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by Julie Brooks

Polite notice. All designs are copyright protected. I hope you will be inspired by my designs but please do not copy them. Thank you.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Andy Skinner on Hochanda!

Hi everyone

I hope the weather is good wherever you are and that you have a fabtastic crafty weekend planned.

I just wanted to give you a heads-up that mega-talented and much-loved designer Andy Skinner will be on Hochanda next week demonstrating various techniques with some DecoArt products. How exciting!


He will be live between 8 and 9pm on Tuesday 30th August and then again at 9am, 12 noon, 4pm and 7pm on Wednesday 31st August.

What a fabulous way to end August! Free live demos in your living room from one of the most talented mixed media designers in the Universe!

He will be demonstrating how to achieve shabby chic, "mega crackle", industrial, grunge and faux finishes, using DecoArt products including chalk paints, mixed media paints and ..... GLITTER! That's a first!

He will also be showcasing his own range of stencils and stamps.

Here are a few photos of the samples Andy has been producing ahead of the shows:
How beautiful (and slightly creepy - hand coming out of eye) is this?

Look at the amazing glitter sparkle beneath that crackle!

Amazing industrial, rusty effects here

Gorgeous!
As you can see from the pictures, there are some real treats in store!

So, make sure you tune in, or set your recorders so you can watch later (Sky Channel 663, Freeview 39 - 6am to 9pm, or Freesat 817), and pop over to our shop NOW to stock up on all those vital ingredients! We have a great range of DecoArt products available, together with some of Andy's lovely stencils, plus loads more for all your mixed media crafting. Order before 4pm today and your items will be dispatched TODAY to arrive in time for the shows!

And don't forget to use code BDB1 at the checkout to get 15% off your order, PLUS free postage on all orders over £30. What are you waiting for?

Julie x 

Friday, 19 August 2016

Savings to make you smile and new arrivals!

Good afternoon everyone

I just wanted to share with you that we are offering 20% off selected products in our store now and for the next week.

There are discounts on products from Craftwork Cards, Pion Design, First Edition, The Hobby House, Dovecraft, DecoArt, Sweet Dixie's NEW paper pads and Imagination Crafts.

We are also happy to announce that we now have in stock some gorgeous dies, stamps and embossing folders from Ultimate Crafts.

We've grown a lot in the last couple of months and there are loads of paper craft and mixed media staples available to choose from including texture pastes, crackle paint, Media Fluid Acrylics, papers, dies, stamps, embossing folders, stencils, embossing powders, inks and so much more to feast your eyes on!

And, not to forget the junior members of the crafting world, we also stock some lovely kids craft products too, so while you're stocking up on your favourites Mum (or Grandma, Auntie .....) pop something in your basket for the children too - with another two weeks of school holidays remaining and a few rainy days to come, there's no better time to sit down and get crafty together!

PLUS, don't forget, if you haven't shopped with us before, you can also take advantage of a special discount code to give you a further 15% off your total order cost! Just add the coupon code BDB1 to your basket when you check out.

AND, on top of all of that, if your order exceeds £30 we will pay your postage costs for you (UK only - overseas customers please contact us for postage details before placing your order).

So, what are you waiting for? Head over to our shop at www.beebaabcraftingsupplies.co.uk and fill your basket with bargains while stocks last!

See you there!

Julie x

Monday, 15 August 2016

A different kind of therapy

Hi everyone

Did any of you watch the recent Etsy Up Conference live streams? I managed to watch most of Day 1 and the talk which stuck in my mind most was advice on de-cluttering.

Clutter. It's everywhere. Unless you're very strict with yourself (and other family members) about tidying things away, as time goes by rooms and spaces can become very cluttered without you even realising it. Clutter means stuff in the way. Stuff in the way of something you want to use, stuff in the way of something you want to look at, stuff taking up valuable space where you do your creative work. The result? Nothing creative going on, because all of that clutter is a mental block to achieving your goals and when you only have a small space in which to work and store everything, that mental block probably rears up way more times than it may do if everything was tidy and organised and you had that luxury called SPACE.

