Another guest blog post, this time from Etsy Shop StanleysMummyMakes and Emma Hutchinson. I’ll let her tell you her story….
So here I am, about to turn 36 at the end of the month and writing my first ever blog…scary huh? Firstly let me express my thanks for being given the opportunity to do this and explain that what you are about to read is my internal monologue written down, I have a child under two years old, I spend 90% of my time with him… you could be in for a rocky ride.
This last year has been pretty momentous but in a completely subtle way. No fanfares, party’s or the like but small risks and changes that have turned our family life around.
Rewind to Feb 2015 and I was returning to work after my maternity leave…I was both excited, I had loved my job for the last 18 years and secretly I was looking forward to conversations that didn’t revolve around gripe water, nappies and the breastfeeding debate if I’m honest…and sad to be leaving my baby boy at 8 months old but I’d found a fabulous childminder, so far so good!! A few months in though and I was really struggling to keep all the plates spinning, keep a clean tidy home, be a good mum, and give 100% at work…I was often up and out early, and home late. I fell out of love with my job. Then a serious health problem raised its ugly head within my family, and I began thinking that life is too short and that family is THE most important thing. Things changed, slowly at first, I went back to my art and design roots (I studied Art and Design to A Level then Graphic Design and Illustration to degree level)…doodling and crafting became therapeutic but also got me thinking!!
I knew I wanted to finish work and stay at home with Stanley but couldn’t make the figures add up…while I was maternity leave I had made a few items, Christmas wreaths and countdown plaques to sell to family, friends and also to other mums at playgroup etc. I had overheard one of the other mums say ‘Stanley’s mummy makes these’ and for some reason that stuck in my head (mainly because I remember thinking, why do we lose our names when we have children??). Could I make enough by crafting items to supplement me being a stay at home mum?
I googled like I’d never googled before and decided that Etsy was the platform I wanted to set a store up on. So I did (on Aug 10th ‘15 to be precise) However, I had nothing to put in it an I started to look around for inspiration. Now this is where it gets a bit strange (especially if you are male…my husband STILL doesn’t get it!!) I am a collector of Emma Bridgewater pottery, now there are worse things in life but the way my hubby goes on you wouldn’t think it…so I often found solace in groups of like minded mostly female individuals on Facebook. I like to refer to us as ‘potty people’.
I was flicking through the new Emma Bridgewater catalogue one day and wondered how many other potty people were in my position I.e. lusting after adding to our collections but not having the bank balance to do so? I started experimenting with decoupage using Emma Bridgewater napkins and made myself a set of wooden spoons to display in my kitchen that matched my pots perfectly. One upload of the photos onto Facebook later and I had order requests. A quick email to Emma Bridgewater HQ to make sure I’m not breaking any laws and StanleysMummyMakes was born.
From then on in things went faster than I’d ever imagined. I suddenly found myself HMRC registered self employed and my notice was handed it. By Oct 12th I was officially running my own business and working from home. BUT, the most important thing is that I get to spend time raising Stanley!!
Let’s be clear, I make nowhere near what I was bringing he from my old job but I can work around Stanley, we are saving on childcare, our quality of life is better due to a work/life balance and I’m able to contribute towards household bills and family expenses.
I love what I make, I would only sell items that I am willing to have in my own home. I have had return customers and some fabulous feedback and I’m pleased as punch with how things are going.
Now, if you are reading this and wondering whether to set up on Etsy or not, I would say to you do it… you might just surprise yourself!! However, a word of caution… don’t just expect to sit back and watch the sales come rolling in. It’s hard work, and I mean bloody hard work!! Right at the beginning I mentioned a birthday looming, well at the ripe old age of 35 (what’s that, but you look so young in your photo?;-)) I’ve had to educate myself in all things social media…not an easy task. Google has become my best friend…WIDN, SEO’s, pins, tweets, likes and followers. Networking is my middle name. My phone has become my bank, diary, business planner, and social life. If you are willing to put in the hours and workload you will see results. I have had just over 250 sales through Etsy and my products are now stocked in a local Tearooms – the Yard Tearooms (Instagram.com/theyardtearooms). I am running my own business, I now watch sales figures and margin more than I ever did when I was working in retail. I am the boss (and I’ve got an Emma Bridgewater cup to prove it!!)
How did that happen?
Thanks for reading!!
The Yard Tearooms, 16-18 Getliffes Yard, Leek, Staffordshire, ST13 6HU