Monday, 25 August 2014

Fairy Showcase

Today I want to talk to you about fairies.  Now what does that mean to you?  Does it conjure up pictures of mystical creatures with magical powers who live at the bottom of the garden?

 Maybe you are a Disney fan, and it makes you think of Tinkerbell from Peter Pan, or the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. What about Oberon and Titania, Shakespeare's King and Queen of the fairies.

We all have different ideas of what a fairy is or does. So, what happened when a group of crafty friends were asked to make something with a fairy theme?

Well , it resulted in the BFG Fairy Showcase. Certainly each person had a different take on the fairy theme and matched it to their particular craft.

Sue made an Enchanting Fairy Mushroom Pendant using the lost wax method

Gem made a Titania Faerie Headdress. Her own unique design with chains at the rear to hold it in place.

Diane made a beautiful hand stitched Fairy Door completed with a beaded bell pull

Laura made an Aluminium and Copper Bangle with a crystal butterfly.

Jakki wanted to share a lovely book with us.

and my contribution included some beaded Fairy Bag Charms.

We have set up a special Facebook page where you will find all the above items and many more:-

So, have you a different idea of what should be on a Fairy themed page - why not let us know?

I will leave you with this quote by J M Barrie, from Peter Pan:-

"Do you believe in fairies? ... If you do clap your hands." 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Its official - I'm not human!

Let's start this week with the update on the hexagon blanket. That is easy - there is no update! My hands have been swollen for the past few days and so no crocheting was possible.  That nicely links into the subject of this week's blog.

When I started this weekly update back in January, I said I would tell you a little bit about living with an auto immune disease - so here  goes. 

I have Antiphospholipid Syndrome , sometimes called Hughes Syndrome or Sticky Blood. It means that my blood is thicker than it should be and very prone to clot. I was diagnosed 3 years ago following a rather large blood clot in my groin which appeared one day for no apparent reason.  It is an Auto Immune disease which means that the body attacks itself by mistake. This can take many forms and is different for each person. I often get swelling of my arms, hands, legs and feet - which stops me being very mobile and more importantly interferes with my crafting.

But it is not all doom and gloom and I would like to share with you an amusing story.

For some reason I now have a heightened sense of smell, and one Sunday morning I went into the kitchen to start lunch when I thought I could smell gas. My husband could not smell anything, but I was sure that there was gas coming out of one of the kitchen drawers!  So, the emergency gas number was called and an hour later someone arrived. This is how the conversation went:

"Hello, I think there is a gas leak in my kitchen"

"No problem Madam, I'll just check it out with my meter.  No that is fine, no leak here"

"But I can smell it - I think it is in that drawer"

"I can assure you everything is fine- nothing shows on my meter"

"Sorry, but I can definitely smell it - can you check again?"

"If you insist Madam, but there is no leak here.  Right lets pull the cooker out then!"
"How long has this gas hob been here?"

"About 10 years"

"Well it appears there is a very minor, insignificant leak from the connecting pipe"

"So there is a gas leak then"

"Well is it so tiny that it is not detectable by the human nose"

"But I smelt it and called you out"

"Lucky guess Madam, there is no way you could have smelt it"

So the gas was turned off, and we had to wait until Monday morning for some to come out and fix it.

I shall leave you this week with a quote from Robin Williams who sadly died recently.

"You are only given a little spark of madness, you mustn't lose it"

Monday, 11 August 2014

Tea with Friends

From your feedback, I know a lot of you have small businesses which, like me,  you run on your own.  I am really proud of what I have achieved in my business  and love the fact that I get to make all the decisions, and sometimes the mistakes, myself.  But I have to admit that occasionally it does feel lonely.

So when things get a little fraught in Glitterwitch HQ I love to take tea with friends. Nowadays you don't have to be in the same room, same town or even the same country to enjoy a cuppa and chew over what is troubling you. I just pop the kettle on and settle with my tea at the computer.