This was my workspace one time. Actually, it's frequently been my workspace over the years. For a long while I didn't have a separate room to work in - this was the dining table! But even since I've had a table in another room, it frequently looks like this, or much worse! You see - stuff piled up, which I'm using, or have used, or might use! All over my work area, so I only have that tiny bit of green left to work on! (By the way, this photo doesn't reveal the boxes (several of them) on the floor around the table which were holding all the other stuff I needed or might need!) And that's just my work surface - I dare not share photos of the shelves and drawers where all my other "stuff" is stored - equally cluttered, baskets overcrowded with stamps and dies, so I can't see what's in any of the baskets without pulling half of the contents out. The same for my papers - stacks of them, taking up two shelves in a large open fronted unit, crammed together, so I can't see the designs on any of them without spending time pulling them out! And that's just the ones I haven't used! I also have a few drawers full of papers which are part-used or paper packs or pads with a few sheets missing.



I think it's fair to say that many of us probably suffer from the above syndrome, and the best we can hope for is to perhaps take over a spare bedroom as our creative space, our studio, our shrine to all things crafty. Because we don't live in big houses with huge outbuildings which can be converted over into our dream studio, or we can't afford to buy that beautiful garden studio/office we saw at our favourite garden centre recently because we'd need to take out a small mortgage to fund it, and we'd need a good-sized garden to accommodate it, so we make do with a spare room, or the loft, or perhaps the garage if we're lucky or, as in the photo, a table, somewhere in the house. I think it's probably also fair to say that most of us have ended up with way more stuff in our crafty shrines than we really have space for, so it all starts to spill over onto our work surface, or is piled up on shelves so we can't see anything properly, stored on the floor, under the table, so it's in the way when you're trying to move around, or its out of sight so you can pretend it's not there!

If you're anything like me, that does nothing but hinder the creative process. If I can't see my stuff or everything is too cluttered, I forget what I've got, I can't find what I need quickly and my creativity just shuts down. Before I know it, I haven't been in my crafty space for a week, a fortnight, a month, because it just becomes too much for me to get my head round and deal with! When you're in mid-flow, with lots of different projects on the go all at the same time, all at different stages perhaps, you end up with a huge pile of dies, stamps, inks, papers and goodness knows what else all over your crafty space, because you're using it all, so you end up with less and less space to work in or to put things aside to dry. It gets to the stage where there's so much of it piled up everywhere that it's very overwhelming and too daunting to contemplate trying to sort it all out and put it all away again and you have nowhere to work. Sound familiar? It's OK, humans are naturally lazy, so don't feel guilty!

What I have learnt over time, and what was re-enforced in the talk on Etsy Up, is that we must de-clutter, tidy things up, find other places for stuff to go, so that we can see all the lovely papers in our stash, we can see all the dies, stencils, inks, paints, beads, buttons, lace and charms. In this way, the creativity will once again begin to flow, because not only will our space be de-cluttered and we'll be able to see things clearly again, but it will have the effect of de-cluttering our minds too. We'll feel refreshed mentally, because those mental and physical barriers will no longer be there.

De-clutter properly, put some serious effort into it, be a bit ruthless; be honest about all that stuff in terms of what you REALLY need and what you really WILL NEVER USE. All those things which you will realistically never use, you need to sell, give away or throw away, because they are taking up valuable space where the things you REALLY DO USE THE MOST could be stored instead and where the new products on your wish list could come to live. All those papers? They're all beautiful aren't they? But realistically, how many of them are you actually ever going to use? If they don't get used, eventually the paper mites will move in and start chomping them and pooping on them, they'll smell of house instead of that lovely fresh smell they have when you first buy them, the colours may fade, the designs will be outdated and they will start to disintegrate ..... What a waste. Better that they go to a new home where they will be used than festering in your crafty space because you just couldn't resist them even though you could think of no practical uses for them ... and still can't! It's hard, I know it is, I've been there, I'm just as guilty as everyone else in the crafting industry of hoarding way too much stuff, but at some point we do need to let things go, make space for the things that we will get the most mileage out of and for those new trend items we crave, because most of us don't have the luxury of a big space to store everything.

