Image: Ashleigh SO
Tell me more about your craft? What is it? When did you find out you were good at it?
I’m a designer and illustrator. I have been crafty ever since I was little – making my mum taught me how to knit and finding Art lessons the most interesting at school – but I wanted to pursue other avenues. It was only after leaving theatre training that I got back into doing the odd sketch with a drawing challenge I found on Instagram. Posting my sketches on Insta made me realise that people actually liked what I did and I guess that helped me feel more confident in my ability.
Why did you decide to turn into a business?
Mainly because of Instagram! I started following all these amazing creative business owners and I’d never really thought about turning my drawings into a business before then. I was stalling majorly because I was really scared about the whole thing.
Then I got contacted by a local creative who was putting on a craft fair and even though I didn’t have any products and there was only a month until the fair, I agreed to take part and made my first product line!
Tell us more about the process, the step by step process of your craft-From the concept to the final product.
Often my ideas are inspired by the women around me. The strength that all women carry with them is so beautiful and interviewing amazing creative business owners on my podcast really sparked a flame in me!
Once I have that first idea – which is usually a theme like plants for feminism – I get out my watercolours and whatever sketchbook is to hand and start playing with colours and shapes. Even if I don’t really know what it is I’m trying to achieve just yet, I take the theme and run with it. Everything starts with pen, paint and paper because I am the biggest pen and paper gal out there. I can’t imagine designing in any other way than putting it down with my own hands first.
Most of those paintings and sketches come to nothing, but for the few that really stand out get done and redone until I have something I’m really happy with. Then it goes from paper to screen where everything comes together – lettering, colours, textures – and that’s the point at which it becomes a product!
Where do you sell your product?
I mostly sell online through my website (www.bertshop.co.uk) and Etsy (bit.ly/BertIllustrationEtsy). But I also pop up at craft fairs wherever possible!
Have you noticed a rise in crafters and people buying creations?
Definitely. Everything is so quick and fast-paced now that there’s a real rebellious community out there who want handmade, great quality and something quirky. Don’t get me wrong, most people will be going to Tesco for Valentine’s card this year, but there is definitely more momentum building around buying from small businesses and crafters. I for one would much rather pay a little more for something I know someone has devoted their time to and made with love.
What is the crafting industry like?
It’s like the best friends you never knew you had. I honestly don’t know how I would have got through the highs and lows of running a creative business if it weren’t for the community we have online on Instagram and Pinterest.
It’s hard work, it’s lots of long nights and early mornings, time spent crying over comparing your achievements to people who seem to be more successful than you, doubting yourself and perfectionist over everything.
But it’s also the most rewarding feeling when someone parts with their hard earned money to purchase something that came from your mind and your talent and creativity.
Do you recommend people starting up their own crafting creations and turning it into a business?
100%! There is always room at the table for more crafters to bring their own unique ideas and creations. In fact, I recommend it so much I have a podcast designed to demystify the whole process of setting up your own creative business called Confessions of a Small Business Owner! It’s a space to get really real about the difficulties you might face, but also to celebrate achievements and give practical advice to help you navigate your way through it! If you’re interested or thinking about starting, give it a listen at https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/confessions-of-a-small-business-owner/id1402971282?mt=2
Check out Ashleigh-So on Instagram
She also has a Patreon page which is: