Happy New Year!

Image: Lindsay Thomas Ceramics.Go to Lindsay’s website for more information http://ltceramics.co.uk/

Events in 2019

Hi and Happy New Year to everyone!

Just want to give you the heads up about fairs in 2019.

Christmas Fair 2019 I’m moving the Christmas fair forward this year, to November 9th.  We always used to have the fairs in November, at the beginning of the Christmas shopping period, and it seemed to work better for both shoppers and stallholders.  It will also coincide with Headingley Farmers Market which works well for everyone.

Stallholders’ need-to-know: We’re also going to have a new application system, to give people a fairer chance of getting in and to continue to get the best quality makers.  So this year, applications will be a deadline, and stallholders will be selected all at the same time.  I know people like to know whether they’ve got in early on though so they can schedule the rest of their Christmas fairs, so we’ll open applications early in the Spring.

Craft Clearout  For the past couple of years we’ve had a Craft Clearout/Destash sale in the Spring.  Unfortunately I don’t have the capacity to run one this year, which I know will disappoint many, as it’s a great way of getting hold of some lovely crafty goodies and of clearing out your cupboards.  But I’m going to set up an online selling event in the Spring for anyone to sell their goodies.  You’d have to be prepared to post or have people collect whatever you’re selling, and their will be a few rules about what you can and can’t sell, but other than that, anyone can join in.  You will be expected to advertise it like mad to all your friends, customers and followers obviously!

So, that’s it for now.  Please keep an eye on the Facebook page and your inboxes for further news.

Becky
Design@HEART

 

 

Silver and Stone by Helen Drye

Back in April we featured Helen Drye on our blog, talking about her work and influences.  She’s popped back to give us a bit of an update about her current work. We can’t wait to see the new collections.

I started Silver and Stone Jewellery in July 2012. I did the classic, turning a hobby into a business. It has given me the opportunity to be flexible in my work pattern around family and home.

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This year though I’m coming out of my shell and talking about myself in my branding – By Helen Drye.  This feels very strange to me!  I’ve always hidden behind my Silver and Stone branding, and I’m well known for teaching jewellery making under this name.

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2018 is a year for launching my own new ranges of jewellery and showing just what inspires me. The first range that I launched earlier in the year was my Woodland Collection, a range of individual pieces of jewellery inspired by Skipwith Common Nature Reserve, near York.  This is just next to my studio.  When things get a bit much, I like to go for a walk in the Common. Skipwith Common is a National 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. It is such a contrast, and a testament to how nature reclaims its own.

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My Woodland Collection has done very well.  I love the fact that each piece is different.

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My next range will be my Contemporary Range.  A minimal unfussy silver range of jewellery.  Modern in design and very wearable for every day.  This range incorporates the jewellery that I want to wear every day, silver jewellery that doesn’t date, and will go with anything!  I will be launching this in October, so look out for it at my Christmas events.

As we run up to Christmas, I am making time for designing and making.  I have less workshops, more exhibitions and events and less teaching.  I’ll be back to the workshops in January, when I find that I have a busy time – they make ideal gifts for Christmas, something creative to do when it’s cold and dark!

 

 

 

 

 

Why Black Friday is everything you hoped it wouldn’t be

November and December are the months when retail businesses finally start making a profit.  As retailers we’re all crossing our fingers hoping that this Christmas shopping season will make up for our paltry figures for the rest of the year.  As shoppers though we are looking for a bargain.  Roll on Black Friday.

What is Black Friday ? Originally its the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA when people really start on their Christmas shopping.  And retailers of course want to capitalise on that.  But does it really work, for retailers or shoppers?

The consumer champions Which? have just released their report on 2016  Black Friday and they have revealed that discounts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  They say that many discounts aren’t exclusive to Black Friday, that it’s easy to get ripped off.  Last year 60% of the electrical goods they tracked could be bought at the same price or less at other times of the year, including the whole of December.

The Neff Slide & Hide B44S32N5GB single oven was sold for £494.99 at Currys/PC World on Black Friday 2016. This sounded like a good deal, as the advert claimed that it cost £599.99 throughout September and most of October. But just three weeks later, the oven was sold for £45 less. It was actually cheaper than the Black Friday price for at least 113 other days of the year.

