June Business of the Month – Habercrafty

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Business name:  Habercraftey

Website:  www.habercraftey.co.uk

Short description of your business:

Unique & custom made accessories, flowers & art handcrafted from zips.

How long has your business been running? 3 years

What made you start the business?

I had just finished 3 years or Art & Design courses and had intended on applying to university but due to my husband being in the military we were move to Cornwall. For me this was the perfect fit as Cornwall is probably the best known place in the UK for the Art & Crafting industry, so rather then attend more lectures I decided to harness the inspiration and strike out on my own.

Who is your target market?

Any one who loves something abit different &/or lovingly handmade items.

Where do you advertise?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Etsy & local craft fayres

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What is the thing you enjoy most about being a business owner?

Being able to be creative & having control of your own work as well as getting to know clients who inspire you to do something you may never have thought of.

What have you found most difficult as a small business?

Making a proper living hehe, running your own hand crafted business isn’t easy or a quick way to make fast money. I definatly do it for the love and everything I earn goes straight back in to fund new ideas.

Where would you like the business to be in 5 years time?

Ooo thats a tough one, I really just want to keep pushing my creative boundaries and am currently planning and working on more zipper art. So for me I guess it would be to be better known in the creative world. Ideally then I would also hope to have a small team to train and help develop & make new design ideas.

If you had to start again, what would you do differently?

Well part of the creative process is about making mistakes & learning from them so not alot really. But one thing I have learned recently is to try and not worry about if what you are working on is going to be a big hit or not, I wish I had focused more on things that inspire me rather then what may or maynot appeal to everyone else.

What tips do you have for anyone looking to start a small business?

In regards to starting a handcrafted business – Don’t expect it to be a get rich quick kind of thing, it can become very addictive & costly once you get started. It takes alot of time & effort but is well worth it.

Do something you love & enjoy as with handmade if your hearts not fully in it it shows in your work. Keeping your work fresh with new ideas or one off items helps both you & your clients to remain interested.

And finally every small business will tell you to keep upto date with your finance books, there is nothing worse that having to go through a years worth of reciepts & invoices to do your tax return in January.  There are plenty of free websites that you can use to keep track of your income & outgoings, which I fine very helpful to utilise as I can update my books using my tablet or phone reguarly meaning I don’t have to turn on the pc to input just one expenditure.

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May Business of the Month – Imogen Allen Designs

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Business name: Imogen Allen Designs

Website: www.imogenallendesigns.co.uk

Short description of your business:

My business is the creation and design of textile art and embroidery. I use a combination of machine sewing and hand embroidery methods when hand making custom made and personalised artwork and soft furnishing designs. My designs include a range of home interior ideas and personalised gifts for special occasions that are truly unique and bespoke. No two hanging hearts or cushions are ever the same, due to the hand embroidery techniques used. I work on commissions and will happily work with individual customers to create unique designs that fit their requirements. I also have a range of artworks, created with watercolour and pen which have been made into affordable notebooks, prints and mouse mats.

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How long has your business been running?

My business was formally established in June 2012

What made you start the business?

My family circumstances had changed and I had moved counties as well so going back to sewing initially started as a hobby and I began making different keepsakes for friends and family and so decided to establish Imogen Allen Designs and began to promote my designs

Who is your target market?

My target market is most probably a more mature individual, usually female, who is looking for a personalised keepsake design for members of their family, especially for grandchildren and family members. I do also make a lot of the keepsake hearts, especially for weddings and they appeal to a much wider audience.

Where do you advertise?

I am socially active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. I am also a featured designer with www.makethemostof.co.uk and an artisan member with The Arts and Crafts Emporium www.facebook.com/ACEmporiumgifts In addition to my website I also have a shop on Etsy www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ImogenAllenDesigns I am also a member of the Nation of eShopkeepers www.nationofeshops.co.uk

Of course, I have amazing support from EasySiteSolutions www.easysitesolutions.co.uk who I have been with me from the beginning of my creative business journey. I have recently refreshed my website with a more modern and contemporary look and have worked with them to create the new look website, so I was thrilled to be voted website of the month after all the hard work! A lot of SEO work has gone into the new website and I hoping that I shall start to see the benefits of this over the coming months.

A lot of my work also comes from word of mouth and happy customers that I have previously made for. I do have some amazing customers who do come back time and time again and that kind of business is priceless and I cherish it very much!

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a business owner?

