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.

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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.
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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.
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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

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The month of May

I celebrated my birthday over the first bank holiday weekend and enjoyed a family barbecue followed by a pleasant warm evening in the garden with a bottle of Dark Horse and a selection of very prettily decorated cupcakes given to me by friends.  It was all very nice indeed and lovely to have a little break from sewing.

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Hubs bought me a set of 72 watercolour pencils by Arteza which is pure joy to look at – such a rainbow of colours – and exciting to use.  I’m not a fantastic artist, but I do enjoy a little doodle and have missed having a professional set of pencils to use.  I’m drawing little ditties to add interest to my product photographs – but I’m aiming to expand my drawing skills in time.

Ellie's Treasures hand sewn butterfly keyring

On the Ellie’s Treasures front, I’m over the moon to have secured three Norfolk based craft markets for later this year, Belles at St. Nick’s, Pensthorpe Christmas Craft Market and Deepdale Christmas Market – all the details of these can be found here.

Coming up very soon is an online Facebook market being run by Showcasing Dreams that I’m taking part in.  Running from 8pm 7th June until 9pm 9th June, the theme is “Up, Up and Away” – think of hot air balloons, rainbows, wings and all thing that fly!

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The selection of pretty items that will be available to buy is amazing – with six goodies entered by myself, some which have been sewn especially for the event and one item being a totally new product line for Ellie’s Treasures that I’m so excited about (more on that in another post).  There is also a generous giveaway attached to this market with voucher prizes to spend during the event.  You can find all the giveaway details here –  clicking the “going” button on the notification page will mean you are entered – entries close 6th June – good luck!

accessories and pictures hand sewn by Ellie's Treasures

 

Instagram: March Meet The Maker

March Meet The Maker 2018 on Instagram

Last month I took part in an Instagram hashtag challenge run by Joanne Hawker called “March Meet The Maker”.  Designed to take a peek into the lives of creatives, which, apart from being a little nosy (and aren’t we all from time to time), helps to get to know the person behind the wonderful creativity you see popping up in your timeline.  It’s also the perfect way to find new people to follow and interact with.

The idea is to post a daily photo that is relevant to the daily challenge title.  Finding a window in the day to prepare, photograph and post each day was fun (I did get a little behind at times and even had to miss a couple of days) but I actually miss the relaxed discipline of taking a daily picture and adding it to my Instagram feed.

Each daily pointer gave the viewer an insight into how the maker started their craft, their routine, their down time and all the little ins and outs of creating and running a small business.

Of all the daily titles, the following three were my favourites:

Day 14 Dreams & Plans – where I shared my dream of owning a bricks and mortar shop.
Instagram March Meet The Maker 2018 Dreams and Plans

Day 22 Sketchbook & Lists – photographing my 90s Filofax which holds all my notes, supply information and new idea lists and sketches.
Instagram March Meet The Maker 2018 filofax and creative work in progress

Day 29 Community – a chance to thank my online community for their support which is a vital and necessary part of running a small business.
March Meet The Maker 2018 - Community

You can see the photos of all participants by clicking this link: #marchmeetthemaker – I hope you get inspired as much as I did when viewing the amazing array of photographs.

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