Harbour and joining the link party there!

This week I’m going to share a little about an average week in the life of Bits and Bobs Crafts….

Monday –  as usual Monday’s tend to pass in a blur of admin and catching up. However being the first Monday of the Month, I first had Kickstart – a local group of business ladies who are mentored and supported by Mums and Business at the Lounge. This session was hard going as I had demons to face about selling – and boy was it uncomfortable but its yielding results already so can’t complain! The big admin job of the day was sending out the info about the next craft fair, so a few docs had to be edited, a few dates changed here and there and we were away. There were also bits and pieces to sort out for Summer Buzz, which is coming up this weekend. I also had a meeting with Cami from Headway, as we are planning to submit a bid for the craft group to enter a Stars art installation at Mottisfont House, a local national trust property at Christmas. This was followed by an evening crocheting a design I’m developing for a bridal fair later this month.

Tuesday – allegedly a day off for me, although I had quite a few calls to deal with and emails when I got home, followed by a housing meeting, where I had a funding bid to present as well as generally putting my oar in about problems with getting routine maintenance done. However I had a lovely day out with the ladies from the coffee group. We went to Furzey Gardens, which is a little hidden area of tranquility within the New Forest. Formerly a Christian Retreat, it is now open to the public, but still retains the air you find in old churches, that sense of a bit of Heaven on Earth and deep peace. Their team of gardeners have a range of learning disabilities and won Gold at Chelsea this year too! What was great for us too is that a 50% of the group have some form of disability, it meant the entire group went free! Although I would have happily paid. We had lots of fun rescuing a dormouse, who was very soggy, from one of the resident cats, who proceeded to give us “evils” everytime he saw us after that. An added bit of Furzey magic are the fairy doors – carved and then attached to the trees, this tiny doors and windows capture the imagination of children of all ages. Of course with me in the lead, we didn’t exactly stick to the wheelchair approved pathways – which did lead to the odd disaster with muddy puddles enroute!

Wednesday – I had a lovely morning, working in my nightie – which I think is a real perk of working from home when the carer’s on holiday! Lucy steps in and hoses me down instead and being still in her teens believes that holidays are meant for sleep! In the afternoon I had a one to one lesson with a new pupil, and bumped into another too! One thing that often strikes me with new pupils is that they often know how to knit, having been taught as a child, but not taught to cast on or off – is this a cunning way us knitters have of exercising some control I ask myself :-)! I also find I think about how much expectation existing knitters put on the newbies – they are full of apologies that previous attempted were full of holes or they ended up with more or less stitches than they started with. I always tell them to just go for it and we’ll look at mistakes once they’ve grasped the basics and often there are then no mistakes – its almost as if giving them permission to make errors, means they tend not to happen. We then went delivering posters to local shops and libraries for some upcoming events! It was then home, sit down for half an hour and out the door for a church meeting! I finally got to sit down and knit at 10pm!

Thursday – a slightly more relaxed day, starting with a meeting with the lovely Karen from Kazies Magical Designs – to discuss the workshop we have planned next weds. Its shaping up to be a really good day so am looking forward to it! I then popped to the shops and picked up some beads for the wedding project I’m working on and went home. Home meant more admin for an hour or so, before an afternoon at Surestart with a friend. After that I came home and got some bits and pieces done for Summer Buzz again – having discovered we were short one cupcake maker and tea bar person – fortunately all sorted out over the weekend thanks to the great contacts I have from facebook! I then spent the evening working on a commission jumper – which ultimately spawned Friday’s post about knitting yokes!

Friday  – mornings are always devoted to knit and natter at the Art House. We have a lovely group of ladies of all ages and were joined this week by 3 little ladies who were with Mum and learning to loom knit – they really got into it and it was lovely to see how fast they were progressing, once we’d sorted out the niggles caused by the barely English instructions supplied in the kits from 99pstores! The afternoon, once I’d written the blog,  was again mainly devoted to Summer Buzz and preparing for the craft fair the following day!

Saturday – we were up and off to Salisbury nice and early! We were going to a fundraising day for Help for Heroes in the grounds of the Wardrobe, part of the Close of Salisbury Cathedral and we had a great day. I made a few small sales, met some lovely people and had a wander round the stalls and collected business cards of people who’s work I admired for our fairs in Southampton. It was a real traditional event with Punch and Judy and homemade ice cream too! I spent the evening relaxing with friends and preparing for a peaceful Sunday off!

My stall, with my friend Angela trying to hide from the camera!

Knitting Skills – You’ve got to be “yoking”

I’ve reworked a jumper dress for a client from a pattern she liked in a knitting magazine, with a yoked top. The design process has been involved from start to almost finished as the original pattern was for a 4ply jumper with fairisle yoke knitted on 3.25mm needles. I was presented with a bag of Rowan Coccoon – a beautifully soft yarn with a fantastic drape – which is a chunky weight. So step 1 was to knit up some tension swatches in the yarn to both give me a point to work from to resize the pattern and to show the client the stitch patterns I had in mind. We finally settled in a diagonal rib pattern worked over multiples of 6 stitches for the bottom hem, cuffs and neckline, the rest of the dress being knitted in stocking stitch – so a wonderful quick grow project for the evenings!

I’d only done one yoked pattern before – a matinee jacket where I was able to follow the original pattern but substitute the stocking stitch base for lace, then work the yoke according to the pattern. And from that one attempt I thought I had the concept of yoke knitting understood and filed away!
However when it came to this jumper I suddenly realised it might be a touch more complicated, especially when I remembered I’d have to use some stitches from the body and sleeves to form the under arm area.  So I duly borrowed a book, grabbed pen, paper and a calculator and devised a pattern I could use!

But last night disaster struck when I realised that I’d not written the instructions clearly enough and that the book had been sent home to its rightful owner. So off I went to google, font of all knowledge etc, only to find that althoguh there were lots of patterns and a couple of videos, the majority were for knit from the top yokes, not knit from the bottom – so the instructions made no sense to me!

When working a yoked garment, its important to ensure that you leave a certain number of stitches held or reserved to form the under arm. In a top down jumper, this isn’t a problem as you pick the stitches up when you work the sleeve from shoulder to wrist. But for bottom up garments you need to either cast a certain number of stitches off on both the body and sleeve to shape the bottom of the armholes or pop them onto a safety pin so you can graft them together with kitchener stitch once the garment is complete. As I like seamless knitting as far as possible, I’ve decided to go for the kitchener stitch approach. If you’re not sure what kitchener stitch is, there’s an excellent tutorial here

But I thought I understood the principle from one tutorial on E-how, that used a series of written instructions to explain and proceeded to to “save” half the stitches on each sleeve and hence the equivalent number from the body for joining up later- but when I did the maths and looked at the way it sat on the circulars I could instantly see it was wrong. I ended up with fewer stitches than I needed for the wide neckline! As this was the only bottom up tutorial I could find I was back to square 1!

My next step was to hunt through the magazines and find the original pattern – once I had, having finished kicking myself for not doing it first of course! – I sat down again with pen, paper and calculator and got working out. I realised that I only needed 9 stitches from each sleeve, and hence section of the body to make this work. And using pen and paper I realised I then had the correct number of stitches to create the top as per the rest of my working out! However the only way to ensure the jumper looked good was to take everything off the needles and layout the sections in order, whilst frantically praying I wasn’t going to get any stitches making a run for it!

Once I’d done this I managed to get it all back onto the circulars and safety pins and get clicking! That was until dec row 1, when another maths error came to light – this time working out the number of stitches between the decreases – but fortunately this was a simple error to correct and I will still end up with the correct number of stitches for the shoulders.

The decreases are worked out so that the yoke creates a conical shape which pulls the jumper into the shape of the body. What I found worked well for me was to work out how wide the yoke needed to be at the bottom and at the top – by working back from the original pattern, converting sts to ins. I then used the tension for the coccoon yarn to calculate the number of stitches at the bottom and top. From here I started playing with numbers until I discovered a number I could divide by 6 – the number of decreases per shaping row I wanted to use for this design that was within 1 or 2 stitches of those suggested by the previous calculation. I then worked out the number of rows I needed for the depth of the yoke, and the difference between the number of stitches at the top and bottom.  From here I could calculate the number of rows between each decrease.

Yoked Neckline – Basic Rules

This is for stocking stitch yokes only!!

1. Know your tension so you can calculate the number of stitches to reserve for the under arms – most standard patterns ask you to cast off or reserve between 4 and 12 (I reserved 9 at each armhole and side body point)

2. Once you know the base line stitches you’ll be left with, choose how many decrease points (darts) you want – this is normally between 6 and 14  (I chose 6)

3.  Divide the number of base stitches by the number of darts you want – if its not a whole number you’ll either need to do a shaping row where you decrease stitches down to the closest whole number that you can divide by the darts or adjust the number of darts you’ll have. Remember the more darts, the faster the decreases happen too! ( I needed 161 sts to make the pattern work, which is what I had once I’d completed the first row)

4. Using your tension calculations work out the number of top stitches you’ll need to create the neckline you want – round neck, polo neck or wide. (I need 119)

5. Divide the number of top stitches by the number of darts. If this isn’t a whole number, find the nearest one and work out the fit from there. Ideally you do not want to be doing any extra shaping once you have finished knitting the yoke.

