Be Dispensable: the first rule of fair management

By Becky Moore

As some of you know, I’m not just a fair organiser, I’m also a designer-maker myself.  I think that gives me an insight into what our stallholders need and expect from fairs.  They’re looking for a well publicised, well organised, well attended platform from which to sell their products.  It sounds like an easy formula, but it isn’t, as anyone who’s organised a public event can testify.  It takes experience and planning, lists and calendars and more lists, and data bases, and systems, and schedules, and yes, more lists!  And on the day it takes a good deal of people skills, quick thinking, problem solving and negotiation to pull it off and keep everyone happy.

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I recently applied for a stall at a prestigious event.  The application process was a little shaky, mistakes were made at their end that led to a fair few very vocal complaints.  (Also I didn’t get in, but that’s the way these things go, you can’t always get what you want.)  I wrote to the organiser accepting her apology and thanking her for her hard work.  Mistakes happen.  It reminded me just how big a job organising an event is.  I love it, I really do, and I’m good at it.  But sometimes the unforeseen happens.  Sometimes things go wrong.  Sometimes events organisers even seem like they’re just fragile human beings!

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I’ve been doing this sort of thing since I was 16 – organising people and events.  I wasn’t terribly good at it back then, but the intervening 4 decades have taught me a thing or two, and now I think I’m ok at it.  Sometimes I worry too much and get in a flap, (my partner thinks I’m too nice to my stallholders, I think I’m good at customer relations!)  but generally things run smoothly.  Those (nearly) 40 years have taught me how to anticipate problems and head them off at the pass.

But so much of it relies on “me”.  If you run your own micro-business, you’ll know just how much stuff you do that no-one, that’s NO-ONE with capitals – can do.  It has to be you.  It’s all in your head, it’s all about your mind, your soul.  So what happens when you just can’t be there?  What happens when – as I did earlier this month – you trip and fall and smash your face into a tarmac road and end up in A&E with a fractured nose and a bust up lip requiring stitches and you can hardly talk and look like you’ve been in a brawl?  The day before an event?  Yikes!

Well, what I did, was lie on a gurney in A&E and issue instructions on how to run an event, with bullet points and a schedule,  to my son.  Now, he’s helped me set up fairs before, and he’s stood on stalls with me many times, and as one of the chefs at the venue, he knows the place well, but he’s not an event organiser.  He hasn’t got 38 years of experience of managing conferences and festivals and fairs  and shepherding humans.  But there I am, whimpering in pain, covered in blood, and  he’s all I’ve got.

Turns out that all I’ve got is a pretty damn good substitution.  Saturday morning comes and as I lie in bed munching on various forms of analgesic and drinking through a straw, I get messages from various stallholders telling me everything is set up properly and my son is doing a grand job.  Such a grand job in fact that I’m wondering whether I can get away with staying in bed on the mornings of every fair!  (Preferably without having to drink tea through a straw though).

Yoojoo's stall at Design@HEART

Obviously he couldn’t have done it without the help of the venue staff, one of whom is also my partner (full disclosure here!), and also without my impeccable planning.  It’s those 38 years.  See, even though Design@HEART is a micro-business that relies on, and is, essentially ME, and even though I’m … erm … a control freak, the first rule of good events management is “organise yourself out of a job”.  Never be indispensable.

 

 

 

A slightly less cool way of nailing your life long ambition

This week, Paula Perrins of Wychbury Designs takes over the blog to tell us about her textiles business and her passion for stitching.

When I was young I desperately wanted to be like the fashion designer Jean Muir, with red hair, black clothes and designing things for a living, I suppose I sort of nailed it in a much less cool way! I started making things to actually sell when I had my first child in 2004 and decided not to go back to my call centre job. I love to sew but have gradually grown apart from my sewing machine in favour of hand stitch over the years.

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I started my business like many of us, to fit in around my children. I had previously worked in a jewellery factory (literally a factory, nothing creative here!) and in the pattern rooms of a couple of fabric converting companies which I loved. As this work dried up in our region, I’d fallen into working in the collections department in the call centre of a well known utilities company which I decided not to return to after giving birth to my first child in 2004. I got the opportunity to work in collaboration with my close friend and that’s where it all started.

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I am always learning. I mainly teach myself new techniques with books and the internet but have had some wonderful teachers and mentors over the years. I studied a course in Creative Textile Techniques in Saltaire in the two years between my children being born and love to attend workshops and courses when I can. I am also a new member of the Airedale Branch of the Embroider’s Guild where the members are an endless resource of knowledge and skill to learn from.

I have a workspace in the loft of my very small house in Bingley which is accessible only by a ladder. There is very little head room and I’m nearly 5’9″ so its not ideal. It’s freezing in the winter and I tend to work elsewhere in the house where it’s warmer, gradually spreading like a virus until Spring or until we run out of space, whichever comes first. Although where I live is beautiful, I dream about being somewhere warmer pretty much all of the time. I have a wonderful friend who is an artist and designer, living on Kefalonia in Greece where I got married, and I pretty much want to be her. Jealousy is an ugly word but I may be a little guilty of it sometimes if I’m honest.

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My work is all centred around my obsessive love of sewing. I make pincushions, other sewing accessories, jewellery and art work. I stitch by hand and incorporate patchwork and embroidery techniques into many of my pieces. I try to make my work express a feeling of nostalgia for a time before technology in my work, which is how I feel about making it. I use recycled and vintage fabrics as much as possible as well as collected haberdashery and try to incorporate them into my jewellery as well as my stitched work. My branding reflects my love of old things too, with lots of tea staining and hand stamped print.

I absolutely love to work with well washed, recycled fabrics with a bit of a tale to tell. I no longer buy fabric new and most of my materials are left over from other stitchers projects. English paper piecing in miniature is by far my favourite method of using up the tiny scraps of fabric.

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I like making my sewing accessories best because I know they are being bought by people who are as crazy about sewing as I am. I listen to the ladies at the Embroiderer’s Guild talk about the things they love about their sewing, favourite materials, stitches etc and try to work those ideas into my pieces.

Organised and tidy are just words that apply to other people and I struggle endlessly with balancing work and home in terms of both time and space. However, I love the flexibility of being my own boss even if it’s daunting sometimes. I love being able to work in front of my own fire or out in the garden in the Summer. Taking advantage of a sunny day to explore something new is an opportunity I’m always eager to seize! If I stall on a project and need to clear my head, I can get my boots on and go out for an hour with my whippet, Ginny any time I like.

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I really feel that after all of these years I am at a happy place with the work that I’m producing at the moment. I am pleased with the balance of production and creativity that I’ve got going on right now and I feel that the extra curricular stuff I’m doing with the Embroiderers Guild is really feeding my work and driving it forward. I love that I no longer buy fabric and keep all of my outgoings on materials to the bare minimum. Using recycled and donated materials as much as possible is both inspiring and satisfying.

Wychbury Designs will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 9th June at Headingley HEART 10am-4pm.

Old Linen and Cups of Tea Round at Emma’s!

In our latest blog-takeover, Emma Mears explains how she swapped a teaching job for a full time career in textile art.

...a coastal garden...

I began making and creating eight years ago, when I left my career in teaching. I enrolled on several short courses, in felting, drawing and painting, embroidery and textiles and ceramics and basically, never looked back! I applied to go to my local Art College; Cleveland College of Art & Design to study for a Foundation Degree in Applied Arts – ceramics, jewellery and textiles. I really loved textiles and so I decided to study this further and applied for a level 3 City & Guilds qualification in Embroidery and Design.

I started my creative textile art and accessories business Emma Mears Textiles in May of last year.

My textile art is inspired by nature and the countryside, in particular the textures, shapes and colours of wild flowers (but I love garden varieties too). I recreate scenes or landscapes, seascapes and also still life inspired pictures. I absolutely love old books, magazines and journals about flowers, for example the Observer and Wayside and Woodland books, and I am finding I am using these old hand drawn and painted style of images to inspire my own creations and flower designs.
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I like to create unique one off designs and so I vary my techniques quite a lot. My favourites are hand embroidery, applique, collage, broderie perse and free motion embroidery. I also like to mix it up and use both traditional and contemporary techniques together. My work is colourful and textural with a naïve and stylised quality. I love all things old and worn or ‘used’ and so I often incorporate old linen, quilted pieces, embroidered tablecloths, tea tray cloths, handkerchiefs and old clothes or lace into my work. I like the idea of adding something to a piece of cloth that has already been stitched into by another hand and giving it a new lease of life! I am getting quite a hoarder and magpie for old prints and linen! I also like to mix and match old and new materials together to give a contemporary touch to a vintage piece.

I mostly create textile art in the form of pictures, but I also like to make smaller wearable art such as brooches and pendants. I also make a range of small lanterns for tea lights and bespoke lampshades. My range is extending all of the time.
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My main studio is in my home in my spare room. I love my studio and being surrounded by things I have acquired and love. It is my sanctuary. In the summer, I love to stitch outside , so I tend to take over the ‘little blue shed’! I feel very lucky being my own boss and being able to organise my own time, but you really need to be strong with yourself and get into a routine or you can get led astray and not get any work done and drink far too many cups of tea!

My hopes for the future are that I’ll be supplying a handful of small gallery/gift/handcrafted shops, and that I’ll continue to be happy with my work and be inspired. I would love to teach and do regular workshops and share my knowledge and passion for textiles. And I would love to be able to say I am earning a living from my work.

Emma will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 9th June 2018, 10am-4pm, Headingley HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN.

I started the business to justify how many tools I’d bought!

Our next fair is only 9 weeks away, and there’s so much lovely stuff from very talented artists and craftspeople.  So for the next few weeks, we’ll be handing over the blog to some of them, to tell us about themselves and their work.  Today, Helen Drye of Silver and Stone Jewellery Design talks about her art work and her business.

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I started Silver and Stone Jewellery Design in July 2012. I did the classic, turning a hobby into a business. I often say it was to justify how many tools I’d bought – if you craft you’ll understand! I love teaching people, it gives me a wonderful sense of pride that people can have a mini ‘retreat’, close off from the outside world and create something stunning. When I’m not creating jewellery and teaching a like to do embroidery. Just small pieces and very free style, but it keeps my fingers occupied!

My studio used to be at home, but I’d get an idea in the middle of the night and get up and make it! Now its near home, but far enough that I can’t sneak off. Its just next to Skipwith Common Nature Reserve, a beautiful woodland and common land, with rare breads roaming around. You can wander through the common and see deer, black sheep, and then have a pony walk in front of you! It is truly stunning, but shhhh – don’t tell anyone. You’ll see the trees in my designs, to me there is something mystical about the Common. This area has been common land for centuries, but during the second world war it was a RAF training base. You can still see some of the remains, but the trees are reclaiming their land.

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I produce silver jewellery, primarily made using precious metal clay, a silver that can be moulded before its fired, and becomes 99.9% silver, known as fine silver. Silver and Stone reflects the main materials I use, silver obviously, but gemstones come into my designs too. Labradorite and moonstone in the main, but others sneak in when I’m teaching. You’ll see my logo features a big heart with hearts inside – I just love what I do!

I started my career in local government and I loved it. I was developing businesses and each day was different. I helped lots of people start their own business, and always knew I’d have a business of my own. When I had my daughter I went back to work, but found I also had a lot of evening meetings. One day I realised I was passing her from one set of childcare to another, and so I left, just like that! It was hard, but I’m a believer in following your heart, and I don’t regret it.

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Most of my jewellery design was self taught. I did do some classes originally, but then decided to develop my own skills, mainly because the classes were expensive and I couldn’t afford them. I still invest in my own development – I love doing classes with other crafts and see what I can transfer into metal clay, and love meeting and taking part in classes with people throughout the world. I am certified to teach by both Art Clay and Precious Metal Clay. Not many people can say that!
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I love being my own boss. There’s no office politics, and no one else to please. My deadlines are my own and my plans are my own. I can have creative time out or get stuck into my accounts. If my daughter is unwell, I can drop everything and be there for her. I thought I’d be lonely working for myself, but I’m not. I like my own company, and when I run workshops, I have lots of interaction and lots of laughs with the students.

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My favourite materials are Precious metal clay – the Flex version. It relatively new, but I can use it for lots of techniques, that are a bit quirky. Not many people use it to its full capacity – I’m aiming to ! Its the only metal clay you can dry to create a paper style silver which is easy to bend and flex, to create something unique.

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My ambitions for the future? I’d like to be seen as a master teacher and have taught in USA and Europe. I’d like to have a range of jewellery in a number or high end galleries and museums. I’d also really like to have my eyesight to be able to do all of those things.

Silver and Stone Jewellery Design will be at Design@HEART’s summer fair on 9th June 2018 10am-4pm at HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN.

 

 

 

Summer is Coming – yes it is!

Design@HEART Summer Fair 9th June HEART Centre, Headingley

OK, so it still feels like winter, and we’ve been threatened with another dumping of snow this week, but there’s some signs of spring, and here at Design@HEART we’ve got our sights set on the summer.

For the first time in a few years, we’re having a summer fair, and we’ve got a lovely line up of stalls for you.  There’s some old favourites and brand new makers and artists too.  We’ll be hearing more about them all in the coming weeks both here and in our Social Media feeds, so don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram.  But in the meantime, let me see if I can inject some spring fever with newcomers to Design@HEART, Lucy Tomlinson, Emma Mears and Galea Belinscaia.

Lucy Tomlinson

Illustrations by Lucy Thomlinson

Emma Mears

Textile art by Emma Mears

Galea Belinscaia

Ceramics by Galea Belinscaia

 

Craft Recycle

Well, we sure managed to recycle some volume of craft materials on Saturday.  The De-stash sale was an enormous success, with queues at the door come open time, and lots of eager shoppers looking for bargains and inspiration.  Thankyou to all our stall holders who brought with them such fantastic stuff.  We’d love to know what you’re all going to be doing with your new purchases, so do share!

Don’t Miss Out On Our Crafty Sale!

Craft Destash Sale

Saturday 17th February   10am-1pm   HEART Centre, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN

Do you have a new craft hobby? A new project in mind?  Need some inspiration and some materials?  There will be SO much to choose from at the Design@HEART Craft De-Stash Sale this coming Saturday 17th February.    Knitting, crochet, dressmaking, upholstery, beading and jewellery making, card making, scrapbooking, painting, candlemaking, drawing.  And then there’s machines, tools, display and packaging materials.  There’s actually so much it’s hard to list it!

So how does it work?  Well, firstly, 20 local artists and craftspeople are emptying their cupboards, and sorting through their craft stash.  That’s a lot of stash.  Mostly, they’re hoarders, and have years’ worth of stuff they really don’t need, but someone else most likely will.  Then they’ll be setting out their stalls ready for you to pick up some real bargains.  Whether you’re looking for a new craft to learn, fabric to make your spring wardrobe, or something to keep the kids occupied, there will be something for you.

Saturday 17th February   10am-1pm   HEART Centre, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN

 

New Year New Hobby

Destash instagramIts a New Year, and while we’re not advocating a new you (you were just fine last year and you will be this year!), how about a new hobby or project?

What have you got in mind?  If it’s something arty crafty, we’re here to inspire you.  On the 17th February, 20 local artists, designers and craftspeople will be selling off their unused art and craft supplies.  We’ll be clearing out our cupboards, sorting through our craft stashes and bringing along all sorts of treasures.  Ribbon, paper, boxes, buttons, beads, tools, machines, paper, yarn and oh so much more – all at bargain prices.  

So come along to the HEART Centre in Headingley Leeds LS6 3HN on the morning of Saturday 17th February (10am-1pm) and pick up some inspiration – and some bargains.

 

Your Christmas Shopping Guide

Looking for those perfect presents for friends, family and colleagues?  We’re here to help!  Here’s some ideas from Design@HEART exhibitors next month to get you started.

The Makers

Know someone who likes making and creating?  Check out these crochet and sewing project kits from Elm Rocks and Sally Sally.  And for the knitters, Ed Bennett Woodturner has a fine selection of yarn bowls to keep their wool clean and tidy.

The Local

If you know someone who loves where they live, how about a papercut map of their local area from Bethanie Yeong.  Her exquisitely fine papercuts make a beautiful gift.

Or a humorous take on our local seaside towns and tourist destinations with prints by Jack Hurley at Rubbish Seaside.

The Pamper Princesses and Princes

Know someone who needs a bit of TLC, rest and relaxation?  How about some very special handmade bath products from Little Shop of Lathers or beautifully scented candles from Calverley Candle Company?

The Writer

Do you know someone who’s determinedly traditional?  Who has shunned the keyboard for pens and paper?  Who sends letters not emails and texts?

The Jewellery Lover

Jewellery is a very personal thing.  You can’t just grab the first pair of earrings you see.  You have to think what sort of jewellery, what style, what theme and colour?  But fear not, we have lots of variety to choose from, from plastic fantastic, to sophisticated precious metals.

The Little Ones

Launcey Boo create lovely gifts for baby’s room and gifts for toddlers and Love From Poppy have a beautiful selection of clothing for little ones.

 

The Food Lover

Know someone who goes crackers over cheese and chutney? Badgers Garden have a wide selection of preserves, pickles and conserves for the food lover in your life.

 

The Accessories Fanatic

With Felted hats and scarves from Fantasy Textiles, printed silk ties, purses, and scarves from Pattern Passion, Tweed handbags from Nuthatch Designs and leather purses from Katie Roe Studio, we have no shortage of luxury accessories.

 

The Music Lover

Guitar Geekery will be returning to Design@HEART with all things musical.  Music fans and musicians alike will love these gifts and accessories.

 

Shopping local is good for you

Shopping local is good for you

Why should we shop with local businesses?

As we gear up to the crazy shopping season, many of us will be feeling the stress levels rise.  Whether your shopping list is minimal or huge, many of us choose to just click a few buttons on a well known online market place and have done with it.  But there’s a a lot of good reasons for you to hold off clicking that Add To Shopping Cart button.

Why should you shop with local businesses?  It’s more time consuming, it’s hard work, it involves thinking and doing.  But isn’t that more meaningful too, than buying another load of tat that you’re not sure anyone really wants anyway?  If you still need convincing, here’s 6 reasons to shop with your local makers, designers and businesses this Christmas.

Boost your local economy

When you shop with a local businesses, far more of the money stays in the local community.  It gets spent by local people, whereas if you shop with big online market places or high street chains, the profit goes to shareholders who are anything but local!

Shopping local is good for you

Little Shop of Lathers is a local business run by Claire Riley, selling hand made bath and skin care products. They will be at Design@HEART on 9th December.

Supporting local talent

When you shop with local artists, makers, or infact any local business, you are supporting local talent and skills.

Ethical concerns

You can be sure that handmade local goods made by local tradespeople will have travelled far less distance to get to you.  It is easier to check out the ethical origins of products, and you can be sure that even if the maker is paying him or herself peanuts, your next buy will help to elevate that to erm, cashews, rather than lining the pockets of shareholders.

Shopping local is good for you

Ed Bennett’s stall in Leeds City Centre. Ed will be joining Design@HEART on 9th December. Buying from local businesses and makers benefits the local business keeps the money in the local economy.

Be unique

You are far more likely to get something unique, something no-one else has.  When you buy from a designer-maker, this is even more so, because nothing is mass produced.  If you are shopping for gifts, you can be sure that whoever you are shopping for won’t have one of these already!

Variety is the spice of life

Supporting local businesses means that local economies are not entirely dominated and taken over by big chains and multinationals.  You get to keep some local colour, variety, and character in your community.

Warm and fuzzy

You get that warm fuzzy feeling of having met the maker, you know the provenance, you have the opportunity to find out the story behind the product.  Which you’ve got to admit adds value over and above something you’ve picked up from an anonymous seller in a high street chain!