There are lots of locally run groups for elderly people, disabled (or differently able as I prefer to call it) people, where they make cards, do things with paper, and so on, so it might be worth enquiring to see if there are any of those groups in your area who would benefit from a generous donation of your unwanted, never-to-be-used crafting materials, if you don't want the hassle of trying to sell them. There are also nurseries and playgroups, and lots of other children's groups, who may benefit from a gift of lots of pretty papers, felt, fun foam and so on. Or take them to your nearest and favourite charity shop for them to sell. That way, even though you're giving away stuff you paid for, it will feel good because you're donating it to a good cause. If you never clear out stuff you purchased several years ago and have never or hardly used, how can you ever accommodate any new products? The world of crafting is evolving all the time which means new products, new innovations, new techniques and so on. So, give all of that "old" stuff which you've never used and never will a new home. Then, you will have space for all the new and gorgeous crafting products you've had your eye on for ages and finally be able to buy them because there will be somewhere to store them. Win-win!

It is a hard discipline to learn, tidying up after yourself all the time, clearing out things that are unused or no longer used, because let's face it, that's precious time wasted that could be spent on creating something. BUT, if you don't tidy things away and put them back in their rightful places, de-clutter and free up your space to work and be creative, then sooner or later, everything will be in one giant chaotic mess and your creativity, your productivity, will stall. Without a shadow of a doubt.

Don't put off 'til tomorrow what can be done today! Carpe Diem - or - Seize the Day. Those are great sayings and words we should all live by.

So, I have vowed to tidy up after myself to make my life easier in the long run. I'm doing fairly well, although recently I've slipped back into my old ways a little, though certainly not to the extent I used to. Life has a habit of getting in the way sometimes. I have promised myself I will be ruthless and clear out all the things I will never use at all/again. I have begun the process, with my dies and embellishments, I'm finding it quite difficult throwing any stamps out, and actually haven't - yet, but I know I have to - you know the ones I mean - those sets which you purchased just for one word or phrase or sentiment or image in them, and you've never used any of the others in that set. Next is going through all those lovely papers. That will be hardest of all.

I just have a pile of projects to finish off first .....!!

Bye for now,
Julie x


Saturday, 13 August 2016

Oops!

Hi everyone

Just a quick post to profusely apologise!

If you have visited our shop and tried to use the coupon code we gave you, you would have found your total increased rather than decreasing! We are very sorry for this technical error, which has now been rectified!

So, please pop over to our shop to stock up on all your favourite goodies - we have loads of brands to choose from including Ranger, Tim Holtz, DecoArt, Andy Skinner and so many more - put the coupon code BDB1 in your basket and you will now see your total decrease!

And don't forget that all purchases over £30 qualify for free shipping (UK only - overseas customers please contact us for shipping costs before placing your order).

Happy shopping!

Bye for now,
Julie x

Friday, 12 August 2016

Two great articles to read!

Hi folks

There are two great articles for you to read this month!

If you turn to p.72 of Issue 136 of Papercraft Essentials Magazine you'll find a fab 5-page article entitled "Beginner's guide to: no-line colouring", which provides a wonderful tutorial on using your stamps, distress ink pads and Spectrum Aqua Markers to create beautiful cards and artworks.



And if you turn to p.70 in the September 2016 issue of Craft Stamper Magazine you'll find a 6-page Masterclass article on Negative Image Stamps, where designer Georgina Ford will show you how to create beautiful cards and artworks on canvas using art stamps, acrylic paints, distress inks, archival ink, embossing ink, embossing powder and Imagination Crafts Starlights Paint.




