Friday, 19 October 2012
Tea and a Chat with Amanda from Newmoor Barn
I'm really pleased to be chatting to Amanda today. Amanda's business is a little bit different from the average craft business, as you'll soon see...
Hello! Good to see you, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?
Coffee with one sugar please
So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
We own a small farm in Devon where we raise Angora Goats. We use their mohair fleece to make high quality, handmade arts and crafts, we also incorporate other local sheep fleece into our work. We also run workshops in traditional crafts such as spinning, felt making, pottery and soap making. We practice ethical farming so our goats will never go to slaughter we use the older goats fleece for rugs and stuffing.
What inspired you to start your creative business? How did it all begin?
I’ve taught for the past 17 years and ran a business based in West London providing training in performing and creative arts for adults and children with additional needs. Whilst I enjoyed my job, I felt the time was right (a kind of now or never) to try a new venture doing something else I really enjoy. I think animals are great and really interesting and this venture was a real chance to explore working WITH animals to provide a living for both of us.
How has your business changed and developed since it started?
We have now developed a range of mohair specially prepared for use with reborn dolls which are incredibly lifelike baby dolls. The mohair is used for the babies hair due to it being fine but strong. Good quality mohair for this purpose is quite hard to get in this country and most comes from America but this brings with it a long delay in getting your mohair. So we now produce premium quality mohair in Devon.
What are the main ways you promote your business? Which methods have been the most successful for you?
Linking to other sites is good and forums, E-mails, phone calls. Anything to get your name out there really.
What’s your workspace like? Can we have a sneak peek?
We run our workshops and I do a lot of my work in our big barn, which we share with our Angora Goats. Its great to be working and just look over your shoulder and there’s a cute little goat kid staring at you watching you work.
What are the best and worst bits of running your business?
Best bit is the relationship between our goats and the finished product. Our art yarns for example, once our goats are sheared each fleece is marked so we know exactly which goat it has come from. The fleece is then handpicked, handwashed, hand dyed using natural dyes, hand carded and then handspun. Each art yarn can then state exactly which goat supplied their yarn.
The worst bit is sitting on a craft stall all day with people saying how lovely your work is but by the end of the day only covering your costs. It can be quite disheartening. Feeding the goats on a cold rainy December (or June) morning runs a close second!
What other small (or not-so-small) creative businesses do you admire?
I love the work of metal sculpture artist David Athey at David Athey and the Fantasy Dolls of Rosa Gueso
What tips can you give to others who run (or hope to run) a small creative business?
Search around for a good website provider and take your time with this, its hard to get traffic to your site so don’t rush into it.
Network, Network, Network. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and organisations you really need to get yourself out there.
What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future?
We are looking at setting up work based training for people to be able to train in rural and traditional crafts aiming at people that find it difficult to access general work based training and are currently looking at funding for this. I would like to also get some of my work into galleries and become Britains no. 1 supplier for mohair for dolls.
Finally, where are the places we can find you online if we want to partake in a little friendly cyber stalking?