Friday, 27 July 2012

Tea and a Chat with Katie from The Bead Boutique

 Welcome if you've popped in for a tea and a chat.  I'm talking to Katie, from The Bead Boutique...

Hello Katie!  Good to see you, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?
Hi! Tea with one sugar would be great thank you. I’ve bought cake too – you can’t have tea without cake.

That's true - thank you! So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
I’m a 31-year-old London lass who works full-time in book publishing and part-time as a jewellery maker and teacher. Life is very busy but in a good way!  I love living and working in London as it’s where I grew up and there is always something new and exciting going on, plus there is a real creative buzz here whether it’s about crafts, music, food or the arts. I bought my first home a couple of years ago and I’ve loved decorating and personalising it so that it feels like home – I’ve spent a lot of time at vintage shops and markets as well as B&Q!

Although my day job does have an element of creativity to it (I edit, project manage and deign the inside of textbooks), I’ve been more and more drawn to jewellery making over the last few years as a creative outlet.  I came up with the name The Bead Boutique when I did my first craft fair a couple of years ago and they wanted a business name – it became a business almost by accident! My work falls into 2 main categories: my beadweaving work, which is where I sew lots of tiny seed beads together using various techniques to make either a beaded chain or a pendant, and my other work in which I use any materials I can lay my hands on, as well as beads. I try to make things that I would wear myself as I think it’s important to retain the enjoyment I have always found in jewellery making. Otherwise it would become another job to add to the list of chores – that list is far too long already.

What inspired you to start your creative business? How did it all begin? 
When I was a little girl my Nan used to do a lot of charity work and I used to help her by making and selling earrings. She had to go into a care home due to dementia a few years ago so I decided I wanted to raise money for the charity that ran the home as that is what she would have wanted. I wasn’t making an awful lot of jewellery at the time except for as gifts for friends and family so I frantically made as many things as I could and arranged a sale at work. I made around £200 which was a complete shock! It was a massive confidence boost and it was around that time that I decided to have a go at a couple of craft fairs and seeing where it would take me.

How has your business changed and developed since it started?
I try to make ranges of jewellery now rather than lots of different bits and pieces. It makes it a lot easier to create displays at craft fairs and also gives me a lot more focus. The other thing is that I started teaching regularly at a local bead shop in Enfield when it opened in 2011 ( Teaching is now the part of my jewellery work that I enjoy the most. It’s so wonderful to see how students can become inspired during a class and bounce ideas off each other and I’ve met some lovely people. I definitely want to do a lot more classes and workshops if I can as well as jewellery parties.

What are the main ways you promote your business?  Which methods have been the most successful for you?
I have to admit that I’m not always that great at blowing my own trumpet – I guess that is a very British trait! However, I have found that the best way to get your name out there is to network with people who are into similar interests to you whether it’s via online means or in person. I’ve managed to get some of my work into local shops by simply sending a friendly email and seeing what happens.
I don’t really do that many craft fairs any more as I’ve been to several that have been very badly organised and my time is quite limited. I’m hoping that will change soon, though, as I’m helping to set up a craft fair in my local area ( . The idea behind the fair is that it will allow local craftspeople to get their wares out to the public without having to pay extortionate fees to an organiser – we are all helping to promote the event and will be splitting any costs between us. It’s something I feel very passionate about and hopefully it will help to promote the local arts and crafts scene to benefit everyone involved.

What’s your workspace like?  Can we have a sneak peek? 
I would love to show you a beautifully organised desk with nicely stacked beads but, alas, I have to pack everything away into boxes after a beading session, as I live in a one bedroom flat which I share with my boyfriend, Jude. Luckily beads are pretty portable craft so I sometimes take a box of beads and thread to work so that I can sit and make things in my lunch break.

What other small (or not-so-small) creative businesses do you admire? 
One of the most exciting businesses I’ve had the pleasure to work with is the East London Craft Guerrilla ( It’s run by Debbie Daniel whose commitment and energy mean that they run some fabulous events and she has created a forum where local makers (whether they are running a business or have craft as a hobby) can support each other and share ideas. They run regular craft nights at a local pub, which I love attending  – we need more groups like this that think outside the box and get people involved who wouldn’t normally think of craft as something that’s cool or fun.

Finally, where are the places we can find you online if we want to partake in a little friendly cyber stalking?
My main shop is on etsy at the moment ( but I also have a Facebook page (  where people can contact me with requests about individual pieces or classes/jewellery parties.

Thanks so much for stopping by – it was so nice to be able to take the time to chat with you!
Thank you! It’s been lovely to gabble on about my jewellery.


fatmonica said...

Great interview.Nans are so good at inspiring us aren't they!Love the jewellery.

Christmas Pie Crafts said...

A great read, always like to find out about peoples crafting life and how they got into their particular craft business.

Highland Monkey's said...

Another good interview. I agree it's always nice to learn how people start their crafting career.