Featured Supplier/Crafter ~ Purple Penguin Beads

24 Apr

I would like to introduce you all to Perri of Purple Penguin Beads, you will be hearing a bit more from Perri on our Blog over the next few months as she is going to be one of the people who will be helping me with a few ideas I have regarding some posts focusing on certain aspects of Jewellery making, looking at various jewellery making skills, the tools, techniques, beads, books etc.  So first I thought it would be a good idea to get to know her a little better.

Tell us a bit about your background and your business? 

Hi, I’m Perri, my business is called Purple Penguin Beads and I’m based in Warrington, Cheshire.

I have always been creative and I have had a passion for beads and jewellery making as a hobby since the age of 9, but teachers and career advisers in school always tried to change my direction to go into office based work as I have qualifications in typing and many computer programs.

However, my jewellery hobby did become my job in March 2009. I was thrilled to bits to be offered the job which I had applied for in the bead shop ‘Millions of Dreams’.  I worked in the shop selling beads, teaching courses and going out visiting Brownies, Guides and WI groups. During my time working in ‘Millions of Dreams’, I realised that this was my ‘dream job’ and definitely what I wanted as a career!  Once ‘Millions of Dreams’ sadly closed down in March 2010, I started working as a teacher at Edwin Allen Arts and Crafts Shop in Warrington town centre, and slowly started to build my own website up selling beads and jewellery making findings as well as my own jewellery designs and kits.  I also taught in The Bead Shop Manchester for just over a year – mainly teaching Tiaras and Swarovski Crystal jewellery designs.  I officially registered my business in February 2011 after attending various HMRC courses to learn about self employment, and can quite happily say it was the best thing I’ve ever done! I love every minute of it!

It’s a big step starting your own business, what did you have to do to register your business and how easy was it?

The registering my business process began when I signed up to The New Deal scheme through the job centre.  The idea of The New Deal is to give you a taster into what it will be like to go self-employed.  I was given the number to ring by Paul, my New Deal advisor.  I registered my business over the phone by calling 08459 154515.  I remember it being fairly straight forward.  Other ways which you can register are online at or on paper by completing form CWF1 which is available to download from the HMRC website.

And how did you find out about the HMRC courses you attended and would you recommend them for anybody starting out as self-employed?

It was Paul, my adviser who pointed me in the direction of the HMRC courses / workshops.   He gave me the number to ring to book myself onto a course.  He told me that these courses are ‘worth their weight in gold’, and they really are!  I would certainly recommend them to anyone!  It made everything much clearer to me, and you also get to meet other local people in the same position as you and ask any questions if you are unsure about anything.  There are lots of courses available through HMRC, so I began by attending a course which gives you an insight into pretty much everything but not in too much detail.  We were talked through how to keep records, the payment cycle for tax, how to register your business, travel expenses, allowable and non-allowable business expenses, completing a self assessment form, and we were given a long list of useful contacts such as employer talk events, business advice open days and pay & work rights.

You can experience these workshops for yourself – like I say, they are well worth attending!  You can call 0845 6032691 or book online at

Where do you sell/exhibit your beads and jewellery?

I have my own website   and also a Facebook page  where I sell both my handmade jewellery and beads.  I also travel around the country to bead fairs and craft events which are such great experiences!  If you are a bead fanatic, I highly recommend going to a bead fair (I wish I’d known about these years ago!) – some of the best being Staffordshire Bead Fair, Haydock Bead Fair, and Lakeland Bead Fair in Penrith.  I also have a cabinet with a selection of my jewellery for sale in Jule’s Looking Glass which is in Warrington Market and also in Crystal Angels shop in Stockport Covered Market.  A selection of my beads are also available in Edwin Allen Arts & Crafts.

If somebody was thinking about trying to get their jewellery sold in a shop, how would they go about it and how do you agree terms etc?

For me, it just so happened that the lady, who I teach jewellery classes for in Edwin Allen knew the shop owner of ‘Jule’s Looking Glass’ in Warrington Market.  I was asked to bring a selection of my jewellery to her shop and display it in a glass cabinet.  Also, similarly with ‘Crystal Angels’ shop in Stockport, they see me at many events in Stockport and asked if I would like to stock my jewellery in their shop.  Every so often I would just take a few new pieces and swap some items around for a bit of variety.  We decided on a sale or return agreement in both shops which works fine for all of us!  If you were thinking of approaching a shop, I would recommend that you have some figures in mind of what you are willing accept as a sales agreement to show you are not wasting their time!  Everybody is different in what they think is acceptable, many people do not agree with sale or return situations, but for me, this is the best way so I can keep the variety in the shops that I supply, and also at the events that I attend.

I would love to know more about your experience of selling at a Bead Fair?

