An exciting year ahead

Yay, Happy 2014!

By December 25th I’m usually ready for a month of creative retreat and recovery from the Christmas madness, this year, however I have hit the new year running, there’s no rest for the wicked.

There are photo-shoots happening, new collections underway and brand new talks starting at the old market, hove.

At the end of last year the Brighton Etsy team gained a new captain, Karli of DesignosaurYEAH, who appointed a new crew of leaders including myself, we are working together to promote and run the new “BtnEtsy Talks”.

The first talk is all about PR, Emma from Bets&Bobs and Lyndsey of What You Sow will be sharing their knowledge of branding, social media and approaching journalists. It’s going to be an inspiring talk, a perfect way to get your successful and creative year of to a good start. It’s happening in the evening of February 4th and you can see all of the details on the amazing flyer below, designed by HelloDODO.

You don’t have to be on Etsy to attend but if you are interested you can follow all of the Brighton Etsy team movements and discussions here, there are already lots of exciting plans f0r the year ahead.

If you want to keep up with what I’m up to, the best visually exciting place to follow me is on my Instagram feed.

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Setting up Shop

It’s my favourite part of the year again, time to get cosy, for the streets to get sparkly and for all of the festive craft fairs with their magical atmosphere, excited sellers and of course mulled wine.

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I will be setting up shop for three consecutive weekends this year and will be offering unique products that are not online, selling samples that are end of line and have not gone into further production. I will also be offering super pretty free gift wrapping.

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The shows are all in Brighton, you will find me at Craftaganza on the weekends of Saturday 30th November, Sunday 1st December, Saturday 7th December and Sunday 8th December. The Craftaganza atmosphere is always super festive, the makers are all hand picked selling their high quality and inspirational work. It is a great chance to meet the maker of the products that you buy and support the local economy. Click here for directions.

craftaganza

I will then be at Art Junky on Saturday 14th December and Sunday 15th December at the Phoenix Centre, click here for directions. This event has a fun vibe with a DJ playing through the day in this big and bright space, there is a wide mix of work and the venue really gets it’s Christmas bustle on!

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If you can’t make it along then there is always my online Etsy store!…

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Self Employed. Creative. Mother.

There is one question that other makers / creatives, usually of the female variety, ask me “how do you do it?” be a full time mother and run a business at the same time. My answer usually consists of shoulder shrugging and mumblings of it’s hard work and I don’t really know!

For those of you that are interested here is my more thought out answer!…

I’ve been a creative probably forever, I’ve always drawn tiny things, been obsessed with making things, cutting and sticking, colours, writing lists and stationery in general. I also love ideas, long thought out idea’s, researching, looking and gathering visual information and ideas that simply pop into your head and I am compelled to act on them!

If you put these things together I think that you get a jewellery designer, my career wasn’t planned or thought out, it just came about with what I did along the way, accident, compulsion, obsession, hard work and laziness, all play a part in Rock Cakes.

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So I have a husband and I wanted a baby. When I fell pregnant my life was at the point where I had been self employed for almost two years, Rock Cakes was a website and a few collections of precious jewellery. I had a few customers, a trickle of sales and lots of time, then I had Matilda. My husband (a self employed photographer) and I never spoke about future work plans, who would make the money, who would look after the baby, who would do the housework, looking back I’m quite surprised that it was never discussed, we just got on with it. I guess with the assumption that I would stay at home and work when I could and he would continue with his career and be the main earner.

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When Matilda was shiny and new she slept a lot, I was doing new things, buying baby clothes and toys, being awake all night and drinking coffee again, my mind was all pingy with new thoughts and ideas that fed my creative compulsion. I was at home a lot which meant I had time to play online and mostly on Etsy, whilst little Matilda was snoozing.

I slowly filled up my Etsy store with listings of my collections, one day I had a “ping” and it was an $800 Etsy sale, it was literally at that moment when I realised that running a business and looking after my daughter full time could work. I knew then that if I wanted to continue to make precious jewellery there was no way that I could do it myself, blow torches and babies don’t mix, so I took a leap of faith and employed somebody one day a week to make my designs, that way I could focus my time on Etsy and general promotion.

I also began to make laser cut jewellery at this point, I can’t actually remember why I did, probably a combination of still wanting to make things myself, have some lower priced products for my Etsy store and to realise some ideas that I had. I googled laser cutters in the uk, emailed them about working on my designs and began production of pieces that I could work on at home. I took part in an Open House when Matilda was eight weeks old (which in hindsight was a bit silly). I got my work into a little handmade gallery in on St James Street, which turned out to be Kirstin Stride‘s cooperative shop and I began to do maker fairs on the weekends.

I went to “hello Etsy” in Berlin, got my jewellery into one Conde Nast publication (just the one so far!…), helped in the running of Craftaganza and organised the Craftaganza Live events. I also began stocking a few galleries across the UK.

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Matilda by this time was growing more and sleeping less, becoming more amusing and also needing more attention. My creative desire is quite strong and there were times when I felt I could not do the amount of work I needed to in order to have my business reaching its full potential. Finding a balance and not feeling frustrated was sometimes really hard.

I have followed my head and heart at the same time, most of the cuts in my time have been to other activities such as less time with family and friends, no television, no reading of fiction, less shopping, sometimes less meals and way, way less sleeping. There have been moments, especially in the lead up to Christmas and one particularly horrendous week last summer, where I have been taken to the edge of my capabilities both physically and mentally but I wouldn’t change what I do for the world.

I have not missed one thing that my daughter has done, her first steps, first words, first drawings, first jokes. Matilda is calm, confident, cleaver and loves making things too. I have not upset any customers, been late with any orders and my business is growing.

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As I write this Matilda is just settling into pre-school so I have more time to work. I have a sense of relief, guilt (for having a sense of relief!), excitement that both of us to have new chapters of our lives beginning and a little pang in my heart that my baby is not a baby anymore and my selfish days of having her all to myself are fewer.

So being a self-employed creative and a full time mother at the same time is doable, especially with internet sites such as Etsy getting more and more popular. You’ve just got to love being creative, learn to manage little pockets of time and be prepared to allocate less time to other aspects of your life.

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My plan now is to work incredibly hard on the business that I love, be a good leader for the Brighton Etsy Team and always be waiting at the gates when Matilda finishes school.

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