Thursday, 8 December 2011

Craft in Focus Wisley November 2011 update

A bit of a lull there between the end of the event and posting this update - recovery time needed! It was a great event with lots of visitors and sales. Really enjoyable and profitable. Very helpfully I discovered that the visitors to the show are just the kind of people who are interested in and will buy my products. Also helpfully there were enough comments and sales for me to draw some conclusions about which products do sell well and which don't. So next Christmas I will definitely be making more bunting - I only had two and they sold within the first 24 hours. On the other hand, although my textile cards sold really well, the Christmas cards were less in demand - I think people will spend the money on a good card for a special occasion - birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and so on but Christmas obviously less so. An interesting conclusion. The display worked really well - having the corsages on the walls effectively meant visitors could see a wide choice and many bought several at a time. The new card spinner was also very effective - thanks Luminati! Now I'm spending time updating my website - all the corsages listed are new and I'll be updating pics of the other products. I've also opened a Folksy shop - also called Aliscrafty - where I will list a selection of products with the aim of reaching a new and different audience. And just in case you can't wait to hear more from me I now also have a Twitter account @Aliscrafty. Not sure how much time I'll have for making now!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Craft in Focus Wisley November 2011

Can't believe it's so long since I posted - again! Oh boy I'm already more than half way through the Craft in Focus Wisley show without posting anything here! It's been really busy and with two late nights till 8pm on Thursday and Friday today's been a breeze finishing at 5pm! I have to say it's been great being in a big venue, big marquee, great customers and great comments. Sales are good and there's still two more days to go! The RHS still have a great offer on so you can see the garden and the show but definitely do the show first - you won't be disappointed at the amaziing quality of the exhibits. Hope to see you there. Alison xx

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Craft in Focus Wisley November 2011 update

In only five weeks time I will have just completed my five day event at Wisley, be packed up (hope there's not too much to bring back!) and be looking forward to a well-earned rest and a glass or two of something fizzy. This week's half term for us and it's been non-stop work for both me and my daughter. She's had lots of GCSE work to do and I've been making. We're promising ourselves a day out at the weekend to include a long ramble with the dog. Aside from the making I've finally taken the plunge to buy a really smart card display spinner. It's totally acrylic which means you can see the whole face of each card and has different size boxes to fit onto the central stem so that I can accommodate my two card sizes and the frames I've had made to fit them. They're used in National Trust shops so I feel the quality will reflect the high standing of both Wisley and the Craft in Focus events - of which I hope there will be many to come. We've also popped out this afternoon and managed to find the perfect size boards which will be covered with lavender felt and used to display my corsages. I've ordered packaging for items which need it, posted some pics on Facebook to get the OK from the makers whose buttons I'm using for the first time and ..... stitched ...... and checked and counted stock .......... and stitched .... And ..... thought about ..... what happens next? We went to visit Craft in Focus's event at Sevenoaks on Sunday and, as usual, met some lovely people. Stallholders with good advice, a lovely ceramicist called Julia Davey (who makes buttons as well as gorgeous homewares and Christmas decorations), Geckoman (we bought a frog) and that got me thinking about next year: where to exhibit, new suppliers to enhance existing products, new products altogether. We're going to Crowthorne this weekend for a recce too. So the work never stops but the process is still all fun. What more can you ask for from your employment?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Craft in Focus Wisley November 2011 update

It's been far too long since I blogged on this - sorry folks! Today I read a very thought-provoking article by Guy Watson of Riverford Organics who supply my lovely veg. It's entitled 'a better way of doing business' and I discovered we have several things in common in our approach to our work. We prefer quality over quantity, we value and prefer to work with people who share our philosophy (he calls it respectful cooperation)and we constantly strive to improve.
All of these things underlie my big decision this year to move away from small 'village hall' events and aim for high quality venues and organisers like Craft in Focus who attract people prepared to pay for carefully crafted handmade goods produced in this country.
So where have I got to? Well, I didn't quite reach my target of 75% of stock made by the end of August - I was a bit too ambitious there! - but I have made great inroads and the production line is still moving along nicely.
What I've given hours of thought and research to is how to display my goods, from the hardware of tables and stands to the minutiae of boxes, bags and labels. I've had helpful input from fellow crafters and my daughter and picked up useful tips from Facebook, other blogs and magazines. I've drawn my Wisley stand as a plan, from the front and the side to try to see it as visitors will and to make best use of the space.
I'd love to blog on but the production line is calling - today it's Christmas cards - I'm sewing buttons and beads on to fabric printed with stylised Christmas trees - slightly odd in an Indian summer but will take advantage of this lovely sunshine to capture a few pics which I'll put on Lavender Heart's Facebook page later in the week. Bye for now. Love Alison

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Craft in Focus Wisley November 2011 update

Well, it's been more than a month since I last posted on this and nothing major seems to have happened but some decisions have been made. I'm sticking with the products I've already chosen (see last month's update blog) and have decided not to take the pot holders. Not only did I not get them finished for the Cats Protection fair (mainly because I couldn't find the lead for my sewing machine in time) but I think they're out of kilter with the gift emphasis of Christmas and will fit better with some ideas I have around coordinating homeware.
The missing lead brings me neatly to this month's theme: organisation! August is a completely free month - no fairs, holiday taken and enjoyed, so this is to be my main making month. I have worked out how many of each item I want to make and am working on each product approximately one day a week each whilst at the same time trying to keep the proportion of completed stock about the same for each category - don't want to end up with too much of one and not enough of another.
Am also trying to have a routine for each day - walking the dog, doing chores (absolute minimum on this one), keeping up with exercise (aqua particularly welcome in this hot weather) being fitted in with the making - although have to have some flexibility because the weather also affects what I can do - knitting and humidity don't mix well, dark thundery days not good for fine needlework. And after all this is the summer holidays so am also allowing for some time out with my daughter which is good for keeping me grounded and sane.
By the end of this month I'm hoping I'll have around three quarters of my target stock made - check in again to find out if I succeed. Happy Holidays, Love Alison

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Craft in Focus Wisley November 2011 update

Well it's a month since I last blogged about this. I'm still really excited but it's been time to get down to the practicalities and do some serious planning - and making. In a funny way the making is the easy bit. I love my products, I love choosing the raw materials and I love making. Easy. But I can't take everything I make because space is limited so choices have to be made. So how to choose. Well here a book I read recently (Light my Firebrand by Mike Symes) came in to play. Choose the products which most reflect me and what I stand for - handmade, detailed, textured, colour coordinated, fragrant. So out went mobile covers, knitted purses, fluffy cushions; definites are corsages, lavender bags, felt gingerbread man, textile greetings cards, new extensions of these will be rose petal bags, Flippo the felt penguin and bunting. The jury's still out on the hand-decorated jute bags and my latest 'play' - pot holders combining knitting and fabric. The first sells really well but I'm not sure whether it says enough about my brand, the second definitely fits my product criteria but I haven't tried to sell them yet. I'll finish off my first batch and try them out at my next fair (Cats Protection Open Day 17th July).

Displaying the products in the right way is just as important I think as the products themselves so I've been looking online at card stands, slatwall, boards, frames, hooks - you name it, I've looked at it. And then there's packaging - bags, boxes, cards, labels. Will the card machine work? Help! Yes, I'll need help to set up, take down and sell. Volunteers needed!

Want to follow this crafty journey? Follow this blog, like me on Facebook (pages for Lavender Heart and GoodEnoughToFrame), love my website - www.lavender-heart.co.uk. All feedback much appreciated.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A new adventure

Last Monday I had exciting news - Craft in Focus had offered me a stand at their Craft & Design Experience show at Wisley RHS gardens in November this year. This was dream news! This year I decided to take my business - for me it is that as well as full-time enjoyment - forward, to use these difficult economic times to reposition myself, take myself upmarket, perfect my products and reach a new audience.
Having spent the previous 12 months spending many hours sitting in village halls trying to sell my handcrafted corsages, gifts and decorations I'd come to the conclusion that not only did I need a bigger audience but I also needed the right audience. Despite adding new products, keeping prices reasonable and quality high, the sales just weren't there. So I sought out events which only promoted handmade items, vetted exhibitors to ensure that was the case and where the presentation of the show looked great and attracted large footfall. Craft in Focus shows (and, to be fair, a few others) offered this combination and the added bonus was that they have a twice-yearly show at the RHS gardens in Wisley, Surrey, a place I had known and loved for many years.
Oh yes, I hear you cry, and what about the cost? Yes, you don't get something for nothing in life, it is 'expensive' compared to little local events but therein lies the rub, as they say. BIG QUESTION: is this a hobby or a business? If it's a business then it needs investment to succeed - high quality raw materials, high quality crafting, high quality sales venue. So I took the plunge, got the place and this blog will be the story of my journey to Wisley. More soon.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Chinese New Year of the Rabbit


To celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit I've created a new Bunbury Bunny. Hand-stitched from honey-coloured felt he wears a hand-knitted red jumper decorated with my signature lavender heart and carries a bright red balloon embroidered with the year 2011. Perfect for anyone born in the Year of the Rabbit or babies born this year. He would even make a cute Valentine's gift. Love him? He'll be available to order from my website www.lavender-heart.co.uk until 17th February.