Look back … look forward.

Happy new year to all my readers, I hope you’ve all had a good festive season with time to recharge and look ahead to 2019.  

Christmas themed bag charms.
Christmas themed bag charms – the little black cat with a Santa hat was a personal favourite!

The lead up to Christmas is often a busy one for small businesses, especially those that involve selling, and it is quite a relief to have a little downtime to collect thoughts, look back on the past year and then look forward to the new one with new ideas and optimism.  For me the beginning of the year is often quiet on the selling front and I should by now be used to this and try not to get a too twitchy!  There are so many things involved in running an indie business that a space of quiet like this should really be a blessing to catch up on non-sewing work, but naturally you can’t help hearing those inner voices casting small nuggets of doubt about your craft and where your path is leading.

As these thoughts can pop up at any time, I keep a month by month journal listing anything positive that happens with regard to Ellie’s Treasures. When the doubt sets in, I find it a help to look back and see that business is not stagnant, there is always something in the pipeline, always something to work on and improve and, hopefully, a lovely customer or two that comes along at the right moment with a compliment that makes you start to believe in yourself again.

A monthly list of positive steps that have been taken in your business.

The last few months have been a whirlwind of sewing, listing, restocking and selling so I thought I’d share with you a couple of lovely things that have happened since the Autumn and a few plans for the coming year.

I can now show you photos of an artwork commission I received back in September and completed in October.  It was a privilege to work alongside my client and be trusted with such a personal birthday present and seeing it come together, piece by piece, was really fulfilling.  

Mixed media hand sewn artwork commission.
Close up detail of mixed media hand sewn artwork.

The end of November and beginning of December were busy craft market times for Ellie’s Treasures with Pensthorpe Craft Fair and Deepdale Christmas Market over two consecutive weekends.  Both were extremely busy and great fun. It was a pleasure to meet so many supportive sellers, customers and visitors, it really does make the early mornings and late evenings worthwhile.  I’d like to thank Lottie of Lottie’s Little Treasures (who was also selling at Deepdale with her beautifully gorgeous goodies) for taking the time out of her busy days to track me down so we could meet in person – it was a lovely surprise, thank you so much.

Plans for 2019?  Well I have a few new ideas up my sleeve! I’ve just started to introduce planner charms to my range, two are now listed, one is waiting to be photographed and several are ready for sewing. The clip charms are cute and original little accessories that will brighten up any thin ring bound notebook, diary or journal – perfect for the stationery lover.

Hand sewn unicorn planner journal charm in pink.
cute unicorn planner charm in pink – a new line for Ellie’s Treasures

I’ve been hearing on the grapevine that nature will be featuring big this year, so I’m in the process of developing a range to include more tactile embellishments along these lines.  Also, getting Ellie’s Treasures out on the road is something I’d like to do more of as I really enjoy meeting folk face to face. This does mean I need to be sewing a lot more than I already am so a big challenge there for me as time always seems to be against me.  Finally, perhaps this year will be the year I start my own shop website – we’ll see … one step at a time!

Do you have exciting plans for 2019?  Drop me a comment, I’d love to hear how you see the year progressing for you.

Advertisements

Self employment – the importance of getting out of the workroom

As much as self employment is liberating, it is also hard work!  There are so many positive aspects to starting your own business: the chance to do what you love, learn along the way, progress and reach your personal goals, but there are downsides too.  One of these, and it is often talked about, is the feeling of isolation – those get up from your desk for a catch up in the coffee room with fellow workers kind of situations are missing when you work from home.  Social media can be a fantastic way to chat with others from so many walks of life, but many of us still need face to face contact that can be absent in the world of self employment.

indieroller meet up stamford oct 2018

Last Saturday I had the opportunity of meeting a wonderful bunch of local indie business owners and found it was the perfect time out solution.

indie 9

Organised through the Facebook Group The Indie Rollercoaster by Kate of Clumsy Kate and Small Biz Straight Talk, I had the pleasure of also meeting Beci of From Little Greenwoods, Rudy of Roodles Runique and Hannah, together with her adorable son, of Apples and Pips and Budding Smiles blog.

indie 8
Colourful vinyl sticker by Rudy.

