Interview with The Craft Collective owner Annelie Wood

In April 2015 Annelie Wood was living in Nottingham, working for the University and she had an inspirational idea to open a shop where you could have a cuppa tea and purchase beautifully handmade products. In June 2016 she opened that shop in Redruth, Cornwall.

The Craft Collective is an Arts and Crafts shop in the centre of Redruth, Cornwall with a difference. This collective of artists pay rent to the shop and get 100% of their sales back to them to help them grow and develop. They have access to networking and to a great workshop space above the shop!

Here is owner and curator Annie kicking off our Interview with the Creator project talking about what made her open The Craft Collective.

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How did you get started with art/craft?

One of my biggest childhood memories is making things from cardboard boxes, I would get beyond excited when Blue Peter were having a make session and the theme was dolls houses and I think my early inspiration really came from them. I would get wall paper samples and stick them to the walls, take images from the Argos Catalogue and use them as photos on the walls. I stuck and glued and stapled and coloured in and made the best barbie cardboard house. It didn’t stop there, my big sister was away learning to be a Nursery Nurse and would often use me as a guinea pig on her makes, she taught me how to make paper houses!! (I think our dad taught her) Which turned very quickly into paper villages. Creating has always been a big part of me and my life.

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What made you start your own business?

In September 2015 I left my job at the University of Nottingham to move to Cornwall with my partner. He had been offered an amazing job opportunity and we took the plunge and moved. This left me out of work and I struggled to find a new job. I created the business Make with Annie, making craft kits to sell so other people could have a go at crafting themselves and I started working craft markets around Cornwall. Here I met the best group of people I could imagine, they became my friends and have come with me onto the new venture!

About a year earlier I had been getting more and more into crafty things and I talked to my sister in law about how great it would be to open a small shop selling fantastic hand crafted products. My first thought was that it would be a tea room and people would be able to knit while drinking their tea and chat, and look at the products around them! But if I’m honest I never really thought any more about it until January 2016.

After a long visit home to our families I was feeling sad and disheartened about my career future. I had worked hard to establish my career and I didn’t know what to do without it. Selling at Craft markets was fun, but I didn’t see it as a lifetime job.

That was when my wonderful other half said open your shop! So I wrote a business plan, I looked at some shops, I found the shop, I borrowed money from my partner and I signed the lease.

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Describe your typical working day

No two days in The Craft Collective are the same. There are daily tasks to complete, like dusting and the accounts  and responding to emails. But you never know who will walk through the door of the shop or what they might need.

I love meeting our customers, chatting to them about their lives, telling them stories about the products. I drink a lot of tea and I can often be found knitting when I need a break from the computer!

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What inspires you?

Music really inspires me. I haven’t a musical bone in my body, but my other half does and I find that it just helps me work, it makes me smile and it really helps me to concentrate on a task. I love singing, I have to try very hard not to sing in front of customers!!!

I’m also massively inspired by those around me, the people I have met who are battling much tougher things that I am, they inspire me daily.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?

Oh goodness!

I think that I am still learning constantly, but one of the things I have learnt since starting The Craft Collective is to be open to all opportunities, don’t let being scared or nervous hold you back. Take a deep breath and head right in!

What three things would you go back and tell yourself?

Keep calm. You are more capable than you think you are. Bulk buy tea!!!!

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What has been your biggest achievement in your business?

The community that we have created already, in such a short time. The friendships that have been made through what we are doing with this business.

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What is your favourite thing to create?

Right now it’s Lino Printing everything in sight. I am too impatient though and need to think more about my designs before I commit them to ink! I also really love pottery and am still enjoying discovering my style. Apart from that I love to Crochet!

Where do you see the future of your business going?

I have hopes that the Redruth shop will continue to thrive and enable us to open a second shop in St Ives. But this is a way off in the future yet!

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