2. Please tell us a little about the nature of your craft/design based business. Claireabellemakes offers handmade accessories inspired by my love of fabric, buttons and quirky and vintage themes. My best sellers include wooden scrabble tile rings, fabric button hairslides and antique gold style pendants. I’ve recently launched unique button rings made with hand stamped fabrics which I personally love, as they are one of a kind and can be customised to suit you.
3. How did the idea for your business come about? I’ve always been a ‘maker’ but also a lover of jewellery and accessories. I spent a while experimenting with ideas and began with fabric covered buttons. Like most small handmade businesses, I started with requests from friends and eventually moved on to an online store and craft market stalls. Now I wonder why I waited so long to take the plunge, it’s been great fun (and hard work!) starting something from the ground up.
4. How long now have you been established? I began blogging at claireabellemakes.com in April 2012 and my Etsy store was launched a few months later in July. Still in the embryonic stages, I am developing and learning along the way.
5. How do you decide what to make, and how do you come up with your great ideas? I love seeking out vintage or unique fabrics and buttons to use in my designs. I make what I would like to wear and use social media to interact with my followers and gain feedback on my work. A tweet here and there with some previews can go a long way to assisting in product development. A follower might see potential in your work that you can’t notice. The internet is my third eye!
6. Do you undertake your business on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? I work full-time as a secretary by day, so in general I’m a pretty organised person. Claireabellemakes is a part-time business at the moment so I spend as much free time as possible on my blog and store.
7. Tell us a little about your typical day and what is involved in running the business? I spend lunch hours replying to emails and editing photos, and weekends drafting blog posts and working on craft DIYs. On returning home from the day job, I will spend evenings working on product development, craft market stock, wholesale and Etsy store orders. I tend to stick to a pattern with the work, but if a big wholesale order comes in, things will shift and longer hours may come into play.
I try to keep on top of finances and admin work at the end of each month. Sunday morning I indulge in reading lots of creative blogs and magazines to keep the inspiration coming. I’m hoping to find more stockists this year, so I’m currently working with a designer on my line sheets and buyers packs. Each month I try to work on a business tool such as Google Analytics, but it’s tough to fit it all in!
8. What advice would you give to others who are considering running a craft based business? Do your research! I spent a good 6-9 months networking and reading craft biz books to gain as much knowledge as possible. I studied Arts Management, so I have an idea of marketing techniques, business plans and the creative sector. However, there is always more to learn, so I read plenty and interact with lots of creative people. Make sure you stay organised and separate your work, business and social lives. Have a dedicated space for your business if working from home.
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. Crochet! I learnt last year and try to take a class every few months to learn a new technique or pattern. I find it so versatile and more satisfying than knitting because it grows quickly. I guess I am an impatient crafter at times! However, I’m currently working on a big granny squares blanket I started last summer. It will be so nice when all the squares are joined and I can keep warm this summer hehe! I’ll probably start another blanket after I’m done. It’s so addictive once you get it.
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 ? I sure do! My blog is updated a few times a week with DIYs, recipes and craft inspiration at claireabellemakes.com. There are also a few giveaways happening on my blog this month. Your readers can also find me on Twitter via @claireabellemks or like my Facebook page here.