You may or may not remember that a while back we hinted about some exciting new plans we had for our Blog come the New Year, well we can now reveal a little more and introduce you to our new Blogging partner and soon to be ‘TV star’, Maeri Howard of The Make and Do Studio. Maeri is going to be our main writer and contributor to a new section of our Blog called ‘This Crafty Business’. Steering and supporting you through the trials and tribulations of running a crafty business. Now over to Maeri….
I have to start by telling you the truth…..this article should have been with Linda and Kay about three weeks ago. When I met with Linda many months ago to discuss creating a section for the Crafty Network Blog, to be called ‘This Crafty Business’, I was so enthused with the idea of being able to help support fellow crafters with a wide variety of articles on successfully steering your craft businesses, I agreed to write it with the enthusiasm of the recently converted! Writing an article about myself, the column and what the new year was to hold seemed so easy, I sent Linda off with the assurance I might even have it earlier than our early November date, which was optimistically scratched into our overflowing diaries.
Then I got busy with organising some new workshops at the crafting studio I own – the Make and Do Studio, located in Cheshire. Then that had the knock on effect of me having to organise the studios spring schedule (just try to organise the schedule of 7 different tutors and 17 different workshops over a three-month period!).
Then Christmas started to sneak up on us at the end of October and I found myself sewing like crazy.
Then my kids got sick, then my husband got sick and then I got sick. And then to top it all off, the BBC called to say they wanted to do some filming at the Studio!
My unwritten article still stared at me from my desk. Actually, it was a blank piece of paper that stared at me – reminding me of my unfulfilled promise to Linda.
Each time I tried to start it, something got in the way. Then I started to wonder “am I really the best person to write a section about what to do to make your business work when I can’t even get the article to Linda on time?” (She certainly is!)
I know exactly how hard it is to balance time, money, emotions, creative energy and life – and because of this, I think I am in exactly the right place to help all the other crafters out there with running a crafty business. So excuse this first “hello” for being late but starting in January we will kick-start our new section “This Crafty Business” and I am really looking forward to writing about the complexities of working for yourself in this creative industry. I know some of the stuff I want to write about but please – feel free to post and tell us some of the things you want us to cover – and there are no “out of bounds” questions so fire away!
Linda thought it might be a nice idea to answer a few questions for you about myself and my business – so here goes:
1. You craft and you want to write ‘This Crafty Business’ – do the two really mix?
They certainly do! I do not have a TV (cue my children moaning!) I read a lot, listen to the radio all the time and I am constantly absorbing information that I use to develop my business. Anyone who knows me will know I am always talking about business related stuff (in a friendly, fluffy way!) at the same time talking about a new craft related project that I am working on. Think of my two interests as Martha Stewart meets Stuff magazine…
2. Tell us a bit about yourself, are you married? Do you have family etc, is this your full-time job?
I am married to Gwyndaf and have three lovely children, aged 12 to 4. Gwyndaf is a scientist and works away during the week so I am constantly trying to juggle the schedule of the children’s activities and my Make and Do schedule. Make and Do is my full-time job now but when I first started with Make and Do it was only a few hours a week and that was fine. But when my third child started nursery last September, I increased the number of workshops, started the Creative Cooperative to help small creative business owners, as well as opened a folksy shop. So the balancing act is still achievable but it takes a lot more planning to get it to work.
3. What is your best/favourite tool and why?
My iPhone! I would be lost without it as it does help me keep track of everything….and I am addicted to Apps!
4. What is your favourite item that you make and is there a story behind it?
I love the Carry On bag as it was kind of a mistake. I was given a tea towel a few years ago from the Carry On Gallery in London – it was so lovely and such good quality that there was no way I was going to use it as a tea towel! So I tried to figure out how to make something out of it that was quirky – and the bag was born! I have just started to try to sell them in earnest via the Studio and my Folksy shop– I now get recognised in my local village for that bag!
5. When you first started if you could have been given one piece of advice what would it have been?
I have never worked so hard but enjoyed something so much. Be prepared to put in the hours required to get your business to succeed, do things you would not have considered before and most importantly – enjoy the experience!
6. Lastly, what piece of advice would you like to pass on to anybody starting out?
Do not knock yourself for mistakes made! In the beginning, I did and then one day, I had that razor clear thought “making mistakes is part of the learning process” and that was it – I don’t knock myself anymore and know that it is all part of the learning cycle!
Folksy Shop: http://www.folksy.com/shops/Maeri
Thank you so much Maeri for writing the introduction, we are really looking forward to you joining us and publishing your articles in the New Year. TCN xx
Please remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions for topics to be covered, please feel free to post below.