Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Made by Emma . . . . .Woodhouse?

Just a quick entry before I go down and help decorate the St Gabriel's Hall Christmas tree.

Saturday sees my third craft fair (they're like buses, you know) so over the weekend, I was busy replenishing my stock of Christmas cards - because if they were ever going to sell at a craft fair it would be this one! I now have over 70 although I haven't even started making personal ones yet (note to self: GET A MOVE ON!)
I also picked up a few more frames to paper-piece. I have been commissioned to make one as a Christmas present for a friend so I shall be posting that one after C-Day but I still had two to do for Saturday. This had me stumped and for the best part of yesterday evening, I sat in front of my laptop thinking up a new idea - I felt it was too soon to be repeating designs.

I can't remember what exactly sparked this idea but it is one I had already considered. Kind of. I  have a list of ideas for my paper pieced pictures, one of which was dresses. But that is such a wide theme. And then it hit me:

Regency ------ Miss Jane Austen

I love the three books I have read (three because I haven't got round to read the others yet) and decided to base my next creations on the work of Jane Austen. I felt it was pretty obvious which one I should do first: Pride and Prejudice. I sketched out a regency outfit - finding an amazing dress-up game on Deviant Art in the process - and found some 17th century style paper to make the dress out of. I added some detail using coloured pencils before sticking it down to the background. To finish it, I hand wrote those famous opening lines from the novel and attached that with sticky pads. I thought about added a bonnet to the outfit but maybe next time. I have to come up with my quote first. I feel it should be from Emma, but I have left my little book of Jane Austen quotes at home so I will have to really on the internet.

I also want to share another of my latest creations. One of my course mates is a massive Suits fan (for those who don't know what that's about, its a legal drama based in New York) and she recently celebrated her birthday. So naturally, it had to be a Suits card. 
As I do with all my cards, especially ones with a pop culture theme, I shared it too my Tumblr blog and had a rather large response. My friend had also shown it to her Suits fan friends who said 'That was YOUR card????' The word is spreading! Today: Manchester, tomorrow: the World!

I did receive possible the best thanks I have ever had from a card from Jen though:


That made me laugh.
She actually asked me today for some Suits themed Christmas cards to send to friends. Suddenly, World domination doesn't seem that far away any more!

Friday, 23 November 2012

The Advantages Of Being A Student

I have just come back from a talk about self-employment for graduates and it made me realise how much easier it is to set up a business while still studying. The first thing of course was the workshop itself. I am e-mailed about various workshops and lectures etc going on in the university and normally pay them little attention but this one caught my eye for obvious reasons: Working for yourself: how to get started. I made up my mind then and there that I was going to go along and it occurred to me this morning, as I was heading down, that if I wasn't a student, I wouldn't get this opportunity. I also wouldn't have access to all the advice and facilities that the university has to offer.

Being a student has so many advantages when trying to start a business. If you have been following my blog you may remember how it all started: there was a fundraiser in my halls of residence. If I hadn't had that opportunity, I doubt I would have a Facebook page or blog or twitter, hell, Made by Emma wouldn't exist! There is also that safety net when you are a student. Yes, you are a young adult, yes, you are independent and yes, you have no money, but it is the safest time to make mistakes. Students generally only have to look out for number one, there is no worrying about bringing up a family or serious financing and mortgages and such like. All we have to worry about is our studies and whether our loan will reach till the end of the fortnight. We have everything going for us and don't even get me started on us being the digital generation!

This is turning into a bit of a rant/pep talk to student entrepreneurs (there, I said it!) and I didn't mean for that to happen but this talk psyched me up to do lots of business-y things.

The talk did highlight some things that I really need to consider. Things like a timeline for when I want things to happen by, an actually business plan and, possibly most importantly, that one thing that I keep hearing everywhere: NETWORKING. 
These are things I am going to try working on in the near future but for the time being I have to focus on another point: balancing things and organising my time effectively *cough cough architecture *cough cough.

So a blog entry to keep you occupied while I get on with course work and you wait for my new cards to come up on Facebook later including Christmas cards. They, and craft fairs and fundraisers will be the topic of my next entry - no more ravings for the time being!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

There's Good Days and Bad Days . . .

Reflecting on the last couple of weeks bought to mind this Kaiser Chiefs song. I have had not one but two craft fairs in the last fortnight and as you can probably guess, one good and one not so good.

