Saturday, 8 June 2013

There is change ahead...

They Really Are...


Two blog posts in the space of a week.  That's a bit novel for me at the moment!!  It's been so hectic over the last few months - in fact I feel like I haven't really stopped since September last year!!!

About two months ago I started to feel stuck.  I wasn't feeling as motivational about my business and didn't know what to do to change things up and set a clear direction on where I want to be.

I'm getting there!

I think (I hope)!

Fabric I purchased today :-) :-) :-)

So, as always, I love to keep my fab customers/fans/likers etc fully informed so thought I would give you a little update on what's going to be happening around here.

One of the things I have had to have a long hard think about is whether I want my little business to remain little and to supplement my day job income or whether I want to throw caution to the wind, put my heart and soul into the business so that it grows much bigger so that eventually it becomes my only income and one I will LOVE doing.

I want my business to grow.

So, there needs to be changes in order to do this.  Some people will be disappointed by the changes, especially as some of my products will eventually no longer be available but I am also hoping for lots of support.  I hope I'm doing the right thing - but you know, what have I got to lose???  I'm willing to try and as long as I try my best then that's all that matters.

The first thing for me is that I'm losing my tag line to my business.  I've always been known as "Sweet Williams - Handmade Soft Furnishings, Cards and Gifts".  I will now be known as just Sweet Williams.  It is for many reasons as I am now doing other things such as running sewing workshops and I am not going to be making greetings cards any longer.

Card making does not make me money.  I enjoy making them but I charge very little for the amount of time I spend making and personalising them.  I cannot afford to sell them any longer.  I will be making up one large batch of cards to sell and I will then be selling all of my remaining card making goodies. I have a 5 drawer chest which is overflowing with beautiful papers, some of which are handmade, card toppers, embellishments, flowers, peel off stickers, sparkly things, blank cards, envelopes - just lots and lots of stuff.  I have lots still in its original packaging.  I am hoping to get a sale album up on Facebook in the next week.  Whatever does not sell on Facebook I will then pop on ebay.

The next thing I will be doing is limiting the amount of small gift type items that I make and stock.  If anyone has ever visited me at an event you will know how many different things I make (all of which are incredibly time consuming and most sewn by hand).  I will be having a range of decorations, beautiful embroidered hoops, a small selection of keyrings and brooches, and that will pretty much be it, everything else will be discontinued.  Although, I will continue to have special featured products and seasonal items.  I will be focusing much more on cushions, peg bags, aprons, tote bags etc.

I will continue to stock and sell a small range of haberdashery items.  All of my haberdashery items will be available to purchase online and at my sewing workshops.

Sewing workshops will continue to grow in my local community, which will be small clubs held in public venues such as libraries.  These will be low cost £5-£10 per person depending on the type of session.  They will be more of a social craft and chat event and the opportunity to learn a new skill with like minded people. These will be to learn about hand sewing and will be purely project based so my student gets to take away what they have made.

I am currently looking at studios.  My aim is to have a studio in my local area to run longer more professional sewing workshops (but which will still be friendly, informal and lots of fun), using machines to create cushions, peg bags, door stops etc.  Hand sewing will also take place at these sessions and again will be project based.  These are going to be longer sessions than the clubs held in the community and will likely cost upwards of £40 per person, again depending on what we will be making.  I have a vision of Welsh dressers stuffed full of handmade products, buttons and ribbons.  Lots of vintage style bunting, fresh lemonade, cupcakes - you get the idea?

My New Baby and gorgeous vintage finds x
I will be doing less events - certainly less of the smaller church hall/community centre type craft fairs.  This is incredibly awful to say but a lot of the ones I have been to, because of the type of venues that these are often held at, the lack of advertising for them, little effort made to the styling of them etc the type of people these kind of events attract are often not my ideal customer.  I have so many comments about things on my table saying "that's beautiful but is waaaay too expensive" and they're often referring to items that costs around £3!!  This has made alarm bells ring for me and which was why I decided to undertake an intense business coaching programme.

I know for a fact that I am underselling myself.  Like mentioned above, I have undertaken an intense coaching programme, have recently been a guest speaker at a local business networking event and have met some amazing fellow independent business owners over the last few weeks.  The coaching programme has allowed me to find my vision, has helped me pin down my ideal customer and has given me lots of ideas with regards to marketing.  Speaking to all of these people have all said my work is very under priced.  I am hand sewing for hours, I am selling British made products, nothing is mass produced, lots of items are personalised and unique and I put one hell of a lot of love and effort into what I do.  I am completely in love with fabric and what I do with it and this needs to reflect in my sale prices.  Like most people in the craft business, under selling is a huge issue.  It means that most of us barely earn minimum wage.  I am prepared to spend the time to create a luxury British handmade product and this needs to come at a price.  This means that my new stock which I will be introducing soon will be of a very high standard, luxury finish and will be properly priced.

Beautiful Sweet Williams flowers

Lots of people (meaning the visitors/the general public) who attend the small craft fairs for a browse are often there for simply that reason.  They usually carry very little cash and do not realise what goes into a handmade product.  Therefore, the majority of people who wander on through continue to wander and will never purchase.

People at small craft fairs are after cheap pocket money items.  Lots of them tend not to be too bothered about whether products are made in a cute little home in Britain or in a huge factory churning out mass produced tat in China.  My local area adore shops such as Primark, Home Bargains, B&M Bargains Poundland, Wilkinson etc.  There is nothing at all wrong with these shops (I sometimes shop at them too) - I am not slating them in the slightest, I am simply saying the people who will like shopping at these kind of shops for impulse buys and gifts are not usually going to be the same person as my ideal customer.

Basically, what I am saying is that I cannot afford any longer to stand all day for example in a community centre (in particular time wise) hoping to sell my beautiful things when I could be elsewhere making much more money. I still love these events because you do meet some fantastic people, other stallholders are real characters who are equally as talented and there have been many occasions where people have picked up a business card which has later on led to a sale but I cannot risk wasting precious time at the moment. I am aware this sounds rather selfish of me.

Close up shot of a recent bunting order.  Pom pom trim, pretty fabric and a vintage button!

I will still be attending events but I am going to be looking more towards bigger national events.  I will keep you posted on this one...

Other major changes happening for me is supplying more retailers (I have supplied 7 already in the past).  I am employing a designer to design me a fantastic logo.  I am also employing a photographer.  I am having new business cards, new signage for those big events and new car bumper stickers.  I am going to be having new packaging designed for my new sewing kits.  The biggest thing for me is having a professional designer catalogue produced of my new luxury handmade products which I can't wait to get started on and am already excited about the end product.

Phew - I think you will agree that there is lots going on over here... So I may be a little quiet for a while whilst I get my head around it all!

I will keep you fully updated as I can't wait to share all my new products and ideas with you.

Until next time...

Much love,
Emma xxx

Ps.  If you are in my local area tomorrow (Sunday 9th June 2013) do come and see me and a bunch of other talented folk at Garwnant Forestry Commission which is set on the edge of the beautiful Brecon Beacons.  Its absolutely gorgeous up there and its set to be another sunny day.  This is one event I won't be giving up (that's if they'll continue to have me!) - the people there are just fantastic and whom I consider good friends and its nice to spend time with friends after a long week hard at work xxx


  1. Inspiringly open blog post Emma. I can appreciate exactly where you're coming from. Really glad to have met you through that fyi Neath talk.

    Having read this post I found myself thinking a few things... 1.i can't see myself being this open on my soon to be blog occurs to me that perhaps you need to identify who exactly you're ideal customer/s are and then take the time identifying the benefits and value that will justify to them £x price for x product. 3. I believe if you want to continue selling the small yet time consuming items them there's always a way, you just need to find the will to figure out the market for such. 4.i wondered what the business coaching program was? and lastly 5. I wonder what you're new products will look like. Very interesting post. Keep me informed.

    Ps. If you want £75 credit trying out Google adwords to target you're new ideas i can to so add a Google agent + I'll glady try and help you.


  2. Wow Emma - you are my all seeing, all knowing inspiration...!!! I take my hat off to you - your vision & plans for the future are awsome & I wish you every success. I think you have a very good business mind & that's so necessary in today's market.
    I, like you do the 'day job' - I'm a Learing Support Tutor & although I enjoy my job, the dream was to craft as a job & make a living out of it.
    I am totally with you about small craft fairs v the area we live in. I too have stopped making some items - for instance cross stitched cards may cost up to £5 to make but no one wanted to pay that so I sold them at £2.50 & even then there were the comments on the price... I only make them to order now for things like weddings or births etc.
    Let's face it - south Wales is taking a battering & the recession is far from over here. I still go to fairs that only generate between £5 - £20 for me & taking out my costs makes no or very little profit. That said - although I want to be successful in my own little world I'm not sure if I'm up for giving it my all simply because of my age - at 55 I'm looking more towards what I'll do when I can retire so taking on more craft making/selling but in a more sedate manner may be the way for me I think...??? Does that make sense? LOL...
    Anyway - I'm rambling...!!! You have a fantastic business so go for it..... xxx
    Crafty Gifts & Cards

  3. WOW cant wait to hear more ! Good Luck
    Sue x

  4. Hi Emma
    I would like to wish you every success with your new plans! Gosh, you are truly inspirational! I make little pretty things as a hobby and I am only a beginner. I would so love to come to your workshops, they sound perfect for me, but sadly I live way too far away and am not aware of anything similar locally. Anyway GOOD LUCK with everything you are doing! Mandy x

  5. Emma, I've had the same conversation with my family about craft fairs. Seems the only ones making any money are the ones organising them.
    Which is a shame as I see all these beautifully crafted items that have taken hours to make, only to be told they are too expensive.
    Good luck with your new adventure x

  6. Good luck with all your changes! I too have a day job and would love to be able to give it up to craft and make a living from that! I am sure that you will have every success with your plan and I hope to come along to one of your classes in the near future.


Your comments are always welcome and most appreciated x