We all know that trick companies have of changing the prices of sofas and beds up and down throughout the year to make you feel like you’re getting a bargain, when infact you’re not – you’re just paying the base price.  For small independent businesses, that’s just not possible.  We don’t have the economy of scale that the Amazons and the Argos’s of the world have, and we do like to be able to pay ourselves a minimum wage.  Our prices are pretty much the minimum we can charge and still afford to pay ourselves for making the thing.

So do small retailers lose out on the Christmas rush? Well some say it doesn’t have to be so.  Small Business Saturday are slowly starting to steal some of the thunder according to Fortune, the business magazine.  As a shopping day, it’s proving much bigger than Black Friday for small retailers they say.  This year’s Small Business Saturday is on 2nd December.

As shoppers we definitely have a choice.  Shop small or shop big.  There’s so many advantages to shopping small as we wrote in our article about supporting independent businesses but one thing is for sure, Black Friday is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Hold onto your purse, and support Indie Friday instead!

Why haven’t I sold anything?

The Highs and Lows of Craft Fairs

Last week I read a post on a crafters’ Facebook group, asking why she hadn’t sold anything at her last two fairs.  Was it her stall layout? What did she need to do?

It wasn’t her stall layout.  That was just fine.  Better than fine.  It looked lovely, everything well displayed, at different heights, displayed by collection, very clear what it was she was selling.

There are so many reasons a fair might not work for you.   I’m going to try and list some that I’ve experienced myself from years of trying to sell at lots of different fairs.

The Wrong Fair

So often, when we are setting out, we try and sell at the wrong fair.  It’s just not where our customers are.  Sometimes it can take a lot of trial and error to find out where your customers are.  Sometimes it can take us by surprise too.  There’s fairs where I ought to do well, my ideal customers appear to be sitting ducks, just waiting to …erm, quack, and they don’t.  Others I shouldn’t do well at but I invariably do.  Experience helps.  But apply logic too.  If you’re having a sale at an event directed at young people, and your ideal customer is 60+, you’re wasting your time and money.  If you are selling steampunk at a church bazaar, it probably isn’t going to work for you.

The Weather

If it’s chucking it down on the day, no-one will come out to a fair.  But if it’s a nice day, they’ll be off on a picnic, instead.  Except …. in my experience, the weather really doesn’t determine footfall.  At least, not on it’s own.  Passing trade might be affected one way or another, but if people are specifically coming to a fair to purchase handmade goodies, the weather doesn’t put them off.

Your Price Point

Your products are not too expensive.  If you’ve worked the price out properly, then that’s not the reason.  But it might be the wrong price point for that particular fair.

Children

If your customers have got their children with them, forget it!  This is why I stopped doing fairs that incorporated “activities for the whole family”.  If someone has their children with them two things are going to happen: 1) They will distracted, dragged off to the child friendly stalls or as someone commented just recently, “has your neighbouring stall got an owl on it?” 2)Families will have a budget for the day.  Once they’ve bought lunch for everyone, icecreams for the kids, paid for an activity for the kids, bought some cake to take home, they won’t be feeling like treating themselves to a new silver necklace or an artisanal handbag.

Poor Advertising

One Facebook post and one tweet do not a marketing campaign make.  Check how well the event is going to be marketed.  Whether it’s marketed at the right people. Was there a concerted social media campaign by both organisers and stall holders? Is it sign posted well?  Do people know how to get there?

Wrong Time Of Year

Some people do well at fairs all year round.  I don’t.  I don’t sell at fairs before June. I certainly don’t do them before Easter.  People aren’t usually spending much in February and March.  At least, not on my products.  You need to work out what will work for you.

Your Stall’s A Bit Pants

If people don’t know what you are selling, or they’re confused about your brand, or they can’t see what everything is, that’s going to affect your sales.

Your Products Aren’t What People Want

OK, so this is a really tricky one, because you’ve put your heart and soul, your blood sweat and tears into your products.  You’ve worked out the price properly.  You’ve displayed it beautifully.  Your branding is well designed.  But do people actually want to buy it?  If you are consistently failing to sell anything, at any kind of fair, you need to ask yourself some hard questions.  Maybe go back to the drawing board.  It’s tough, but it doesn’t have to be the end.

 

 

Silver and Sparkle

We missed Diana in 2016 and it seems so did our customers.  Unfortunately she was unable to do either of our Christmas fairs, but we’re hoping she’ll be back with us this year.  Here’s an article we wrote about Diana and her jewellery company Silver and Sparkle back in 2015.

Diana Lambert is the designer and maker behind Silver and Sparkle. She’s been in business for more than ten years, designing, primarily, sterling silver jewellery. She exhibits and sells her work through galleries across the UK, online, and at art and craft events and Country shows, mostly in the north of England.

“I had a 20 year career in IT, one of my final jobs being Head of IT for a major financial institution. I did some evening classes as a means of escaping the stress of my job, one of which was jewellery-making. Then I finally decided I wanted to get out of the corporate world, and start my own business. Deciding to give up my well-paid, secure ‘real’ job, and start up my own small business. It was very scary, but I wouldn’t go back in to the corporate world for anything.

“I tried various disciplines, but working in silver was what I found I enjoyed, and it was also something I can do in quite a small space (i.e. the spare room!) without huge amounts of equipment.

During the quieter Winter months after Christmas, I enjoy messing about with textiles as a break from silver.

“I use a variety of fairly traditional silver-smithing techniques – piercing, planishing, forming, texturing, soldering, polishing etc. I learnt the basic techniques at evening class and then the rest is pretty much self-taught, although each year I attend a week long residential Silversmithing course at West Dean College in West Sussex to hone my existing skills and learn new techniques

“I have a studio based at home. It’s just me doing everything so you have to be buyer, designer, maker, accountant, stock taker, web designer, administrator, market researcher etc all in one! The biggest challenge is finding the right market for your work and making any kind of sensible living!

What I enjoy most about my work is being my own boss and meeting customers at shows and events – it can be a be isolating working on your own for yourself, so it’s good to get out to meet not only customers, but fellow makers.”

Anita Carter

Back in November, one of our newcomers to Design@HEART really impressed us with her gorgeous work.  We are hoping she’ll be back again next year!

Anita Carter is a desiger and maker of copper artworks, producing beautiful intricate mini-sculptures under the name of Silvery Moon.

Here’s what she has to say about her work:

I am a designer and maker of copper artworks.

Influenced by my love of nature, each artwork is individually handmade in my home studio in Leeds.

Each design is sketched, drawn, then hand-cut and assembled using copper sheet, copper wire and vintage keys then finished with a patination and varnish.

Copper is an excellent, versatile medium to work with and offers endless design opportunities. Going forward it is my intention to produce larger showpieces, scenes encompassing a variety of animals.

I’ve been making artworks for two years now and sell my designs at events such as design-led craft fairs, county show and stately homes. Selling my work at such events is not only enjoyable as one meets like-minded designers offering a variety of unique handcrafted products but is also beneficial as people who appreciate quality and originality visit and purchase. I also handle an increasing number of commissions.

Previously I enjoyed a long career in advertising and marketing in London and Manchester eventually retiring from this to open a gallery in North Yorkshire showcasing the work of British designers. Poor health five years later led to a change in direction and meant having to work from home. I had always loved metal work art in sculpture and decorative pieces both in their form and feel so working with copper became a practical and attractive option.

After much research and experimentation, the design of copper artworks developed and evolved into what they are today with new designs always forming for the future.

 

Bethanie Yeong Papercuts

One of our most popular stalls last year was Behanie Yeong’s papercuts.  If you bought one of her beautifully intricate works of art or received one for Christmas, here’s a bit about Bethanie and her work:

Bethanie Yeong Papercuts is relatively new. Bethanie started operating as a business in April 2015, but she’s been working with paper since she was young.

“I have always cut things out of paper. I used to make stencils for printmaking and relief work, however my stencils became more and more intricate, they became a piece of artwork on their own. I studied Illustration at University, I have tried a large range of techniques and used a variety of materials. Papercutting was something I was able to do at home without spending a lot on the machine/materials needed.”

Papercutting

Bethanie starts a piece by making her designs digitally. She then prints them out on the reverse of the final piece, and starts cutting. She uses a very sharp scalpel and a cutting mat. It is a time consuming process, but the end results are unique pieces. They are finished off with custom made frames, which makes each one extra special.

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Bethanie works from home, in her spare-room studio. “All my mess is in the spare room, so it’s like a studio as I don’t think you can do anything else in there!”

After graduating from her degree in Illustration, Bethanie did an internship with acclaimed illustrator and papercutter Owen Gildersleeve. “His work is amazing and he has a lot of talent! I really enjoyed working with him, and it really helped me work out what I wanted to do. I realised I wanted to make small pieces for everyone to have in their homes, rather than making a large piece for an advertisement that would later be stored in a drawer and never seen again.”

Business Success

Bethanie has always wanted to have her own business, and she really enjoys it. Though like most artists, she finds the paperwork a bit of a chore! She has recently had a big breakthrough :

“I received a very large wholesale order where my papercut bikes will be displayed behind the check in desks of 236 hotels! It was hard to get through as they wanted them quite quickly, but it was amazing at the same time! I am not sure if I am allowed to say what the hotel chain is yet, but they will be all around the world, which I am still finding hard to comprehend.”

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The Future

The excitement of this hasn’t gone to Bethanie’s head though. She knows building a business takes time. “I wish to create expand my range of maps and designs and to sell in more independent shops. I currently also have a part time job while also managing my business. It would be amazing if I could just do my business full time, however I don’t think this will be in the near future.”

There may be a way to go for Bethanie’s business, but in meantime she still gets a thrill from the fact that people actually purchase her work and love it. “I am privileged to be able to make what I want and other people to like and even buy them.”

Rogues Gallery

Just some of the frankly AWESOME products we’ve had at our fairs since 2015.  Here’s some early ones.designheart-rectangle

Mugs by What Kate Loves.

 

Pendant by  Nimanoma.  Bangles by Melodies.  Ties by Catkin Jane.  Silver necklace by Alison Young Jewellery.

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Lampshade by Rehash Panache.  Fabric Boxes by CherryPeg.  Glass Dish by Glassprimitif.

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Guitar Tshirt by Guitar Geekery.  Cat Tshirt by Tomoto.  Letter Tshirt by FontNotFound.

Applying for Design@HEART

One of the hardest jobs of organising a fair is the selection process.  We’ve been really lucky since we started out in 2015 in getting really high quality stalls.  We obviously want to keep it that way!  But how do we choose?

Photographs

Unless we’re already familiar with your work,  selection mostly hinges on the photographs you send with your application.  That means that they have to be of really good quality.  We need to be able to use them in publicity as well as the selection process.  A quick snap with your phone usually won’t do the trick!

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Your Online Presence

We also have a look at your website, because this gives us a fuller picture of your work, showing it in situ and giving us an idea of your brand personality.  So make sure you include all your online presence on your application so we don’t have to go hunting on search engines to find you!

A Coherent Collection

We’re looking for a coherent collection of products that have a clear design aesthetic. We are aware that when makers first start out, they often try lots of different products.  We’ve all done that!  But it can also be a bit of a jumble and confusing for customers.  When we select, we’re looking not just at individual products but the whole collection or brand.

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Your Price Point

We know our customers (see below).  They aren’t expecting cheap as chips.  But nor are they spending hundreds of pounds on items.  A stallholder may want to exhibit some “aspiration” pieces of work, and that is absolutely fine, but we’d be looking for some more affordable pieces in the collection too.

 

Our Customers

Finally, we select for our audience.  We have been participating in fairs in Headingley since 2012 and although we get new people every time, we kind of know our customers.  We pretty much know what they like.  That doesn’t mean we only show them the same things time after time.  We like to push their boundaries, and show them new things at each fair.  But there are some things that we know they won’t be interested in.  And we won’t take your money if we think you don’t stand a chance of selling anything.

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Design at heart

Hello 2017!

Well hello there, and a Happy New Year to you all!

Now the Christmas break is over and I’m back at my desk, I can reveal plans for 2017.

You’ll see that we’ve had a bit of a rebrand.  Well, I say “a bit” – it’s actually quite a lot.  In discussion with Headingley HEART, we’ve decided to go all out and properly call ourselves Design@HEART.  You’ll see the difference on the Facebook page, and on Twitter, and of course here on our brand spanking new website.

Lots of you asked if there is going to be another Christmas fair this year, and I can now firmly say that there is. We’re going to have just the one at the beginning of December, and it’s going to be a bumper one.  So, if you’re being super organised, I’ve got the application forms already on line and you can get applying.

I’ll be keeping everyone posted with any new developments, but one thing that’s been bugging me is ….. should we have a summer fair too?  Let me know what you think. If I get a resounding YES in the next couple of weeks, I’ll get the venue booked.

Becky x