Friday 13 July 2012

Tea and a Chat with Danielle from Rubbish Revamped

I'm having tea and a chat with Danielle, who runs Rubbish Revamped.  Come and join us and find out more.

Hello Danielle!  Good to see you, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?
Ooo I’d love green tea,  thank you, Wendy.

So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
I run Rubbish Revamped which is a small enterprise running recycled craft workshops in the Manchester area. The workshops cover a big range of different crafts transforming all manner of rubbish into attractive and often useful items. For instance old socks become cuddly creatures, juice cartons turn into wallets, greeting cards are folded into handy boxes, ties are sewn into purses, junkmail rolled into jewellery and loads more!

I live with my long-suffering husband, teenage boys and two cats, Felix and Vladimir. I try to convince them I brighten up their lives with my crazy crafting. 

I don’t have an arts or business background, in fact I spent 20 years working in a variety of interesting jobs in the Voluntary & Community Sector, including a year in Sudan where I met the long-suffering one, before lack of funding sent me to seek work in the public sector for the last four years. Working in a large, slow, old-fashioned, inflexible institution that did not seem to value different skills and experience (I’m not naming it!) was either going to kill my spirit or make me blossom elsewhere. Luckily it was the latter and I started Rubbish Revamped in January 2009. After three years I decided to go fully self-employed just this May!

What inspired you to start your creative business? How did it all begin? 
I had been crafting with friends and had a growing interest in reusing materials that are usually neglected or thrown away. A friend working in arts in mental health dragged me, shy and embarrassed by what I thought were not very professional creations, to her employers to show them my wares. And they hired me to run workshops for them!  I then started running small scale workshops for up to eight people from home. Organisations heard about Rubbish Revamped and approached me to run workshops for them – at special events, in schools, libraries, for the youth service, for housing associations etc.

How has your business changed and developed since it started?
I am focusing more on my workshops for organisations, in particular developing ‘train the trainer’ sessions so that organisations can then reach more people themselves.  I am also publishing my own Rubbish Revamped craft book – I’ve been working on it for ages but never seem to have time to properly focus on it. Next month I will!! I have several lovely people who do freelance workshops with me now as well as a fab volunteer, so it’s nice to seeing things growing with more people on board too.

What are the main ways you promote your business?  Which methods have been the most successful for you?
As I charge quite low prices for my workshops, I try to keep my outgoings low so I don’t spend loads on print, web design etc. Actually I’m a bit of an anorak and enjoy doing my own web design and all the new media stuff. For business cards I designed one that is half the sign of an ordinary card so I use less paper! Possibly a local What’s On website has been most successful for me as well as running stalls at craft fairs where I don’t make a bomb selling things but do make lots of useful contacts and attract people for workshops.

What’s your workspace like?  Can we have a sneak peek?  And do you have any workspace organisation tips for the rest of us?
I’m strange hybrid of hyper-organised and hyper-messy. You’d only want to look in a car-crash kind of way.  Having said that, visitors to my house – where I hold some of my workshops – say it’s attractive and inspiring. My family might choose to disagree if they could fight their way out of drowning in sock creatures, juice cartons, toilet rolls, odd bits of plastic and other things that will have come in useful the day after I actually throw them away. I will tidy up tomorrow, really, just got to get a couple of other things done first …  Another cup of tea did you say? Mmm, why not.

What are the best and worst bits of running your business?
Working in the voluntary sector where people are encouraged to take on a range of roles and tasks gave me a love of being a jack of all trades. This is also what I love about running a business. I can literally try anything – create my own website, deliver workshops, design publicity, hold exhibitions, write a book, be a sales person and, at the end of the day, slob out on the sofa with some easy viewing TV and make sock creatures to sell. How lucky am I?!  I also absolutely love trying out new crafts. As about 50% of my attendees are regulars it’s important I put on new workshops for them.

So what are the worse bits? Probably trying to discipline myself time-wise. Marketing and recruitment to workshops can sometimes be tricky as the same workshop can fill up very quickly one time and then not get many as many ‘bums on seats’ another. Craft fairs can be a minefield too as one is at the mercy of the organisers’ marketing. I have done a couple where the organisers have done well recruiting stall holders and seemingly nothing to bring in the punters. There are usually some lovely stall holders to chat to though.

What other small (or not-so-small) creative businesses do you admire? 
Oh there are so many amazing crafty people out there. I’m loathe to mention some in case I miss others and cause upset.  I’m following hundreds of them on Twitter so you could take look there! I have to say I really admire a lot of American crafters who are so generous in sharing what they do.

What tips can you give to others who run (or hope to run) a small creative business?
Follow your passion! Try doing as much as you can yourself rather than incurring costs. There’s so much help and guidance on the internet to use. For instance, you can do your own book-keeping and file your own tax returns instead of paying an accountant (yeah, I said I was a bit of an anorak).

What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future? 
The book! I’ve got to get that damn book done. It’s what I want to show the grandchildren when they’re throwing my sock monkeys at each other!

Finally, where are the places we can find you online if we want to partake in a little friendly cyber stalking?

Thanks so much for stopping by Danielle – it was so nice to be able to take the time to chat with you!

1 comment:

Pickle Lily said...

Lovely read - what a great person. Thank-you!