Friday, 2 November 2012

Tea and a Chat: Claire from Lady Luck Jewellery

This week I'm talking to Claire - a busy lady who organises craft fairs as well as making jewellery.  She managed to squeeze some time into her busy schedule to sit down and have a tea and a chat with me - come on in, help yourself to a warm drink and join us!

Hello!  Good to see you, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?

I’ll go for tea please, 1 sugar, and I won’t say no to biscuits if there are any on offer!!!

So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

I’m Claire, and I’ve been running Lady Luck Jewellery since September 2007 (wow, is it really 5 years – time flies when you’re having fun!!) and I moved into craft event organising in 2009, which is what I spend most of my focus on these days, although I still make some jewellery, mainly bridal & present commissions. I occasionally teach jewellery making, and polymer clay workshops.

By the way, I also have a full time job, so this all fits in to my so called ‘spare’ time!! I like to keep busy though, and can rarely find anything worth watching on the TV, so this helps to fill my evenings nicely J

What inspired you to start your creative business? How did it all begin? 

I’ve always enjoyed making things, and studied art for a few years, so it seemed the perfect next step to begin making creations to give as gifts, which quickly grew into a business after people kept asking where they could buy my jewellery.

I moved into organising craft events after being disappointed with so many smaller local events, and finding that the very large, high footfall events were mostly out of my price range. There are a couple of really good organisers whose events I had attended, so I took inspiration from how they ran their events and began to plan my own.

How has your business changed and developed since it started?

The jewellery side of the business has changed dramatically, from making one-off pieces (which I still do), to finding a good range of repeatable designs and styles to make seasonal collections. Each piece is still totally handmade, so therefore a one-off in terms of exact bead layout etc, but I’ve found collections are far more popular with customers, and easier to plan out.

What are the main ways you promote your business?  Which methods have been the most successful for you?

I have a Facebook page for each part of the business which I use to promote new products and keep people up to date with the events, plus my own website, which is a bit neglected at the moment, but I’m planning to get some new products added on there soon!

The events obviously have to be advertised in the media, which is something I don’t tend to do with my jewellery, I treat craft fairs & events as advertising opportunities for this and encourage people to sign up for my newsletter, and also tend to take quite a few custom orders at fairs too. I’m fortunate that my work has been featured in the national media (one of my bracelets was selected for inclusion in Woman’s Own magazine Christmas Gift Guide last year, and the local papers and magazines usually include me in any local shopping features they do, so this helps to bring customers to my website.

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 the messiest person I know when it comes to workspace, and at the moment my space (a spare bedroom) is full of all sorts of stuff, as we’re redecorating, so no photos I’m afraid. If you imagine the messiest room in the world, x2, you’re somewhere close. I know where everything is though, sometimes it just takes a while to get to it!!

Hmmm…perhaps we should get together and compare our creative messes!  What are the best and worst bits of running your business?

The best part is definitely the feeling of satisfaction & pride in running a good craft fair, seeing lots of visitors coming in & buying from the exhibitors, and seeing happy, smiling exhibitors. The worst is probably the hours I put in, it’s a good job I enjoy what I do, at this time of the year it’s not unusual to find me working well past midnight, for several nights in a row.

What other small (or not-so-small) creative businesses do you admire? 

I really admire Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics, she not only makes beautiful products, but her blog is something I always love to read, she has a great way with words (and some fab recipes to share too!!).

There are many other craft businesses that I love, for their products, promotion and humour, but there are too many to possibly mention!!

What tips can you give to others who run (or hope to run) a small creative business?

Do the maths first, I made the mistake of undercharging when I started to sell my products, and found it very hard to re-think my prices to realistically account for my time. Don’t underestimate the amount of ‘business’ you’ll need to do, it’s lovely to sit down and make things, but only 5% of my time goes into this now, the other 95% is promotion.

What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future? 

I plan to make the Weedon Craft Market a regular event next year if it’s well supported, and hope to take the Christmas Craft Shopping Experience in Warwickshire to a more well known level across the region, it already attracts exhibitors from far & wide (Devon, Wales, Lancashire & Liverpool this year so far!), but my research so far has shown that most visitors are from a 20 mile radius, so I plan to widen the promotion for this event.

Eventually, of course, I’d love to ‘give up the day job’ and do this full time, but that’s a slightly longer term plan…

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

I’ve got 3 Facebook pages and a website:

I am on Twitter @LLJewellery, although don’t use it as often these days, and I’m afraid my blog fell by the wayside quite some time ago!

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

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