Brighton Etsy Team Bloghop

My local Brighton Etsy Team, which I am part of are running a blog hop where members each make a post answering a set of questions and nominate each other to join in with the bloghop. I was nominated by Anna Liversidge  – Thank you for nominating me Anna! 😀 I am loving reading all the background stories for everyone!

 

What inspired you to start your business or Etsy shop?

I originally did Fine Art at University, but left my degree feeling really negative and low in self-confidence about doing anything creative. I then went into working with Deaf adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems, which was a great experience in many ways because I have a huge love of learning languages, and learning a visual language like BSL was incredibly exciting to me.  But as a result of this I completely abandoned any art or creativity in my life. I  didn’t really have the time or energy for anything else other than my job.

I loved the people who I supported and met through work, but I think when I look back now I realise that I was pouring so much of myself into the role that I was reaching burn out, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I think that doing care work with a sign language interpreting element,  you are always trying to leave yourself out of the picture, so as to make what you are doing all about the person you are supporting. This left me feeling a bit like a non-entity. I don’t know if I would ever have left my job voluntarily as I believed so strongly that it was a really important job, but in the end I hurt my back at work, probably from pushing myself above and beyond what I was really capable of doing.

I spent over 6 months off sick, in agonizing pain, experiencing terrible panic attacks on a daily basis and pretty much feeling like the world had ended. During this time, I really needed something to focus on and keep myself occupied, so I started making kanzashi. Eventually I realised that I would never go back to support work, and that I would have to find something else to do with my life. Friends had already been encouraging me to sell them, but it wasn’t until I met Marine from Hello Marine at a party, while wearing one of my hair flowers , and getting some encouragement from her, that I even thought of selling them online.

At first my goal was just to get a little bit of money back so I had more to spend on materials, but as time went on, I raised my sights and really wanted to make this something I could live off.  By the time I got pregnant in 2012, I was starting to feel that through a combination of Etsy sales, custom orders, wholesale, workshops and craft fairs I would one day be able to make this dream a reality.

We’re looking at goals in the Brighton Etsy Team this month (you can follow along with #btnetsygoals!) Can you share one of your goals for your shop for the next six months?

In 2013 I had a little baby girl called Etta, and although my Etsy shop has been open since she was 3 months old, I haven’t really had the time or the brain space to focus on my business as much, so it has been somewhat on the back-burner since then. She is now nearly 2 and has finally started sleeping a little bit better, so I finally feel like I have the energy to pursue my creative/business goals again.

I feel that now is the time to take stock of what I really want my business to be doing. One of my main goals is to kickstart my business again post-baby by pushing myself to make more, posting more frequently on social media, making more connections with other makers and finding some wholesale opportunities.   Because I sort of fell into kanzashi making, I also want to explore some other creative areas, and not limit myself to one type of creative process, just because that is what I started my shop with. I really want to reassess why I am doing what I am doing, truly find ways to do what I love in a way that is authentic to who I am, and find ways I can make my business fit in around raising Etta. Two main sources of income pre-baby – workshops and craft fairs – are something that pretty much always run during weekends, and I am not sure if I want to give up time with my family at the moment to  do those things. However, I love the in-person connection with a local community of makers that you get through doing events, so I really want to find ways I can retain that.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I am working on lots of one-off pieces, as I find designing new pieces the most exciting part of making. There are some subtle fascinators inspired by curling fronds, using the same fabrics and colour scheme as these pieces (I should really have named that collection!), which are nearly ready to sell.

And (what I hope will be) a ‘proper’ collection of bright and crazy colourful pieces related to goldfish and waterlilies that I will launch nearer Spring/Summer.

I recently started making some origami paper brooches, which were super fun to do and added a more budget end to my shop.

 

At the moment I am working on lots of one-off pieces, as I find designing new pieces the most exciting part of making. There are some subtle fascinators inspired by curling fronds, using the same fabrics and colour scheme as these pieces (I should really have named that collection!), which are nearly ready to sell.

And (what I hope will be) a ‘proper’ collection of bright and crazy colourful pieces related to goldfish and waterlilies that I will launch nearer Spring/Summer.

I am experimenting with adding some graphic design pieces to Society6, which I loved  designing and seemed to have got quite a positive response.

I am a keen gardener and a person who loves to experience and appreciate the changing seasons, and I recently got inspired after looking at the website What You Sow. I am now developing a small range of pieces inspired by British plants, throughout the seasons. The first piece from this range is my Snowdrop Brooch, which I have been really buoyed up by the response to.

I also really want to rejuvenate my blog, so I am  planning how I can give it a slightly different focus, one that really reflects more of my life and interests at the current moment.

If you could give other sellers or someone looking to start their own design/craft business one piece of advice, what would you say?

Aargh, there are so many different things I could say here. Feel the fear and do it anyway. There was once a time when I was SO terrified of doing a craft fair. I’m not terrified of that anymore, because I’ve done lots and lots of them, and I almost feel a bit ridiculous for admitting that it used to scare me so much. Now I’m scared of approaching people to wholesale to, but hopefully one day there will come a time when I feel ridiculous that I was ever scared of that. The more you push yourself to do the things you are scared of, the less those things have a hold on your thoughts, and the less they hold you back.

 

Okay, now its my turn to nominate….I’m going to nominate Ellen from BMillinery and Amandine from fleurdecarotte to join the bloghop (if you want to!)!

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8 thoughts on “Brighton Etsy Team Bloghop

  1. What a comprehensive, honest and interesting post Emily, I totally understand the ‘support work’ syndrome, I’m making a huge effort at the moment to try and keep my three days if that work seperate from the rest of my life, it’s so hard when these are people you care about so much.
    I too would like to diversify, it’s hard because the ‘knitter’ market has been my easiest to find customers (knitters gather, jewellery wearers don’t!) so it’s hard to move into new ideas when I know it will be a bit like starting over, I do have other ideas that is like to try though- some not even jewellery! Finding the time is tough too.
    I look forward to your re-joining of the craft community after having Eta, see you soon xxx

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