Starting your own small business has many hurdles as we all know. Finding your niche, funding your materials, not to mention learning all new time management skills.
When I started Smashmallows my plan was to restore and upcycle furniture. I volunteered in a charity shop and was horrified by the amount of items discarded due to being slightly damaged or out of fashion. With a new coat of paint and some slight adjustments these pieces could be given a whole new lease of life.
However, I soon discovered that furniture takes up a lot of space, something that is severely lacking in a semi-detached, 3 bed house!! So, from furniture I moved on to smaller items with could be re-purposed (or upcycled if you prefer the current buzzword!). The problem I found with this was although the items were popular they were very hard to market and had a small circle of potential buyers.
In the process of repurposing discarded items, I discovered the art of Decoupage. I was hooked after my first attempt!! I have always loved paper, probably stemming from growing up with parents who worked from home designing and publishing books.
So I knew then that Decoupage was something I enjoyed and wanted to pursue. Next thing on the list was to figure out what to decoupage. Well at the start I just decoupaged everything!! Again, working in a charity shop helped where I had access to cheap vases, trays, picture frames, and anything else I could find with a flat surface! As my skills improved I started to think about finding a couple of items that I could produce in larger quantities. This meant finding products that would appeal to a larger market as well as finding a reliable source for the materials I needed. This took quite a bit of brain storming with family and researching online but finally I decided on a couple of items I was happy with.
On the 1st of April (what better day?!) last year I officially launched the new lines of Smashmallows & Hopcopters…Flameless Candles, Ceramic Coasters and Terracotta Flowerpots. Nearly one year on and I have since added the Hanging Ceramics. My workspace is in a chalet (posh word for shed!) in our garden, or on the dining room table when its too cold! Space is still an issue but with good organisation and minimal clutter it is still manageable.
Aside from learning what my skills are and what sells I have learned that I have so much more to learn! Making a product is only a very small part of the process, and personally the part I enjoy the most! There is also the sourcing and purchasing of materials, decisions on packaging, networking with other crafters, applying to craft fairs and so much more besides. In short running your own crafting business is far more about business and far less about crafting!
But the benefits for me far outweigh the negatives, I get to be a stay at home Mum, I choose my own working hours and if I ring in sick I know the boss will understand!!
Until the next time…
Thanks for reading x G