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Kathie Fitzgerald’s Indispensable Guide To Crafting a Business

For an incredibly long time, I have wanted nothing more than to start my own business selling handcrafted products. Over the years I’ve dabbled in a number of crafts which I’ve enjoyed, holding on to the belief that one day, I’d be able to make a living from my passion.

Courtesy of ArtsyBee at pixabay.com

Sadly that day never arrived!

I’ve made products which were sold in the family business, and I’ve made things to give as gifts – which were always very gladly received, I’m pleased to say – but I’ve never taken that leap of faith into the great unknown and set up on my own.

Courtesy of pexels at pixabay.com

I’ve now decided, however, that now is the time. There’s absolutely nothing to stop me from giving it a go… Although it would help if I could make up my mind as to what I want to create and which craft I’d like to get more involved with.

Courtesy of Skyangel at pixabay.com

But while I may be fairly confident in my abilities as a crafter, it’s the business side of things that scares me a little. My dad and sister are the ones known for their business acumen in the family – me, not so much… Although I have despaired at some of the ridiculous antics of the candidates on The Apprentice!

However I’ve stumbled across a really useful book that I think is indispensable for anyone who wishes to start a craft-based business. It’s called Crafting a Business: Make Money Doing What You Love by Kathie Fitzgerald.

It’s not a new book but out of all the books that I’ve read that explains how to start a craft-based business, Crafting a Business, I find, is the most helpful and inspiring. The book is divided into two parts. The first part contains profiles for various female business owners as they outline how they got into their particular craft, started their business, built their brand etc. The fact that many of these talented women are self-taught, never attended a course, or had to overcome life’s trials and obstacles in order to get to where they are now, is nothing short of inspirational.

The second part of the book is what is called the Business Crafting Workshop which gives instructions as to how to structure a business plan, finance your business, develop and market your product etc. For those of us who don’t have  much practical business knowledge or experience, it’s a great starting point to help you get your business off the ground.

OK, I’m done with part one, now time to tackle part two!

Wish me luck!

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10 Things You’ll Understand If You’re A Craft Addict

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I’m so glad to include a craft section to this blog. I absolutely love crafts. I thrive on creativity and love unleashing my inner artist, allowing my imagination to run riot. Over the years, I’ve tried my hand at so many different types of crafts: jewellery making, soap making, paper crafts, confectionery, creating gift baskets, floristry… the list goes on. And I’ve enjoyed every single one. I am now going to try my hand at découpage, and yesterday I drove Mr. D. mad as I insisted on him taking me to the nearest craft store to pick up supplies.

courtesy of LeoNeoBoy at pixabay.com

courtesy of LeoNeoBoy at pixabay.com

There are a few places I consider to be my happy place – and the craft room is one of them. Nothing makes me happier than to be knee-deep in flowers, with gluey fingers, glitter in my hair, and pieces of fabric scattered about the place. And although it’s my virtual home that has acquired a craft room, I’m hoping it won’t be long before my real home acquires one too. Mr. D. take note!

Courtesy of ArtsyBee at pixabay.com

Courtesy of ArtsyBee at pixabay.com

And it seems that I’m not the only one. There’s a keen army of crafter’s out there that’s growing bigger by the day. Many TV shows that feature arts and crafts have made it ‘cool’ to get creative. But cool or not, it’s most definitely a fantastic way to unwind which is just what’s needed for today’s hectic way of life.

Courtesy of meim at pixabay.com

Courtesy of meim at pixabay.com

For those of you whose idea of a wild time is to find as many uses as possible for odd pieces of ribbon, the following will be easy for you to relate to:

1. JUNK? NO WAY!

I collect the ribbons from chocolate boxes, tissue paper from gifts,buttons and beads that have fallen off  clothes… many may regard these as waste that needs to be binned, but to me these are inspiration for a new craft project and these bits and bobs are bound to come in handy.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

To illustrate my point, I remember taking an order from a bride who wanted flower girl baskets but had left it a little too late. I had just one weekend to come up with two baskets in a rather unusual choice of colour.

So I dipped into my box of trusty oddments, and came up with tulle remnants, pieces of ribbon and a small bunch of silk flowers all in the desired colour. I had one happy customer and my sister never laughed at my box of junk again!

2. SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES

You’re too well-mannered to tell your friends what to buy you as a gift (unless they badger you of course!) but they know you so well that even though designer brands are in, they know that you would actually prefer to make the chocolates… Or candles… Or scarf… Or jewellery yourself. So what’s the gift of choice for the girl (or guy) who likes putting their hands to creative good use? Sessions at a craft workshop of course!

 Courtesy of pexels at pixabay.com

Courtesy of pexels at pixabay.com

There are workshops and classes available for a variety of different crafts which last from one day for something quick and simple to several sessions which run for a period of several weeks or even months if you really want to get stuck in. It’s a really unique and thoughtful gift – just perfect for your craft mad friend.

3. HERE’S ONE I MADE EARLIER

Likewise when you need to get a gift for your friend, you’re more likely to reach for your craft box rather than your device to scour the online shopping sites. You know that there’s nothing more unique than a handpainted teapot, screen printed T-shirt, beaded scarf, or studded leather wristband you’ve created yourself.

of Couleur at pixabay.com

Courtesy of Couleur at pixabay.com

One of our most stunning wedding gifts is a glass vase that was etched with a gorgeous jasmine design, complete with our names and the date of our wedding. It’s beyond beautiful, extremely personal and deeply treasured. It reminds us of our friends every time we see it.

4. FIX UP, LOOK SHARP!

Your favourite T-shirt has a rip in it? No problem -you simply stitch it up, add some embellishments and it’s as good as new. Wooden coffee table literally on it’s last legs? Once it’s been repaired, gets revamped with a brand new coat of paint in a bold colour, it looks better than ever before.

Curtesy of karennagato at pixabay.com

Curtesy of karennagato at pixabay.com

Nothing ever gets thrown out because you enjoy transforming it into a work of art.

5. YOU KNOW WHERE IT’S AT!

There isn’t a craft store you haven’t heard of, a craft book or magazine you haven’t read, or a craft site you don’t know about.

When I first got into crafting, I used to sit at the computer for hours, finding craft sites and purchasing all kinds of wonderful items from them. A ‘quick browse’ around local craft stores would see me leaving with a big bag of goodies.

Courtesy of skeeze at pixabay.com

Courtesy of skeeze at pixabay.com

On our last visit to Edinburgh for a week long break, Mr. D and I came across a very quaint, little craft shop and of course, I couldn’t resist going in. We left empty-handed.

NOT!

6. YOU HAVE THE BASIC KNOW-HOW

Courtesy of Skyangel at pixabay.com

Courtesy of Skyangel at pixabay.com

You’re able to identify a variety of crafting tools and explain what they’re used for. You know how to convert measurements with ease. You know your antique rose from your blush pink, and you can talk floristry techniques for hours.

7. WHEN OTHERS SEE AN EMPTY JAM JAR READY FOR RECYCLING…

of HealthKindness at pixabay.com

of HealthKindness at pixabay.com

…you see a container for a new batch of marmalade, jams, or chutneys you plan to give as gifts; a drinking glass for your homemade brew; a new candle holder in need to decoration; a storage jar for your craft bits and bobs; vessel for your new snow globe…

… That is how you think like a crafter!

8. MAGAZINES ARE THE NEW CARPET!

Courtesy of kconcha at pixabay.com

Courtesy of kconcha at pixabay.com

You can barely see  the flooring in your house because it’s completely covered with this months craft magazines which you love flicking through for inspiration for new craft projects  and to find out what’s new in the world of crafts.

9. WHY STOP AT ONE CRAFT???

Courtesy of webqueen at pixabay.com

Courtesy of webqueen at pixabay.com

My friends and family know about my passion for floristry but I like to mix it up every now and again by indulging in other crafts. I have another friend who’s known for her fabulous candles and cross stitching; my former floristry tutor can also add balloon art and jam making to her creative bow; my father-in-law, while known for his amazing wood sculptures has also created art from glass and leather, and many of my former floristry classmates are fantastic when it comes to baking, sugar craft, fruit carving, sewing, table decorations and favour making.

Talk about a talented bunch!

10. YOU’RE A HAPPY LITTLE CRAFTER!

Someone once told me that being a florist suited me to the ground because I was such a happy person. Well I don’t know about that – I have my moments just like everyone else – but it’s true that crafts really do bring out the best in me and I’m happiest when I’m getting stuck into one of my projects.

I know a lot of other crafters feel the same. There’s nothing quite like designing and creating something beautiful yourself. And if it’s admired by others, so much the better. And if you can actually make a living out of selling your crafts, then you’ve really hit the jackpot.

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This probably explains why the three years I spent at flower school were among some of the best years of my life. Not only did I learn so much but I was among like-minded people who loved getting creative and using their imagination – and boy did we have a laugh! There was the odd row but mostly – we laughed!

 

The Better Living Series#4: Make Me A Happy Home

Our houses are so much more than just shelter from the elements. It’s the place where we expect to find peace; feel safe; be ourselves; relax; represent who we are; have friends over, and most of all, be happy!

Image from pixabay.com

Image from pixabay.com

As an excited first-time homeowner, it’s so important that the place that Mr.D and I call home is somewhere that brings us a lot of peace and happiness – a place that we can’t wait to come home to every day. And happiness doesn’t always come from designer kitchens, finished basements, and Olympic sized pools – although I wouldn’t say no to any of those! But quite often it’s the simple things that that make a house a home and bring a sense of peace, happiness, and well-being. These are the things that make mine a happy home.

1. LET’S GET PERSONAL

Many of us would like to live in the kind of home that wouldn’t look out of place among the pages of Home and Garden – or in my case, MTV Cribs! But in trying to do so, we get so bogged down with the details concerning our chosen theme or colour scheme that we discard anything that doesn’t ‘go’ with the decor – even though quite often these are the very things that reflect our personality and gives the home we live in a sense of identity and signs of life.

A few of your favourite things

A few of your favourite things

I’m often quite underwhelmed by homes that don’t seem to contain anything personal or tell me anything about the people who live there. To me it feels a little soulless. So I love to see photographs, artwork, holiday souvenirs, collections on display, a library of well-loved books, home made furnishings, home-grown flowers in a vase… anything that tells a story and says something about the habits, interests and personality about the owner of the house.

True there should be some flow between personal objects and the style of the house but with a little imagination, you can bring together the most eclectic of objects bound together in your own inimitable style. So our house is most definitely going to refect our love of travel, rock music, food, family and friends, 1980s nostalgia, angels and… Lego! Now that’s some story to tell!

2. DISPLAY PHOTOS

There’s hardly anyone out there who doesn’t carry some kind of device for taking photos which means that they can literally snap away any time, any place, anywhere. Taking photos has never been easier. But unfortunately most people have a tendency to just leave the photos on their phones or tablets or upload them on to social media and then just forget about them. When I worked in a gift shop, most of my customers would only really buy photo frames or albums as a last resort. “Well that’s what Facebook’s for,” they’d say.

Well I personally think that’s a waste of a good photo.

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When I lived at home with my family, I was photo mad. My room was a shrine to me and Mr.D. which some people found nauseating but who cares! Then I framed photos and put them all over the house which annoyed my family as they kept knocking them over. Which in turn annoyed me if the photos were just left lying there, or worse the frame was broken. And when we moved to the States, I couldn’t bring my mammoth collection with me but I made sure I had enough to put all over the apartment.

I love displaying photos and I don’t think a home feels complete without them. There’s nothing like seeing the faces of the people you love most every day, especially when they can’t be with you in person as often as you’d like. Each photo tells a story and gives you the chance to relive memories. I’ve also found that photos can be a real talking point when you have guests over – especially with people you don’t know very well.

And there’s an array of gorgeous frames available to suit everyone’s taste, to simple and elegant to colourful and funky. Yep, I’ve got the lot!

3. A SOFT SPOT FOR SOFT FURNISHINGS

As the child of parents who own a soft furnishings business, I definitely have a liking for soft furnishings – much more than Mr. D does. I think they add a touch of luxury and a lot of comfort and really make a house feel like a home. True, I’m not into doilies, you’ll never find chairbacks or armcaps on my sofa, and I’m not sure how fussed I am about tablecloths. 

 

But I know that I’m most definitely a fan of curtains. I appreciate the beauty of a well dressed window as well as the practicalities of providing privacy and retaining warmth. Beautiful bedding is a must; beanbags and floor cushions provide extra, informal seating for guests, and I don’t believe that a couch is really a couch unless is got throws – perfect for snuggling under when you’re watching TV or surfing the net – and a truckload of cushions. Not that Mr. D would agree with me!

And what I love most about soft furnishings is that it really is the quickest, most convenient, and possibly the cheapest way of instantly changing the appearance of a room.

4. SIMPLY SCENTSATIONAL

Like songs, certain aromas are highly evocative and have an effect on our moods, feelings and well-being. But quite often how fab  – or unfab – your home smells is often overlooked.

When I used to live in a house-share, some of the highly pungent foods that my housemates used to cook would make me want to gag. I would have to hold my breath as I walked into the kitchen and I would be afraid that the not-so-sweet fragrances would be lingering on my clothes. And I couldn’t even escape it in my bedroom where the dreaded smell would be wafting up into my room. So even though I do have happy memories of my time in the house-share, this was not one of them!

But pleasant aromas can have a positive effect on us and can make us feel refreshed, calm, energised and can induce sleep. Everyone knows why people eager to sell their homes are keen to have the aroma of freshly baked goodies wafting around their home, and its that same smell that can be delightfully welcoming to a guest visiting your home. That and freshly ground coffee, and beautifully-scented cut flowers.

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I’m not really a fan of air freshener or highly fragranced cleaning products with that ghastly synthetic smell, so I wouldn’t use those. But I do love good quality scented candles and incense sticks; good old-fashioned drawer liners and lavender sachets; essential oils being used in oil burners, floral-scented water spritzed over bedding, and an aromatic bath doesn’t just do wonders for you but also makes your bathroom smell divine.

And although I wouldn’t normally have it in the house the rest of the year, I really don’t think Christmas is Christmas without some festive-looking and festival smelling pot pourri!

5. MAKE TEA-TIME A REAL TREAT

It wasn’t anything as grand as afternoon tea in a posh hotel or quaint tea-room but growing up, tea-time was a pretty big deal in my family – especially when I went to Granddad’s house. Everything stopped for tea! I guess that’s where I get my love of afternoon tea from.

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Unfortunately with the hours most of us work, tea at four o’clock every day is impossible. It would however make a fabulous,  relaxing weekend treat – just what’s needed to help you unwind. And why not go to town by using real china, cake stands and serving lots of scrumptious, sweet, creamy delicacies?

There’s no reason why tea-time at home shouldn’t be every bit as enjoyable as at your local tea shop.

6.  HAVE A BAKE-IN!

Closely linked to number five, baking used to be regarded as something that your mum or gran would do especially if you needed cheering up or deserved a treat. But for a long time it wasn’t really considered cool or especially trendy. When we wanted a birthday cake or fresh bread, we headed over to our local bakery rather than whip something up ourselves. We all live such hectic lives that when we get home after a hard day’s work, the last thing we feel like doing is creaming butter and sugar!

I knead to bake!

I knead to bake!

But baking can be relaxing, enjoyable and therapeutic.  And shows such as Great British Bake Off, Masterchef and Next Great Baker have reignited our enthusiasm  for baking and enabled us to get happy with the mixing bowl again.

Baking is an activity which involves all five of the senses. Who doesn’t love the sight of prettily iced cupcakes; the texture of bread as it’s being kneaded; the taste of choc chip cookies; the aroma of delicious home baking, and best of all, the sound of everyone happily tucking in!

7. CANDLELIGHT

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If there’s something else I think that makes a home complete other than framed photos out on display, it’s candles – and lots of them. And if they’re scented candles then that’s even better. There’s nothing like the cosy, warm glow of candlelight to bring that touch of magic into your home. It’s great for when you want to unwind, meditate, or get romantic. Candlelight is also great to fall asleep to but for this I would strongly recommend the common sense option of battery operated candles.

8. CREATE YOUR OWN SPACE

When Mr.D and I lived in London, we had to make do with a flat that was a little on the cosy side! But despite this, Mr.D and I both marked out places that were our ‘spots.’ These were places where we could put our feet up; watch a bit of telly; read; have a cuppa; blog or do crafts (me!) play computer games (definitely Mr. D!) and have it looking the way we wanted it to look.

When you live with others, I think it’s important for you to pick a place in the house that you can call your own: a place where you can talk on the phone; read a novel; write etc. and generally just slow down, enjoy your own company and be lost in your own thoughts. Absolutely nothing wrong with that!

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Your own space could be a comfy armchair by the window; a window seat with a nearby bookcase containing your fave novels; a corner of the room with bean bags, floor cushions and a side table with all your fave knick-knacks on it. In fact who even says it has to be indoors? Maybe you could relax on a blanket beside gorgeous, sweetly scented rose bushes in your garden, or a bench under a tree.

In one episode of Wife Swap, I came across a lady who had built a thirty thousand dollar meditation feature in her garden, which she never used for meditating but she did like sitting out there and admiring it (admittedly, we don’t all have the budget for that!)

9. TO READ OR NOT TO READ

Knowing that printed literature is fast becoming obsolete makes me feel sad as just looking at a book puts me in a better mood. To say that I am a bookworm is something of an understatement. I grew up with books, newspapers, and magazines and I cannot imagine a world without them.

Yes, I know that E-readers are all the rage and that everyone reads newspapers and magazines online these days. But when I was growing up, the focal point of the sitting room were the bookshelves that contained Dad’s vast collection of books which he used to sit and read most evenings in ‘his space’. And I like the fact that some kind of reading material perched on a coffee table gives a home a nice ‘lived-in’ feel.

 

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And taking a look at people’s bookshelves also tells you a lot about them. Mine reveal my love of crafts, writing, studying languages and chick lit. My mum’s extensive collection of recipe books gives away her love of cooking, being a bit of a feeder, and ambition to be the next Masterchef! My brother’s books show that he’s sports mad, while Mr. D’s reading material point towards being a Trekkie and avid watcher of Game Of Thrones and that he loved Brian Jacques books as a kid.

10. WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS

Sleep: the one thing that most of us can’t get enough of and would never say no to more of – if only we had the time!

When I’m sleep deprived I am not a happy bunny but then, who is? That’s why it’s so important that your bedroom is a tranquil haven where you can nod off easily and get adequate hours of peaceful slumber. And when I’m not sleeping, my bedroom is the place where I lounge around, read, and meditate, so it really is the place where I get some much needed rest and relaxation.

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That’s one of the reasons why I firmly believe that, if it can be helped, you should never use your bedroom for working or studying in. It should ideally be kept clutter-free and as device- free as possible which, yes I know is hard, but we all know how technological gadgets interfere with our sleep. And if you suffer from allergies like Mr. D and me, then its important to keep your sleeping area clean, tidy and dust-free.

Even though my bedroom when I lived at home was pretty loud (which wasn’t a problem for me) most people would generally decorate their rooms in calming, serene colours or darker colours which help them to nod off more easily. Use adequate blinds, curtains and poles for windows as early morning sunlight seeping into your room might cause you to wake up sooner than you would like.

11. PEOPLE!

You can decorate your home any way you like but it’s the people we love who bring the happiness and laughter into our homes. And being a born hostess who loves nothing better than to entertain, I love having friends over to watch movies, major sports games or to stay for the weekend. I enjoy throwing parties and gatherings; hosting formal dinner parties or informal supper nights, and my famous cocktail and canapés events.

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After all what’s the point of having a beautiful home of you can’t share it with your amazing family and friends?

How Cool Is That! Make Your Own Ice Ice-Bucket!

 

It’s Christmas; time for eating drinking and being very, very merry! Socialising is one of the best things about the festive season, and I love having a full house.

Of course, along with drinks comes the need to keep them cool. I found this method for making a beautiful ice- bucket using a plastic bottle and water! You can decorate it however you like using a range of materials. The end result is stunning – and costs virtually tuppence!

 

You Will Need:

Empty 2ltr plastic bottle

Empty 1ltr glass bottle

Water

Decorative materials for ice-bucket e.g:

flowers

leaves

fruit slices

petals

sprigs of herbs

berries

food colouring etc.

METHOD:

  1. Cut the top off empty plastic bottle.
  2. Place glass bottle inside.
  3. Fill two-thirds of bottle with water.
  4. Push decorative materials around the sides (or add food colouring. Do not stir if you want a marbled effect.)
  5. Stand the bottle in the freezer for 4-5 hours until frozen.
  6. When ready to use, run glass bottle quickly under a hot tap so that it slides off.
  7. Place hand-crafted, highly original ice-bucket on the table along with drinks and mixers.
  8. Wait for admiring comments!

TOP TIPS:

  • Use boiled, slightly cooled water for a crystal clear finish.

 

  • You can also apply the method to making ice-bowls to serve ice-cream (place a smaller bowl inside a large one) or make shot glasses.

 

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