I love to be in charge of my task load and creative design. I have really enjoyed linking up and working together with other businesses in the UK, some within the creative industry and some outside of that, to give a real balance and connect with people in all kinds of businesses. It also means that I have the opportunity to be flexible around family life although that is sometimes a lot harder than most people would give it credit for!

What have you found most difficult as a small business?

It can be quite isolating at times working for myself but I have an amazing online support from fellow crafters and artists in the industry. It is very hard to be seen on social media and I have learned that by teaming up with others, supporting and sharing ideas and helping each other is incredibly valuable and I have made some amazing friends in the process! Thankfully, my husband and family are incredibly supportive too and that helps enormously on the tough days and to celebrate the highs with as well!

Where would you like the business to be in 5 years time?

I would love my business to grow to be more self supporting financially and for my work to be easily recognisable as mine!

If you had to start again, what would you do differently?

It has been a really slow process but I don’t think there would be really much I would change at all!

What tips do you have for anyone looking to start a small business?

I think my tip would be to be prepared to work hard, connect with others and share information and support each other. Make sure you do your research and always try to learn as much as you can on your journey. There are so many areas where you can get help and support to run a business. The more you put in the more you get out and finally….make sure you always treat others as you wish to be treated!

Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity to be able to tell you more about myself and the work I do and a huge thanks to EasySiteSolutions for the amazing website support they have given me over the last 3 years!

Imogen Allen

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February Business of the Month – Stephs Sock Monkey Store

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Business name:

Stephs Sock Monkey Store

Website:

http://stephssockmonkeystore.co.uk/

Short description of your business:

I make sock toys, my own adaption of the traditional sock monkey, plus a 
range of my own designs. I also have a range of products sock monkey 
related & accessories made form sock remnants. All my toys are CE marked, so are suitable from birth

How long has your business been running?

I'm currently in my 5th year of doing this full time.

What made you start the business?

I started making these as a hobby, whilst I was working as a florist. 
Selling to friends & family, they helped fund my trips to London to have 
my hair done by celebrity hairdresser Lee Stafford!! When the florist shop closed, it was either move away from Cornwall to get a florist job back 
up country, take a job chamber maiding in one of the many hotels in 
Newquay, or give this a try full time.

Who is your target market?

To be honest, anyone from birth to 100yrs old!! Everyone loves a sock 
monkey!!

Where do you advertise?

At the moment I don't pay for advertising anywhere, it's mainly word of 
mouth. I have both a Facebook page & twitter account & rely a lot on shares and RT's.

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a business owner?

As much as I love being able to work my own hours, around my husbands silly shifts, and being able to take time away for events etc, the best thing 
for me has been meeting the guys from Mission Motorsport & having the 
honour of making their mascots...the #monkeymassive They are an amazing 
charity, and the monkeys bring them so much publicity/awareness. Having 
been handled by the likes of Sir Jackie Stewart, Patrick Dempsey, David 
Coulthard, to name but a few...it amazes me! Check out the celebrity album on my website!

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What have you found most difficult as a small business?

See above!! It's great being able to work my own hours, but some days I 
find it really hard to motivate myself. I can get so easily distracted, 
and find several hours have passed by and nothing has been done!

Where would you like the business to be in 5 years time?

Ideally I'd love to have a shop, with studio space. I've met so many 
people who create for a living, it would be awesome to have a business 
where I could showcase lots of local talent.

If you had to start again, what would you do differently?

Have a word with myself regards taking comments about my work to heart. 
I'm sure most crafters will have experienced negative comments from 
browsers at fairs, from oh I can make those to well, there's no skill 
involved making that...etc. It can be very dis heartening, but you have to rise above it.

What tips do you have for anyone looking to start a small business?

Choose to do something you love, it will show though in your work. There's nothing better than getting up everyday to do a job you enjoy. 
Paperwork...boring I know, but if you keep it in check...it's a minimal 
amount of work, giving you more hours to do the fun stuff.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephs-sock-monkey-store/119842638955?fref=ts
Twitter https://twitter.com/StephJS

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October business of the month – Kiddy Shack

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Business name:

Kiddy Shack

Website:

www.kiddy-shack.co.uk

Short description of your business:

The Home of handcrafted nursery accessories and other gifts for children and for your home. All toys made by Kiddy Shack are CE marked making them safe for even the smallest of hands… 🙂

How long has your business been running?

