Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Mama's got a brand new bag

Mother alerted me on Saturday that she had had a terrible biro-related incident whereby a handbag and two purses were ruined - leaving nowhere to keep her notes and coins.  How coincidental, I was on my way to SewYou Studios where I picked up this - I think perfect if you are thinking of picking something special for your ma for Mother's Day.

What do you think is the perfect Mother's Day gift? Link me up!

SewYou is a family-run Yorkshire business producing unique gifts and accessories, specialising in made-to-order products that won't break the bank.


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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Workshop FUN! Bradford College Re-Fresher Fair

I've just got home from leading a drop in workshop day at Bradford College Re-Fresher Fair. We made A LOT of adjustable bracelets from laser cut shapes and beads and some origami boxes to put them in!

There was a real mix of students: girls, boys, deaf, visually impaired, special needs, and those who speak English as a second or other language.

It was super lovely - some of the students even remember me from when I worked there five years ago and said they miss me ♥  Really looking forward to the next one!

If you could sit down and learn anything creative, what would it be?


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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

FAQs: Top Tips for Stocking Shops

I still remember the awesome feeling I got when I was first approached by a shop owner that wanted to sell my work. Wow! A real shop that wanted my work in it? Things just got SERIOUS!  Now not so much. I love to be asked and it happens a lot, it's still great, but I don't always accept.

Hannah Zakari Edinburgh - super awesome shop to stock

Having your work in a shop is super rewarding. Once I went into Heart Gallery in Hebden Bridge and felt like a celebrity! But putting your work in the wrong hands can leave you out-of-pocket or with your reputation in ruins...

Here's my advice on what to consider when stocking a shop:

Terms: Wholesale Vs Sale-Or-Return (a.k.a "consignment") Vs Rent-A-Shelf

My preference would go in the order above.

Wholesale: Per piece, I get a smaller fee, yet I have a higher minimum order value and get paid upfront. Cash in my pocket, jobs a good 'un.  It also says that the retailer is confident they can sell your work and have a turnover that allows them to buy in bulk. Because they have bought the pieces, it's their job to shift em, and they can put them in the sale and even sell at a much higher price than you would do. They may also choose not to use your packaging and use their own, so you may not get credit for your work, but these are things you can iron out when you schmooze with your stockist person.

Sale Or Return: Per piece you get a better fee (they will take 30-50%), but you only get paid if it sells.  That's cool by me, my work sells, it seems win/win for the stockist and the designer, and it also means that the stockist has to put in some welly if they want to make ends meet. The only problem is keeping track of who has what stock if you have a lot of stockists on this basis! Time to exercise your spreasheet skillz.

Rent a shelf: Just say no! I can see how a rent-a-shelf basis might appeal to a new maker as their first stockist experience.  It might be just the kudos you need to get yourself another stockist on better terms (a bit like your Saturday fast-food job experience helping getting a full-time job, but you wouldn't want to work there longer than three months!).  On these terms the proprietor doesn't really need to put in the legwork to sell stock because they make ends meet with the rent you pay.  Because established makers wouldn't usually entertain these terms it also means the standard of work in the shop might not be up to scratch, and priced badly (which will affect the perception of your own work).

♥ Word of mouth recommendation
If you have a network of maker friends or are a member of a forum, why not ask if anyone else knows of the stockist? Do they pay on time?

♥ Pop in t'shop - be private investigator!
Is it clean and tidy? Does the assistant say hello? Is there a clear price point, theme and standard of work being sold?  Would you be proud to see your work in there?  Are people looking around?  Are they genuine buyers buying things?  It might be worth popping in at different times of day to get a good idea.

♥ Do they have a website?
Is it well designed? Is the photography any good? Again, would you be proud to see your work on there?

♥ The Spiel: Go with your gut
You might get given a sales pitch.  Should you really need it?!

My decisions are based on different values and opinions to what other designer's might be.  For a start, I don't rely on the money from my designs to live, which allows me to be a little... snobby! It's not all about the money! I'm always a great believer in quality, not quantity, and I won't get walked over. If a stockist doesn't pay up, I get out.  If I have had a bad experience with a stockist I might also tip off my networks - share the wealth (absolutely not the correct phrase to use here).

Hope this has helped! Remember, if you have a biz-related question that you think I might be able to help with, just ask, and I'll see what I can do...

Anything I missed off? What tips do you have to share for stocking shops?


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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Custom Made Supplies #2 - SewYou Vendor's Apron

This winter I was faced with a dilemma.  Used to selling indoors, there had been one occasion where I had possessions stolen. This year I did my first ever outdoor market (well, three) and was stressing about the logistics of keeping my cash, phone and general costly posessions safe whilst being distracted by lovely customers wanting to buy things, or pieces of eight blowing down a busy street!

Having exchanged a few tweets with Abi of SewYou, she encouraged me to meet her for gin in Saltaire after work to 'talk business' (that old chestnut).

Off we toddled, and guzzled, in Fanny's Ale House. Amongst anecdotes of what Abi used to do when driving home from nightclubs ten years ago, I gave her my criteria:

Something like a market trader's belt but looks better
Holds money and phone... and maybe more
Ideally feature my logo
Be colourful, kitschy, funky and fun!

Abi, being the expert on sewing, asked lots of questions to do with what I do at the fairs and what I tend to have on my person, how I wanted it to sit on my body and so forth.  She sketched a plan:

I sourced the fabric... Fast Food by Alexander Henry, fits my pop-art style perfectly...

...and Abi sewed like a mo fo...

Abi posted it into my work. When it arrived I wore it all day, my colleagues thought I'd gone a bit crackers!

However, here I am, with the vendor's apron, in situ

So, whaddaya think? I love it, it keeps everything safe, it's tied to me at all times, I can even take it to the toilet with me! What's more, I can also keep my sales book in it, my coin purse (for my own spends) and loads more.

Why not read Abi's account of designing my apron here on the SewYou blog?


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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Inspiring motivation...

This video found its way to me today (that's what happens, stuff finds me)...

It's an old advert for Apple. Whether you agree with the subject matter for their products or not, it's pretty inspiring!

Which got me to remembering this, do you remember it? Or am I the oldest one here..:

...It's a really great message from old to young about being content with what you have (something I learnt from Sunday school)...

...and then that made me remember this, this one is for all the people who moan blissfully in their warm home and whinge whilst driving their car to work...

This evening I did a final layer of resin on 16 pieces, sanded a customer order and cleaned my bathroom... think it might be time for bed and a glance through Dazed and Confused...  ZZzzzz


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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Winning Top Tips: Literally

Lately I am subject to many questions about how to run a business. Some are quite broad, and some are very, very specific.

How To Fold A Paper Airplane Postcard by Little Alexander on Etsy

If you didn't already know, I work full time and do this as a sideline (I know, I'm a powerhouse). I also do pretty much everything myself, design, make, accounts, copy write, sell and the rest (except graphic design which I leave in the superhands of kidd81.com).  But this does mean that I don't really have time to respond individually to each person. So... from now on, questions will be answered publicly, making an audience generated FAQ if you will. So go ahead, ask, and I will give you my personal circumstances and perspective. Awesome!

Anyway, as I was deciding to do this, Moo (those crazy printing people) ran a little competition - to tweet business tips with the hashtag #MooTip.  What I found more astonishing than winning was that my tweet was re-tweeted six times by mainly people who weren't previously following me, and it was favourited by two twitterers.Kapow!


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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Social Media BOOTCAMP!

If you're a small business owner local to Saltaire and want to learn how to put some POWER behind your social media... come along to...

Thursday 2nd Feb, 7-9.30pm

Thursday 16th Feb, 7-9.30pm

Advanced (other platforms, strategic integration, boosting sales)
Thursday 1st Mar, 7-9.30pm

To book just email me! hello@kitschensink.com


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Monday, 9 January 2012

Music to make your insides POP! #1

Aw in't January whacko?! The weather here in Britain has been the absolute pits - it doesn't inspire me to get out of bed on a Monday morning!

A good selection of feel good muzik on your portable music device is an instant way to lift the spirits on the journey into work/school.

This one never fails to put me in a great mood. It reminds me of the time when I was in Austin and I was refused entry to a bar to eat. I sat in a cafe around the corner until the food was ready and we ate in the park instead, but I had a great chat with the barista about the time I saw this performed at Magna 'it blew my mind'.


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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Trendspotting? Hot or not?

Just less than a year ago, my friend Samantha sent me this video:

Even a year later I still watch it and laugh and show craft friends.  If you're not a crafter or you don't have an keen interest in the handmade world you probably won't get it (It's and Etsy thing).

And it just got me thinking about trends... do we like trends?  As a friend Rachel pointed out, we've endured a lengthy time of moustaches already - they've been on the Etsy circuit forever and recently went more crazy mainstream (get your own ideas, High Street!).  Same for owls and definitely pugs. Yawn.

I've always been inspired more by things from the past, rather than what's hot now.  I guess that's why people always use the term 'retro' for my work (which surprises me, because it's never been my intention!).  I know my style - in design and the everyday - block colours, no texture, no fuss. Colourful, kitschy, funky and fun! That's how I roll.  If it's got a little 50s or 60s influence, all the better.

What's been your favourite trend - ever?
Do you follow trends?
What do you see being hot for 2012?


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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Save the Date! ReetSweet Valentine Shopping Fair!

You are cordially invited to Reetsweet's Valentine's Fair on Saturday February 11th at Leeds Corn Exchange.

Reetsweet is the North's leading art, design and neo craft fair - it's a distinctly modern and quirky handmade shopping fair aimed at getting people away from the big high street names and instead buying local, independent and cool handmade.

Rebecca handpicks the best local print makers, knitters, jewellery designers, upcylclers, makers of homewares, ceramic artists, and surface pattern designers to bring you a unique and free entry shopping experience within the surroundings of an acclaimed landmark of Leeds set amongst independent shops and cafes.