So, pour yourself a cuppa, or a glass of your preferred tipple, put your feet up and enjoy these two fantastic tutorials from the comfort of your favourite chair! Then, once you're fired up with inspiration and ready to get creative, pop over to our shop and stock up on all your favourite goodies! (And remember to add your coupon code BDB1 to get 15% off your order, plus free postage on all orders over £30 - UK only.)

Enjoy!

Julie x

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

You're worth it!

Hi everyone

I hope you are having a good week. I don't know what to make of our weather this summer, it's very mixed and a bit odd!

I'm in a contemplating mood, reflecting on some of the things I've experienced since I began my paper-crafting journey 7 years ago. One of the things that really stands out in my mind is my experiences when venturing into selling the things I make, which is completely different from selling the raw materials to make things with.

My first sale came very quickly after I made my first Christmas cards way back in 2009. I decided to list a few of my cards on eBay on the off-chance I might sell one/some and I also wanted to test the market on how I'd priced my cards compared with others I'd looked at. That's the hardest part quite often, what price to put on your cards, when you know how long they've taken you to make and how much the materials have cost. It's a tricky figure to come up with because people will only pay so much for a card, handmade or mass printed! Anyway, I priced them as well as I could and within about four days I sold a pretty little Christmas card which had a wooden rocking horse shape on it and some glitter card in a lovely cinnamon colour - you see, I can still remember it, even now after having made several hundred cards since! I was so chuffed to sell something I'd made - I'm sure you've all been there! And it told me my prices must be about right too, and my style was appealing to at least one person! So I made a few more cards after Christmas and again listed them on eBay, and this brought me my very first repeat customer, who not only bought cards I'd already made, but gave me a few commission orders over the next few years too. I was so chuffed.

I've never had much spare time to craft, much to my frustration, but my life is not straight forward by any means, with an autistic son to care for and a husband who is self-employed so his work pattern is erratic, meaning getting any time to myself is a challenge. Still, I managed to get the odd couple of hours here and there and would make two or three cards if the ideas were there and it all flowed smoothly. Let me tell you though, that was not very often the case, probably because it took me a while to "switch off" from everything else and fully immerse myself in what I was trying to do.

Anyway, my confidence grew and I put feelers out with friends and family, and received a few more orders, every one of which felt like I'd run a marathon and received a medal to prove I'd done it! It boosted my confidence hugely to know friends and family liked my cards enough to buy/order from me.

I reached a point where I felt confident enough to try to sell my cards in a "proper" shop - it's a big step, and it was actually my sister who came up with the suggestion of a place where my cards might sell well, which was a gift shop within an old mill in a little village near where we live. The arrangement was shelf rental plus 5% commission on any sales. There were only two other people selling their handmade cards in the shop (and their cards were a completely different style to mine) along with a few people selling different kinds of gifts from jewellery to soft furnishings. We decided to take the plunge, so armed with some pretty baskets and a huge amount of "fingers crossed" we displayed my wares and waited. I was very excited and blogged about it at the time.

Sales were sporadic from one month to the next but on good months it was enough to cover the cost of the materials I'd bought plus a bit of profit. However, the shop owner then decided to allow more card makers into the shop - which was of course her right to do - but it got to the point where there were 14 of us all vying for what was actually a very small percentage of business because it's only a small village with few visitors from anywhere else. Sadly that was the beginning of the end of my time in that shop, because sales dropped right off as there were so many of us all making similar style cards and some were pricing their cards really low. Also, on two separate months, the cheque which the shop owner presented me with for my sales bounced, which was a really bad sign, so I took the decision to pull my goods out of the shop. Had that not happened I might have stuck it out for longer and tried making things in a different style to snare more customers, but I couldn't risk not getting the money I was due for any sales I achieved, so that was that.

