Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a stay at home mum to two young boys which keeps me on my toes! I’m a former professional gardener, although on a career break at the moment, and I rather like baking. And eating baked goods which is a bit dangerous on the waistline. Happily we also have a crazy dog in the family who loves lots of long walks! I first started knitting about 6 years ago while pregnant with my eldest child and it’s now firmly my favourite craft. My mum spent most of my childhood knitting and sewing and I guess that just followed through in the genes!
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
I’d thought about making to sell for a while but had never quite had the guts, if I’m honest. I thought I’d hang on until my boys were older and I had more time, or maybe at some point when I was feeling braver. You know how it goes. Then we lost my mother in law to a brain tumour. She was a fearsome crafter and primary school teacher who spent all term time longing for the craft room. Her favourite saying was ‘when I retire I’ll spend all day in there’. She never got her retirement. Made me realise that it was no good just thinking I could do it, I had to actually go do it. So here I am two years on from that decision with a fledgling shop!
Tell us a bit about your products.
I make a variety of products, all associated with knitting! I hand knit wire jewellery and woolly accessories, hand sew knitting and project bags and hand make beaded stitch markers to help those knitters who (like me!) can’t keep count. I have discovered a whole world of beads since starting this adventure and love playing around with colour and shape combinations.
What inspires your work?
Having spent some time as a gardener I love the outdoors. Nature always turns up a better colour combination than I can imagine and I love trying to capture the shapes and colours of the flowers I see around me. A particular colour of fresh green in the spring can send me off to the bead box! Knitting bags are always inspired by the changing needs of knitters. I like to have things organised so I’m always dreaming up different sizes and shapes of bags which would work better for particular projects. A lot of them have yet to leave the sketching pad, but I like to take my time and mull them over to see if I’ve missed anything.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
Ideally I’d like the shop to take over from a part-time job that I do that cuts into our precious family time. What it really comes down to though is making people happy. I made a knitting bag for my mum to stop her using plastic bags for her projects. She sat for a long time, like a child at Christmas, transferring all her bits and bobs, working out what to put in which pocket. I get to send parcels out that spread this sort of joy to other crafters and really, there is no better job!
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
As a knitter myself I know what works and what’s needed. I look at high street stores selling similar and realize that they aren’t big enough to fit long needles in, or have zips in odd places to snag yarn, or have odd sized pockets that won’t hold much. I use all my bags before they go into production so I know they work! All my jewellery designs are made up and road tested by me in my rather ordinary chore filled life so you know they’re robust, no matter how delicate they look.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
At the moment my stuff is spread out and I have bits all over the place. My main workspace is the dining table which isn’t ideal. Plans are afoot for a separate space but in the meantime I’ll have to just spread out!
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known before hand?
I’ve learned loads of techniques along the way but I’ve also learned loads about running a business, albeit a small one. I’ve learned patience as it’s taken a while to get the shop to the level it’s at now. I’ve also had to get to grips with various social media that I’d not used before. I love Instagram for its ability to show a particular mood and twitter for its ability to reach out to so many crafters that I wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
Know your SEO! It took me a long time to get to grips with it, but it really is the key to getting your shop noticed. Get out and about as much as you can, learn what your customers like and what you enjoy making. Get stuck into the teams as well. My local team is awesome at helping you out no matter how daft your question. I was astonished to find such a community behind Etsy when I joined. It really is one of its strengths.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
Erm, knitting! We love walking as a family, and I do enjoy my garden, when the boys aren’t using it as football pitch! I’m also partial to swimming and an evening natter with my friends. Usually involving knitting.
What is your favorite quote?
If you can’t fight, wear a big hat. (courtesy of my husband’s Nana!)
Where can people find out more about your business?
I can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I tend to post a good mix of in progress shots, product info and pictures of my garden, dog and kids. My Instagram feed is a good way to see what I’m about – I guess it kind of works like a mood board.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
One of the things I love about Etsy is that we get to do custom work. I find it a real privilege to be entrusted with something special like a birthday present. If you like my work but don’t see the colour you like, I’m happy to be challenged!
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