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!

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