Tell us about your family:
I’m married with two children, aged 2.5 yrs and 15mths. I live near Blackpool on the Fylde Coast.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I’ve made jewellery since my early teens and sold it in various ways since then. I dabbled with selling online through Folksy, beginning a few years back, but as a full-time teacher didn’t have the time to pursue it to the full. Following the birth of my second child and whilst on a career break to be a stay at home mum, I got some phone readings with clairvoyants done and realised that this was my opportunity to start a handmade jewellery business and pursue it on a more serious level than a hobby.
When did you launch?
I launched Poppy Sparkles in March 2010.
How did you get started?
I began by setting up an online store on Folksy (www.poppysparkles.folksy.com) and a blog.
What research did you do before launching?
Having already made and sold jewellery before, I did have a good idea of how to go about this and was already familiar with Folksy. I started to browse Etsy and explore the various networking opportunities available to creative businesses, such as UK Handmade. I also researched a variety of business topics, such as book-keeping. I found Business Link was a useful source for information.
How have you funded the business?
As a Stay home mum and managing on just over 50% of what our previous household income was, it has had to be a self-funding venture on the whole. It has meant slow growth, but it has given me the benefit of ‘mulling over’ time before committing to new ideas whilst I raise the revenue to pursue the new direction with the funds from sales.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
Currently I have predominantly promoted my business online – through my blog, twitter, forums on the handmade sites I sell, as well as joining in groups such as UK Handmade. Now that my youngest child is not so dependent on mummy, I will be able to start promoting more in real life and will be venturing to local events to sell my jewellery. I am also beginning to look at submitting press releases as I look to take Poppy Sparkles further and increase my profile.
What has worked well about your business?
I began making special occasion jewellery with a range of jewellery for little girls as a little side range. It soon became clear that this little side range was producing the best sales, especially designs featuring birthstones. Luckily, due to my lack of funds I hadn’t heavily invested in any particular range and was able to quickly adapt and respond to what was popular. I shifted direction and found my niche selling birthstone charm jewellery, which is proving popular, especially my mummy necklaces with birthstones to celebrate your child(ren).
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
Lack of funds has been a big challenge, but it has made me think very carefully before making any purchases or investments. I’ve had to think strategically about my next move and whether it will lead me to the next step forward. Although, it’s been a challenge, I do think it has given me valuable skills that I will take forward with Poppy Sparkles. I’ve certainly learnt how to do a lot myself, as I’ve not had the funds to pay to outsource services.
How do you fit in work with the family?
I manage to dabble on twitter during the day, as well as see to a few admin tasks. Otherwise, I have to wait until after my children’s bedtime. I’m lucky that I have family nearby and at least once a week, my mum comes to visit – a prime opportunity to get some work done – as well as weekends, when Daddy is home.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Creating a sustainable business from designing and making is hard. There are growing numbers of people seeking to sell handmade products and competition can be fierce. One thing I would say, is you will not make it a success if you compete on price. Find your unique selling point (USP) and niche area, then promote it.
I’ve actually started a blog to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up, www.vivsmithonline.blogspot,com
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