Wedding Corsages

Quite a while ago a very organised bride ordered some wedding corsages...with loads of time to spare before her wedding.  Usually the suspense kills me - I can't wait to see the photos of celebrations that my corsages get to share in, but in this case it was too far in advance!  Well...time flew and I finally get to see Antoinette and Franscois' beautiful day!  I love the navy and red shades, handmade elements and of course it brings me great joy to spot my corsages being donned!  Photos by the talented Eileen from Brightgirl Photography.

Back at I heart Market

After a four month break I am happy to say that I will be back at I heart Market this Saturday!  Come and take a look at the new things I have created especially for the market.  I will also be at the following I heart Market days in December:  8th and 15th.  I hope to see you there...

Seven Things

It is Monday - once again! 
To get the week are seven things that I have been up to lately... (via Instagram - nadiavdmescht)

1 >  I have had quite a few corsage orders lately.  This one was created for a mom who calls her little kids bunnies.  The sweet die-cute bunny is from Demode - thanks for you help Sheldon!

2 >  You know by now that I really love stationery!  These are a mix from my own travels and those of friends...there are ones from New York, London, LA and the Palace of Versailles to name a few.

3 >  I am in the process of changing my packaging, but in the meantime have really enjoyed using different bits and pieces to wrap orders.  

4 >  My Styling students are busy with a range of assignments for their end of year exhibition.  Last week we styled some still life shots and the camera was a it!

5 >  Very cheap and super cheerful finds from a charity shop.  I like spending R5, but still getting something!  These will be great to tie to gifts to add a little something extra.

6 >  More wrapping...I found the bird cards at the SPCA.

7 > Crafty tapes and twine for wrapping a birthday gift!  Lots of wrapping in this one, but it really is something that brings joy!

Free things you can do for your business...

Running a craft, handmade or independent business is full of challenges and some of the top problems we we face are:

Budget and income:  Making enough money to make a living, whilst still growing and developing your business.

Time & the lack thereof:  As one person what and how much can you take on while still having a balance and managing expectations?  We hold back on doing certain things because we think we don’t have time, but in turn our business suffers and sometimes we are none the wiser to missed opportunities.

Here are five things that take minimal time and no budget that can really help grow and improve your business:  No more excuses!

Online Presence:  
We Google things and want online contact with people all the time!  If you can’t afford a website or blog – make use of Facebook.  It is free, millions of people use it and it needs little to no design skills.  Facebook is useful as you can have product pictures, contact details, an about section and people can make instant contact.  Until you have evolved to the next step of a blog or website use your Facebook page constructively.  Have all the necessary details listed.  I so often need to get hold of people and their info is out of date or there is no information at all.  Keep it current and updated.

Professional Tone, Grammar & Spelling:  
You need to use a professional tone, whilst still being true to your own voice.

> Remember the basics of good grammar and punctuation.
> Use capital letters for proper nouns (name of people, places etc.)
> Check your spelling.

Take Better Photos:
You might not have a state of the art camera and that is okay!  Good lighting and a clean background will do wonders for your shots.   White cardboard which is easily available from craft shops is ideal as either a background or reflector.  Create a small shoot area and move it around to find the best light.  Direct sun is not always good rather try to be in a space with good natural light.  Test your shots and styling for the best results. 

Make Lists:  
I often hear things like ‘I am not a list person’.  Trust me you need to become one.  Unless you have the most amazing memory you will never remember everything that needs doing.  Keep a dedicated notebook or online / digital list to keep track of things.  Five notebooks with 50 different lists in are just as bad as no lists at all.  For my personal life and different accepts of my business I have separate lists which I actually run off one central Excel document.  The lists are broad and even include things that I know I won’t get to this year, but I have a tab for that called Goals.  When I have a gap I look at my goals and see which one I can take on next.  I then make small daily lists in a dedicated notebook and divide it into personal, work and emails.   My listing helps me to know what I need to do and it also frees up brain space in order to think ahead.  It means I don’t forget that I promised certain people certain things.  So if I can’t get to it all I can at least tell them that I will be in touch and that I won’t forget about them.  My life is by no means perfect, but I can get a great deal done in a day.  Listing will also allow you to keep track of orders and possible deliveries. 

 *These might get you inspired for list making - lovely notebooks from Typo.

Customer Service and Managing Expectations:  
It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, this essential.  If you commit to orders make sure you can deliver on your promise.  Set times and dates that are manageable.  This ties into your list making and planning.  In most cases people are happy to wait an extra day or two for something, but perhaps check when they need it by, is it a gift for a birthday or for themselves?  Email them in advance if there is a problem and offer a solution.  If you have done something wrong fix it or offer them something to say sorry like a discount, a small free item or even just a sincere apology.

I hope these help you to grow and ‘graduate’ to that next big thing like a website or professional photo shoot.  I offer assistance with websites, blogs, shoots, branding and have a dedicated and talented team to help prosper your business.  In the meantime get going and make the most of the tools you have!

Additional Resources:
PicMonkey:  A wonderful online (free) picuture editing service which also allows you design a Facebook Timeline banner.

The Etsy Seller Handbook:  Full of handy tips on being a seller, crafter and maker.

Little Garden

There was a time in my life when I dreamt of simply having my own space and planting little plants in teacups and I am happy to say that is now a reality...well it has been for quite a while. A post on Design Love Fest got me thinking about my own small indoor garden.  I have a few more plants in my growing collection and use a white tray from Zak Designs which works well for moving my little garden to the best sunny spots.  This succulent needs to be potted - a weekend task for sure!

Gone are the days of drab, dying pot plants - let your imagine lead the way with vertical gardens, terrariums and interesting planters.  Time to get working on a green space of your own.

Take a look at these for some home gardening inspiration:
Design Love Fest's Need More Plants post
Wig Vases:  These are so cool and beautiful
DIY Cement Pots:  Clever and on trend

Nurseries and garden centres can recommend indoor plants and remember to chat to them about care tips.

New York: Treasure

Last week I received a Kate's Paperie bag all the way from New York from my dear friend Claire. Inside were some rather magnificent and spectacular gifts!  Stationery which includes letterpess cards from Sugurcube Press, Benefit perfume, a sequined collar and a very pretty day planner were amongst the gifts!  I really love New York (who doesn't) and these special things were an awesome surprise, offering me a slice of the Big Apple!  Thank you Claire!

Check out these awesome sites for some inspiration:
The famous Kate's Paperie
International Arrivals

Weekend Reading: Blog Inc

I recently invested in Blog Inc - a book by Joy from the blog Oh Joy!  I really enjoy learning more about blogging from every angle and as always it helps me to assist my clients even further.  If you need some inspired reading then this is the book for you!  Great tips and insight that can give you that blogging boost that you might need.  I love that fact that the creative industry is creating text books, but in a nontraditional sense.

Isla Designs Shoot

I recently worked on a product shoot for Sam of Isla Designs.  Lauren snapped the photos and I styled the shoot, Derryn Semple another Durban photographer also worked with us on this.  It was great fun and awesome to provide a service that will allow Sam to grow her business by presenting her lovely products in a professional way.  You might remember Lauren and I offer our Cake and Photos service.  We are working on a bunch of cool things at the moment in order to offer even more.  So as I said on my banner - things are changing so watch this space!  See the rest of the photos here.

For Sale: Vintage Bag (SOLD)

This rather darling vintage bag is for sale including the three brooches pinned to it.  I am tempted to keep it for myself, but I have something very similar and thought it fair to share!

Tapestry bag with mock tortoise shell clasp and handle details.  Included are two vintage brooches and one new brooch.

Measures:  23cm x 19cm

Condition:  Excellent and appears to never have been used.  The lining is pristine and clean.

Price:  R250 (ex postage) Bag has been sold.

There are two postage options ranging from R35 (normal) to about R70 (overnight).

To buy this rather lovely bag - email me.

Seven Things: i love

Last Friday I visited Genevieve's shop in Galleria - i love.  A beautiful space full of locally created items.  I spotted these seven things, amongst many other amazing items.  The shop offers a welcome break from traditional mall shopping - a piece of individuality.  Enjoy my seven things (via Instagram - NadiavdMescht).

1 >  Olivia Villet Finger Puppet:  Created with the utmost care and attention to detail, these little characters are are bound to make both baby and mother smile.