Both as a buyer in the past and now as a seller – bead fairs are fantastic!  I just love the whole experience of travelling to the event – be it local (Haydock) or further a field (Penrith).  We began by booking 6ft tables to start off with as they can be quite costly to attend as a seller, however, this year we have booked 12ft tables at the events that we feel are our best ones to allow more customers to get to our table as there are very often huge crowds trying to push through, and also our stock has more than doubled this past few months.

The preparation for the bead fairs begins at least 3 weeks before the event where we would normally have put a large order of beads in so there is plenty of bead sorting, bagging and pricing to be done.  We then have to make sure we have enough kits printed, cut, and contents counted out.  I get a lot of help from my boyfriend, Joe, who brings my designs together in the form of kits on the computer.  He also gets stuck in on all of the sorting and bagging too.  Then the nightmare begins – filling the car!  As we only have a small car, you can imagine it gets pretty cramped!  But we always manage it and have a brilliant time.  We are really excited for the Edinburgh Bead Fair this year, it will be our 1st time at this event – we will also be making it into a mini holiday I think.

So, what are your goals/plans for the future?

I definitely want to expand on my jewellery parties this year.  All the parties I have done have been a massive success and I want more people to experience it!  I would also like to put lots of my designs together in the form of a book, but I’m sure this will be much further into the future!

Your Jewellery parties sound interesting can you tell us a bit more about them?

I do a range of different parties to suit all age groups.  With the younger kids, age 4 – 12, we make 4 items of jewellery / accessories.  They get to choose from a list of items, and each person can make whatever they want from the list such as elastic bracelet, elastic necklace, keyring, slinky bracelet and earrings.  The cost of this type of party is £8 per head + small travel cost.  Then with the older kids, age 13 – 18, we do a similar thing, only rather than doing the bracelet and necklace on elastic, we will use wire with a clasp (unless they want an elastic one!).  The cost of this type of party is £10 per head + small travel cost.  I do adult jewellery making parties too where I take all of my beads to the chosen location for the party, and they get creative!  Costing for an adult making party depends on what beads are used as everyone just pays for what they use + 1 small travel cost which can be split between everyone.  If it’s not a creative party that you are after, we also hold jewellery parties where I sell my own makes – there is a nice little bonus for the host of a jewellery party!  There is much more detailed info about my parties on my website under the parties tab.

Now can you tell us about some of your favourite pieces you have made.

This is my crystal cuff bracelet, I love to weave with crystals and this piece in particular is so relaxing to make!  I have also put together a kit of this which is available on my Purple Penguin Beads website and Facebook page.

This is a custom order of a Cat Necklace / Collar for a lady who takes her cat to shows.  She wanted a collar making with her cat’s name on it with green crystals to match his eyes.  (What a FAB idea, jewellery for animals!) I just loved designing this!  I added the Swarovski Crystal ball to give it more sparkle instead of a cat bell.

Here’s a photograph of a proud Sam wearing his collar!

Another design that I enjoy making are these Swarovski Puffed Heart Keyrings – I also make these for necklaces.  I often thread the crystals on in different sequences to come up with patterns like this stripy one.  This is also a kit of mine available on my Purple Penguin Beads website and Facebook page.

Finally, I like to have a play with Polymer Clay! I made the pendant in the photograph with my clay extruder.  This design looks so effective, but it is surprisingly simple to create this effect!  I will be writing a step by step tutorial for ‘The Crafty Network’ to show how simple it really is to create a pendant just like this one, so keep your eyes out for it!  I run regular classes in Edwin Allen Arts & Crafts on all sorts of different techniques which can be created with polymer clay.

With all your experience of making, teaching and selling jewellery, you must have used lots of different tools, do you have a favourite tool/piece of equipment?

Now that I can use them correctly – my favourite tool at the moment has to be my split ring pliers!  I use soooo many split rings, and they can be such a pain to attach to anything without the correct tool!

Lastly, How can we find you:



You can also click on the Purple Penguin Beads Logo on the right of our page, if you quote TCN10% you can get 10% off your first order.  You will also find Perri at the Beads Up North Bead Fair on the 29th April at Haydock Park Racecourse.

Many thanks Perri, I am looking forward to seeing and sharing the Tutorial.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Featured Supplier/Crafter ~ Purple Penguin Beads

  1. Diane

    April 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    That’s a comprehensive article Perri – thanks heaps. For me the best section was about the HMRC courses which are available. I may well be looking into those, once I sort out what I want to sell of course. I’ll be returning to this page as a refresher when I’m ready.

  2. wendy

    April 25, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Hi Perri, what a great article, thanks for telling us all about how to go self-employed, though unfortunately, it’ll be a pipe dream for me for a long time! I’ve bookmarked your online shop for next time I need some new beads. Your pieces are beautiful.

  3. Yowe

    April 25, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Hi Perri, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article… very inspirational. As someone who set up in business myself quite recently (unique felted items) I really appreciated reading about all of your innovative ideas. I hope your success continues well into the future. Alison (Yowe)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: