Hello Blog! ...& 2014 - WOW!
So this isn't a New Year's Resolution or anything, because I know there's about a 90% chance that this, the first blog post I write, might also be my last. Saying that, in the last few months I've been reading blogs a lot more, and kinda thinking this is something I should do, and kinda wishing I'd done it all along so I could look back on past me and take stock of how this little business is getting on. :)
Does anyone else have that app on their phone, with the cute time travelling dinosaur (of course), which kindly delves into social medias past to share with you all the silly things you said on facebook a year or two ago to the day? Well on New Years Eve last year, it informed me, I was filled with uncertainty (not necessarily in a bad way) of the year ahead. Turns out I was right to be uncertain - I could never have predicted how 2014 would shape up.
So January last year - I'd just moved into my first ever studio, a tiny wee rented office in Belfast above a takeaway. I didn't have a whole lot of work coming in if I'm honest, and really was kinda starting to consider giving up and getting a 'real job'. One of my best friends was getting married in April and asked me to do her wedding stationery (something I'd never really considered doing) and that kinda kept me going for the first few months of the year, along with a few small commissions here and there.
Not On The High Street
In March I was asked by Not on the High Street to start selling with them and that was a real turning point. I got a pretty small range of cards together, but a range nonetheless, and a few other bits and pieces I'd been selling at fairs and the orders started coming in... slowly but surely. For the first time I had a pretty steady flow of online orders, and therefore a pretty regular income along with regular craft fair-ing. YAY!
So April brought the wedding, and I got to see all my stationery actually in use, which was pretty great... oh yeah, and I got to see my best friend get married and spend a whole weekend with my absolute favourite people! I ended up making the invites (above), menus, place names, and geometric favour boxes. The whole project was a real challenge, and I found myself surprisingly LOVING it! (I didn't really think I was a weddingy person before)
Also in April I landed a part-time job, which was a pretty smart move all round... got a regular income, kinda gave me a bit more of a structure to my week and met some really really lovely people. Also met my super-supportive boyfriend at the interview (it was his job I got when he left), so that one interview kinda sorted my whole life out quite nicely. :)
Fine & Dandy Market
In the summer I became a Core Exhibitor for the Fine & Dandy Market. I'd been selling pretty much every month for nearly a year up until that point at the market - I can hands down say it is definitely the reason I started (and kept going) at this whole self-employed lets-run-a-business thing and what led me to eventually set up Paper Picnic. I first exhibited back when I first graduated and didn't really have a clue what I was doing, never mind how to make a stall look good or actually sell my work. The market totally adopted me - it's such a wee family of makers, all doing what they love and full of support and advice. So now as a Core Exhibitor I'm there every month, and I'm helping out a bit behind the scenes, something I'm hoping I'll be doing a lot more of in 2015. :D
Crafty Fox Market
Okay - Autumn! In October I got accepted into the Crafty Fox Market in London as part of their 'uncovered' scheme for super-new businesses in their first year. I was completely over the moon and really couldn't believe my luck. I'm still completely stuck in that mindset of 'oh wow, I don't deserve to be here'. But anyway... I packed all my work into a tiny suitcase and flew over to London and it was amazing! The other exhibitors were lovely and I got the chance to talk to so many lovely people about my work and just soaked up all the learning I could! Got back home buzzing and super-motivated about actually making a real go of this wee business.
Renegade Craft Fair
On a whim of 'maybe I can do this' I applied to Renegade as soon as I got home - a HUGE American craft fair who host so many amazing designer-makers who I absolutely idolise! - I knew I completely didn't have a chance. So late one night not long after that when the email came through that I'd actually got a place I was in complete shock - and that lasted pretty much right up to the event, and even during it. That month of prep was the most stressful and exciting thing I've done so far. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but I knew that even if I didn't sell a single thing it was still gonna be amazing! Think I probably made more stuff in that month than I did the rest of the year combined.
The weekend itself was amazing - I'm not ashamed to say I was a bit star-struck... I was selling alongside people I really really admire, and I was actually selling! I had two amazing days worth of sales, positive comments, and advice from other makers. I went home on a bit of a high, which might actually have been exhaustion (note the crazy tired faces below). It was also a huge learning curve and I've learnt so much about stall presentation and what I like about my work and what I want to change.
The stall had a mix of all the products I've built up over the last year, or since I set up Paper Picnic back in March and a few little extras just for Renegade! Including..
-Cards (incl. Christmas cards)
-Hand-printed lino prints
Renegade kind of set the tone for the Christmas period. Not on the High Street went absolutely crazy! I doubled my total sales within a couple of weeks of launching my Christmas range, and it stayed that crazy right up until the final postal days. I was absolutely overwhelmed (in a good way) and its completely set me up for an exciting 2015... I've SO many ideas, and I'm so excited to get started. I LOVE my job! If you've bought anything from me online, or met me at one of the markets THANK YOU so much! You'll never know how grateful I am for each and every sale, and I really hope I can keep doing this for a long long time!