For today’s interview, please welcome Clairabella.
1. Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you are based, for example in which country and part of that country? Hi, we are Clairabella! Clairabella is a small independent gift shop in the centre of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, UK. Claire is “the boss”, then there is Priti and Gemma in the shop, and Kat who is the Craft and Event Co-ordinator.
2. Please tell us a little about the nature of your craft/design based business. Clairabella opened its doors back in October 2009 and wanted to support local crafters, alongside selling a vast range of fair-trade gifts and UK made. We started with about 10 crafters, growing to 60 last September. We now have over 200 crafters who we work with, in the shop, at events we attend or at our own Clairabella Craft Markets.
3. How did the idea for your business come about? It started with an “I’ve had an idea” moment, which is quite a regular thing at Clairabella, and it has evolved naturally really. Once the doors were open the crafters came forward and it was incredible to meet all these local people who made amazing things. It became clear we couldn’t fit everyone into the shop, and after attending events ourselves we decided (another “I’ve had an idea moment!) that it would be a great addition to High Wycombe to have their own craft markets – so we started them!
In the shop we now have upwards of 55 crafters selling their wares, and long term we aim to get more UK made crafts onto our website too. The Clairabella Craft Markets started with just 6 tables, now we fill 15-18 regularly (about 20-25 crafters) and next months Birthday Craft Market on the 15th October is set to be our biggest to date with over 25 tables booked – about 35-40 crafters so far and with space to fill more just been granted!
4. How long now have you been established? Clairabella Ltd has been trading for over 2 years now in White Hart Street, High Wycombe. The website is nearly 18months old and the Craft Markets are heading for their first birthday. October 15th wass our Birthday Craft Market, celebrating 2 years as a company and the 1st birthday for the Craft Markets.
5. How do you decide what to make, and how do you come up with your great ideas? We don’t make – we have the amazingly talented people of High Wycombe and nearby to do that for us. We love to meet new crafters and no 2 ideas are quite the same, over the past year we’ve been very surprised by some of the ideas presented to us!! With the shop, we listen to what our customers are looking for and we work closely with our crafters to develop ideas, suggesting things we have been asked for and meeting with them to see their new creations. If a customer asks us for something, chances are we have someone who can make it! We have a very simple rule of thumb with all our crafters – if you make it, we’d love to see it.
6. Do you undertake your business on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? We work as a close team. Running any business, especially a new one, is hard work and we are lucky that as a team we all have our own strengths which has helped push the business forward. Gemma and Priti both work part time in the shop around their other commitments and we do now have a Craft and Event Co-ordinator who oversees the craft side of things. It is still very much a team effort. We all have our own commitments away from Clairabella, but we all have a passion for the shop and the craft markets, and you’ll often get a text from one of us saying we’ve seen something in a shop, or at another market which “would be PERFECT” for Clairabella or emails bouncing back and forth late at night as we have another of the dreaded “I’ve had an idea” moments! 🙂
7. Tell us a little about your typical day and what is involved in running the business? This is difficult! For the Craft and Event co-ordinator there are emails to reply to, days when she gets to meet with all the new crafters interested in the markets or the shop, adverts to plan, events to create on forums and facebook to update, blogs to write, new stock to take delivery of and or course Craft Market days are spent at the event with the crafters, helping out and talking to the public.
The team in the shop alongside serving the customers, they hand out leaflets, take details of new crafters and help promote the website and the markets by talking to the customer, and dealing with orders. Our boss has the job of making sure we’re all doing our bits right (along with boring boss bits like paperwork!), as well as having great fun sourcing new contacts and then emailing us to warn us that our inbox is about to fill up again! Every day is different….there really is no set pattern to our days, but thats actually the best bit about running a shop and organising events!
8. What advice would you give to others who are considering running a craft based business? Advertise yourself, join online forums and meet other crafters or people in the same area as you. You can learn so much from talking to others, sharing information and we have found that the craft world is one of the friendliest places, with people genuinely happy to share information and work together.
9. As this is Art of Crafts I have to ask, do you enjoy any crafts yourself in your spare time? If so, please tell us more. As a team (although we’re not admitting who does which!) we enjoy painting, jewellery design, glass painting, wood turning and carving, and the 5yr old daughter of one of our team has got into soap, bath bomb and candle making and comes along to Craft Markets with her grandmother.
10. Finally, if people want to learn more about your business/website do you have a web address, Facebook page or Twitter profile where they can find out more ? You can find us on facebook – Clairabella Ltd. We also have a website – www.clairabella.co.uk and you can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information!
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