6. Work out the number of stitches you need to “lose” by subtracting the no of top stitches from the no of bottom stitches ( 42)

7. Divide this by the number of decrease points, to give you the number of decrease rows (7)

8. Measure the depth of the yoke to the neckline  and use this to calculate the number of rows you need to knit to complete the yoke

9.  Work out the distances between the yoke shaping – but do not count the first row where you joined the yoke up – this is the foundation row. You might want to make the rows closer together as you reach the top, especially for a round necked jumper (I used 5 rows until the final shaping, where I used 3)

10. Once the yoke is the shape / size you want add your neckline trim and cast off

11. Join the under arm sts together using kitchener stitch

Selling and Marketing 1 – Problem Solving Steps

I’ve been attending some Kick Start workshops over at the Lounge and have finally hit my “wall” – selling and marketing! This post is aimed at helping me, and hopefully others to develop a framework for sorting through feelings and ideas about how to go forward. I don’t currently know how to scale this particular wall, but  I know I can and will!

How do I know??? The thing I and anyone reading this blog can draw on is our experiences to date – many of us have had to face huge personal challenges along the way and we’ve done it, so that’s how I’m looking at this, a huge personal challenge to find a way through. I do have a faith and that forms the base for my strategy, in that I believe the right people, opportunities and situations will come along when I need them.

I also believe that to grow you need to go through some “manure” – after all that’s what we use to make our rose bushes blossom beautifully!

 

 

 

The following problem solving steps are based on those used are used by a variety of coaches, self improvement and business improvement trainers etc.

Step 1 – Identify the Problem. 

This first step is key to problem solving, and needs a high degree of honesty in order to truly identifywhat the problem is.”I struggle with sales and marketing” is a symptom of the problem but  not the problem itself.  Identifying the true problem, means digging much deeper and untangling all the threads until arriving at the heart of the matter. This is hard work but needs to be done if you want firm foundations to build the solution on. After all the wise man built his house on rock and in business, we all hope we’re wise!

Step 2 – Identifying Solutions

Step 2 is about opening your mind to ideas! What can I do to overcome this problem? Its not just about logical “left brain” thoughts and ideas, its about getting past them and using the creative right brain, which us crafty types should hopefully be quite good at tapping into already. Its about not being afraid to dream too – and sometimes when we do dream about the “ideal” business persona it takes us back down to step 1 and helps us refine the original problem some more. So get pens, paper, find a quiet place and let the thoughts flow. I already have some possible solutions from listening to and talking to others at KickStart this month, however their inception relies on other people wanting to get involved too! The idea of this step is not about identifing THE solution but a series of them – so what you end up with is a list of things to try. You can then look at your list, re-order it if you want to and work your way down until you find solution(s) that work for you and your business. Again you might find you’re revisiting step 1 a few times and refining the problem more as you weed out the solutions you don’t like / can’t use etc and that’s fine, problem solving is a cycle, not a list based exercise. When we pedal a cycle, how often do we actually reach out destination on the first turn of the wheel? How often do we fall off when learning? Just make sure the solutions you choose are practical, don’t involve uneccesary risk and fit with your current priorities.

Step 3 – Testing them out

Ok you’ve made a list of possible solutions that you can work with – now its time to try them.

Set yourself measurable and achievable goals – something that you can review weekly or monthly and asess your progress against. Getting more sales isn’t a measurable goal but increasing my sales to 10 per month is! So put a number in there – just make sure its realistic! And remember if you aim low e.g. for the moon and you overshoot and hit a star, then you’ll feel fantastic. But if you aim for the stars and only hit the moon – you’ll start using the dreaded “f” word – fail! So be realistic and kind to yourself! Set yourself up for success, not failure!

If you’re marketing, this is a longer term project so you need to make sure that you choose solutions you can test over a season – its no good making new flyers, bunging them in one spot and then wondering why on earth they’ve made no difference. You need to get them out far and wide and then see whether they improve uptake. You also need to think about where you put them – again to make sure they’re in the right places.