I have a terrific group of friends in a similar situation on social media who seem to be available for a chat at any time of the day or night. They understand the issues around running a small business, juggling all the tasks and trying to be creative when your head is full of invoices and what is for dinner that evening! They all have a great sense of humour! We chat about the highs and the lows of our businesses and life in general.  Then, once the cup is empty, it is time to get back to work with a renewed energy and sense of calm.

Time for a little poem called Tea with Friends:-

If your yarn is in a tangle
And your balls have run away
Sit down and have a cup of tea
It might improve your day
If your beads are all a jumble
And your needle just wont thread
Put the kettle on, get the biscuits out
And have tea with friends instead.

We have lots of new items on the website this week  including wire flowers, hearts and Christmas trees for you to decorate.  Oh and don't forget the Craft Starter Kits - everything you need to learn a new craft with easy to follow instructions to get you going.

Just before I leave you, I had better report progress with the hexagons. The blanket is slowly getting bigger, but there is an awful lot of sewing up involved!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Guest Blogger: Pricing: C’mon Crafters, Let’s Get Real

This months Guest Blogger is the wonderful Kathy Ennis. Kathy is a trainer and small business mentor and frankly what she doesn't know about marketing yourself and your business isn't worth bothering with. We asked her for some advice on that age old problem of crafter's pricing their goods and here is what she said:-

 Pricing: C’mon Crafters, Let’s Get Real
As a business consultant and trainer who works with start-up and need-for-growth businesses I will often ask the question “what is the difference between a hobby and a business?”

The answer is PROFIT. And it’s from the business-savvy, don’t-want-to-be-out-of-pocket standpoint I am writing.

When explaining hobby vs. business in greater detail I will often use the example of the avid card-making crafter who spends hours (because they love it) creating beautiful works of art that they then struggle to get people to pay £1.50 for. Or they convince themselves that they are making a profit because the table at the Craft Fair only cost £20 and they made £70 in sales so they are £50 in profit. But, hang on, they haven’t calculated the cost of materials used or their time to create the £70 – probably a serious LOSS in this scenario. This is absolutely fine if it’s a hobby. You get to do something you love and you get to see those lovely things you make being purchased by someone else.

However, if we start thinking about business vs. hobby and profit how do you, as a crafter, go about pricing your products realistically?

You Determine Your Own Marketplace
Taking time to do some market research is worth its weight in gold as it will allow you to determine who you want to sell to.

For example, if you are aiming for a higher cost per item is a church-hall, table-top, craft fair the best place for you? Would you be better selling online via a really well-designed e-commerce website with the addition of face-to-face sales via regular attendance at more exclusive arts and crafts fairs?

If, on the other hand, you are aiming at greater churn of goods at a lower price you may need to limit the time you spend on creating each item, sacrifice a little of your perfectionism, buy less expensive materials and be prepared to ‘stack it high and sell it cheap’.

You Must Know Your Numbers
There are lots of methods to calculate the cost of an item. During my research for this blog, I found this really handy online Craft Calculator But I have also put together a couple of examples:

Hourly Rate x Number of Hours + Cost of Materials = Price
£45 x 5 + £25 = £250

Materials + Labour Costs (i.e. Hourly Rate x Number of Hours) + Expenses (sourcing, shipping, warehousing etc.) + Add on % (Your % profit mark-up)
£75 + £90 (i.e. £45 x2) + £20 = £185 + £18.50 (+10%) = £203.50

These two examples could be viewed as wholesale prices. Thinking of retail or supplying retail outlets? You will probably need to double the final numbers so you end up with £500 and £407.

Both of these key factors, your marketplace and your numbers, pre-suppose that:
1. You have recognised your personal worth – identified, calculated and ‘owned’ your labour cost / hourly rate
2. You have a really clear understanding of all of the overhead costs of making your crafts.

Without these, and without a standard calculation that you can apply to all of the items you produce, you pricing will be based on assumption or guesswork – and you could find yourself heavily out-of-pocket.

Kathy Ennis

020 8529 0726

Hope you have enjoyed reading this and it has given you for food for thought. Why not pop over to Kathy's website to see what else she has to say.