2013 has been a hectic year, and not quite the one I had planned when I set up CoolCrafting in 2011. We have peddled ribbons and buttons the length and breadth of England out of vintage suitcases and an overloaded Honda estate, crafted with groups of 50 at a time, had a visit from HRH the Prince of Wales, and been featured in some great press. We have spent hours stuffing jars with crafting goodness, days pondering the right names for products, weeks making sure patterns and instructions are spot on, months living, breathing, eating (kebabs mainly) and sleeping CoolCrafting.
The business is growing healthily and I am really proud of what has been achieved, despite feeling a ¬†little jaded by the amount of time that we have put into the business. When I say we, I have to thank all the volunteers who help me out! And all those who seek us out and buy from us or make with us – ¬†a heartfelt thank you for helping this baby business thrive. There are some big plans for 2014, but that is another post for another day.
Customers and friends (many of you have merged into both categories and I am so happy about that) always want to know how the business is doing and I do get asked regularly for advice on setting up a small creative business so this seems an opportunity to update and pass on what I have learnt (maybe on an emotional rather than practical level).
Our mission is to provide ‘Crafting & Sewing Inspiration’ be it running workshops, selling the latest innovative haberdashery, the way we merchandise the stall or just sharing ideas. Things I have learnt along the way (and obviously this is just my experience)
Passion – if people see your love of something they will believe you and enjoy your enthusiasm. Without a love of what you do, you will not find the energy required to sustain it.. If I know how to do something I will share it with you, I don’t expect you to buy! If I don’t stock something I will do my best to tell you what I know about who will have it. Let’s share what we know.
Originality – we put a lot into making sure the ideas we have are our ideas, and that the displays we do are unique to us. My reward is hearing customers say ‘What a good idea’ when they see what we do and how we display it. Be indulgent in your creativity.
Integrity – I hope that eventually my business will have a positive impact on other local businesses. It would have been easy and profitable to take our kits to the far east for assembly but I am proud of the fact they are made by us, using local businesses in support.
Value – I have to ensure that everything we sell has a realistic value. These are tough times and I would always advise using what ¬†you already have before buying something new. Be considered and you will love what you do decide to buy even more for that.
My voice – I have worked in organisations where it was difficult to reach consensus, and I know now that compromise does not build a brand. CoolCrafting is me, and I have to love everything that I do in the business’s name. Be true to your vision.
Have a great website – I know mine needs work right now, but it still is rather good looking and informative.
Paying for national advertising is pants.
And finally – BE BRAVE – whether it is choosing a brighter, bigger button than you would normally, running down the hill a little faster than you thought you could or starting up a small creative business that is a sideline to your ‘proper job’ – it may seem scary but it makes life more extraordinary.