 Victoria Baths was my first fair and it was amazing. No, more than amazing. Words cannot describe how  awesome it was. 
I arrived at about 10:45am which gave me more than enough time to set up and meant I didn't have to hang around longer than I needed to in the cold cold baths (6 feet of cold air underneath you + glass roof + old victorian building - heating = absolutely freezing my tights off!) The fair officially started at 12pm and it got busy very quickly. My parents came all the way from home to visit the fair and they had to queue to get in. At 12:30!!!!
They found me as I was making a sale and I never really stopped making sales. My brother, who had been on a Young Enterprise team at school helped me to re-arrange my stall and to help draw customers in. He seemed to be taking over a bit although he denied everything but it did help so much as I had never really done this kind of thing before.
So, Jamie's top tips for running a stall:
1. Scatter business cards on the table, not just in a box - people are more likely to pick them up.
2. (For card makers) Don't leave all your cards in the box, spread a few out on the table. Apparently boxes scare people!
3. (Again for card makers) Put you best designs at the front of the box - this draws people in if they see something they like and would encourage them to delve deeper.
4. ENGAGE!!!! Jamie couldn't stress this one enough and if I didn't get in there quick and say hello to everyone that came within 5 ft of my stall, he would! Not only was I instructed to greet everyone, when every someone looked at my card-lympics, either me or him explained the story behind them.
5. Don't display all your stock at once. I had a lot of repeats so they went back in my bag for the time being. This reduced the number of cards on my stall and made it a bit less daunting to those having a browse.

Baring all these things in mind - and repeating myself quite a lot - I had a very successful day. I even sold a couple of my paper pieced pictures - Iron Man went to one of my fellow stall holders and Alice and the Cheshire Cat was sold so quickly! A man just came up and asked how much it was and bought it just like that. Then he bought half a dozen cards as well! Probably my best customer of the day.

So that was the good, and here is the bad.

If you have been on my Facebook page recently, you may have seen that I have been supporting a project called Tube Cubed. This is my university project at the moment and it's a pavilion that we are building for Dunham Massey's winter garden. We have been working on this for the last couple of weeks (hence why I haven't had much time to post). I offered my services as a card maker to try and raise some funds. This leads us onto my next craft fair. I was told about it on Monday and was umming and ahhing over it until it was suggested that we could sell the off-cuts if we sanded them down to a good finish and decorated them with sketches, illustrations and, courtesy of one of our group members, names written in Chinese. After a very stressful week of cutting, sanding and varnishing tubes (Check out our blog if you want to find out more) it was nice to sit down and doodle. 
It was an early start on Saturday to get the the fair in Prestwich but we managed it in plenty of time and got our stall set up. I would share the photos but for some reason, my laptop isn't reading my card at the moment so they may have to wait. 
It was looking good apart from our part of the table being a little bit in the corner. And then it opened.

And nothing happened.

Nobody came.

Well that's not strictly true but there weren't very many people there at all. We sold a few cards and a few more wooden decorations. It was a bit of a flop of a day really. Later, we found out that the conservative club up the road was holding their Christmas fair that day, which probably explains the poor turn out. It was worth a try though, better luck next time I guess.

I already have my next craft fair lined up. It's in Chorlton on 1st December. So watch this space!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Craft Fair

This post is unbelievably over due and for that I apologise. Everything had been so chaotic that sleep has had to be put on hold. I hope that this isn't a pattern for the future - I'm not sure I'll be able to cope!
This week, university-wise has been chaotic! I have had to work full hours during the day and sometimes into the evening which means I have very limited time to get on with my craft fair preparation. And the fair is this Sunday! I have been able to get on with most of the thins that need doing but still have so so much to get ready.

I spent the Halloween packing my cards into bags and wrapping shoe boxes in wrapping paper while watching scary movies with my room-mates. It was only then that I realised I had ran out of A6 sized bags with still over 50 cards to pack! So tomorrow morning I am off into town to get more along with the float for my stall. 

It doesn't sound like I have much left: two paper pictures, about 20 cards to make and the rest to pack. But it's the time remaining that's the problem. I have tonight and tomorrow morning to get everything done as I am, surprise surprise, busy again Saturday evening although I can see myself getting very little sleep as I make last minute arrangements. Despite all of this, I am so really really excited about the fair. My first fair, in an architecturally stunning building to raise money to restore it back to its former glory.

But for now, I am going to share some of my goodies:

First up are my Christmas cards. This are obviously a major item for this fair as it it less that two months until C-Day. I made a similar card to these a couple of years ago and decided to re-introduce them at the fair. I created cards following the same theme. These I have also made before, I found the template in one of my magazines but this time I added a message and some hand drawn stars to finish them.

Item(s) number 2:
My card-lympics cards. My heart is screaming NOOOOOO at this but all they are doing is sitting in my big card box looking pretty. So they are going to be sold - but I will be making it known what they are! I have the photos for them but it will be sad to see them go :(

My last items are my paper-pieced pictures. This still need to be done, well, two of them anyway - this is what I shall be spending my Friday evening doing! I have currently done Iron Man and one of my favourite designs - my silhouette guitar. The other two that I am planning on doing are Alice in Wonderland themed. Yesterday, I made sketches of the original illustrations and I am going to paper-piece the scenes of Alice and the Cheshire Cat and Alice and the Caterpillar. These are going to be slightly different to the originals and I wanted to avoid Disney. 

I must go now but I hope this has convinced you that I haven't fallen of the face of the Earth! I shall write after my craft fair to let you know how it goes! Wish me luck