So, paper-and-string, Picciolo, The Flour Loft and Peggycrafts - well done !! Bribary in the form of cakes wasn't needed in the end paper-and-string and Picciolo - but I shall still be expecting you to bring me cake - preferably chocolate !!
If you could all email me with your addresses, I'll send your tickets out to you and look forward to seeing you all at some point over the course of the show !
So, back to the show. Remember I said I was drowning in a sea of lists? Well, I'm now well and truly swamped ! Lists get scribbled on so that I then have to make other lists, things get chopped and changed around, I decide that I need to take more stock so need to order from different suppliers, I need to keep running totals of everything that has been spent to date (not good, as my my budgeting skills are zero !). And that's on top of all of my to-do lists
Moo Cards - check
Plastic racking - check
Glass Jars - check
Hanging Rails - check
Wire baskets - check
Perspex stands - outstanding
Label tops - check
Paper bags - outstanding
Leaflets - outstanding
Price lists - outstanding
Grip seal bags - check
and on, and on and on.
But, at least I have now ordered all of the stock that I need and it's starting to be delivered. First up was 18,000 felt balls - yes, you read right - 18,000 felt balls !!
This week will hopefully see the arrival of buttons, buttons and more buttons. I have to say that I have developed a button fetish since seeing the catalogue of the supplier that I'm using (paper-and-string I'm sure you can sympathise with me !)
I'm also hoping that lots of lovely ribbons will arrive, as well as more needle felting kits, more buttons, books, more buttons, wool roving, and more buttons !
I also had a major saving in the display department ! The containers I had decided to buy to display the felt balls were going to cost me around £10 each (by the time I'd included VAT and delivery). So, I could only afford 10 containers - not particularly helpful when I've got 40 different colours of felt balls ! So, after spending hour upon hour trying to source either a different supplier or a different container I had a bit of a brainwave.
A small town near to us has one of those old-fashioned sweet shops where everything is sold by weight out of jars. So, the following day I took my little man with me (yep - he's STILL on school holidays) to visit the shop and asked the lady if she could possibly tell me where they got their jars from. Unfortunately she couldn't answer that question as they came from the sweet supplier, already filled with sweets. BUT, she said that they sold the empty jars. "How much"? I asked. "5p" she replied. "5p" !? I replied with a look of absolute amazement on my face. "Yes" she said - "is that too expensive"?? I nearly fell over laughing ! Once I'd digested exactly what she'd said, I could have kissed her !!! 5p each !! That means I can have the 40 that I needed and still have money left over to buy - hmmmmm - maybe some more buttons !! YAY - I was one happy lady. So, the lovely lady at the sweetie shop is very kindly saving up all her empties for me to collect next week. RESULT !
OK - that's enough rambling from me. Hopefully next post I'll have some photos to show you ... of buttons !!
Used only twice so in immaculate "as new" condition, in its original box. Offered to a good home for £150 INCLUDING POSTAGE to the UK only. RRP on this machine is £250, so this is a real bargain !!
This is what the Janome website has to say about the machine:
No threads ... No bobbins … No limits
Bring out the artist in you, select from your palette of fabrics and threads and blend together to create unique textures and surfaces
It’s easy, by simply moving the fabrics freely under the needles you can quickly and easily create beautiful surface embellishments…. watch your own design develop….. anyone can do it!
The Janome Xpression will help you create fabrics which can then be sewn into a finished garment, furnishing or be simply used as a work of art. It has five barbed needles which mesh the fibres to secure two or more pieces of fabric together. Every design you create will be unique .. experiment with colours, fabrics, yarns and a whole host of other creative materials.. a fantastic use of all those scraps of fabric and threads you never want to throw away!
A built in needle guard is provided for safety and there is easy access to the lint collection area under the needle plate. It even has a free-arm facility. The accessory kit includes a spare 5 -needle unit, a single needle unit ( plus spare needles ) for finer work and a single hole needle plate for heavier fabrics
If you'd like to give this fantastic machine a new home, please contact me.
Lots of the items are single pieces and won't be restocked so if you see something you fancy you'd better be quick because when they're gone.... they're GONE !
And whilst I was rummaging around sorting out sale items, I decided to have a bit of a destash of my own craft cupboard (well, plastic drawers really !) Lots of these items were purchased on my various trips to the US, so aren't as readily available here in the UK as they are over there. This is just a small selection of what's available at the moment.
Rather than sell these items on my own site, I decided to put them into my Etsy shop and they're selling fast ! I'm putting 3 or 4 items a day into my Etsy shop, so that I can hopefully raise my profile a bit more (as mentioned in my previous post).
As well as doing all of this, I've been looking into new suppliers as I'm hoping to expand the range on my own website very soon. Having said that, I can't believe that some companies are soooo inflexible ! I called one particular supplier this morning (they're actually the UK distributor for the US company) and said I was interested in opening a wholesale account with them. They said that they would need to get one of their regional reps to come and visit me to show me the product range and that their minimum order value is £1000 !! I explained to the girl that I didn't need to see the rep as I was an online retailer and not a B&M shop and I already knew exactly what it was that I wanted to order. I then went on to explain that I couldn't possibly place an order for £1000 to which she replied "well, when the Rep comes to see you we'll see what we can do". Errr - I don't think so !!
So I then decided to call the head office in the US and explained the situation to them and told them about what their UK distributor had said. The girl was really helpful and went away to speak to the CEO. After a short while she came back and said that she'd spoken with the CEO and he couldn't believe the conversation I'd had with the UK distributor. Apparently the UK company has just been taken over and their customer service "obviously isn't quite as it should be". The US were going to call the UK and explain the conversation I'd had with them and get them to call me direct with some new terms & conditions !
Now, why can't we be more like the US? To them, customer service is everything (as it is to me). I wouldn't dream of trying to fob someone off that had taken the time to call me and show an interest in my products. I'll let you know the outcome soon !
Oh, and my funky button drawing pins were featured on Cuteable yesterday. Thanks Cuteable !!
Fabric Covered Drawing Pins
Priced at £5 for a set of 10 (including the cute little storage tin) on my website
and Funky Button Drawing Pins
Priced at £3 for a set of 6 (I haven't decided quite how these will be packaged yet, but I'm on the case!)
Both of these have been added to the "Button Creations" section of my website alongside my button earrings and are ready for sale right now !
I have been a bit nervous about showing you these latest creations because sadly, it has come to my attention that someone is copying my product lines. Now, I know that it's not a crime to copy product lines and there is no copyright on product lines (that would be ridiculous), but it's very frustrating seeing exactly the same products as mine appearing on this person's website within a week or so of me announcing my new range. Let's wait and see how long it takes before these appear on their site !
I've also been having a BIG push with my etsy shop (link down the right hand side) and have decided that I need to list items on a daily basis in order that I can be a bit more visible. So far it seems to be working, with lots more people adding me to their favourites lists. I don't think the £ / $ conversion rate is helping matters, but people are definately looking, so I'm hoping sales will start to pick up again soon.
These felt balls have been added. They are a grab-bag of 50 of my most popular colour of felt balls. I will also be adding these to my own website, because some people prefer to buy them like this and not have the faff of ordering each ball / colour individually. They are priced at $12 on etsy and £6 on my own site.
Like all good retailers, I will shortly be having a SALE to clear some space for my Christmas range. The sale will start on the evening of Sunday 10th August.
Ooooh - and I found out today that the Essex Life Magazine has featured my felt heart purse and my felt money box house ! YAY !!
Our first week was spent here in Devon - and it couldn't have been a better choice. Amazingly child friendly and the cottage was a home from home. The kids absolutely loved being able to roam around without us constantly watching them, made friends with some of the other children, and wore themselves out swimming and playing on all the play equipment.
Burgh Island in the top left of the picture (taken from Bantham Beach)
We then spent 2 further days on Bantham beach which was really lovely. It actually looks across the bay to Bigbury, but is quite a bit larger so we were able to space ourselves out a bit from all of the other people that were also taking advantage of the glorious weather.
Bantham Beach taken from Bigbury
The children had a whale of a time building sandcastles, running in and out of the sea, jumping over waves and collecting shells with their hero of a Dad (more about this later). A boogie board was purchased so that Sam could don his new wetsuit and attempt to ride the waves. Sadly, he didn't quite get the hang of it but hey, he's only 5 !! There's plenty of time to make a surfing champ out of him yet !
Kingswear taken from the Ferry on a return trip from Dartmouth
So, on to the hero bit. Driving home from the beach one day, we were coming through a small village and heading up the hill. Suddenly there was a terrible screech of brakes followed by a very large bang. Paul looked in the rear view mirror to see the car behind us somersaulting through the air, eventually ending up on its side. The car it had hit was half in the hedge.
The panic and dread that runs through you when you see something like that is awful. Paul slammed on our own brakes, leapt out of the car and ran back down the hill. I got out of the car and ran up the hill to try and stop the oncoming traffic. When Paul reached the car, the driver was still strapped in and was conscious - she was crying and saying that she could smell smoke so Paul turned into the incredible hulk and yanked the sunroof off so that he could pull the woman out through it ! Fortunately, the car didn't go up in flames, but of course we were then worried about the lady he had pulled out and whether he might have done more damage by pulling her out and not leaving her where she was until the ambulance arrived. The couple in the other car were trapped - both cars were complete write-offs.
By this time a number of other cars had come across the accident and were all trying to help. Eventually the emergency services arrived and the fire brigade prepared to cut the roof off the the trapped couple's car so they could be rescued. The passenger was very shocked and upset, apparently she had been in a serious accident before. Then the air ambulance arrived (which was very exciting and also very windy !!)
The police took our details and said we could go. And the children slept the whole way through it all !! Good in one way because at least they didn't see the horrible mess, but sad in another because they would have loved to see the firemen and the air ambulance landing.
We received a phone call a couple of days ago from the lady Paul rescued and fortunately both she and the other couple sustained only minor injuries. She was extremely grateful to Paul for getting her out of the car and said that she didn't actually remember the accident itself, which is probably just as well. So - there you have it. My husband is officially a hero !! (well, I think so anyway)
So, back to the holiday .... our 2nd week was spent in Cornwall. Paul is a Cornishman born and bred and his family still live there. So fortunately for us, we have free accommodation whenever we visit.
Unfortunately though, the weather changed 2 days into the 2nd part of our holiday, so we only managed to visit the beach once.
The rest of the time was spent being wind and rain battered in St Ives, Flambards and Fowey.
However, Paul and I did have a lovely meal at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant at Watergate Bay. We treated ourselves as it was our wedding anniversary at the beginning of July and we just hadn't had time to go out for a meal beforehand. If you haven't been to either of Jamie's restaurants, I can highly recommend them. Whilst I haven't visited his London restaurant, the Cornwall one was fantastic. The service was great and the food absolutely gorgeous. The setting of the restaurant is amazing - set into the side of a cliff overlooking Watergate Bay, the whole front of the restaurant has sliding glass doors that completely fold back so that you feel as though you're actually sitting on the beach. Fortunately, the rain had stopped so were were lucky enough to have a table right at the front of the restaurant and watched the surfers in the sea until almost 10pm. A really lovely evening !!
Sadly, the bad weather resulted in us cutting our holiday short by a day. But, once we got back to Essex the glorious weather was still here, so we could continue our holiday, at home, in our own pool !
It was so lovely to have almost 2 whole weeks to spend with the family and not feel that I had to keep going off to check emails and put orders together. To actually be able to sit outside with a glass of wine and read a book, or just veg out in front of the telly of an evening and not be crouched on the living room floor putting together orders was a real treat.
Of course, being back home means that everything is now back to normal and I'll be spending the best part of the weekend making up the orders that came in whilst I was away. Still, I really shouldn't complain. I'm very lucky to have such a lovely little business and to be able to work from home.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend !