Thursday, May 23, 2013

*bespoke* magazine

For those who haven’t yet stumbled across , it is an
 independently published magazine dedicated to promoting, showcasing and inspiring the handmade and creative industry of Australia and New Zealand.
*bespoke* magazine

The publication is designed to delight and inspire its readers with stories of artists and creatives in Australia and New Zealand, inspirational articles about handmade business, DIY craft tutorials, handmade must-have’s and some tips on running and growing your own creative business.

This creative magazine is published and edited by lovers of handmade, Elle and Robyn of Studio Exsto, based in North Queensland. These ladies have a strong belief in the power of small business, and combined with their knowledge of sustainable creative business and passion for handmade, you couldn’t ask for a better editorial team to bring you *bespoke*.

*bespoke* magazine is coming up to their 10th issue!

To celebrate, the *bespoke* team are currently running a campaign to double the size of the magazine to 100 pages. That is twice as much handmade goodness and creative inspiration --- for the same price.

Help them create more handmade and creative goodness by pre-ordering a copy of the winter edition, securing a 2013 subscription, or booking advertising (currently 20% OFF) before May 31.

To find out more about their campaign to double the size of the next edition or to find out more about the team behind *bespoke*, head over to the website where they also publish a wonderful blog full of handmade finds and creative stories and inspiring people from around the world.

Find out more about *bespoke*

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lolli poppits - Handmade Toys and Games

What inspired you to start your business?

I’ve never been one to sit still long! Even with three young children, I was always working on something else and usually taking on too much! I’ve always been a crafty person and when my youngest was around 6 months; my sons kinder announced they were planning a Kids Market. I had done my fair share of studying so I thought this sounded like my next new challenge.

After 3 months of careful planning and creating, my Facebook page was created. The market came along which was an overwhelming success within my local community, and so from that, I decided to givethis new venture a decent go.

What is your handmade business all about?
I wanted to create something unique. There are so many gorgeous handmade businesses out there that make the most beautiful clothing and baby wares so I decided to put my educational background to use and create children’s toys and games.
I always try to keep products practical, what can I say, I’m a practical person! From thinking about easy product storage and convenience from a parent’s point of view, to making sure they are fun and engaging from a child’s point of view. And as much as possible, extend the game so my customers get value for money. For example, I spent many long hours designing my I Spy Bag cards to include images and text (for younger children), plus also lots of extra challenges to appeal to older children. When every I Spy Bag is different, this adds considerably to the manufacturing time but it’s definitely worth the extra effort!

What do you enjoy most about your business?
First and foremost, this has to be being able to work whilst being a stay at home mum for my three young children. I feel so blessed to be able to do this!
I love my wide range of products and the variation of crafts I use. I work with many different materials: fabric, wood, paper, ribbons so it’s always fun to jump from product to product. Although, the down side of this is I have so many product ideas that I want to get to, and a lot of work in progress!
I have my Facebook page; my hand-made shop; attend quite a few local markets; as well as selling through two physical shop outlets. This keeps the selling part fun too. I have wonderful loyal customers through each of these avenues and having a variety of outlets means I never tire of just the one selling point.

What is your favourite product to make?
Hmmm, this is a hard one! I don’t think I can choose just one as I’m so proud of all my products. With so much variety, all the different processes required allows me to move between them to keep it interesting. One day I’ll be polishing with beeswax for my dancing rings, laminating cards for my travel games, creating cards for I Spy bags, printing stationery, cutting fabric or ribbons for a range of things, ironing, sewing, overlocking or working on new designs. I even have some paper products on the way. Like I said earlier, I don’t sit still long!

How did you learn your craft?
Like a lot of handmade lovers, I inherited my love of craft from my Mum. She is extremely talented in sewing, drawing, knitting, card making and painting. I’ve learnt handy tips from her along the way but otherwise I’m a self-taught sewer. Before starting Lolli Poppits, in terms of fabric, I had only made some basic items: simple drawstring bags for my son’s toys, some tracksuit pants, reusable cloth wipes and a lot of padded bibs for my daughter who was a terrible dribbler. So I think I have come a long way in 2 years! I also loved working with paper and card, and have created albums and canvas collages, which are crafts which haven’t yet found their way into Lolli Poppits. Well not yet anyway!

What handy hints do you have for people who are starting up a hand-made business?
I find it a little funny answering this as I still see myself as “starting up”! But what I would say is definitely do your research. Firstly into the products you are thinking of making, and whether many other businesses already are making them. Especially consider local businesses if you are going to attend the same markets. Keep yourself unique and true to what you love to make. Also research into finding great suppliers, as well as methods of selling and online and local business support groups. You will find that people that are your competitors can also be your greatest assets!
Be prepared to spend money to make money, particularly when starting out, even though it’s a risk to take when you don’t know how your products will be received.
And lastly I would say, work hard but make sure you remember to take some time out and don’t forget the other things that are important!

What plans do you have for your business in the next year?
My short-term plan is to keep doing what I’m doing: keeping stocks up of my popular products for my online store and local markets, and occasionally getting a chance to introduce one of the numerous new product ideas I come up with. I’m happy with my workload at the moment as I still have 2 of my 3 children at home. I have busy periods and quiet periods, which are great for family time and for building up stock. I’m loving that my business is growing at a steady pace but I’m excited to see how it can develop further when I get some child-free days!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wishsong Design

What inspired you to start your business?
I've had so many people over the years encouraging me in my artwork and telling me that I should sell them, and I never thought much of it until I discovered the world of online selling! I used to paint realistic wildlife paintings and pet portraits and used to sell a few of those but it wasn't until my boss at the time told me about an online marketplace that I really got excited about the possibility of making a real go at selling my artwork. I also took a storybook illustration short course a few years ago (which was a complete waste of money!) but one thing it did do was it gave me the confidence to actually step out and start creating pictures from my own imagination, and hence a love for children's illustration was born.

What is your handmade business all about?
I love so many different art forms, I tend to make a lot of things as well as my artwork such as jewellery, felt toys, baby blocks and
more recently sculpture! But mostly my business is about making
 children happy by providing whimsical and colourful paintings and
prints that both children and adults enjoy!

What do you enjoy most about your business?
It's so fun to do! As a creative person it's just so satisfying to create something and put so much energy into it, and then to have someone buy it and truly appreciate it, is such a wonderful thing!

What is your favourite product to make?
Ooh this is a tough one! I love making so many things, but I guess my true passion is painting children's illustrations, though making felt toys comes in as a close second!

How did you learn your craft?
I'm self taught, having drawn since I was little as I had a passion for it so just kept practicing! Plus it helps that my mother and grandmother are also very good at painting, I guess it's in the genes!

What handy hints do you have for people who are starting up a hand-made business?
Energy and persistence to continually promote you shop and products! Online selling can be very rewarding but you are also competing with a lot of other shops, you need to be proactive in getting your name out there to bring shoppers in! You can't just list your items and sit back and wait for the sales to come to you! Also patience, sales can be very up and down at times and you just need to have patience and don't get discouraged, the sales will come!

What plans do you have for your business in the next year?
Lots of new children's illustrations and I am also really hoping to continue with my polymer clay sculptures which are based on my little girl characters from my paintings!

Visit Wishsong Design's Shop on Hand-Made.