Save the date in your diary now!
Saturday February 11th at Leeds Corn Exchange.



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Thursday, 5 January 2012

Would you like to pay by cash, card, or smart phone?

I read recently that during 2012, payments by smart phone will go mainstream.  No further need for wallets!

iphone wallet from annebaby on Etsy

The technology will work by using a QR code on your phone that you will scan at the till, eliminating the need for cash or cards.

I'm starting to consider what that means for small businesses with low cash takings.  Currently options for taking card payments are just renting a terminal, but this incurs a monthly fee on top of paying fees for a merchant bank account. It's just not worth it.

In the US they have been using the 'Square' for some time now.  A free little device that plugs into your iPhone and swipes credit cards.  No monthly fees. Just 2.75% of each sale.  It's not currently available in the UL, however, they have announced the Sir Richard Branson has become an investor in the company after noticing its novel technology, so hopefully he'll bring it home for us.

♥ Question: would you feel comfortable paying a market trader/trader at an event by card or electronic payment via their mobile phone?


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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Recent feature: The World of Kitsch

I was super proud to notice we'd been featured in the multi-award winning blog 'The World of Kitsch' recently.

'The World of Kitsch' is a blog of retro wonders & curiosities.  It has been mentioned by Lauren Laverne on her BBC Six Music Show, is a Cosmopolitan Blog Award Winner and was shortlisted for the Northern Ireland Social Media Awards.  Claire is guest blogger at Cosmopolitan too!

The writer behind the blog, Claire Smythe, spotted Kitschen Sink pieces being tweeted and loved them, and posted them to the blog within what seemed like seconds!

Impressively, within minutes of being featured a piece had been snapped up by a celebrity! The power of social media!

Thanks to Claire for taking the time to feature me :)


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Monday, 2 January 2012

The Good Thing about Tax Returns...

I try to look for a positive in everything!

Card by Able and Game (they are ALL awesome!)

I'm very capable at organisation.  That's what I do in my day job, I have responsibility for keeping things ship-shape for a busy project.  Outside of the day job... not so much.  All my letters, bank statements and bills are just put on top my bookshelf, and all business related papers mostly get thrown into a box in a room I only go into when I have to!

So I leave all my accounting until early January. I do it all in one day.  It's not fun. I read, I type, I add and subtract for hours.

This year though, I started to learn a valuable lesson from it.  As I go over all the payments I have made I'd start to flashback to ~18 months ago.  The sales I got. The wholesale clients I had and shops I stocked, and how much I have learnt since then.  The financial risks taken and if they were worthwhile.  The new techniques and suppliers I tried out and if they made a profit.

In the end, it's a very clear, black-and-white evaluation exercise of your business performance away from column inches, awards and good reputation you have (which are all great, but the proof is really in the pudding ledger book).  All in all I am really pleased with how things have progressed since last year. I tried a few things out and developed collections that were a bit riskier financially but still came out on top... the new year may have been and gone but I'm still celebratin'!

Another lesson is that I will actually do this on a month by month basis. Better organised and may learn stuff monthly rather than annually!


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Sunday, 1 January 2012

Hello, 2012! What can you do for me?

I don't really do resolutions, no one ever sticks to them and come the entry to the next year, you remember you didn't achieve what you'd hoped because we can't just change our lifestyles overnight - it's hard enough doing that for one thing, but I know people who set themselves about ten!

To-do list pad - boygirlparty on Etsy

Instead I like to set a few loose goals that are achievable and most importantly lead ultimately to fun!!

♥ I want to see more of the world #2
Bugger it! I'm going to say this every year!  I have a trip lined up, it's a bit of a secret at the moment as flights aren't booked and I still have a bit of research to do, but it's going to be amazing, one way or another!

♥ I'd like to eat better
Standard. I always gain weight over December because I am so busy and because I am mainly drinking cider, wine and spirits every night!  Also want to look good on my trips innit!  But this is about more than just weight loss. I want to try prioritise food shopping and cooking over less important things to ensure I don't end up on a toast diet!

♥ I want to take more (decent) photographs
I did a digital SLR photography course last year and bought a second hand DSLR camera.  I need to stop being scared of taking whacko photos and actually start taking some, and some might even be good enough to share with you (that's the plan)!

♥ I want to stay focussed
After dabbling in a few things in 2011 (ahem, a shop?!), come December I realised how much this took my eye off the ball. I missed a lot of opportunities whilst I shifted my focus.  Don't get me wrong, I am glad I did it. I learnt a lot about people, business, people in business, and lots of other things. Most importantly I learnt that design and independence is where my heart is and where it will stay!

♥ Excitement will be a priority
There used to be a time when people said to me on a regular basis things along the lines of 'You attract such weirdness into your life' (and not in a bad way!). When I say a regular basis, I'm talking 2-3 times a week.  This hasn't happened so much recently and that's not cool! I spent a good part of 2011 trying to make the right decisions - I'm just going to do what feels good in 2012.


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