Creative Crafters- The Cat and Dragon

Image: The Cat and Dragon 

Tell me more about your craft?

I make things I love to make which I hope people love to buy.

What is it?

I make handmade, often personalised items at a low price.

When did you find out you were good at it?

I come from a crafty family; I was taught how to mend and amend things from an early age and how to use tools so I’ve always enjoyed making things for myself, friends and family.

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Image: The Cat and Dragon 

Why did you decide to turn into a business?

I was at a bit of a crossroads with my career. I had been able to leave full-time admin work and move to temp instead, which was much more enjoyable but still not what I want to spend my life doing. My former employer runs a scheme for ex-employees which offers free training courses and one of these was a “starting your own business” course. I talked a lot about it with my husband, family and best friend, who told me about the course in the first place, and decided that I wanted to try and make my hobby into a career.

Tell us more about the process, the step by step process of your craft-From the concept to the final product.

Every product is different. If I’m making something on commission I show the customer examples of other things I’ve made and talk to them about what they would like their product to be like.

I then cost out materials, give them a quote and start making when they have confirmed they are happy with the product and price. Depending on the item and what it is made from, this process can take from a few days to a couple of weeks. I always make sure the customer has the correct expectation for how long something will take based on their requirements.

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Image: The Cat and Dragon 

If it is a stock product I’m making to sell, the process is slightly different. I’ll see something that inspires me, like an old map, think about what I could do with the material and then experiment with different ideas until I’m happy with the item I’ve made.

Inspiration often comes from events such as Christmas. I made a lovely set of wine glasses decorated with Santa, Rudolf etc at Christmas and I’m currently working on a couple of stock items for Valentine’s Day.

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Image: The Cat and Dragon 

Where do you sell your product?

I have a Facebook page which I sell online from. I’m currently in the process of building a website to do online sales from also. But I like to get out and see customers when I can so I often have a stall at a regular Craft Fair on a Tuesday at Hexham Abbey. You can see me and my Glamourous Assistant (my Mother!) there at least once a month.

Have you noticed a rise in crafters and people buying creations?

I lucky to have a lot of very talented artists as friends so I’ve always had crafters in my field of view. The amount has possibly risen in general with younger people having to stay at home or in rented accommodation more and finding craft as an outlet for their creative side, where traditionally our parents’ generation let out their creativity via decorating their own homes.

I also think that the enforced ‘make do and mend’ era that some of them grew up with turned trends around to everyone wanting ‘new’ and ‘machine-made’, something immediate rather than something worked for to make. Now people are tired of everyone having the ‘same thing’ and want individualism again. The internet has helped crafters present their work to a larger audience, sites like ‘Etsy’ and ‘not on the high street’ are very popular.

I think actual craft fairs are on the rise now as well though as customers like to see and feel handmade items and going to the fair can be considered an outing when on holiday somewhere new, for example.

What is the crafting industry like?

Very hard work and very difficult to turn into a career rather than a hobby. The impression is that you get to sit at home or in your studio and mess around with paints or sewing all day but that’s a very small percentage of what makes up having your own business.

In order to be able to afford to ‘play’ at what you love, you have to sell it too. This means going to fairs, promoting your business online and in person. There are so many talented crafters out there that you have to try and make yourself heard above everyone else.

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Image: The Cat and Dragon 

Your prices have to be competitive, your stall has to have something that attracts the eye. It’s often sacrificing evenings or weekends, which isn’t fun if the rest of your family is ‘9-5’ and it can be soul destroying to spend 6 hours in a cold hall, watching parents let their children take the free chocolates you’ve put out and not have the decency to even say thank you, never mind actually look at what you’re selling. But, if you’re lucky, it also means that you can have your work arranged around your life, not the other way around.

You work on a Wednesday this week rather than a Tuesday because the appointment you need to attend can only be done on a Tuesday. You’ve been sleepless all night because the baby is keeping you awake (and it’s not even born yet!) so you set the alarm for 9 rather than 8. You get to sit at home or in your studio and mess around with paints or sewing all day…. 😉

Do you recommend people starting up their own crafting creations and turning it into a business?

I think if you can read the answer above and think ‘yep, I can live with that over how my life is now’ then go for it. Make sure you have a supportive family and a way to pay the bills before you start making money yourself and give it a try. You’ll never know if you could have done it if you don’t try it.

You can find my handmade creations and also my “Blue Flamingo” pre-loved range on my Facebook Page  Or in person at the Tuesday Morning Craft and Beauty Fair, Hexham Abbey.

 

 

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