Category Archives: Business tips

new year, new me?

New year new me Marna Lunt blog

Do I really need to make a better version of myself because it’s January? Well I think in an ideal world we could all be better people in some way or other, couldn’t we?  

Let’s just take it as a given that we are all the kindest and most respectful people we can be, because we try to be that all year, every year, hopefully. In the last year the world has gone through a large change, one of uncertainty, of fear, of lose. I think we’re all feeling that a bit. In the face of that I am going to continue being kind, honest, tolerant, patient, open minded, thoughtful. That’s how I can affect others on a day to day basis and that’s not going to change.

New years resolutions

Every year I find myself thinking the new year must bring a fresh start for me, a new beginning with the longest list possible of things I MUST do or I’ve failed. Not this year. This year I’m just going to be a bit kinder to myself, stop setting unrealistic goals for myself. I spend most of my time winging it. I have absolutely no idea how I’ve accomplished as much as I have so far in business, pure luck mainly and a lot of pain and stress that really wasn’t clever or necessary. I never plan anything, I’m very spur of the moment, I hate planning, I just want to make stuff and as lovely as that seems it really does have a big knock on effect. Especially to my health, and after pretty much completely breaking myself last year that all seems a bit silly now.

So is this year going to be a fresh start? No. I can’t completely change myself and my nature just because it’s January. A complete change would need to be made slowly, over time, and surely you essentially are what you are? Thats the point of individuality and personality. I’m never going to suddenly start going to the gym every day, to have more confidence, to behave in a way I have never done before. To decide to do that because of a date is the most rubbish reason of all to me. I know I wouldn’t see it through and then fail and then feel crap. So lets be realistic. What can I actually do, in my work, to make myself happier? Not changes exactly but maybe add a few processes.

Stop writing bloody daft lists!!

Like I’m going to stop writing lists?! NO!!  I LOVE lists, but I need to write the right sort of lists. Lets not write a list of what I feel I ought to be doing whilst comparing myself to others on the internet. Realistic lists that I can actually affect and that are in my control.

Stop trying to do too much!

It’s highly unlikely I’m going to stop doing too much, that’s too big a step to do instantly. That’s quite a lifestyle choice.  My general outlook each month is to let my brain try and do a million things at once, never finishing anything quite how I want to before starting on the next project, so loads of projects end up whirling around my head all at once and I freak out. Feels a bit pants being like that. I’d like not to do that quite as much. Stick to the blooming realistic list Lunt!! Stop going off on one you numpty! I’m going to do all the stuff I need to (the clue is in the word NEED to) but I will use a process that makes things more manageable instead of terrifyingly chaotic.

Keep in mind who I am and accept it instead of fighting it.

I have discovered over this last year of therapy that I am an introvert. Yes, to those that know me and have met me that probably seems mad. But I am. I find social situations really really hard. Exhausting actually. I simply can’t change this, no matter how much I want to be the life and soul of a party, the most fun person in the room, the popular one in the cool gang. I need a huge amount of solitary time. I need quiet. I need space. If I don’t have those things I quite literally lose my mind. I MUST make sure I make time for head space. I’ve accepted that and embrace it. I used to think of it as selfish, but no it’s not, it’s sensible self preservation. The people that need me can’t access me unless I do this, that’s not selfish.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like the company of others. For instant I love teaching. That means travelling a lot and meeting new people and giving everything I have to those people, at that time. Not a normal habitat for an introvert BUT one which in small doses I LOVE LOVE LOVE. And you know why? Because I actually really like attention. I am most definitely an attention seeker. And I can be really good fun, honest. Love and attention from others gives me life affirmation. It makes me feel I have a purpose, and who doesn’t want that! I always saw that as a negative too, something that should be hidden. But admitting that feels rather nice.

Still finding my place in the world.

Last year I turned 40 and you would think that at this stage in my life I’d have pretty much figured out what I’m doing…..

Oh no no no.

Couldn’t be further away from the truth. I am a muddle, I’m still very childlike and insecure. I lock away my feelings and rarely deal with emotions. I just ‘get on with things’. “Must remain positive under all circumstances.” Thats got me pretty far in life but there comes a time when your bucket just gets too full and overflows. The only way to resolve this is to actually feel those emotions that have been hidden for all those 40 years and go through the pain barrier. Thats what I’m doing now.

I am raw, I am experiencing things mentally and emotionally that I really don’t want to but in order to move on I have taken the decision to be better at my life. To explore and feel life in a healthier way and that takes more time than I thought, years in fact. I am beginning to figure out my worth and my place in this world and it’s quite confusing. But that’s okay, because that is normal.

I have lived in the spotlight of social media for a good few years now and so everyone has seen my creative journey, how I have experimented with my own style and found what I liked, what works and doesn’t work for me. Some will like it, some will be disappointed, I would have preferred to have figured all this sort of stuff out before I launched a business but it didn’t work out that way and thus the constant changes. Experience has taught me a lot, I know loads of stuff now, technically, but still am unsure whether I have found my ‘thing’. I am open to change, not too much, but a little, one step at a time. I’m pretty much sure I have my own style artistically, but accepting that has been harder than I thought. Being good enough, for me, is a challenge. Because of my lack of confidence and lack of a sense of self, I am easily distracted and this is where I try far too many things. Accepting I am good enough will always be a struggle but at least I am now aware of this.

And back to the planning thing. A lack of planning and time spent considering myself and my work ends in a mush of I wanna do everything. Lesson learnt. Take a breath, step back, take some time and think. Put the processes in first, write them down instead of keep them in my head.

So new me? No.

Enhance what I have already accomplished in a clearer, healthier way.

Embrace the me that I already am instead of trying to change me? Yes.

Blimey that was deep. I’m off for a lie down.

The art of making blog post by marna lunt

the art of making

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This year has been quite a corker, it’s my 40th birthday in August and it has spurred me on to really take stock and enjoy life more so you will have seen I’m a little quieter on the old posting thing. I’ve been branching out on a few new projects (one of which you will see on on the tele box in the coming months) mainly around teaching and inspiring people to get involved with using their hands to make things to bring wellbeing and calm into their lives, I’m very passionate about this subject, and you’ll know why from my last post.

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ARTISTS
The way I see it is that you (and me) buy professional beautiful works of art from us makers/crafters/artists what ever you want to call us. It not only helps small businesses and the economy but it keeps true traditional artistry alive when done at it’s best. It creates jobs, keeps individuality and personality and independence on the high street alive so we’re not taken over by discount stores and the mass produced often unethically sourced crap.

I want to spread my love of making to everyone, that doesn’t mean copying others by the way, undercutting them and then just selling stuff themselves. That’s not really what this whole craft revolution should be about.

Artists aren’t doing it to make a quick buck, they very rarely live in big houses and go on fancy holidays and shop at Harvey Nicks, they get by usually on a lower than minimum wage and work all hours because they LOVE with a deep passion what they do. They train for years, they learn business skills, legal skills, marketing strategies on top of the the artistic skills, techniques and raw talent they have. We need to create and we’re more than happy to do that and suffer the consequences of riches and fancy cars. We make it look easy because we’re THAT good, because we are trained professionals. Our soul, personality and essence is contained in each little piece of joy that we produce.  The creative process is about making something truly yours, (not a copy or an imitation) that’s the whole point, making something that shows the world who YOU are, not showing together yet another knock off, we have enough cheap imported tat to do that, we don’t need more devaluing our skills and expertise.

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COPYING?

I’m often asked ‘Aren’t you worried doing workshops that you’ll just be showing everyone how to steal your work?’
Well you know what, there will always be people in this world that are selfish and after an easy buck I can’t stop that, I can’t change their inner thinking as nice as it would be. What I teach in my workshops and retreats are the skill to make something that brings you joy. I have a definite style, it comes from deep within me, I can’t teach that. I can tell you how I see things, the colours, textures and processes I use to achieve my work but I don’t know what I’m going to produce from one moment to the next so I can’t see someone else doing that, being able to preempt my next move or read my mind. I will always move forward and have new ideas because I am a creative and an artist and me, just me. I teach you how amazing it is to make something that came out of your very own brain and out through your hands and into something that is ALL YOURS.


So create for yourself? yes yes yes. Create as a business? yes yes yes but do your research first.
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MAKING A BUSINESS WORK

I am saddened when I see people try to obviously emulate my style especially when they under charge and make me look like I’m ripping people off, which by the way I would never do!! But I do value my experience, my talent and my time. I charge based on costs and time and experience, I am happy to be transparent about my costs if anyone has a problem with it. People rarely have a problem with it though because they do value creativity and the importance of it.
I have tailored my business to work in this new way because when I started out as Little A Designs (now trading under my own name) I was copied to such a huge extent I was personally and creatively broken. My logo was taken, imitated and my brand devalued, my website design was stolen, even the words I’d written from the heart were copied and pasted into other peoples websites, my designs were ripped off and undercut, everything I cared about and showed the world was taken. So I had to rethink. I had to make something even more me. To separate myself in some way from what others could emulate.
I guess in hindsight this was the best thing for me because I am now in a very happy, a lot prouder and calm work wise. I know what works for me and my family life, what I can give to people mentally and still have the energy to live and have fun. My style has evolved and now is a better representation of me than it ever has been.
Lucky me for learning all this so soon into my career. But sadly it’s not the case for everyone.
drawing the details

A NEW OUTLOOK

Two dear friends have been copied extensively in recently months and I’ll tell you what it feels like, firstly, pretty shitty.  You feel isolated, you feel violated and sick and frightened that people will not realise how hard you have worked and how precious those original ideas you created are to you. You can feel paranoid and angry but more than anything you feel really hurt. I felt personally invaded. And I wanted to give up. But then I reminded myself why I was doing this whole thing in the first place. I picked myself up after a little cry and got busy being better.
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INSPIRATION

All ideas are inspired from somewhere, there is always a source for all our ideas whether it be a past master artist, the landscape, a sculpture or everyday object but what makes artists really great is the way in which their own mind interprets that inspiration and makes these evolved ideas solidly their own. I don’t just mean altering it a little, I mean finding a new take on it, problem solving, experimentation and enjoying the simple art of making something new. If you want to set up a business to sell your art it’s not just the piece of work you need to be able to make,  you need a business plan, you need to know how to cost your work competitively but realistically, you need to know the legalities of copyright infringement, tax, accounting, this makes you a business and a valid artist and not a just a hobbyist.

These are important facts that many don’t consider when they see something on Facebook, Etsy, Instagram or at a craft fair when they see some work and think ‘well I can do that’. But if you have already thought of all those considerations then FANTASTIC! Research that someones not already doing it (because even if you haven’t copied them, there may be someone out there doing the same thing as you, in which case if they got there first it’s their Intellectual Property and as much as you may not like it you’re just going to have to come up with a way of doing it differently).

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THE JOY OF MAKING

All that being said ( I got a bit carried away there, it’s not quite what I intended to go on about but it’s out there now, haha) making things with your hands is the best feeling in the world and anyone can do it. And I want everyone to do it!! Go to workshops, learn from true artisans, have a go, let go of your insecurities and experience a new skill.

In todays society we are always on the go. I know I am rarely without my precious phone in my hand. We never stop working, we never stop comparing, we just never stop and we become exhausted and lost in the cyber world. So now, more than ever, is the time we are all looking for something else to do with our hands, something constructive, a new skill that takes us back to a quieter time where we can relax with simple repetitive movements. There has been a resurgence in the creative arts recently and it is now a scientific fact that sewing, knitting, crochet are great stress relievers and act as a form of therapy.

Embroidery was used to help treat shell shock in soldiers that fought in the Great War. This is exactly one of the reasons I transferred my skills from painting to embroidery. To provide myself with an outlet that would sooth my heart. I had only ever tried the odd piece of cross stitch as a child and so have completely retrained my self and learnt embroidery from nothing. Yes I have a basic knowledge of  perspective, proportion etc but these are not things I concentrate on or impact my stitched work at all. So what I’m saying is that you can do it too! Regardless of any previous artistic capabilities.

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THERAPY

The reason I feel so passionately about this is that, art and embroidery saved me from severe mental health issues, it continues to save me as I go through issues with chronic pain, it has given me a sense of self, independence and belief as a mother and carer of a child with complex needs, I don’t want to be defined by my disabilities. Being creative is an essential therapy for me every single day. It is quite often not important what the finished piece looks like, it is the journey it takes me on that is rewarding. But obviously if it happens to look great then thats even better. My creativity and personality is what defines me.

I believe that embroidery can be as all consuming as you want, you can use a pattern you’ve bought in a book or magazine, and turn off your mind from the business of the outside world or you can immerse yourself in a complex design that makes you problem solve and challenge yourself.

Its so easy to get started now too, you’ve got nothing to lose, creativity can be shown in so many ways, through music, writing, embroidery, paper cutting, card making, the list is endless. There are no rules to follow. You can make it up as you go along. Don’t expect immediate perfection, an artist trains every day, like an athlete. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, so be kind to  yourself & celebrate each step. The secret is never compare yourself to others, make what makes you feel good.

‘To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it’

Kurt Vonnegut

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Photo credit: Eve Photography
Venue: Hope & Elvis
Flowers: Kirsty from Darling & Green
Tutor: Marna Lunt “Spring florals in stitch’ one day workshop

To book onto one of my courses if this has got your creative juices bubbling pop over to my website and have a look whats on offer.

 

Www.marnalunt.co.uk/blog

illuminating embroidery 2016

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The New Year is upon us, and I’m not sure about you but I have eaten far too much chocolate…. more than I care to mention. This is the time for us to reflect on the past year and look forward to bringing in the New Year, but instead of setting unrealistic resolutions, which are quite simply going to give us all the post-Christmas blues, why not start on exciting new adventure? Don’t ban the chocolate, take up a new challenge and discover a hobby you knew you had!

Now this isn’t a blog filled with a hard sell, quite frankly Marna’s gorgeous work speaks for itself – her passion and contagious creativity is enough to make anyone want to get stitching, but before Marna’s head gets too big, why not set yourself task for 2016 learn something new, meet new people and get creative! SO LET’S GET STITCHING!

 

Sewing for some screams back memories of strict embroidery lessons, perhaps sewing means stitching endless name tags into school uniforms or maybe you have no idea where to even start! But never fear Marna is here to give you tip top advice and give you a wonderful head start so you can release your inner artist.

Illumintaing Embroidery consists of four fabulous online embroidery workshops, each consisting of easy to follow videos hosted by the one and only Marna Lunt (because everyone should have a little bit of Marna to brighten their day!)

Marna works hard to bring you fun and informative video tutorials, where you can learn from the master, discover the tricks of the trade and grow to be an expert embroiderer. The Gentle Art of Slow Stitch 1, 2 & 3 are designed to be watched around your spare moments, you’ll also receive course PDF’s with all the important bits on which are yours to keep forever!

What’s more there’s a fantastic community on the Illuminating Embroidery Facebook group, where you can meet your fellow course mates and showcase your work! They really are a friendly, accommodating bunch that are every welcoming and always supportive!

Whether you’ve been stuck at home all day with the kids, or you’ve had the day from hell in the office, sewing is absolute escapism where you can indulge in gentle and rewarding stitching. Take your embroidery with you on the bus, sit and relax in your lunch hour or get serious in your studio Marna will be your friendly mentor and helpful guide, so you can unleash your creativity for 2016.

Speaking as your average Joe Blogs (no pun intended honest!) I work your boring 9-5 job and stitching (and blogging of course!) is my happy place, a wonderful way to unwind after a stressful day and escape from life! Whether you fancy turning your hand to lampshade making or embroidering your very own wall hanging, there’s no better feeling than sitting back and admiring your hard work where you can think to yourself …. ‘I made that!’

Take a look at embroiderycourses.co.uk and explore the world of Illuminating Embroidery Workshops, set yourself a wonderful resolution for 2016!

NEW COURSES HAVE BEEN ADDED AND THERE IS EVEN A FREE COURSE FOR SUBSCRIBERS.

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Country Living Fair Harrogate 2014

Early morning in a drizzly but beautiful Harrogate
Early morning in a drizzly but beautiful Harrogate

Last month I spent some time meeting gorgeous people in Harrogate and enjoying the incredible stands many of which were fellow makers I have met on Facebook and other social media. This was my second Country Living Fair in Harrogate, I was lucky enough to win last years Editors Choice Award so was awarded a stand this year and I couldn’t refuse such a fab space and fair.

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The difference in my experience one year was extraordinary and I thought I would share a bit with you. I’m really excited, inspirited and rejuvenated by this years fair and in a lot of ways still coming down from the high I got from meeting people and seeing peoples reactions to my work. I have to say that one of the main draws of doing a fair is that interaction with customers, when you work alone for long periods of time, there is nothing better than to get that feed back in a way that social media just can’t offer. It’s a big social occasion for us stand holders too, we come from all over the country and get to meet up, catch up and network, I have met some of my very favourite people by doing fairs.

Treefall Designs
Treefall Designs
Cheryl Ann Taylor
Cheryl Ann Taylor

There were so many more but I didn’t get a chance to photograph them sadly but I’ll mention a few favourites, Andrea Berry, Flossy Teacake, Rachel Lucie, & Jane Means.

So what I’m trying to say is that its certainly not about the money this sort of thing. If you’re a maker and you think you will make tonnes of money doing this sort of thing you may be disappointed. The stands are expensive, you have travel, stock and accommodation to think of before your time before, during and after the event. But by putting yourself out there you open yourself up to so many opportunities that simply won’t happen if you just sit in your studio.

Not very glamorous but this is what our stands start like as we start unloading our vans.
Not very glamorous but this is what our stands start like as we start unloading our vans.
Painting the stand
Painting the stand
Nearly ready to rumble
Nearly ready to rumble

 

Ta da!! All done and ready to go.
Ta da!! All done and ready to go.

Press attend events, publishers, galleries, writers, all people that might be able to help promote you, or who you could learn a lot from. You will gain advice and experience from other business people, you’ll be inspired by new interesting surroundings. The contacts I have gained during the past year have been ridiculous, just from turning up, listening, having a go and not being afraid to take a few risks here and there. I mean to be honest whats the worst that can happen, someone can say no. That’s not really the end of the world is it, it’s pants yes but no one died.

Although it looks like I'm trying to eat these lovely ladies I am actually telling them my process.
Although it looks like I’m trying to eat these lovely ladies I am actually telling them my process.

This fair was really a peak for me in terms of audience feed back and the positive things I was hearing made me realise that I was going in the right direction. That I had to keep going because people cared and loved what I was striving for. The whole weekend I was kept talking, so much in fact that I didn’t get to do either of the pieces of work I had planned to sew whilst manning the stand. I sold out of most of my prints so my shop looked a bit bear for a while. This told me that I had finally pitched myself right for the people that attend this show. But bear in mind that every show has a totally different customer and each place has a different plan needed. It also showed that you can’t do one year at a fair and think that you know what goes on there, you need to give it a few years before deciding whether it works for you. I think Country Living does work for me actually in most ways but the time of year with my fibro and me means that it can’t continue.

my stand at country living 2014

A lovely bonus this year was that I got a product feature in the magazine before the show too, which was a totally blooming fantastic event in itself. But there you go, they wouldn’t have seen me if I hadn’t exhibited last year.

Its also a great way of showing new work and ‘setting up shop’. I LOVE designing the stands, it’s a favourite thing to do, I like to put on a show a bit and create a fab feeling that is a talking point, a little room set usually. It’s an excuse for me to indulge me decorating habit but also show my personality and this year a bit of humour too. So here’s a few photos for you to look through. What do you think?

chatting to customers

marna lunt country living

display of lampshadesmarna lunt country living 2014

Because You’re Worth It

marna lunt hand stitched bettys picture

I used to watch a lot of property programmes – you know the ones, some clueless, unrealistic couple from Torquay can’t decide how beige they want their 3 bedroom semi to be so need the help of Sarah Beeny or Kirsty Allsopp to point out the bloody obvious, only for them to ignore them and buy a yurt in Indonesia to bring up their baby girl called Chlamydia.

‘After the cholera outbreak settled down and we found out which insects were deadly its been plain sailing’ remarks Mr Beige in the follow up programme.

Anyway – the bit that I’ve always found amazing on these programmes is the buying stage. And in particular the bidding.

 Eg The price is £235,000.

It often goes something like this:

‘I’d like to put an offer in of £200,000’

‘We can’t accept that – the lowest we can go to is £212,000’

And the deal is done. And weirdly everyone is happy. This is the bit that flabbergasts me to the point where I’m going to deploy 6 exclamation marks!!!!!!

When is it ever okay to give away £18,000?  In this example the answer is ‘When a total stranger wants to buy my beloved home which I’ve poured my heart and soul into, spent years doing up and where we conceived and brought up our firstborn. The stranger will give me nothing in return for this £18,000’.

This answer obviously ignores circumstances but you may see the point I’m making?

I’ve sold high quality but weird (often dull) technical products globally for over 15 years. Other than finding a seat in a crowded pub its the only thing I’m consistently good at.

Of course price forms part of value but it must be the last option when negotiating.

If the house is fairly valued at £235,000. Why take any less?  The question most sellers dare not ask when a low bid comes in is this:

‘What do you not want?

Hmmm. £18,000 – that might equate to the garage? Or perhaps the kitchen or the bathrooms? Or should we retain the garden?’

marna lunt hand stitched transporter bridge

Marna is an artist. She has painted and trained and practised for decades. She strives to be original, uses the finest materials and hand stitches her work. She runs the company on her own and prides herself on working with her customers, particularly on commissions. She also has some fixed overheads.

If no one buys your product or service and you’re confident you’ve marketed correctly then there is little you can do. You don’t have a product or service. You can offer it cheaper but why would you?  If you’ve changed it then it is a different product or service.

Marna is ever grateful to her customers for valuing what she does. It truly warms her heart.

 Apologies if you have heard this story about Picasso but I love it and believe it makes this point very nicely:-

One day Pablo Picasso was sketching on a park bench. A woman recognised him as the famous artist, and asked him for a portrait sketch. Picasso flipped to a blank page, looked at the woman for a moment, and with a few strokes of the pencil drew her abstract portrait.

The woman looks at the drawing and is ecstatic. As she reaches for it, she asks how much it will cost her. “Five thousand,” he says. “Five thousand?! But that drawing took you less than a minute!” Picasso replies, “No, madame, it took me a lifetime.”

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The Autumn Decorative Living Fair 2014

new york shade and my stand at chelsea by marna lunt

On wednesday last week me and Mr Marna packed up his little electric car and pootled on down to that big busy place down south called London. We were getting ready to wiggle our stuff at the Autumn Decorative Living Fair in Chelsea Old Town Hall organised by the rather fabulous Caroline Zoob.

Photo credit: Alice Robertson Homes & Antiques Magazine
Photo credit: Alice from Homes & Antiques Magazine

It’s been a serious honour to go to London to do this fair, Caroline rang me in the summer to have a chat about it and I was massively excited and touched that such an accomplished and talented embroideress would ask me to attend her fair. She knows what she’s taking about I can’t hide any mistakes from her. Anyway enough of the gushing, although I may start again later.

I have always been a bit scared of exhibiting in London, mainly because I know I would have to drive down, I couldn’t, no matter how much I have tried, get everything in a bag on the train. Such a big and busy place that you don’t now well is always going to be a bit daunting travelling to for the first time, so my clever hubby came with me to keep me from being on my own and freaking out about logistics.

I’m so glad I stopped being a scared wuss pants and went for it because it was grand. Stunning location, fantastic very high quality fellow exhibiters, wonderful organisation, incredibly helpful staff, set up was easy as was breaking down and  to be honest I loved every second. A long day but just the right amount of time for me know I hobble around with a walking stick a lot of the time.

simon driving in london
Simon driving through central london

marna lunt chelsea old town hall stand

portrait of olive by marna lunt with hoops

Part of the reason that I loved it so is of course because I got to be with Simon which is rare on these occasions, he got to meet my friends and put names with faces and he got to see why I love doing fairs and meeting so many of the people that follow me. He got recognised by people for his blog posts which was really wonderful to see. There’s nothing more joyful than see someone you love be recognised in his own right and be seen as I see him instead of how he sees himself. He was quite shocked that I had people wanting to take my photo (as was I actually, I don’t take a great photo, my eyes vanish) and some had come especially to see the Liberty shade. It was nice for him to see me in artist mode not just mum and wife mode, food shopping and the like.

I have to thank my gorgeous neighbour Lois who was so lovely and I could have easily bought everything she had, a lady of huge taste and kindness, for making the day a very happy one. I also spent a lot of time eyeing up the stunning flower painting that Lisa had on the other side of me. And I hugely enjoyed seeing some of my favourite creative ladies Viv from Hens Teeth, Alice from Homes and Antiques magazine and Gil Fox. Lots of their goodies  are photographed below.

Ooooo and I have found a new favourite place to buy all my favourite sewing goodies. Sonia from The Old Haberdashery, I did a bit of damage to my credit card with that one. Highly recommend.

And now for the photos, I could have taken 50 more but I thought this would suffice. Enjoy dear readers.

hand stitched liberty shade by marna lunt

venue ceiling
The Chelsea Old Town Hall ceiling
The Old Habadashery
The Old Haberdashery 
stand and ceiling by marna lunt
These shades are in my madebyhandonline.com shop
new york shade by marna lunt
New York lampshade from all angles
new york shade by marna lunt
Prints of this New York shade are available on my website for preorder
my ever faithful mr wonderful
My wonderful Mr Marna

new york shade by marna lunt

New hand drawn and hand stitched portraits launched at the show and now available on my website
New hand drawn and hand stitched portraits launched at the show and now available on my website

portrait of olive by marna lunt

So as an exhibitor I recommend it, if you get the opportunity to have a stand go for it and if you can visit and like vintage brocante chic, french linens and textiles, and handmade and vintage haberdashery and gifts then you must go. I’m not quite sure where I fit in on that list but my style somehow worked beautifully with what surrounded me.

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Lois Pinnock
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Lois Pinnock
Lois
Lois Pinnock
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Hens Teeth
SONY DSC
Hens Teeth
SONY DSC
Hens Teeth
Hens Teeth
Hens Teeth
Hens Teeth
Hens Teeth

Hopefully I will have the chance to do it again, and thanks to Caroline and the fabulous people I met both buyers and sellers who made it such a marvellous trip for me.

Homes and antiques Magazine stand
Homes and Antiques Magazine stand
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Halinka’s Fairies
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Halinka’s Fairies
Gil Fox
Gil Fox
Gil Fox
Gil Fox
Gil Fox
Gil Fox
Gil Fox
Gil Fox
hand stitched new york shade by marna lunt
Inside liberty fabric lining lit up
Lit by lamp light
Lit by lamp light

 

The Mollie Makes Handmade Awards-Established Business Award Shortlist

mollie makes awards

So last month I was driving down to Bovey Tracey in Devon to exhibit at the CCF and I stopped for a sneaky Cinnamon bun and latte at Starbucks. I’m addicted to my mobile phone so after being parted with it for over four hours of driving I needed my fix and I checked my emails.

There waiting for me was this strange announcement that I had been chosen to be on the shortlist for The Established Business Award at the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards.

Eh!?!

Me?!!

Really? ACES!!!!!

I had applied whilst out of action having to rest with Fibro. Being fed up in bed and feeling usless and thinking ah why not lets apply. I don’t stand a chance and I don’t even really know which catagory to apply for but I will not let this stupid syndrome beat me so even though I’m lying & useless, my brain is being positive and trying its hardest to keep on going.

I found it hard to know which categorary to go for because I have been on Facebook as Little A for three years but my work is totally different now and I’m really more Marna Lunt Artist than Little A now. But I thought if I went for new start buisness people would think that was a cheat because of the old style. Then I started worrying about what people would think and not what the facts are. In hindsight I would say that I am pretty experienced but because I have only done my new work and direction and taken myself and work seriously since last summer then I probably wasnt actually established compared to the proper good people they had chosen along with me. That just adds to my happiness and astonishment at being considered in their company in the first place. I feel like I had two years of work experience and a ‘temporary contract’ and this last year I was given my permanment contract and started focusing on myself with confidence and believeing it was time to take it to the next level.

You see how lying in bed can give you far too much time to think and I drive myself mad about the smallest details. What will people think, I dont want people ever get the wrong impression of me. I worry about letting people down, that they think I’m rubbish, that I’m not good enough. I’m not naturally a confident person, it has taken me a long time to believe in myself and feel worthy, I never think these amazing things will happen and I am constantly shocked when they do. I apply for things a few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of because I refuse to live with regrets and because ultimately all want is to make my children & husband proud of me and leave a legacy. As a carer I need my work badly to give me my own identity.

Anyway back to the subject, it was a week notice before I knew the awards were taking part so I presummed I hadnt been picked, I didn’t realise they were late with the final choices because of the huge amount that had applied, I was also unaware that there were only FIVE shortlisted people for each catapgory. Good god! Now that blew me away, I was one of five people chosen as best established business and I had actaully only been dojng the work I was now know for and had been senn by them doing since nivember last year. I have to say I was blown away by that compliment. I had a little weep, I told a few trusted friends who I knew would really get what a big deal this was to me, then I accepted Mollie Makes kind invitation, and then I continuee my drive down to Devon to prepare alone for the most implratnt fair I had been to to date. Bearing in mind the week before I had been in London meeting the head buyer of Liberty taking about supplying them with display items and writing a blog how to for their blog. This is not meant as a show off statement, this is meant to give you an idea as where I was emmotionally and mentally. I was confused, numb, tearful, exhausted, ecstatic. All these major things were happening, dreams were coming true and it was overwhelming but I still had to keep going because work had to be done and I am a one man band in every way. And in the background I was and still am battling to get Arthur statemented to go to  a  special school because he is falling apart and going through so much pain and trauma that life was just too much for him to deal with.

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So this was a hardcore time for me, I was giving so much, working hard, had just been diagmoised with a life changing illness myself and then out of all this chaos a major magazine chose me, rewarded me, said well done to me and invited me to celebrate with them for a day. I was touched and overjoyed. It was lovely.

I know this may not be what you were expecting from this post but it is as important to put this news in context to my life. I was coming out of a five month intensive work period with some serious personal stuff that was life changing for my son and for us. My daughter hasn’t started school yet either so her needs could not be ignored.

So I did CCF at Bovey, got to spend one morning at home with my son who had to be off school because he was too upset by me coming and going before I had to get the train to London for the awards. It was hard to get excited because I was so tired and just wanted to be with my kids after being away from them for six days whilst exhibting. But after seeing a beautiful friend (thank god for Heidi) who was looking after me for the night in the big smoke and getting my head back in the zone I started to really get excited again. I wasn’t as prepared as I’d like as it just wasn’t possible but I was happy and really just wanted to enjoy the day and meet the lovely girls at Mollie Makes who Id been speaking to so much.

outside the proud archivist

We all met at the most incredible venue called The Proud Archivist on a hot, sunny and happy day by a canal edged by bobbing floral laiden canal boats. It was idylic. I saw Jane Foster who I had briefly met and we got lost in chatting in minutes. I also spent a lot of time with the girls from Purl Alpaca who were fabulous. I so enjoyed talking to them and talking to them made me realise I did know what I was talking about after all, it filled me with confidence that I was savvy and busines minded, that I was on the right track. I still had a way to go before I was in the same league as them and Jane but I wasnt the novice I thought I was. It was a great boost to the confidence and has really helped me. I still feel as doubtful and fearful on my darker days but don’t we all. The knowledge that I can hold me own in such a situation has been the most valuable lesson. I was tired, still in carer mode rather than business woman mode, I was in pain (the fibro was getting its revenge in my for doing far too much) but I was at the blooming mollie makes hand made awards and people knew me and cared about my opinion and liked what I made. Life was ace.

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Time flew by talking to these wonderful create ladies both finalists and journalists and the winners were announced, the fab Jane Foster won our category and rightfully so she it a bit wonderful it say the least.

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I don’t know why I’ve gone on such a huge natter about this but I suppose I wanted people to know the the feeling and emotions of someone involved in such a large competition. A real version of what one women bands have to do to make a living and a name for themselves. I think part of me think I let myself down on the day, I gave into the exhaustion, but I know fine well it would have made no difference he outcome. I think I’m frustrated at myself and that’s why I’ve babbled.

It’s hard work and I love it but determination will only get you so far. You need to listen to your body, sometimes it takes a long time to recover from over doing it. But you know what after a few weeks off I’m going to do it all again when september starts, I can’t help myself I’m addicted to this life and I can’t control the need I have to create and celebrate others creations and encourage others to do the same.

Thanks Mollie Makes for shortlisting me and taking me on an amazing journey of discovery and I look forward to working with you again.

Liberty Best of British Call 2014

In January I had in mind a little project to treat myself to after working so hard last year, I thought I would make myself a lovely big lampshade with the beautiful Liberty of London building on it. I loved the idea of the black and white and thought how stunning it would be all hand stitched on a shade with some of there fabric highlighting it. I’m redecorating my lounge and I planned on it being a bit of a show piece in there.

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So I started sketching and making plans. Then one of my lovely Facebook followers popped a link on my page telling my about the Liberty Best of British call for makers and how registration was taking place. I had a look and saw it was about the days before the event and thought oooo maybe I should pop down and show them this lampshade I’m making. If for nothing else other than to say hi, loving your work and look what I made. I had planned on doing the event at some point as this year, I was going to be venturing into the world of trade in a big way, and what better way to start my trade journey than at Liberty.

liberty open call 9
I’m a bit shy but this is me about to leave for my adventures.

So I registered and thought ok better get properly stitching then. I still wasn’t really sure what I wanted out of the event and if I could even get the piece finished. It wasn’t until three days before I had to go that I decided to bite the bullet and actually just go and book my tickets and see what happened instead of um-ing and r-ing. I was so unsure for so many reasons, the main reason being did I actually want to get into the trade world, could I really cope with it. The demands and compromises it would be to do it right. I did a lot of soul searching in that week. All for the better.

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A close up of the original, sparkly black thread and all.

When thinking about trade you need to mainly think, can you actually meet all the orders in peak times and what effect meeting those orders will have on you? Will you make a profit when working out your trade prices? Are you willing to change your work to fit certain requirements of some retail outlets? i.e. Get work printed, use machines, employ staff to do the work. So many questions. Is your work good enough?

Making this shade was hard going. I didn’t enjoy it much but I was very determined and had a definite image in my head of what I wanted it to be and I wasn’t going to let the monotony of  back stitching hours and hours worth of black lines onto the shade stop me. But I did know I wasn’t going to be making another one!! unless I felt like going blind or boring myself to death. I don’t usually feel this way when working but this piece really tested me. Now it’s finished I love it and am very proud and have it in my living room and wouldn’t dream of parting with it. It really inspires me to keep being obsessive and stubborn as it’s usually worth it.

The giclee print now available on the website.
The giclee print now available on the website.

So I finished it and thought to myself ok, now I know I don’t want to do this, if I got an order for five of these I don’t want to make them. I wouldn’t make them as well as I can because I would be repeating something that wasn’t much fun in the first place and I didn’t sacrifice so much to be able to do this business to churn out stuff I hate (unrealistic and an idealist you may say, and you may very well be right). So if this was the case now with this one piece of work what would I be like everywhere else. So at that point I decided that my life as a carer and artist was not and could not follow a big retail trade route. But I still wanted to show the people at Liberty and get a feel of their thoughts of my work and see if they even liked it. After all those hours in the middle of the night I at least wanted to know if they thought it was any good and if they’d I’ve it the thumbs up, plus it would be so interesting to see hoe things like this worked behind the scenes a bit.

Arriving at 7.45am
Arriving at 7.45am

So I went on my London Liberty adventure. I arrived by taxi with a big heavy hat box full of a big lampshade and set off to join the queue. I got there at about 7.45am and the doors were opening at 9am, people had been queueing since 6am! I was ready for the wait I had my little chair and a good book but I spent the time chatting to some lovely fellow designers and we had a lovely time. So much excitement in the air and thoughts and dreams of what could be. I felt laid back one minute and a bit sick the next. I didn’t really have a proper plan like most others, I didn’t want to come across as a bit flaky and unprofessional. I didn’t want to waste anyones time, but I was there now so I better just hope for the best. The doors opened and we slowly made our way up the beautiful wooden carved back stairs and into the fourth floor panelled room adorned with union jacks. I filled my name onto the list to see Ed Burstell and Julie Hassan who are the Managing director and Head home buyer. You’ll have seen them on the tele before christmas, they are ace.

Queueing
Queueing
The wait on the wooden stairs
The wait on the wooden stairs

 

Our waiting room
Our waiting room

Their queue was typically the longest as everyone wanted to see Ed, and I was there a few hours, but I filled in the time talking away to other makers, and met a few fab followers too! I chatted to the guys with the cameras and got interviewed for Liberty TV which is on their blog and they took pictures of the shade for there Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. The feed back was amazing and I was on a real high. It was just the loveliest experience and really gave me hope that my work was ok and that I was on the right track.

Looking down through the different floors.
Looking down through the different floors.
I got this from the Liberty instagram feed, I'm sat waiting in the back.
I got this from the Liberty instagram feed, I’m sat waiting in the back.
Appearing on Liberty's social media
Appearing on Liberty’s social media
A good response on Instagram, thank you for featuring me Liberty.
A good response on Instagram, thank you for featuring me Liberty.

Then I got my three minutes with Ed and Julie, and what utterly fab people they are. They looked pretty ace on the tv but you know they were even more glorious in ‘real life’ so upbeat and excited. So kind and generous with there time and knowledge. Very supportive and energetic even after hours of them seeing one after another hopefuls without breaks.

The upshot was they loved my work! Yeay! Thats what I dreamed of hearing. They loved the quirky nature of the drawing and the details and style. The London print was a big hit with Ed particularly and they both loved the lampshade. Julie said that cards were the way to go with my work for stocking them and that the business lay on a trade basis which was very interesting. All in all it was incredible positive and I got tonnes of useful information. I came away buzzing with ideas and just couldn’t quite believe I had had such lovely things said about my style and handiwork. I always find it amazing that people like what I do, doesn’t feel real somehow.

Ed and Julie with my shade.
Ed and Julie with my shade.

I have to say it was such an incredible experience, I learned a lot about my work and my actual hopes and dreams and the way I want to work in the future. I loved every second of it. I am now very focused on my business path and ultimately have discovered that due to being a carer and mum first and foremost I can not commit to large trade orders (smaller ones for galleries and exhibitions yes please though). Arthur and his needs change weekly and they are getting more rather than less as he grows. Also I am really enjoying making these lampshades. I mean I’m really really loving doing what I’m doing. I love taking commissions for beautiful and meaningful occasions and scenes and then on top of that having the time to make big and exciting pictures for prints. It’s where I want to be and so it’s where I’m going to stay. I’m not in this for the big bucks (luckily) I just want to make nice stuff, hug my children and write for magazines. I can find myself getting caught up wanting more more more, to be bigger, to be everywhere, but really half the trick of being successful is knowing exactly where you want to be and then being the best you can be just in that little space. And hopefully you will see me in my newly found little space being happy and making great things, this year.

Print close up
Print close up

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My Liberty lampshade has now been printed and is available to buy in my shop now. As well as the London print mentioned. Subscribe to the blog via email or busing blogloving, if you want to keep in touch with where I’m going to be this year and what I’m up to. There’s a few workshops, magazine articles and some exciting fairs I’ll be attending so don’t miss out.

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Editors Choice at the Country Living Fair, Harrogate 2013

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I have done fairs for years but on a small scale and with little confidence in myself. But I decided last year if I was going to do this ‘thing’ properly I needed to have more than an online presence, although that will always be my main stay, I wanted to see first hand what people thought of my stuff and to be honest you really can’t see the detail or scale of my work unless you see it in the flesh no amount of photos will ever reflect the real  thing.

London Lampshade hand stitched by Marna Lunt Texiles
London Lampshade hand stitched by Marna Lunt Textiles

london landscape lampshadeI always knew the design I wanted for my stand, I knew it before I even applied. I had chats with LJ about it and she had similar ideas and helped draw out a plan. It evolved as the time went on, but I had a firm idea of what I wanted, I think that is key to stand design. I made a very definite decision to show off rather than sell at this fair. Now I know this may sound stupid but my goal for CL was to be seen and to showcase what I could do. I had never had that opportunity before and I wanted this to be the launch. If it had all been about selling I would have designed a very different stand. Clearly I wanted to make money, I am a business, but I only cared about covering costs at this stage. It was about marketing and promotion and experimenting.

my stand my stand

So the plan was the first stage and once I had the stand size and layout I knew what I had to make to stock the stand and furnish it. Making began. Sourcing paint, suppliers, printers etc took so much longer than I thought and the logistics were a surprise. The actual set up went very well and we got things done pretty quickly and without too much stress, hubby was my wing man and lugged and drove and cleaned, it’s not a stand I would attempt to make on my own I really needed that help. Having friends to run to DIY shops and bring coffee are also an essential.

Seeing all the elements come together was so exciting and it was the best therapy I could have wished for. The whole experience has really given me confidence in my abilities and made me so much better at my job, in a way I could never have done if  hadn’t left the comfort of my own home. I needed to push myself well beyond my comfort levels and test myself in the ‘real world’. I really recommend doing it to any maker, although must do anyway but as a painfully shy person I avoided it as much as possible, I don’t mean the smaller shows here I mean these really big ones, these big markets, retail shows and meet the maker events. It’s scary and I’m sure people don’t all have the same sort of experience, but this is mine and it was great. It was great because I was organised, I researched, I aimed very high, I worked stupidly hard, I was unrelenting with my vision, I had amazing friends and family working in the background. It didn’t happen over night and I was naive in many ways. But it has given me a taste for it now and you’ll see me at some big shows this coming year all over the country.

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And the learning didn’t stop with the set up, I met some great people, makers, organisers, editors and learnt so much from them. Networking is an invaluable part of our business. Talking to other stand holders, to the organisers and to press. I very wonderfully won the Editors Choice award for the whole show which made every late night totally worth it, and as I have done the show to show off it was the ultimate reward. Editors Choice is basically the award made by the Country Living Magazines Features Editor of her favourite stand. How ace is that.

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Cathy from Dear Emma Designs, a huge success at the show and one of my firm favourites.
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Rachel Lucie Jewellery had a stand near me and really had fun with her, she is a total joy and her products are pretty gorgeous too.

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Petra Boise was near me too, a gorgeous stand, and I could very happily walked off with all her stand.
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Emily Notman is a stunning textiles artist and has always been so generous with her advice. Her delicate pieces are glorious.
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Mandy from Treefall Designs is fab, lots of fun, up beat and a real master of her craft, her stand always makes me happy.
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Martha and Arthur were right next to me selling beautiful hand stitched children’s clothes and the name is pretty perfect but I may be biased.
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Caroline Watts another pro textiles artist with her mum kept me smiling too and he’s a fellow Betty’s tea addict.

I have a few thank you’s to make for the support I got running up to the fair. It took a huge amount of work to get me to the show and some very lovely people really pulled out the stops to help me get here. The framer I found last minute was utterly awesome. Wensleydale Galleries in Leyburn I have to say I really really recommend. They went so above anything I could have hoped for. They really wanted the best for me and the quality of the frames they made was just stunning. without that framing my stand would have looked a very very sorry state. We are so lucky to have companies like this giving this sort of service, it’s so rare nowadays but I found a real gem there. Love them and must say a massive thank you to them for their kindness. The lovely Andy from [vinegarandbrownpaper] managed to fit me into his stupidly busy work load and did me the most amazing mirror with my etched logo, it was a perfect finishing touch. Angie Spurgeon from Artwork by Angie designed labels, stickers, press folders, was constantly on hand to calm me down and lift me up. But you know what she always has been ever since I started this business, I do so adore her. That goes for Lynsdey James too who helped with advice and plotting when I found out I was accepted for the show. I didn’t have much faith that I could do anything but she went through things calmly and clearly and made me realise I could do it and so I did, she’s another lady who has been there from the beginning watching me grow and prodding me gently in the right direction. It’s so enlightening doing something like this because true friends really do come to the surface. Kirsty from Darling and Green floral stylists came an helped me on my stand for two days, how kind is that!! She kept my spirits up and giggled with me in the b&b. The most incredible gift anyone can give you is time, time away from their families, time away from their lives and work, we don’t have much time in our lives, but to give it up for a friend to no benefit to themselves at all other than to be there for you has made me feel very warm and snuggly. Thanks Kirsty, Cath and Clare for that, I do so adore you.

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My 2013 review. A rebrand and a reward.

How do.

Here’s a kind of look at some important parts of my year, my rebrand from Little a to Marna Lunt, a little about Arthur and a few pretty pictures.

detail of a vintage hoop
A detail from one of my Little P hoops.
Photo credit: Me.

This time last year I was burnt out and fed up, feeling very lucky to be so busy with work but also not feeling satisfied at all with what I was doing and how I was spending my time. I felt like I was becoming a small one woman factory for family tree cushions and rosettes and as much as I enjoyed making them initially, I thought that now it was stifling my creativity and leading me too far away from my roots. It felt like a time to move on and make some changes.

The old me. Photo credit: Lyndsey James Photography
The old me.
Photo credit: Lyndsey James Photography
Photo credit: Lyndsey James Photography
The new me.
Photo credit: Lyndsey James Photography
Photo credit: Lyndsey James Photography
The new me.
Photo credit: Lyndsey James Photography

I am a trained fine artist and have painted and drawn my whole life, won awards for it in my younger days and generally just had art history and the need to paint running through my veins so why was I making cushions? (I hear Lyndsey James screaming in my ear at this point why are you doing this woman!! My answer being erm I dunno, just am.) Well the reason I made cushions and hand stitched hearts and rosettes is because it was a process in my recovery and a learning experience, a way of getting back into any creative field. I have always done hand stitching and it is a naturally calming influence in my life which is what I needed as I had postnatal depression and this was my therapy. It worked well around my young family, easier to pick up than oil paint and white spirit. But this lovely business I had started as my therapy outlet was getting a bit out of hand and had gone from being release of stress to the cause of it so something had to give.

I went back to my many conversations in 2012 with three people in particular, Stephanie Henley, Angie Spurgeon and Lyndsey James. All business woman who I met right at the beginning of this journey in 2010 and who have been a massive support to me. Stephanie posed the question why aren’t you producing your textiles as prints and canvases, it makes more sense as a viable business plan. Yes Stephanie why indeed. I could make my detailed artwork and it would be affordable to more people instead of single pieces that very few could realistically commission. Obvious once someone points it out to you, everyone does it, paper cutters, painters, and some wonderful textiles ladies, Gracies Garden Bazzare, Jenny Arnott, Poppy Treffry, immediately spring to mind. I can’t believe it was nearly two years ago now it was suggested and it has taken this long to finally have achieved what she encouraged me to do. It took a while to get my brain in gear. Angie helped me create some greetings cards in summer 2012 which I got printed and then never pushed because I wasn’t mentally 100% sure how this change would happen and I wanted to have a plan. I needed to think in quiet and answer some very important questions, the main one being what do I actually really truely want in life. Now you see why it took a while to get sorted, that really isn’t a simple question.

An embellished print of my Batty's Harrogate original. Photo credit: Me.
An embellished print of my Betty’s Harrogate original.
Photo credit: Me.

Last year I found myself realising I had such a strong brand with Little A Designs (that the wonderful Angie had created the graphics for) that I was scared of taking the jump and just stopping and rebranding and finding a new me. To go from a self supporting business to something that everyone may well hate and be a massive flop, I just didn’t have the nerve. Family commitments where becoming overwhelming and I was looking for an excuse to chicken out. I hadn’t found the answer to that question yet.

It wasn’t until I went to a networking event where I was handing out my beautifully produced, designed & branded Little a Designs literature that I realised I was telling people that yes here’s my stuff but I don’t really want to do those designs anymore. They were no longer unique, many had been copied within an inch of their lives. I felt anyone could do them & they didn’t showcase my capabilities, the ideas that were in my head eager to explode. It was time to evolve & put all those wonderful exciting conversations into action. So Marna Lunt textile artist was finally born a year ago and I took the risk and applied for the biggest show I was ever likely to do to show the world (Harrogate) what I could actually do. And my journey began. You are now seeing the spoils of a years worth of planning, organising and hard work. I do hope you like it. (A separate post will follow about my Country Living adventures.)

Whitby Abbey print from my original hand stitched picture. Photo credit: Me
Whitby Abbey print from my original hand stitched picture.
Photo credit: Me

My aim for 2013 was to create something unique again, something that wasn’t based on a simple design that could be easily followed and carried out by anyone, they have their place and they are important to me but I’ll keep those for my book, if any publishers are listening feel free to commission this book;) I need to use my skills as an artist, my drawing style, my sense of colour and placement, things from my head that none else could see. We can all create textile pictures and painting but every ones styles are different, how I draw and see York Minster will vary from how any other artist sees it and that is what makes us unique. I can’t draw any other way. I can’t really teach what I make & how I make it, I just do it and am free & open minded about it. I often don’t know what it will look like until near the end. I have learnt that yes it won’t be as popular as many of my other designs as it is so very personal but creatively its where I need to be for my own happiness. It won’t make me rich. I’m ok with those choices. It’s back to my fine art roots at last but instead of a paintbrush and paint I have needles and fabric.

canvases in my shed
Fabric landscapes.
Photo credit: Me
close up of moors canvas
Details from a moors canvas.
Photo credit: Me

I’m not trained in any way with textiles, I’m not a seamstress, I don’t know lots of techniques and theories with all things textiles, crochet, knitting, lace work, felting, but to name a few of the amazing things that textiles encompass. I do know how to embroider, I have taught myself that since I was nine. I know about threads, types of stitches and how to use them to create pieces of textured loveliness but that’s as far as my knowledge needs to go for what I do. I am an artist that works with textiles and Marna Lunt textile artist made sense to be the new identity (couldn’t really use ’embroidery artist’ which was my first choice because most of my work is appliquéd not simply embroidery). Also did you know that when deciding on a name for yourself having words associated with your trade in your business name helps with SEO rankings? Handy tip for you all there.

My new logo by Life Made Lovely, if you hadn't noticed it by now.
My new logo by Life Made Lovely, if you hadn’t noticed it by now.

So I have found my calling at last, aged 36, a slow & natural progression. But how do I make the transition from Little a to Marna Lunt. How do I leave such a strong brand and create another. Well I thought the best medicine was to contact a lady who was in the midst of doing a branding package on a range of hoops I was producing, Little P Frames, a lovely experiment of an idea I had which has gone down well and will be featuring in a few lovely magazines in 2014. I found Heather from Life Made Lovely in the Artful Blogging magazine. She didn’t know me, my products, my story and would force me to see myself in a new way. And she didn’t let me down. It took me months and months to have to courage to make the change everywhere because of my mind set and show it off and finally become the artist I had always wanted but it was there and ready to go when I needed it.

Confidence is not one of my strong points and confidence has been key with all the decisions. I’m actually very introverted and find friendships difficult. I’m very good at hiding this because a lifetime of depression and anxiety makes you good at hiding personality traits you’re ashamed of. I hide in my studio and like to work alone, I try and support people as much as I can but I’m not as reliable as I used to be in that way, I can go into my own world for long periods of time. I become so focused on a project I forget all those around me. Now and again I’ll have a little spurt of being very social but then I go back into hiding. My close friends understand this about me, they know that it’s not personal, that I’m lost in myself and that I still love then but not always capable of showing it in a consistent way. The energy I once had for friends is devoured by my children mainly Arthur who demands every second of my attention when he is at home. So this year friendships have suffered and bonds have become stronger or been lost but this is the way of the world I think. I’ve learnt that as much as I would like to I can’t please everyone and not everyone will like me, no matter how much I wish they would.

On a personal note, family life has been more demanding than I thought possible this year which was unexpected. I thought as the children got older the more time I would have to pursue dreams of my own but I have sent the majority of the year fighting for Arthur to get the help he needs and that we need as a family. So many of my wonderful blog and Facebook followers have helped me beyond words to accomplish large elements of this. You helped raise rather a lot of money to go towards a sensory room for him which is being made in the spring and he is extremely excited about this. You helped me face terrible treatment we had been given with strength and determination. You lifted me up and helped me continue to battle. We overcame those set of issues which lead to me having the confidence to battle for more help which lead to a diagnosis for Arthur that was so badly needed. Thank you all of you and I will keep you updated with the sensory room work when the builders start.

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My handsome little Arthur.
Photo credit: Eve Photography

Winner of best stand selected by Country living editor
Photo credit: Me
Mirror by [vinegar & brown paper]
So our family end the year with Arthur being given the help he’s needed, to eventually getting the plans to make a room for him that will alter all our lives for the better, and then I launched a new business and won an award for my work. Thumbs up. Job done. Oh and did I mention, a dream come true happened. I got my work in a proper real life fancy art gallery!! Whoo hoo. Go see my things in the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead to buy my original artworks. AND an amazing website called Made By Hand Online accepted me into their lovely very talented makers fold. You can buy my stuff there. I will be adding exclusive lampshades to them this month. They are a totally amazing site and it is honour to be apart of their gang.

The Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead.  Photo credit: Me
The Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead.
Photo credit: Me

Set up day at Country Living Fair, Harrogate

It’s been a long long day and I’m exhausted but tingling with excitement. Tomorrow the show I’ve been preparing for for so long is finally opening and I can show the world all the hard work I’ve been doing the last few months.

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To be honest I’m a bit too tired to write much but thought I’d share a few photos of my progress today. I have a bit more to do in the morning, a few writing bits on the walls and  pricing up my work but I have had two amazing helpers today in the form of my gorgeous husband Simon (who has a chest infection and very bad asthma and still came through for me) and my fabulous friend Clare. Another friend is keeping me company  tomorrow and am waiting for her to bring wine to the b and b as we speak. Hurry up Kirsty. I have been a very lucky girl with some people showing incredible friendship that I will always treasure, especially you Cath. xx

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Anyway, here’s a few pictures to wet your appetite. Come and visit me on stand M80 from tomorrow at 10am until sunday 4pm. I can not wait to meet you all. xxx

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Metamorphosis Part Two

How do!

As most of you who regularly follow my blog and Facebook page will know, I’m not showing quite as many new designs and work as usual. There is a very good reason for this. I am in back to school mode this year. I have decided I really need to invest some time in me both personally and professionally. So far this year I have taken an amazing photography course by Lynsey James and a super dooper blogging course by Holly Becker of decor8. I’m very much still a work in progress but I thought I’d tell you a bit about my blogging course, it was a few months ago now but it has really inspired me and made me consider my future and the possibilities that may be out there for me.

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The first workshop I attended was the Lyndsey James Photography course which I have written a separate blog about, click here to read it. This really started me on my mission of learning and wanting more. Around the same time I took part on a fantastic online courses ‘Blogging your Way’ the course I took was called ‘Blog Boss’ taught by Holly Becker primarily and also her husband, Thorsten, and two colleges, Jeanette Lunde from By Fryd and Irene Hoofs from Bloesem.
Holly Becker I sure you all know is the wonderfully talented lady behind the Decor8 blog. Such a stunning blog you must read it if you haven’t done yet, she is also the fabby author of a few best selling and incredible books, in tonnes of different languages.

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This course was just what I needed as I really wanted to concentrate on my blog but just didn’t know where it start. I bought many how to books and although very useful I just got to a point where I needed a real person to tell me stuff in her own voice which she did in videos and pod casts. I trusted her experience and knowledge and loved the idea of a time limit which would make me sit down and study, instead of fluffing about with good intentions. Not to mention the support you gain from fellow students.

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She took us through some great exercises and really made us think about where we want to be, what we want to be, and how we want ourselves portrayed. They seem such obvious things but when you actually get down to it you’ll be amazed at how much you missed by yourself. I now understand how to run my blog as a business and use it to help market my work not just about it being a journal of my ramblings, although I think that’s how it will mainly be. But I have made that decision with proper consideration and I am now happy with where I sit in the blogging world and what I want to achieve in the future. I have worked through self doubt and have made lists, experimented and now come to a fluffy place that makes me smile and warm inside.

Little a designs preview shots (low res for web) (12 of 20)

I was inspired to do so many things, but the main one being the mood boards with things I own and love. The first photos of which are in the first part of this blog. But I have been experimenting so much more since then and I love what they lead me too. I may bring out a calendar of my studio mood board photos next year because I have so enjoyed the process and how the colours shapes and forms inspire my next set of work.

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Another thing I was struggling with was my identity. Am I an art business blog or a personal blog, do I have to chose, what are the rules. Could I do both, talk about my personal life with Arthur’s special needs and how our family deal with these challenges, then do a little project about making a rosette or how to do a product costing. My conclusion was that I must do both. They were both me and very important in my life, one doesn’t happen without the other so what will be will be and hopefully I will find a happy medium, and people will be interested and pick and chose what they want from me. And as recent events has shown me with the help needed in Help Arthur Smile the support from fellow artists, customers and carers has been a huge source of strength for me. Thank god for you all out there.

I feel that with the support and knowledge I got from this course I have really grown and have more confidence. I just can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it, and I will definitely be signing on for the next course, because no matter how much you think you may know there is always more to learn and a different way of looking at things. I still have a long long way to go on my journey but I think this year will be well spent spending most of my time learning and experimenting and falling in love with everything all over again.
So what did I do with all the good stuff I learnt.

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I loved my blog design before I did the course, and I would love to revisit it at some point because it was just too pretty to lose it forever, but after learning so much the blog has a new look. The fab Tia from Who Ate My Crayons took on my brief again and I adore whats shes done. Clever lady. I love my new design too, the lovely light colours and I think finding things in the side bar is so much clearer now. I have plans for new additions to the about me page, like a video (but I’m dieting before I dare let people see my mush) and new features will follow in months to come.

I find my blog an exciting place to be now and an spending increasing time here than on other social media. It’s particularly good for me as I waffle for England and love pretty photos and Facebook just can’t accommodate the amount of gossip I have to give.

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I am slowly rebranding from Little a Designs to Marna Lunt, the artist. Little a will always be a massive part of my range and I don’t know as yet if it will ever go away entirely but this blog is the first thing I’m really doing under Marna. So over the next few months you will see a few changes to my logo and branding, subtlety, Artwork by Angie is dealing with much of the work. Angie was the creator of my first logo for Little a and it will always be very important to have her working with me in some way or other. She’s just too fabulous not to have around, I may have to start making up things thatI don’t need just so we can continue to work together.

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One of my fun inspiration photos of random stuff in my house, and below is my new logo.

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I have three more courses in the pipeline so I will keep you informed of my antics. You may be inspired to join these courses too. My first course of the summer starts tomorrow, it was a last minute find and I’m so glad I did. It’s the Lilla Rodgers Make Art That Sells course and I’m slightly over excited about it. I will let you know how I get on very soon.

So for now my commission book is closed, although I will still be making tonnes that will be regularly available from my etsy shop. So sorry no orders can be taken just for a little while as I want to totally concentrate on this new course, new designs, Christmas fair stock making and fund raising for Arthur. Of course I will be here too showing off as much as I can;)

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I Wanna be like you ooo ooo. Copycats.

I was having a hard time at Christmas last year with quite a few things business wise and I wrote this post as a way to get all the unhappiness out of my system. I never published it because it just did the job to write to out. But given the frequency that plagiarism and unkindness is happening in our world at the moment I thought this might be apt to mention now. It was a bad time for me but thankfully that is mainly over but this shows that some silly comments and horrid uncaring people can all but totally break another person. Copying is lazy and ‘trolling’ is senseless cruelty. A few friends have been having these problems recently and this makes me so sad as they are such clever and creative people and they shouldn’t be wasting their time on legal battles or in tears, they should be stirring up a storm in their studios.

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I was also spurred on by this lovely blog by Helen Botrill from Kindred Rose, a good heartfelt post. I just wanted to share my journey and thoughts on the matter and hope you can see why people get hurt.

November 2012
“Over the last five months or so it’s not news to you that I’ve been struggling with my personal and business life hugely. I’ve had some unpleasant comments and negative things said and it’s effected my really quite badly. I’ve hidden away as much as I can and gone down hill fast, I keep trying to come back to the surface but for some reason the next day I fall backwards again. Many may say ‘grow a back bone,’ well I say I’m not the one who should become harsh and unfeeling, they are the ones who should become sensitive and thoughtful. Lets show a little respect for our fellow human beings here.

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Warning, woe is me bit coming up, it won’t last long though honest.
Instead of being the sort of person I normally am and let everyone have their say and then explain where I’m coming from, I have just let it all get on top of me. Home life exhausts me with bad news coming thick and fast about Arthur’s progress and to be honest with you I’ve have had a small breakdown. I’m drugged up to the hilt and trying to fight it all off but I hold my hands up. It’s beaten me good and proper. I’m just me sat in the living room trying to make a better life for myself, we all are, I’m not tough skinned and I can’t let it all wash over me. I take things far too personally because I love my work so much and it is apart of me and I care what people think about me.

It all started in the summer when I had a very difficult altercation with another business and it threw me, I suddenly realised that people don’t all think the same way I do, they don’t seem to consider others in the same way. I felt bullied and taken for a ride and my trust was badly damaged. I seemed to be regarded as a harsh business woman obsessed by copyright and someone who greedily over prices her work. When I put this all together it crushed me.

I couldn’t be further away from that sort of person. I work from home in any spare time I can to try and gain extra money for the special things that my family need. I don’t mean holidays etc, I mean chew sticks (an aid for Arthur) and sensory toys, and special clothes with textures, replacing things that are smashed, these are things you don’t realise many special children need. This is my job, a business, a livelihood. I work very hard and I’m really tired and I really care about not only my family, but my friends and the people that follow me. I want to help people that ask for advice, I want to create things that are perfect for people and that make them feel special. I am genuine, I’m not greedy but I’m also not stupid. I used to help run a family business and know how costings work and how accounts work, how the law works, and I know that I am realistic. I have taught myself how to sew, and use a computer, and have always just been myself. Whilst it may be boring to hear, it neverhttheless is true. And I am not alone theres load of us out there that do the same thing.

I understand I can’t please everyone although I may want to. I realise now that by making things like this public I am risking nasty comments and being criticised again for something or other. I just want to get it out of my system so I can carry on like before and be happy. When I talk about me being copied I don’t mean one product I am mean my entire business model was copied down to logo, fabrics I used, my words on my website, everything, not just someone making a cushion design or a rosette, so it was a significant event. But thankfully all over now and resolved.

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After all the horribleness of the summer I got this comment on Facebook because I had put a copyright symbol on an album.

“Marna, I LOVE your work. But, I have to say, I’m really finding all your ‘these designs are the property of… copyrighted etc’ comments really a spoiler for your business. You are in the art and craft world and your work is beautiful and inspiring, and expensive! and rightly so. But the way you share your work – in magazines, on fb – you’re inspiring those who can to do – you can’t put a copyright on a name sewn on to a cushion – the craft world is about sharing ideas and inspirations – and the people that make things similar to yours, really can’t afford to buy yours, but we can make our own versions, taking ideas from your work and putting our own spin on it. I know it must be frustrating to see similar designs elsewhere on sale, but its the craft world. And you know that while you share, you sell lots, but also you INSPIRE lots, and we have every right to get ideas from your work! Its a real compliment – we’re not trying to be you.”

This is how I replied:
“I love that you’ve raised this here. I LOVE to inspire people it is an amazing compliment and it’s one of the reasons why I do what I do. Many people create my work for themselves or for gifts and buy my kits to do the same thing as it costs less. I personally don’t have a problem with that, it elates me not saddens me.
But I think unfortunately that I do have to write these copyright statements on my photos and albums (Facebook) to protect myself from people, unlike you, who do not just get inspired but simply steal designs ideas that are my intellectual property.
I’ve had to invest a large amounts of money to register products and their appearance and so I now own those designs. Not the words of the hand stitching but the actual design. I have to do this because this is my business which feeds, clothes and houses my entire family. I don’t just craft as a bit of fun, my ideas are mine and I have a right to protect those things, like Mr Dyson.
Why is it wrong for me to want to do that. People can definately be inspired by me and that is fantastic, I get emails from people daily that have been inspired by me, but you see their designs and they are nothing like mine, they are theirs. Example, rosettes, there are loads of those out there, there are few sneaky copies of my exactly style but the majority are totally individual but they admit to me inspiring them. Thats cool.
I am inspired all the time but my work does not look like those that have made me want to create it.
The cushions with words are are not unique designs that have any copyright over them but the photo is and so with things like Pinterest now being so big and fabulous I need to put that on my photos so people know who to credit and to look for. I have to protect the right of photographer as well as myself also. That is part of the contract I have with her.
Basically what I am saying is yes I am in a arts and craft world which is a creative industry where we feed from each other but all industries are like this.
The world at large look at this industry, what if Next took my design and reproduced it? Why would that be ok? It wouldn’t would it. I designed it, Next do not need to steal ideas to get it they have there own designers, and they can employ someone like me, the original designer of the product, unfortunately they don’t always, and thats why protecting our intellectual property is an admirable thing to do. Standing up for your hard work is never a bad thing whether it be on Facebook or in a multi million pound court case. I am of course using Next as an example they in no way have stolen anything off me or anyone else I know of, I could easily have said M&S or Tesco, its just an example.
So to those of you who are inspired by my work and create your own products from them, this in a different style then you don’t have anything to worry about. These are statements to protect my business and those of others I work with, not to upset others or to cause offence. They must be put on all products because of the above reasons.
Specific designs like the family tree cushion, the hand print cushion, the mistletoe drawing, the rosettes, the love birds cushion are protected throughout Europe, words on cushion are not. It is specific to my style and my drawings, not my words. And to be honest who would want to copy directly, surely the whole point of being creative and in the art world is to make a name for yourself in your own right and to be recognised as a original creator and these comments will make no difference to people like that.
As a business that has made a name for itself as being original and creative I am in the position to have had my website copied, my logo, many of my very stylised designs, I have had to pay for re branding, new websites and now very expensive protection of my rights. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes and a simple comment on a photo has so many reasons behind it, none of them are based greed or bad will. xx”

The authur of the inital message took this all on board & was grateful of the information & is now a valued customer & we chat regularly.

As regards the big kerfuffle over costing, which I think was the big thing that really hurt.
I price my products based on the materials, my labour, packaging, fuel,accountant, fees,insurance and all those little hidden business costs you have running a business. They are all set out and they are what they are. All my work uses rather high quality materials and are all entirely hand made no machines etc so they are time consuming.
You can only comment on my products being expensive when compared to an identical product of the same size and materials. I am unaware of any products like that. There are certainly things similar out there but made it totally different ways with different materials. And they are free to make those things because we all make them in different styles.
As designer makers we charge prices based on very specific elements. There will be different levels of product prices over different companies based on size, material, time & technique. Like Skoda and Rolls Royce.
There is no ceiling price, it costs what it costs and you buy it or not. If you can’t afford it either ask the seller if they can make one to your budget (which of course will mean a change in materials, detail and time) which we are always willing to do if we can. I have recently published a post about product costing. Click here to see it.

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I don’t expect any response nor need any from this post I just needed to say it. To get it out of my system and move on. Over the last month I have reassessed what I can and am willing to do in the future. I’m going to be pulling back from making and Facebooking a bit and do more tutorials here on my blog. I will make one off items and pop them on etsy and my website. Labours of love and one off’s with a slightly more arty slant to them. I will still have older designs on my website and will make to order but most things will be released as limited editions at certain times of year. I will be open to commissions to make bespoke items for people. But mainly I will be looking after my children and trying to get better myself, and go back to using art as the thing that brings joy to my soul and not my liker count. I want to share what I love with people and create new ideas and projects for us all to do, and I want us all to be a little more joyful and friendly and fun.”

So that’s what I wrote in November. Since then I’m very happy to say that I’ve had no problems with copying, not to my knowledge anyway thankfully. There are many myths about what you can and can’t do regarding copyright and intellectual property and I think I need to leave that for another day, needless to say when you’re a designer you need to know your rights and act sensibly on them. Looking at the ACID website is a very good start. Not jumping in on a witch hunt, not being cruel and bullying, be an adult, be clear, be reasonable, collect the information needed and use the law, it’s all there to help you. But above all be creative and be yourself and the rest will follow and then all wars will cease, rainbows will appear and we can skip into the sunset.

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Let me leave you with this thought, I saw this on a blog post but annoyingly can’t remember which one and although it has clear differences makes you think.
‘If I copied a few £20 notes what do you think would happen then?’
Xxx

 

 

How to price a craft product

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Source: Pinterest

Firstly let me start by saying this is not the only way to cost out your product, this is a general guide to consider. There are no hard and fast rules and I’m sure accountants will have better ways of doing it. I am not an accountant. I don’t use batch costings, operations costing, job costings, the list is endless as there is a different way of costing for so so many things and industries. I cost based on one single product being made by me, this may also differ from how people cost for something like a painting, mural, cake, basically a larger and very individual project or whether you have employees. I don’t employ anyone so my sums are nice and simple, my brain might explode with anymore information.
I am an artist that sells to the public and makes a living at it. If you want to make a living from selling your talent then you must price your work accordingly. By underpricing your work you are underselling your hard work, your knowledge & experience, your self. You are also doing other artists a disservice by devaluing skills that are worked hard at perfecting, don’t confuse that with competitive pricing as that is very different. Not everyone prices the same, this is the way I learned and It serves as a useful guideline.

Ok so here is the basic equation we want to keep in mind.
Materials + expenses = cost price
Materials + expenses + profit = trade/wholesale price
Materials + expenses + profit x 2 = retail price

Some of my supplies and work.
Some of my supplies and work.

The cost of a product is about recovering the cost of the things contained in that product while price is determined by demand, market conditions and factors that are controlled by these conditions such as marketing and advertising.
Cost is also split into variable and fixed. Fixed are the items that will always remain the same within that product. Things like rates, paypal fees, accountants fees, loan repayments & insurance, and the variable are things like labour, materials, fuel cost, packaging. (In my fixed cost bracket I include a budget for things like marketing, website development, photo shoots, fair stand costs etc. This is the capital costs shown below. I have it in the fixed costs because I have a fixed amount as a budget that is decided before the year starts and so I know exactly the percentage I can add on to any costs.)

So make yourself a spread sheet and consider these things:
Your actual product costs, including labor and the costs of marketing and selling those products.
All of the operating expenses necessary to own and operate the business.
The costs associated with borrowing money (debt service costs).
Your salary as the owner and/or manager of the business.
A return on the capital you and any other owners or shareholders have invested.
Capital for future expansion and replacement of fixed assets as they age.

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

So you’ve thought of all your costs and I’m sure its been an eye opening experience, mine was! Now you have to also consider these following things because unfortunately its not just about the basic sums and a fixed markup from cost. There are the some other factors I mentioned earlier.

What the market is willing to pay.
How your company and product are perceived in the market.
What your competitors charge.
Whether the product is “highly visible” and frequently shopped and compared.
The estimated volume of product you can sell.

This is where the problem lies with new businesses charging too little and how it affects the more seasoned tradespeople. By not pricing your products correctly you are creating the impression that things are cheaper than they genuinely are, this is not being competitive this is forgetting to charge for things like labour and basic running costs. But thats another story.

It all started because I chose to dream a little....
It all started because I chose to dream a little….

An important one that I found was how I want my company, products and myself to be perceived in the market. People have in the past asked why my products are the price they are. Well here is my answer. Not forgetting the considerations above with how we work out our pricing, I decided at an early point in my work that I wanted to use the best quality materials, Liberty, Harris Tweed, 100% linens, using unusual buttons, hand stitching the designs not machine stitching. These were all things that I decided I wanted to do because they were what I wanted to use, they are what I wanted to buy as a consumer. I wanted to create this that were long lasting, not throw away, that were loved, cherished and given on very special occasions. So because I chose to use these products and take the time to hand stitch everything this immediately meant I was not going to be in the cheaper bracket. I’m glad I did this because it does set me apart from many similar businesses today although in a recession it was a scary decision to make.

By making this decision I have also put myself in a position where I am not at present offering wholesale because the price I charge my customers is my trade price, so can you imagine paying double the price in a shop? So that is me making the pricing decision based on market conditions that I mentioned earlier. Although it has to be said there are plenty of people that charge £150 for a cushion, Poppy Treffry  Jan Constantine, but they have also built up a name where they can command that price. One day who knows Marna Lunt may be amongst them on the shelves of fancy shops, it would be nice, but for now I’m following my plan and all is good.

Some of the materials I use.
Some of the materials I use.

I had a discussion occur on one of my social media pages that highlighted the importance for this sort of product information. One lady believed that the price I had put on one of my products was too high. She is of course totally entitled to that opinion but she had not considered the size, fabric, buttons, the fact it was personalised and the hand stitched nature of the product when comparing it to something she had seen in a high street shop, mass made in another country. She believed I had overstretched and exceeded the market price. A fair point, had I aimed too high? Well in this case no, as I sold five of the same product within the half hour debate going on on my page. I had done my sums, I knew I wasn’t being greedy as I had my spreadsheet in front of me and could see. I was selling these products rather well, I could sell more but I was happy with my product and didn’t want to lessen it’s quality just for more sales. And anyway could I have coped with more sales given my workload. So really everything was working well.
My point is that you will not keep everyone happy, people will always want cheaper goods, hell I want cheaper stuff, but if you are happy with your product and they are selling then you have your side in order and your market is correct, maybe it is the customer that needs to look for more appropriately costed goods for their pocket.

I have handmade ceramic buttons made exclusively with my company name as a sign of my brand commitment and quality.
I have handmade ceramic buttons made exclusively with my company name as a sign of my brand commitment and quality.

People struggle with pricing products because of confidence and if you make these above decisions with and for your business and are happy with them and have done your sums your confidence will grow. Every business runs for very specific reasons that each owner has, remember your own reasons and don’t get sidetracked by other’s achievements & ethos. If you’re happy and its working for you stick to your guns.

We all need to think carefully about our companies and work and think about what we want to achieve and base our prices on that, considering, our material costs etc. so if I want to sell to retail thats no problem at all, I need to lower my costs to do that and so I will have to consider using a machine to speed up production and the materials I use to be cheaper, I already have trade accounts with my suppliers. But for now I’m happy with where I am and what I’m producing.
So they are my considerations, yours will be different and have your personal needs and wants and dreams mixed into them.
I do hope this has been of some use to you. There aren’t any easy answers and theres a lot of work to do but if you want it its there just go get it. Xxx

My London landscape cushion.
My London landscape cushion.
I sell supplies to help in my little dream...
I sell supplies to help in my little dream…
My studio work space.
My studio work space.

The Lyndsey James Photography Workshop

As I mentioned in my last post, this is a year of change for me, and the start of it was making the decision to learn, to make more of myself and my abilities. But to do that I needed to make a few investments. Investments in myself. I chose two key things, workshops, that I believed would change me. I was right they have been incredible. The first one I will tell you about is learning to use my camera.

Last year I bought a camera a nice DSLR which a friend recommended as I had no idea what I was doing. Then after buying it I realised that I really had no way of understanding the instruction booklet, it was a foreign language for me. I have known Lyndsey James for a while now, she has photographed my work since I began and has always produced incredible work, and I knew she had done quite a few successful workshops teaching people how to use their cameras so when I saw she had a course coming up I jumped aboard.

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The course had an optional second day of styling as well as the initial learning the technical stuff on the first day. I thought this was a perfect combination because anything I learnt the first day would be tested and practised the second day cementing it into my brain, whilst having Lyndsey on hand to remind me of things and make suggestions. I am so glad I did both days, it was crucial for me and worth every penny spent. The best money I’ll spend for my business development.

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The venue was stunning. A beautiful manor house in the gorgeous village of Alstonefield in Derbyshire. Jo Wood the owner has styled it to perfection and it is the perfect backdrop to a few days of learning. Jo runs the manor house as a B&B as well as being a highly successful stylist. Lyndsey is a classically trained photographer with years of experience in her field as well as carving out a name as one of the best in product photographers, she also styles her shoots. So together they are the perfect team. But it’s not just the knowledge that is imparted that makes the course so good it’s the personalities too. By the end of the day you are so fired up with knowledge and ideas you just want to create, to be better than you believed.

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So the camera I have is a Sony a290, I don’t know if that’s good or what that means but I like it and that’s what I took all these photos with. I have only ever, before this class, used it on auto or the macro(flower) mode. I wouldn’t dream of going onto the manual mode there are far too mainly buttons and none of them made sense. I’d get a cold sweat thinking about it. A lens came with my camera, I didn’t know anything about other lens, only that they were very expensive so I certainly wasn’t going to be getting anything new like that! Wouldn’t know where to start, again cool sweat time.
I did have a tripod that I’d got from eBay but I never used it, didn’t really know why I’d need to, not sure why I bought it, probably because a book somewhere ages ago told me I should have one.
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What I wanted to learn from the class was what all these buttons and dials meant. I wanted to make friends with my camera. I wanted to have confidence that I could control light and blur. That’s all I wanted, just too not be confused all the time. I’m obviously not going to tell you what I learnt as that’s not very fair to Lyndsey now is it, but I can tell you that I learnt everything I had on my list and more.

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I can now control light and blur, I can compose a photo and understand how to change it to look how I imaged it to look. I can understand the tech talk about lenses. I can style my products to make the most of them, I can develop my own style with confidence.
Since leaving the course I have bought my first lens, in fact the night I got home I searched and bought it straight away because I just could not wait to develop what I had learnt. I know my own capabilities and am fine with that, I don’t need to know everything, I just need to perfect the things relevant to me. Oh and I know why I need my tripod now.
I also came away with faith in myself and my work, Jo and Lyndsey have a knack of doing that to you. They ask questions that make you realise what you’re doing for yourself because the only way you can learn is by figuring it out yourself not just being told.

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So yes I would recommend this course, it was worth every penny. I hope from the photos I’ve shown you that you can see what can be achieved. I’m really proud of these images. I’m not saying they’re perfect or what you’d get from a professional because they aren’t, but to me they are great, they are what I need and a really good starting point. It has been a turning point for me, I want to produce amazing things so I can take amazing photos and then blog about them because I’m proud. I don’t want to take a snap of anything again for my business, I want to show off to be honest. It was something I felt I massively lacked and it was really holding me back, but look at me now, looking for new lens and talking about apertures & white balance.
Lyndsey has got a few more of these courses happening through out the country so I recommend you get your place booked. She has a few other workshops planned too which I’m keeping a close eye on so I can get my name down. Lyndsey James Workshops
Now I’m off to take a few snaps with some new backdrops I’ve made myself, toodles.

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