If its a sales strategy, again it might not work at the first fair you go to or when you first upload your lovely new pics to your website – but over time it may prove to be effective, it might be simply that the first plac you tested it out was a fair with low footfall and lots of browsers for example but the second fair was more dynamic and well attended with people on a mission to buy.

Make notes, ask friends you trust to be honest for feedback, ask your customers for feedback – you won’t get your market research right unless you know what people are looking for and that when they come to your stall or online shop, that you’re projecting the right image. Yes its uncomfortable – but as I said early, its manure that makes beautiful blooms!

Step 4 – Ask others for help

You can do this at any or all stages of the cycle but it is important – no man or woman is an island and we live and work in an interactive world.  Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result and how true that is. In order to grow we change. And we need catalysts to start the change and hammers and chisels to make the shape and sandpaper to give a smooth surface – in other words we need to find people who are comfortable with giving us constructive feedback, who aren’t afraid to tell us how it is and who are also willing to work with us to find ways forward. I know I felt really challenged on Monday and was very tempted to say “You know what – I don’t need this” and decide running my own business is not for me – however I want to do this and I know how much I’ve changed in the last few years through facing some really difficult barriers and getting through them – but I only managed it by letting people in and relying on my faith too. So whilst this might not be the most comfortable part of problemsolving, I think its the key.

Step 5 – Evaluation

This again creeps in to every step above but should also be looked at on its own. Once you have your measurable, achievable goal, then you need to find a way to check if its happening. So you might for example keep a diary of networking meetings and note down what went well for you, or ask your clients who recommened them or where they found out about you. You can also use your blog and facebook pages to ask for feedback from your readers or fans. Link google analytics to your online shop and website to find out what it is that’s attracting people in and what holds their attention. When you do fairs or public events consider taking a “critical friend” along who can give you hints and tips along the way and help you identify what went well and what you might need to work on for the next event. This in turn will help you do more work on steps 1-4 if you need and weed out some of the step 2 solutions that really aren’t right for you and your business. And even throw up new ideas to add to the list

Step6- Celebrate

Once you’ve achieved your projected goals, celebrate! In the UK we’re not particularly good at this and we hide our successes from public glare because “its just not cricket old chap” but actually when we’ve been on a difficult journey and scaled one of those huge personal wall, we need to acknowledge it. Linking that achievement to a positive memory, makes the next wall we hit seem lower and easier to climb because we know climbing it or demolishing it feels good! And make sure you thank everyone who’s helped you along the way – we all need positive feedback and for anyone, friend or fellow professional, getting positive feedback is brilliant! And it lets them know that they’re giving the right advice and doing the right things.

Also remember a few key things to keep you on target:

1. Have a business plan to work from

2. Use this to devise a marketing plan

3. Hold a “management” meeting with yourself once a week to plan all the things you need to do in the coming 7 days

4. Avoid procrastination – putting it off just means its going to take longer to get right

5. Avoid shiny new toys – they are a distraction you don’t need whilst you’re sorting this out!

6. You can do this! You have done this before! You already have the tools in your toolkit – you just need to find the right one for the job!

Handmade Monday 78 – Weddings

Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday blog, you can find out more about Handmade Monday and how to join in over at  Handmade Harbour, a blog thats well worth reading in itsown right too!  And if you’re not a blogger yet….. pop over and be inspired by a wide range of crafters from across the globe, its worth it :-)

I like to feature work from other crafters on my blog from time to time and from the feedback I’ve had from my readers they like it too. So today I’m going to concentrate on weddings.

Inspire Create and Celebrate

I’m part of a Hampshire Crafters Co-operative, Inspire, Create and Celebrate, and as well as a lovely new website designed by Sharon and Jackie, we also have a facebook page, set up and maintained beautifully by Kirstie. Our aim is help people add a personal touch to celebrations that doesn’t cost the earth and to share ideas, hints and tips that mean people can still have a wonderful day, but on a lower budget. So as well as making to order for Brides, we also upcycle, recycle and I think most importantly run taster workshops where we can start passing on our skills. Our first wedding workshop  is Saturday 8th September in Southampton and if you’d like to come along, please pop across to the website and sign up.

Our talented team: Jackie, Kirstie, Sharon, Maria and myself bring a wide range of craft skills as you’ll see from the photo’s and info below:

Jackie Noyce – Aussie Jax

Jackie is a fantastic florist, who not only creates wonderful displays in both real and silk flowers but also passes on her skills via regular floristy workshops and taster sessions across the city. Her facebook page is an excellent resource for brides and full of Jackie’s personal top tips to help you plan and organise your special day. I first met Jackie at a “start your own business” event when we were both taking our first steps to setting up and its been really great to see her business grow and flourish, as she juggles it with the demands of bringing up her family.

