For our interview today we meet with Jennie Rainsford and Karen Holland who run the Lechlade Craft Barn.
1. Welcome Jennie and Karen. Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about where you are based? Lechlade Craft Barn is situated in the picturesque market town of Lechlade on Thames in the Cotswolds, UK. The town sits at the highest navigable point of the River Thames and is historically associated with the wool trade so it is fitting that the Craft Barn is situated here.
2. Please tell us a little about the nature of your creative business. We offer a range of workshops encompassing a variety of crafts. Mosaic Making, Needle Felting, Crochet and Jewellery Making are all popular topics and we will be introducing Furniture Painting, Upholstery and other crafts later in the year. Our courses are aimed at beginners and intermediate learners, though our ‘Crafternoon’ sessions on a Wednesday attract crafters of all different levels who bring along their craft projects to sit alongside fellow crafters and chat. Sometimes we invite experienced practitioners to run a workshop, sometimes we’re simply passing on skills that we’ve learnt from crafting over the years.
3. How did the idea for your business come about? We started with a passion to explore different crafts for ourselves. Giddy with the choices on offer and fed up of travelling miles to try things out, we decided to launch Lechlade Craft Barn. Some crafts we’re learning as we go along, others we’ve been enjoying for a while and continue to learn new skills all the time.
4. How long now have you been established? We started in August 2014 and haven’t paused since! Our Christmas papercraft workshops proved extremely popular, particularly wreaths made from vintage books and music. We’ve just launched our next programme of workshops dates and will be adding more soon. We’re delighted to welcome back crafters again and again to our workshops, everyone seems to love our laid back atmosphere and of course lovely location!
5. How do you decide what to offer? We devour crafting magazines such as Reloved, Making and Mollie Makes and keep informed on the latest trends in crafting. We also keep an eye on demand for workshops around the country and ask our customers for ideas of crafts they’d like to try. Pinterest is a particularly rich source of ideas and also the greatest time-waster! We’ll be offering a residential course for June 2015, partnering with a local accommodation provider right on the river, it will be a great chill out weekend with fab food and lots to explore.
6. Do you undertake your business on a full-time basis or do you have other work/family commitments? We run a couple of other businesses in tandem with Lechlade Craft Barn, one of which is Lechlade Music Festival – a 3 day family-friendly festival that takes place at the end of May. You’ll find our Craft Barn calendar is empty in May as the music festival swallows up the whole month! We have legendary rockers Status Quo performing this year so we’re expecting a big crowd – we’re thinking about ‘pom-pom bombing’ the festival site with the local primary school children. Last year we made willow lanterns with the kids and they paraded through the town to the festival site to open the festival with the school choir. We run the ‘Arty Smarty Crafty Party’ at the festival too where children can create and craft, it’s a great way of bringing our businesses together.
7. Tell us a little about your typical day and what is involved in running the business? Typically we check bookings for workshops and send directions or any queries from customers. We keep the Facebook page updated with ideas, share great ideas from other pages and news of our recent projects or new workshops. We schedule daytime and evening sessions throughout the month to get together and work on designs and ideas or prep for a workshop. We have our workshop format pretty much sussed out now and decide before each who is going to deliver which sections of the workshop. This ensures the learning process and outcomes are clear for our customers right from the start.
8. What advice would you give to others who are considering running a creative business? If you don’t have the skill set to complete all of your business and marketing tasks make sure you have the funds to buy in the services you need or have a friend who will support you through the set up stage. We’re lucky as we run other businesses between us, one of which is a Marketing and PR company so we have tools and skills to promote the barn, especially online.
9. As this is Art of Crafts I have to ask, do you enjoy any other crafts yourself in your spare time? If so, please tell us more. Yes anything! Lechlade Craft Barn started because we made a commitment between us to stop moaning about lack of time and go out and explore new crafts rather than just talking about it! Life really is too short not to make time for yourself to do the things you enjoy. We’ll try anything creative – even if you decide you don’t want to get stuck headlong into a particular craft you will acquire skills that will be useful and can be applied elsewhere.
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 at www.facebook.com/LechladeCraftBarn or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our newsletter. We don’t bombard you with spammy emails – we like our customers to be waiting for our newsletters in eager anticipation!