Kiddy Shack was started in February 2014 with only a few items and now we have a huge range of toys and gifts for mainly children and also some gifts for the grown-ups too.

What made you start the business?

I always loved creating and making and learnt sewing at a young age from my grandmother. It was a skill for life and I intend to teach my daughters too. I enjoy making my toys and gifts and when I do it doesn’t feel like I am “working”. I am having fun… And to do something you like and getting paid must be the best job in the world.

Who is your target market?

My items are mainly for children so my target market would be the mums and dads who value handmade and unique instead of mass produced.

Where do you advertise?

I advertise on Facebook in various groups and attend craft fairs in my local area which also helps to put the name out..

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a business owner?

I love the working hours of course although it is not considered work as such as I am having so much fun in the meantime :). Being my own “boss” is also lovely and the best bonus for me is a returning customer. That means they liked the first item I made and trust me with making a special gift for their loved ones.

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What have you found most difficult as a small business?

Advertising is a bit hit an miss I never know where to start with marketing and this is the area I would need to improve.

Where would you like the business to be in 5 years time?

I would like my makes to be stocked in small gift shops and my big dream is to open a shop somewhere I can sell my own makes as well as teach people sewing.

If you had to start again, what would you do differently?

I would probably do the same thing I just did. Everything I’ve done led to another thing and they all turned into something new and exciting… 🙂

What tips do you have for anyone looking to start a small business?

Just one: Go for it!! don’t think it is difficult. There are a lot of people out there stuck in jobs they don’t like and keep thinking about doing something else. If you have an idea or a talent just start up and with time and some (hard) work your small business can turn into something which will support you and your family.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kiddyshackstore
Twitter www.twitter.com/kiddy_shack
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kiddyshack11
Instagram: www.instagram.com/kiddyshack

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September business of the month – LUBYLU

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Business name:  Lubylu

Website: www.lubylu.com

Short description of your business:
Handmade home fragrance. Highly scented natural wax candles and melts

How long has your business been running?
Lubylu as a business has been around since 2005, initially I made bespoke cards and event stationery but loved into home fragrancing in about 2008

What made you start the business?
I’ve always been into crafty things! I love making something pretty out of  raw ingredients. It used to be dolls clothes when I was little, I’ve done  bead work jewellery and a bit of silver smithing – it takes time find your
niche. I still love trying new crafts though

Who is your target market?
My target markets are people who love to have pretty creations in their  home, who love their homes to smell amazing, people who appreciate the quality of handmade work and who appreciate the efforts to source locally
produced creations.

Where do you advertise?
I don’t advertise as such as I do whole heartedly prefer to build  relationships with customers, clients and suppliers as I feel this allows  for a much more fruitful experience.

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a business owner?
I enjoy being able to make my own decisions – whether rightly or wrongly,  they are my decisions. I love all the ideas that are around and the fact  that inspiration can strike at any time.

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What have you found most difficult as a small business?
Trying to do everything at once – I have learnt though that I have to let  other people help me. I am very fortunate to have a great support network of family and friends who all want Lubylu to succeed. I also find it very difficult to focus on a few ideas at a time, as mentioned above there is so much inspiration to be found everywhere that it’s tricky to keep to a few ideas at any one time!

Where would you like the business to be in 5 years time?
Lubylu will be a household brand name for handmade home fragrance in 5 years – that’s the mission!

If you had to start again, what would you do differently?
Not really as I feel that all experiences have their value and therefore they must be taken as lessons. I do think I’d have more confidence in myself though and maybe aim higher sooner.

What tips do you have for anyone looking to start a small business?
Read, research, talk to people (it’s called networking these days but it’s good old fashioned chatting). Don’t be afraid to aim high or to make mistakes but make sure you learn from them. Believe in yourself but listen
to advice even if you don’t feel you need to hear it. Things happen for a reason and when the time is right, you’ll know it.

Part of my ethos for Lubylu is to be a business which helps other businesses, especially those locally and in the UK. I do my best to source raw ingredients from UK suppliers, there are some which can’t be made in
the UK at the present but I’m doing what I can for now.
I strongly believe that if you do things for the right reasons, the benefit will come to you and those around you.
I am passionate about helping others where I can, giving advice on social media, networking, marketing and other elements of setting a micro enterprise which other people just starting out nay find very daunting.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lubylu/102523116452272

https://twitter.com/Lubyludesigns

http://www.pinterest.com/lubyludesigns/
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