To understand this post, let’s rewind three years…
This time, three years ago, I was painting, making toys, and getting ready to go to college in the Autumn. I had no money, so I used to use whatever I got given to make whatever I thought I could make. I painted with acrylics because Ian had a box full of them, I made toys out of old socks, because I got given a big bag of them from the charity shop I worked at, I made greeting cards because they were cheaper for people to buy than paintings.
During the summer of 2010, I did the Pannier Markets at Granary Wharf – I loved them, loved wandering around them meeting new people, and really loved the fact people bought what I was making. Best sellers were greeting cards, and badges made from old toys. Because I loved shopping there, I sent CVs to Hobbycraft and Paperchase, asking if I could work there, even for free, because I felt like I might be able to leave the house to work in those places.
It was also when I moved into Bird’s Yard. My booth started off looking like this.
As you can see, I was first to move in, because I was going away the day of the shop opening. What you probably can’t see too well is that on those shelves are paintings, toys, greeting cards, fabric covered books, some jewellery, and some handmade envelopes.
During those first three months, it became clear that people liked buying my cards and jewellery, which is unsurprising as they were my best sellers on the markets. I expanded the shop, and focused on making jewellery, and finding other jewellery suppliers to specialise in independent jewellery.
Fast forward three years, and I have my own little shop. During those three years, my tastes have changed, I keep seeing things I’d like to sell which aren’t jewellery or which don’t match my branding, so I haven’t contacted them. Recently, I’ve been very unhappy, and not excited by my job. This is disastrous when you’re self-employed.
Then a few related things happened – A friend of mine asked me why I didn’t sell zines, and another friend said she was surprised by how much jewellery was in the shop because I don’t wear that much. Someone else, hearing me moaning about a supplier who hadn’t sent me new stock yet even though I’d asked simply said, ‘stop selling jewellery then.’ Finally, the No Stripping Studio moved in next door, and I started getting excited about buying paint and making things other than jewellery.
It was like a lightblub going off. My recent additions had all been greeting cards, and jewellery people I knew had been branching out into stationery items (such as Finest Imaginary’s moleskine notebooks, and Butterscotch & Beestings’ printed tape) so without realising I’d been changing my stock slowly. I also took note that people loved the studio because they would buy finished furniture, OR they could buy the different things they needed to do up their own furniture.
So I’ve decided to evolve into a sort of Indie Paperchase – there’s some jewellery still, but mainly custom made stuff, or people who make things other than jewellery. I haven’t actually ‘got rid’ of many suppliers – the ones who I’ve decided to move out, strangely enough, were all the ones who were thinking of giving up making jewellery, or who have other jobs which mean they don’t have as much time as they used to. There were a couple who left, and with sadness on my behalf, because they’re lovely people, but their jewellery didn’t sell very well – I’ve asked them all to let me know if they do anything more related to the new direction.
The last couple of weeks, I’m excited again. I’m sourcing interesting stationery from around the world, finding new suppliers who don’t make jewellery and therefore I’d never thought of stocking before. My customer base on social media sites seem more excited.
Who knows what the future holds – for now, I’m happy to sell stationery alongside some of the old favourites, and I’m putting together my own crafting kits (which I think deserve their own blog entry another day)