Author Sinead O’Connor
Over the years I had done a few day courses on making jewellery, I then decided to do an evening course at Cornwall College which I did for a year. My course started with the basics, making a ring, a bangle, hammered effects, we then progressed onto bezel setting and toggles & clasps. Like a lot of crafters that I have met over the last few weeks I decided to change my hobby into a business when I could no longer work due to illness.
When I first started thinking about selling my jewellery I asked a few friends what they thought of my jewellery and was really pleased when they said that they would buy them but were they just being nice? Then they asked me could they buy it, result!
As I was growing up I quickly realised that unfortunately if someone was going to get caught doing something they shouldn’t, it would be me. So I then looked into what I needed to do to set myself up a business in crafting. The government hmrc site is really helpful.
So I registered as self-employed, I also set-up a business account with Barclays Bank in Redruth, (the ladies who work there are really helpful). Barclays gives small businesses their first year fee free to get you started, I also signed up for a card reader that will take payments with the use of my mobile phone. I needed to upgrade my phone but that meant that I transferred the payments for it to my business account meaning that I can claim it as an expense on my business. The only problem is that if the fayre is somewhere that you can’t connect to the internet and have no mobile signal you can’t use it.
A friend tipped me off in July to apply for Nancledra & Bedruthan Steps Christmas fayres. I was really shocked that you had to apply so early, who starts planning Christmas in July, I now know that crafters do! I was really disappointed when I got turned down for Bedruthan Steps, but they did send me an email to explain why and explaining how I could improve my application which was really helpful. I also got turned down for Nancledra.
I was by now thinking am I mad, is this really going to happen or am I just dreaming? I went to see Jo Wojtowycz, a friend of mine who is an experienced potter who started out on the craft fair markets. Jo told me that I needed to start out with the smaller fairs, school christmas fairs, local markets, charity events and that I would need to get a social media presence. The smaller fairs would give me the experience I needed on how to set-up my stall to display my goods the best, what sells well, what sizes to make and what I need.
So I set about creating a social media presence, I started with facebook and created my page Sinead’s Silver Design . I invited my friends to like it and so it began. I now check my facebook page regularly (I definitely needed the better phone) and I receive orders from it, I started with 2 likes and I am now up to 125, hopefully more once this is published. I now have an instagram and a twitter account as well, each of the accounts do slightly different things. The facebook account I use to promote fairs and put up some pictures of my stock, the instagram account will ultimately be used to show of my stock and the twitter account is news from the workshop. Facebook also has lots of crafters groups which tell you about fairs and give advice.
I applied for a few more smaller craft fairs and got accepted. I quickly realised what Jo advised me is correct, it has taken me about three fairs to get comfortable with how I want my stall to look. I have learnt that people want business cards with your facebook page details and an email address. Customers like their jewellery in an organza bag and love having a choice of colours. I learnt there is a real art to talking to customers, some want just a hello, some want to chat and some will be scared off if you chat too much. Customers like if you are making something and need the stallholders to be there, but not if they are scowling!
Christmas is the busiest time of the year for a crafter and I have a market or fair every weekend, my friends have also ordered jewellery for friends and family. I have realised that you need a fair organiser to be proactive with advertising, they need to choose a good location with either very good passing trade or with good parking. I have become a regular with the Saffron Trading Company in Camborne and with the Heartland Markets Events who are both very good promoters.
So my plans for the future, in January 2016 I am starting an evening course at Truro college so that I can learn about casting with silver and enamelling. I am going to develop my social presence more by designing a website, setting up a folksy shop and getting some more professional photos taken. I am also going to try and find out about getting insurance so that I can teach people how to make their own wedding rings or presents in my workshop.
If you want to find out more about Sinead’s Silver Designs head to her Facebook page.