We met at Cosy Club in Stamford (Lincolnshire) and got to know each other over a delicious lunch (or in my case a cooked breakfast).  As each of us is at a different point on our business path it made for an enjoyable, interesting and informative few hours where we could pick up tips (so many tips), bounce around ideas and get inspired to continue keeping our businesses ticking along.

After lunch we headed off to The Meadows, a large green area positioned alongside the River Welland. It was a warm and sunny day so the perfect opportunity to take a few product shots surrounded by picturesque scenery.

“BEAUTIFUL” framed print by Beci, t-shirt by Kate and pin brooches by Elaine (oh, that’s me!)

It will be fabulous to get together with these ladies again in the near future and hopefully encourage the group to grow so we can begin to support each other on a regular basis.
indie 10.jpg

2017 TRANS logo 50 x 50 png

 

Black Cat Appreciation Day (but all cats are adorably lovely)

black cat

Cats have been in our family since forever and so I can declare that I, and hubs, are big feline lovers.  Although I don’t remember Winkie (the first cat on my side of the family), according to old cine-film of me as a baby, he was around from the day I was born – a super cuddly, rather chunky ginger puss.  There have been so many others after him: Misty, Tandy, Checkie, Sandy, Titus, Kuching … the list goes on … in fact I can’t remember there ever being a time when a cat hasn’t been in our lives.

As a couple, we bought our first cat Jasper soon after moving in to our first flat.  He was a one in a million medium/long haired black and white moggy rescue from the Blue Cross in London.  I still miss him, he made a big impact on our lives and those of our close friends and he is still talked about many years after he moved over to cat heaven.

black cat appreciation day

Our current puss is Pepper.  Although not exactly a rescue, he was an unwanted kitten from an unexpected litter and as we’d just moved in to our current home we felt he’d be the perfect lucky black cat for us.  He guards his patch, as many do, but he is such a wimp too!  He scoots off to hide behind the washing machine when people visit and leaps off the windowsill if something scares him outside.  He loves a lap in the evenings and is picky with his food (his tastes change from day to day, so you can’t stock up on one type of cat food!).  The funniest things about Pepper are his disdainful looks and changeable attitude towards Poppy, the dog (friendly one minute and lashing out the next) – you get the picture I’m sure.  We adore him, as we’ve adored all the others before him and all those that are to come in the future.

fish eye lens black cat
one of Pepper’s “looks” as seen through a fish eye lens

So, today being Black Cat Appreciation Day, we are celebrating all black cats around the world, including our lovely Pepper.  I know some countries believe black cats to be unlucky – if they cross your path bad luck will follow.  For me, I have always seen them as lucky mascots, especially if on runs across the road within my sight.  My son and I used to share a private joke as I’d drive him to and from collage – it seemed every black cat we saw running across the road would result in a “kerching” on my phone meaning an Etsy sale.  We had quite a long run of this happening, but I can only assume the black cats have gone away for their Summer holidays these last two months as this weird and wonderful phenomenon sadly seems to have stopped.
hand sewn black cat keyring
Cats also inspire my creations.  I have quite a collection of different cat themed charms and am always on the look out for new ones to add to my supplies as I know I am not alone in loving felines, black ones or otherwise.  Below is a photo of Oliver with a commissioned cat themed bag charm which he seems to appreciate as much as his owner (the perfect charm to replicate Oliver himself)*.

hand sewn cat bag charm
gorgeous Oliver with his owner’s cat bag charm

Just by browsing the social media sites you can see how much we love our cats … but are they more popular than dogs?  Who knows

thank you for letting me share this super photo “L”.

2017 TRANS logo 50 x 50 png

Commissions, local shopping and cream teas!

Commissions are always a joy to complete and this month has seen quite a few coming my way (thank you all so much).  One in particular put a big smile on my face, a bi-fold fabric wallet – an item I haven’t sewn for quite a long time.  It was good to get the batiks out of the fabric drawer and start the long hours of cutting, pressing and hand sewing.  There’s a tiny chance I may start making these again for the shop as they have always been popular due to the striking colour schemes and handy size – we’ll see 😉

hand sewn batik and upcycled fabric wallet purse

I can’t believe our luck with this long run of glorious warm weather (I’ve done it now, it’ll probably rain tomorrow).  The garden is coping well and the vast majority are sturdy enough to not need a good dosing of water, just those that are potted need a little help every other day.  I think it’s the first time in the 11 years we’ve been here that the water butt has been drained dry so I’m trying to be as economical as possible with water from the tap.  Flowers are so beautiful to have around the house too so I pick a little posy each week to display near my desk.  The small glass jar is one of a pair we found buried in the garden when we first  moved in … I do love hidden treasures of history.

picked from the garden summer posy

In a mission to step away from the PC and sewing basket for a short while and spend some time with friends, we recently headed out to the small market town of Long Sutton.  As it was market day we had a little mooch around the stalls and picked up a few bargain pot plants and dainty lace.  We also discovered a little haberdashery squeezed in among the other shops – so teeny tiny you could probably only fit 4 people in there at one time, but it was crammed full of colourful fabrics, felt, wool and all the embellishments you could possibly need.  I would never have know it was there, right on my doorstep, if I hadn’t ventured out to explored my local area and this started me thinking how I have slipped a little into becoming a slave to internet shopping.  Yes it has its positives, as in prices are often cheaper, but there’s also many downsides, most notably the lack of face to face contact, those friendly exchanges between customer and shop owner/assistant that can easily lead to a beneficial relationship for both of you.  Popping out to the local shops to support them and help keep them running is vitally important in this day and age where so many small businesses are struggling to make a livelihood.

shop local haberdashery

Before heading home we popped into another small business – Mal’s Vintage Tea Shop – a treasure trove of vintage and handmade items surrounded us as we sipped tea and coffee from pretty mismatched china and enjoyed the delights of perfectly baked scones, butter, cream, strawberry and blackcurrant jams. This tea shop is a real find and I’m planning on returning with hubs in tow.

Lincolnshire cream tea

Enjoy the sunshine everyone! I hope your month has been a good one – stop by and let me know what you’ve been doing.
2017 TRANS logo 50 x 50 png

New product alert!

hand sewn mixed media picture

The “Up, Up and Away” online market with Facebook’s Showcasing Dreams starts this Thursday evening at 8pm and it seemed the perfect opportunity to launch my new product range – mixed media mini artworks.

Choosing felts, fabrics and embellishments is a big part of my making process (and such a fun part too), and even more so when making these little pictures.  As the market had a theme, I chose an aeroplane charm to kick start the creation, adding printed tree fabric, a snippet of ribbon showing a suitcase, pretty trims, buttons and embroidered stitching finishing with the words “explore the world”.

Ellie's Treasures

The picture took an age to sew, tweaking this, adding that, and you can see from the work in progress photo that my ideas changed from first thoughts to finished product.

At just 8cm x 6cm (1.2cm depth), the picture is mounted on a little canvas and comes complete with a natural pine easel – perfect for displaying on a shelf or desk and a super gift idea for the traveller.

Ellie's Treasures mixed media canvas

If you’re looking for original and beautiful presents or a treat for yourself you will not be disappointed by the vast range of lovely items available to purchase so do try and pop along (put your legs up with a your cuppa and piece of cake as you browse).  The market will be open from 8pm Thursday 7th June until 9pm Saturday 9th and the password needed to purchase will be supplied at the start of the event.  Hope to see you there!

mixed media hand sewn canvas picture

2017 TRANS logo 50 x 50 png