Designer: shopping

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A new online shop

I buy a lot of my fabrics online, which is the perfect way to get a huge range of designs delivered straight to my front door… but someones I need to go and check out the new designs properly and stroke the fabric!

My favourite shop is Country Threads in Bath. It is only 35 minutes away and the bonus is that it is in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!.

Country Threads have recently gone global with a website and online shop. The online shop is a great introduction to the shop, which is an amazing shop.

The physical shop is great fun – you go into a small-ish room crammed full of fabrics, ribbons and sewing equipment. This little room is just a taster of the fabrics available. There is a little corrider – which is decorated with fabric panels and you then find yourself in a huge room filled with fabric bolts of every colour and design!

It is the little walk down the corrider that I love about Country Threads. The feeling of excitement about the new designs and fabrics they will have in the ‘cave’ of bolts! I get it very time I visit!

As a shop they are very friendly and approachable, always happy to help with fabric choices and talk through the design of your project. So if you are in the Bath area, go and visit, but make sure you take your purse!

If you can’t get to Bath, you can now stock up on the gorgeous fabrics they have with their online shop.

Same fair… different outcome….

Craft fairs are a strange business…. they can either be fantastic or terrible….

Last year I had a stall at a craft fair that was a Friday evening and a Saturday morning event. I went along with my stock, and because it was my first time there I didn’t know what to expect.

After talking to the other stall holders who had been before I found out they usually did really well at the fair and returned year after year. So it looked like it would a good event. And last year it was!

funky diva designs sold really well, as did all the other stalls. There a steady stream of customers through the door and everyone had a great event.

So this year when they asked if I wanted a stall, I said yes immediately. On Friday afternoon I left the boys with the baby sitter and went to set up my stall. It was a festive evening, but business was slow. The stall opposite took a tenth of what they had taken in 2010 at the same evening event. I only sold a couple of things….

We concluded that it was Friday night and it had been quiet at the evening event last year…

So we went back on the Saturday morning expecting more people and hopefully more sales…. we were not in luck. The stall opposite again sold a tenth of the previous years takings and I sold……nothing! For the first time ever I didn’t sell a thing…. paying the baby sitter when I got home was quite painful!

I believe in assessing these events and working out what went right, wrong and what can I improve on….

So I had new stock, new products and the prices were competitive…. It wasn’t just me who suffered – all the stalls had a dismal event…

Having had a couple of days to think about it, I think it was a combination of the end of the month so people have less cash to spend and the fact that people aren’t buying for Christmas yet. Everyone is worried and they are holding off their shopping for a bit….

So although it was a long morning and I left disheartened, I will go back next year because it wasn’t just me who didn’t sell it was everyone there. It was nothing personal about my designs, it’s just the way the craft fairs are at the moment…. you either get the right target market coming through the door or you don’t…. this time we just didn’t get enough people through the door…..

The next 2 fairs are both on Thursday, so I have everything crossed that they will be good…

Saturday Christmas Shopping Ideas…

I have been looking around fellow handmade websites for Christmas presents. These are all my wish list….

Sakura Jewellery, £64.00

I love Anna’s jewellery. Her pieces are so unique and gorgeous! Took me ages to choose this one for the blog!

Addict Mug, £12.50

I am a complete Twitter addict so this mug is perfect for me!

Shashamane, £7.96

I bought a couple of prints from Shashamane earlier in the year and I love them in their frames. This print is gorgeous.

Summersville, £5.00

I love the hand printed fabric in this shop…hatching plans for using them in designs in 2012…

So there are the 4 things on my wish list… anyone fancy getting me them?

I hear the retail market is dying…

This comment has been in conversations over the last few days, followed by a discussion about trade and sales…

I always answer that the UK Handmade industry is growing and flourishing. As part of that community I am very passionate about promoting not only my business, but those around me.

Yes, the large chain stores in the country are fighting to survive in the current climate. People are turning their backs on them and taking their hard earn cash to other places. I think we want more for our money than a mass produced product, made abroad that everyone else owns.

More and more people are turning to smaller businesses who provide great service and products because the people behind the businesses are passionate about what they do. They go that extra mile to ensure your happiness.

Over the last three years that I have been running my own business I have seen it grow and change. I have seen the handmade market place evolve and gain recognition as a positive part of the economy. There are still those who seem to think that we are just in it for the fun of it and to make some pin money – I seem to meet them less frequently, but maybe that is because I have firmly told people that I run a business to support my monsters not for fun!

I think the majority of people see small businesses as inspiring enterprises at a time when the whole country has to listen to the politicans droning on about gloom and doom.

So in case you still think small, handmade businesses are just run for fun here are some businesses that should make you stop and think:

Snap Dragon Garden

Poppy Treffry

Both of these business started on the kitchen table and now support the local economy by employing staff and selling their fabulous products world wide, but most importantly they still handmake all their items

For more inspiration check out these websites and be amazed at the wealth of UK talent there is:

UK Handmade

Folksy

There are so many fabulous and talented people out there bucking the trend of a shrinking retail market.  I am proud to be a part of that…..

 

 

Gift ideas under £25

The other day I was chatting with a friend about Christmas presents for her family – she is a huge funky diva fan! Her budget is £25 per present, so I started listing all the fabulous things she could get from funky diva designs and realised that there is actually quite a lot!

So here are some ideas of the fabulous funky diva’s you can get for £25.00 and under:

funky diva phone sleeves £12.50

The perfect stocking filler, these smart phone cases are perfect for keeping your phone safe!

100g Yarn Holders: £25.00

These yarn holders are the perfect, gorgeous present for the knitter in your life! Available in a fabric of your choice and made to order, they are a truely unique and gorgeous gift.

Sewing kits from £9.50

Perfect for the sewer in your life, these phone sleeve and cosmetic pouch sewing kits contain everything they will need to make their own funky diva!

Those are just 3 of the ideas from funky diva designs – ideas for children tomorrow, including fabulous new wash bags!

A new shop to explore!

If you read my blog, you will know that I love fabric shopping… if I had a bank balance I would spend my time doing nothing but fabric shopping – it might even be worth trying to find a rich new husband just so I could do that……

Anyway, back to reality…. so I have introduced you to some fabulous online shops that usually visit. This week I would like to introduce you to a fabulous shop that I had heard of but never actually used.

M is for Make is a fabulous site with absolutely gorgeous fabrics. The website is clean and fresh which makes choosing the fabrics look fabulous – and believe me they are gorgeous!

The service is amazing – I ordered the fabrics on a Saturday and they were with me on the Monday morning! That is perfect for me when I need fabric in a hurry.

My gorgeous bundle came tidied up and looing scrummy! There are amazing fabrics in bundles as well as by the metre…. heaven!

And then to top it all off, I found out on Twitter that there is a fabulous section of Japanese pattern books and Kate has a whole wonderful blog explaining about to use them.

Now I need 24 more hours in a day so I can create my new wardrobe using those books and the fabulous fabrics at M is for Make……

 

The Perfect Shop for a Fabric Addict

Last week I took you shopping with me to one of my favourite shops, Gone to Earth.

Today we are going to visit another equally great fabric shop, but with a different selection of fabric:

How can you resist a fabric website that invites fabric addicts to visit to satisfy their cravings?

Most definitely not me!

Fabric Rehab is jam packed with yummy, funky and retro fabrics that are very hard resist!

The site is easy to navigate and the images are clear and fresh, so you know exactly what you are going to get in the post – speaking of post, did I mention they are super fast!

I love shops that deliver the next day – I can work more efficiently – as long as I place my order in the morning Fabric Rehab manages to deliver the next day 9 times out of 10.

So if your addiction has got so bad you need a satisfy it RIGHT NOW I recommend you visit Fabric Rehab and get ordering…..

Where this fabric addict goes shopping…

As you know I have a really serious addiction to fabric. My palms itch when I get close to a fabric shop!

I can’t walk past a fabric shop without going in to touch the fabrics!

So where is a funky diva to get fabulous fabric from? Living in the Cotswolds the range of funky fabrics is really limited, so the only option is to head online. I thought I would share with you over the next few weeks the places I love most.

The first shop is:

There are so many reasons to love this shop: the fabrics are yummy and varied, there are inspiring fabric packs and there are is a great selection of bag making supplies and haberdashery.

But the best bit for me is the fabulous customer service. More than once I have phoned in a panic about fabric choices and Julia has helped me to match the fabric tones over the phone! For me that is a life saver when I am trying to find two fabrics that fit together perfectly.

Your fabric is posted the same day and usually arrives first thing the next morning – unless Royal Mail are being slow!

So if you are looking for a fantastic selection of fabrics with even better customer service you have to go to Julia at Gone to Earth.