I just want to go back to my comment in the last paragraph about how others were pricing their cards. I'd never try to recoup the cost of time spent making my cards because some take longer than others, and I was making a variety of styles from quite clean and simple to cards with a lot going on, so the time taken varied considerably from one card to the next. Also, the cost of materials varied from one card to the next, as you would expect. I tried to figure out a price which was kind of double what the materials cost me, plus maybe an extra 50p on top. That was how I came to my prices and people were happily buying my cards at anything from £1.50 right up to £4.00. The shop owner did not want to put her own prices on my goods, so the pricing was entirely in my control. But some of the others who "moved in" to the shop were selling their cards at £1 or less, and I just felt this was not something I wanted to compete against, because the more you lower your prices, the less people appreciate the value of something handmade and the less they are prepared to pay. It's a dangerous precedent to set.

So, I'd pulled out of the shop in the mill and it was several months before another opportunity presented itself. In the meantime I listed a few of my cards on eBay again but this time there were no takers. I still received occasional commission orders from friends and family.

Eventually a close friend told me about a new gift shop opening up which was, ironically, in the same village where I'd originally sold my cards! I decided to contact the owner and see if she would be interested in stocking my cards. Her initial reaction was quite negative as she had already taken on 4 people who made cards, so she wanted to know what else I made. I really struggled on the 'phone as I much prefer to deal with people face to face, so I flustered my way through the conversation and she agreed to see me with some samples! I was so nervous! Anyway, she was lovely and what few non-card things I had made - little notebooks, bookmarks and gift bags, she was very interested in having, so that was a relief! Her arrangement was not shelf rental, but a higher commission fee on each sale - 20%. This seemed a bit high to me but I decided to go for it and see what happened.

Because there was no shelf rental I didn't have any say in where or how my things were displayed, and the shop owner was a bit vague and said she would find somewhere for them, so I was a little concerned! But I needn't have been, because my items sold really quickly, within a matter of days, so I had to find time to get more made so I could re-stock! Again, I was putting my own prices on my products, being careful not to overprice things.

Sales continued to come in at a steady rate. I decided to make some boxed wedding cards and take them to show her on the off-chance she might like them and want to stock them - she had nothing like them in the shop already (I'd checked!). She absolutely loved them. I'd made four and they all sold within the first week! So again I had to quickly get more stock made and in to her. It still gave me such a buzz each time something I'd made sold. These became my biggest earner and sold steadily every month. And at this point the shop owner decided to stock any cards I could make, boxed or not! I also received a few commission orders via the shop which was nice.

Along the way I expanded my range of papercraft products and also made some home decor bits and pieces. Some sold, some didn't, but that's ok because I was very much feeling my feet on all of that.

So, there were a few very good months were I recouped the costs of materials and had a bit of profit. The first Christmas was phenomenal. Then the shop owner took in more people selling papercraft items in particular, meaning more competition again in a small village, but she did more than that. She decided to change the way she was doing things in terms of the prices. Everyone who'd been selling their wares via her shop had been setting their own prices and paying the 20% commission to her for every sale. One day she informed me that she'd changed the way everything was priced and I was the only supplier now putting my own prices on my products; she wanted to put her own prices on everything "to make it viable" and said she needed to add at least £1 to the price of every item. I was not happy about this because I felt I'd priced my products fairly and taken into consideration, as previously mentioned, the maximum that customers would be prepared to pay for something handmade, so this meant that all of a sudden, a card which I'd priced at, say £2.50, would be £3.50. That's a big increase. But I allowed it to go ahead and decided to wait and see what happened. Sure enough, sales began to fall and then dropped significantly over the second Christmas, to less than half of the previous year's total. I was hugely disappointed and actually very upset about it.

The final straw came when the shop owner decided to force all her card suppliers to accept a specified price for each card that sold, but without actually taking responsibility for the stock herself. She did not buy any stock off us. If she had, maybe her new way of wanting to do things would have been acceptable, but since she was not taking any financial responsibility at all, and we were basically coming out worse off on top of no longer having any control over the prices being put on items, that to me was very unfair. I did make a collection of cards for which I was happy to receive her stated amount of £1.50 per card if they sold, and a few did sell, but she priced everything so high that virtually nothing else was selling any more.

So once again, and with much sadness, I stopped selling my goods in a bricks and mortar shop. I have not tried to sell them anywhere else until just recently, and I've now listed a few on Etsy. No sales so far, but it's early days. And I am looking for somewhere else "physical" to sell my products again - because they're worth it, they're more than good enough.

So, my friends, this has been my experience to date of selling my handmade goods.

I think there are quite a few insights/lessons you can take from my experience.

The first one is, never allow anyone else to put prices on your goods unless they are going to buy the stock from you for an agreed amount, in which case they then own the goods and can put whatever price they want on them - you've got your money! You know how much your products cost you in terms of materials used and time spent making them, if you wish to try to factor that in, and you will know better than most people what is a reasonable price to ask for your products, whether you're asking for that amount from a shop owner or an individual customer. Don't allow any shop owner to take advantage in this way because, no matter how good a business relationship you have with them; they are not playing fair and are only interested in what they're making at the end of the day and they will avoid taking financial risks as much as they can. If they want to put their own prices on your products, they must buy them from you first!

The second thing is this: don't be afraid to pull out of an arrangement if it suddenly becomes considerably less beneficial to you. Shop keepers will change things if they're not working for them to the level they want them to. It's nothing personal, it's business. But sticking around out of any kind of loyalty, or for the sake of the good business relationship you may have built up, or because you'd rather be getting £10 a month than nothing, and then seeing sales of your lovely products plummet, is disheartening. But the fact of the matter is that it's probably not about your products, but more to do with the number of suppliers selling similar goods to a relatively small customer base (some competition is healthy but if there are 14 of you all trying to sell your cards in a village with a population of only a few hundred that's not going to bring the returns you're hoping for) or, the fact that the shop owner puts their own prices on things because of wanting to achieve a certain profit margin and as a result out-prices your goods in the eyes of their customers so the sales don't materialise.

The third thing I would say here, and of course you are quite at liberty to disagree with me if you so wish, is never confuse a good business relationship with friendship. They are two entirely separate things and if you are supplying a business with your goods, then what you have is a business relationship and really, it needs to stay that way, so that no-one's feelings are hurt if it all goes pear-shaped for one or the other! This is an area I do find quite difficult - keeping business relationships purely business, because I like to like people and I'm a friendly sort of person. But friendship really cannot come in to it because it can be very detrimental to your business. It must be very difficult to run a business with a friend or partner and not let things get personal when all is not going to plan, or if you have fundamentally different perspectives on various aspects of the business. I am quite sure many a good friendship has been sacrificed because of problems with a joint business venture.

The fourth thing I would say is this: DO take chances. If you have a good product and there is likely to be interest from potential buyers, do take the risk of finding somewhere to sell that product. If promoting yourself and your products is way out of your comfort zone, still do it. Push yourself out of that comfort zone, take a deep breath, and jump! You may just land on your feet.

And finally, if it doesn't work out, well hey, you tried, and you should be very proud of that fact. Don't beat yourself up about it, don't throw your wonderful products in the bin! Just because no-one bought them this time, in this place, doesn't mean they won't sell in the future, somewhere else. It's definitely a case of trial and error and frequently about geography - what is the demographic make-up of the area you're thinking of selling in? How affluent an area is it? and so on. But if you never try, you're just letting yourself down. At the end of the day, it's not about anyone else, it is all about you. And I do think it is so much better if you can say you tried rather than always thinking "what if".

So, all you creative entrepreneurs out there - go for it! You deserve it! You're worth it!


Bye for now,
love Julie x


PS. Hey creative entrepreneurs, short on supplies? Go to our shop, Beebaab Crafting Supplies and stock up! We offer free postage on all orders over £30 (UK only) and if you use code BDB1 in the basket where it says "coupon code" you'll get 15% off the total cost of your order (excluding postage). See you there! x