Wedding Flowers by Aussie Jax

Sharon Griffin and Maria Martinez – Crafting Cronies

I met Sharon following on from a newspaper feature about how I use crafts to overcome the symptoms my spinal condition causes. She contacted me because she too was recovering from a long term illness and wanted to know more about starting her own crafting business, so I popped round for coffee and the rest was history! When we had our first ICC meeting Maria came along too and wowed us with her beading. Sharon specialises in paper crafts, sewing and knitted headbands.

Sharon recently shared her feelings and inspiration for becoming involved in ICC and wanting to make peoples’ celebrations special:

I’ve been to a number of weddings over the years and the ones that stick out in my mind the most are the ones where the Bride and Groom have added their own finishing touches. I couldn’t tell you what the brides dress looked like but I can tell you that the bunting and the little pots of homemade jam favours and the twinkling trees to hang our best wishes on to,  were all wonderful finishing touches to a contemporary cottage style wedding.
The weddings with a theme tend to be well thought out too, another wedding had a Safari theme where the tables each had a picture of a wild animal on them and the children played games and had their face painted (if they wished) to carry on with the theme. The 1st song to get everyone on the dance floor was Tiger Feet!
Yes the bride wants to look a knock out on her big day and she has every right too, and yes the compliments will flow, but long after the day people will talk about the small finishing touches, that part of ‘you’ that has gone into ‘your’ day, that’s what sets your wedding apart from high street.
Helping friends and relatives making up collages, putting slide shows together, making wedding stationery that shows a part of their personality that’s the part I enjoy most.

Designs by Crafting Cronies

Kirstie Turner – Pandora Style Jewellery

Kirstie is another team member who uses craft to help her overcome the symptoms of chronic pain. Like me, she has had to make the difficult transition from nurse to patient and also struggles with the all too common lack of understanding people show to those who look well – total disbelief that anything can be wrong. Kirstie devotes her time to both fundraising for local charities, running a facebook charity and fundraisers group and helping at the local RSPCA clinic, often bring sick and injured animals home to hand rear, joining her extensive menagerie of rescued parrots and parakeets. Her jewellery is simple but stunning and she has taken courses in silver smithing and silver clay too. All Kirstie’s profits go to charities, so by buying your jewellery from her, not only to you come to own something beautiful, you also help keep 4 charities afloat: the local RSPCA vet clinic, Down to Earth Community Farm in Southampton, Birdline and DEBRA.

Kirstie’s inspiration to create arises from the car accident that changed her life:

The name  PandoraStyleJewellery came about due to my love of Greek Mythology and as I was starting this hobby as a point of focus in my life to help me with me rehabilitation following a car accident, so at a time when I needed ‘Hope’, I felt the inclusion of the name Pandora was fitting given that Hope was the only thing left in Pandora’s Box; and all I had!

Here’s a selection of her beautiful creations:

Designs by Pandora Style Jewellery

Bev Newman – Bits and Bobs Crafts

My passion for creating special occasion accessories and clothing has developed from a love of vintage. I discovered the antique pattern library a few years ago and found a whole world of beautiful crochet and knitting, most of which was hidden from the world as it was part of ladies’ lingerie.  I’ve been experimenting with lace crochet and knitting ever since. I also remember when I was a bridesmaid for my cousin Irene – her oldest daughter is getting married next week – my Aunt Joyce was a seamstress and made all our bridesmaids dresses – I still have mine somewhere! I remember her making the head dresses too as I was a “dummy” for the little bridesmaids and have fond memories of an evening, not long after Mum died, trying on hairbands and juliet caps until the decision was made. I also inherited a now far too tempermental singer sewing machine, one stitch only, made in 1924 from my great aunt. It had been her neighbour Ethel’s before and she had made “umpteen” wedding and bridesmaids dresses for local ladies over the years. So I suppose the idea of handmade weddings is somehow ingrained too!
I’ve been working on crochet decorations so far but am starting a new project this week, upcycling a basic white top and skirt with vintage style crochet lace to make a bridal outfit. I’m also designing a 20′s style bridal handbag and am just finishing a lace wrist cuff.

I love the concept behind ICC – especially as we get to work with brides and their families to pass on skills and who knows where that may lead for them too in the future!

Wedding Designs by Bits and Bobs Crafts