2 >  Genevieve Motley Swan Necklace:  Elegant and just plain lovely.

3 >  Isla Designs Art:  This little Polaroid artwork will fit perfectly in our home.

4 >  Freshly Found Pincushion:  The sunny yellow will brighten any craft room.

5 >  Savior Brand Co Keyring:  Leather, pink and unexpectedly practical...I am really loving their work.

6 >  Terry Angelos Heart:  How sweet is this bunny drawing!

7 >  Kristi Kyle Bow:  The palest of pastel shades and so perfectly on trend - treat your locks to one of these.

Easy Tape DIY

This is one of the easiest things I have done in a while!  No crafty skills needed - just some craft paint, masking tape, scissors and a paint brush or two.  I cut masking tape and stuck it on some cardboard and had fun painting all over it - see my crafty mess here.  Once it dried, I used a fine paintbrush to make the little gold dots over the light coral.  Super easy and simple.  Wait for the paint to dry and it will be ready to wrap a gift or for some crafting.  The masking tape has a great texture and is absorbent so the paint dries well without flaking or cracking.  Happy painting!

House & Leisure

I am proud to say that today my first post for the House & Leisure blog is up and you can read it here.  I am exceptionally happy to be contributing to this awesome publication.  Each month I will be featuring and submitting Durban talent and products and spreading the news about our city, its creativity and interesting people.

Today's post features Enaba - a local hand thrown ceramics brand.

Featured: Jen-Jen

Today I am featuring Jen-Jen Designs a very cool batch of local designs and decor items.  Take a look at her blog and see what she is making and creating.

Let's hear what Jen has to say...

Did your business start as a hobby – what was the inspiration?
My business started out as a little bit of a combo between a hobby and making a little bit of cash. My hobby of photography and graphics combined with a business mind for selling artwork is how my collection blocks came about.  After my collection blocks I added a decor line - of ottomans, cushions, lampshades, revamped furniture items and so on.

What do you think sets Durban aside creatively from the rest of South Africa?
I think the thing that sets Durban aside creatively is the laid back lifestyle we have. Durban has directly inspired me to use our local slang - which is translated and used on my artworks as part of my South African range of blocks. An example is 'kiff ' which I recently found out is not used in most other parts of the country and is considered seriously uncool... thank goodness for Durban. 

You tend to up-cycle and recycle unusual items and give them new life – what set you on this path of recreation?
The thing that set me on the path to recreating old items is simply just following the eco / up cycling trend. I studied Interior Design at varsity and I did my thesis on green design and revamping old items to fit the role of another / new items.  I think that’s what opened my eyes to seeing things in a very different way from what they are.
Your designs were exceptionally well received at this year’s House & Garden Show – what advice would you give creative business owners on product develop?
My advice would be to never give up hope, chase after your dreams and fight for what you believe in. Don’t get despondent when people don't love what you do, this can easily kill the joy you have for what you do. The best thing about a creative business is that you spend every day doing what you love, so make sure you are doing / making what you enjoy. Once things get busy and your business takes off you want to be happy doing it and still be just as proud of your products as when you first started. When you are developing your products they need to be pieces you believe in and think the world of - you need to be able to sell your product and have pride in what you have created.

What is next for Jen-Jen Designs?
What's next for Jen-Jen...? Hmmm who knows... I  have huge dreams and I know someday I will reach them. Over this last year I can’t believe how quickly my little business has grown. Over the next few months in preparation for our Christmas season I’m working on a new creative home decor range, new designs for my collection blocks, a range of framed sketches and a few more up-cycled items.

Market Tips: When Sales don't go your way

The recession, our economy, lack of income, rising costs – we know the drill and the constant challenges we face!  The bottom line is we all have less and less money! What this means for creatives and crafters selling their wares is usually a decrease in sales. In a recent report I compared sales from markets in 2009 to markets in 2012 and saw a general decline across the board despite the fact that creators and crafters are getting more skilled and local industry is growing.  I have seen this trend amongst fellow market stall holders despite the excellent quality and level of innovation on their stalls.  In the past people could buy several options of the same product whereas now we see them deliberate for half an hour on which one to choose.  The focus – they can only have one!  This is all normal and despite this relatively simple example – there is a bigger picture.  I recently talked to a leading investor and financial manager about how the recession is affecting you and me as well as how long it will continue.  Income is staying relatively the same, but the cost of living is increasing and so the small amount of luxury money we have is getting depleted by responsibilities.  The effects of the recession are set to stay with us for a couple more years so put your creativity to good use!  Creativity often blossoms from the most difficult of situations and circumstances.

It isn’t all bad and no…you don’t need to pack up your market stall or give up on your dream just yet.  Let’s chat about a few ways to keep sales going and what to do when your market sales aren’t going the way you had hoped.

Keep Overheads & Costs Low:  All crafters love stocking up on new supplies, but we often get carried away.  I suggest keeping a detailed inventory list in order to know what you have at all times.  Much like the idea of stock take, but rather supply take.  This will decrease wastage and unnecessary buying.

Develop New Ideas and Products:  When in the development phase buy minimums of what you need in order test the idea or concept.  Don’t go ahead and buy meters and meters of fabric and supplies if you don’t know how the idea is going to pan out.  Once you have a successful prototype – take note of what you need and then buy in bulk for production.  No use in buying 20 meters of felt that you are never going to use.

Test Items:  This is strongly linked to the tips above.  If you are concerned about a product being very different to your usual offering – then test it.  Make only a few and see what sales are like, if the product is well received go ahead and plan for production and bigger quantities.

Research Trends:  What is happening in the rest of the world and what is the longevity of a trend?  We all know geometrics are in, but do they fit into your business…is there room for a new trend driven line?  We love local, but in order to succeed we need to branch out and stretch our wings – see what is happening around the world and develop unique ideas based on your findings.  I love looking at the Renegade Craft Fair for inspiration and general direction.

Keep a Record of Sales and Analyse:  Keep a record of what you sell.  I keep a detailed sales sheet at each market to keep track of what I am selling, but also to keep track of my spending on the day.  For example – lunch, juice etc – this all eats (excuse the pun) into your profit.  Compare your records from various markets and understand what the general buying trend is for customers.  Sales always differ and it is hard to pinpoint why one thing sold out one month and didn’t sell even one another month, but careful records can definitely offer long term insight.

Take Photos:  Take photos of your stall once all is setup – that way you can have a visual record of what it looked like.  I always like to go back to photos of past markets especially the good ones and see what worked and how I can improve my setup and layout.

Have a Sale Section:  Some sellers hate the word sale and think that is shows that your products aren’t doing well, but in fact a sale is a positive thing. It opens up space for constant product evolution, change and development.  A small sale space offers the clients with a small budget the opportunity of still sharing in the beauty of your products.  If you don’t like the world sale – work on a creative name instead.  Advertise your sale in your newsletter, on your blog and through social media.

Don’t get Despondent:  Possibly the most difficult of all the things to do especially as an independent business owner.  Times will get better – keep working hard and above all stay unique and original.  Don’t take ideas from fellow stall holders in the hope of improved sales – it isn’t fair and you would hate it happening to you.  It is also important to not blame people.  In difficult times we often like to blame market organisers, but in turn you need to ensure that you are doing your absolute best – I mean really... your best!  If you do have a market related grievance discuss it with the organisers in a friendly, respectful way and come up with solutions together.  Complaining is time wasted – finding a soloution is time well spent!

You aren’t Alone:  Once you realise this you might feel better.  Setup a craft group and meet every now and again to discuss the unique challenges that we face.  I found it so wonderful to chat through our common problems and know that I am not alone.  There are some things that only we understand!  Craft groups can also offer valuable insight into new ways of doing things.  There is strength in collaboration and joining forces.

Lastly – Take a Break:  We live in a busy world and sometimes your imagination just needs a timeout.  Take a month or week off – develop some ideas and before you know it inspiration will be blossoming.

I hope you have found this useful – please feel free to share your tips with me…I would love to hear what you have to add.

Little Lamb

This little lamb falls into the category of 'so ugly it's pretty'!  I found it at the SPCA and just thought it was so cute and kitsch.  When I saw Kim Longhurst's Sprung Lamb it reminded me of this little fellow.

Wishing you a very happy Monday!

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