Found my making mojo

Hey everyone! Apologies for yet another hiatus from me! I’ve been concentrating so much on Nine Dots Creative, I’ve got to admit I’ve kinda neglected Linziloop. At the end of 2016 however, I did get back to making, in the way of beanbags! I made one for little loop for her  3rd birthday (I know, where did the time go?!) and I enjoyed getting back to the sewing machine so much that I decided to make a couple more to sell. I’m taking custom orders too, I’ll see how it goes!

I’m also itching to get back into making some clothes for myself. I’ve got so many ideas at the moment, it would be a shame to not make any of them. The fabric stash is alive and well so I’m sure there’s something suitable amongst it all for me to make something to wear.

Anyway, I just though I’d show you some pics of my beanbags and tell you they’re available on Etsy if you would like one. They’re great for kids up to about 11/12 years of age, reversible, washable cover, and can be custom made in any theme you (or your kids!) like.

I really want to pick the Linziloop reigns back up though… I do enjoy the escape from the computer screen when I’m making, and I’ve got a whole studio to myself at the moment (anybody wanna join me!?) so I’ve certainly got the space!

I’d love to hear in the comments what you’ve been up to so far in 2017, and what your plans are for the year! Any new projects you’re starting?!

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with an update on more making 😀

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Finding your audience

I think I may have finally found my audience, it’s just a matter of how to get them all together in one place again! Some of you will know that I decided to give up doing craft fairs at least for a bit a while ago as I never really saw any profit from them, in fact it was rare that I would break even, most running at a loss once you factor in the cost of the table plus parking. I was selling my items in a pop up shop in Liverpool for quite a few months which I have mixed feelings about to be honest – on the one hand I sold more than I usually would just by solely selling online, and probably got my stuff in front of people who otherwise would never have seen it, but having to pay commission meant that I either had to up the price of my goods quite substantially and thus probably losing sales because of it, or take the hit on my profit, which simply wasn’t sustainable.

At the beginning of the month I got my stock back from the pop up shop as they were having a change of venue and it seemed like the right time to try something new. My friend had asked me a few months earlier if I would be interested running s stall with her at an event her partner was organising – The Psychometric Picnic in The Bombed Out Church, Liverpool. I thought I would give this a go and I’m really glad I did! Not only was it the most wonderful day with lovely weather, brilliant venue and the most inspiring and amazing people, but my stuff seemed to quite popular! It may have been the fact that I had put my prices down quite a bit in a moment of “I really need to get this stuff selling”, but I did get some really nice compliments and real interest in my stuff. Some custom orders too, at none-sale prices, so that’s saying something 😀

The Psychometric Picnic isn’t a frequent event, in fact this was the first, and there may not be another until next year, but I wonder where all these people are usually hiding?! Here are some pictures of the day, do come join the Psychometric Vision group on Facebook to keep up to date with future events!

Psychometric Picnic Stage Setup

The stage setup on the day where many DJs and musicians played

The Psychometric Picnic

Everyone having a lovely time, family friendly lovelyness

Psychometric Picnic Puppet

Scaring the kids….and probably some grown ups too haha! Isn’t he awesome?!

Linziloop and Maïya-Jyotï Creation Stall

Linziloop and Maïya-Jyotï Creation Stall

Linziloop Handmade Stall at the bombed out church

My table, looking a bit more bare than it did at the beginning!

Linziloop Handmade Chain Necklace Closeup

I still can’t believe this hasn’t sold, it’s awesome, what’s going on?! Hehe!

I was sharing the stall with Maïya-Jyotï Creation who make the most amazing clothing – seriously, check em out. As for what I’ll be up to next, well, I have a bit of a new direction I would like to take me handmade business in. More clothing for one. A more consistent range. I have certainly got a bit of a better idea as to what sells and what prices people are willing to pay – which unfortunately means that it’s unfeasible for me to make some items at all, but I still will for myself and presents and things I’m sure. Until I get all that sorted, which might be a while yet as I have 1001 other things on including running ErroZero and Retroid Studio, then please do check by my Etsy shop for occassional new items and of course all the items that are still in my clearance sale which I am willing to take (not silly!) offers on.

What have I learned about finding my audience? Craft fairs are full of people who already do crafts, brick and mortar shops are good for getting your stuff in front of people if in the right location but commission can be a killer, and online is the cheapest way to try but a very saturated market. Finding your audience all in one place is rare, really rare. I got lucky! Lets hope I can get lucky again…
Much love to you all xxx

Introducing a new product range

A little while ago now I decided I would design and make a new product range. I have begun making this, and am currently selling some of the items in the Made-Here Pop up Shop. To create a more consistent brand, and for my own sanity, I am going to try and start introducing ‘ranges’ into my shop, some will have a colour theme, others a style theme, some may be more aimed at men, some may be a range of different products but all made from the same yarn. I feel this will help me focus and give my shop some consistency. I’m also hoping it will help solve the yarn stash problem I have – far too many different yarn odds and ends which can’t be combined to make anything!

My first new range was inspired by some cotton yarn I found which I absolutely feel in love with. Because it is cotton, and it has a much more summery feel and appearance, I decided to make some items that were more suited to summer such as wrist cuffs and bags instead of hats and scarves. Here are some pictures of the items I have made so far, let me know what you think!

Linziloop-Cotton-Crochet-Clutch-Bag

Cotton crochet clutch bag

Linziloop-Cotton-Crochet-Necklace

Cotton crochet necklace with flower and leaf

Linziloop-Cotton-Crochet-Wrist-Cuffs

Cotton crochet wrist cuffs with button detail

Linziloop-Cotton-Crochet-Headband-White

Cotton crochet flower with fabric button on top of white headband

Linziloop-Crochet-Feather-Hippy-Headband

Cotton crochet and pheasant feather hippy headband

Linziloop-Cotton-Crochet-Chain-Necklace

Cotton crochet chunky chain necklace

There is one problem though – I can’t decide on a name for my new range! Any ideas?!

And don’t forget, of the things that aren’t currently in the pop up shop, there is still a massive clearance sale on all items in my Folksy and Etsy shops. Need some space for all these new range ideas I’m having at the moment!

Pop-up Shop!

Pop-up Shop you say?! What’s that then?! Well, for those of you not familiar with the term, let me be the one to introduce you to a wonderful world of discovery! A Pop-up Shop is a temporary shop in a retail unit. Quite often (so I have seen in Liverpool anyway) these shops sell handmade, unique, and arty items. The kind of things you don’t usually find on the highstreet, one of a kind finds, things made by local people and often with local materials. It’s not always the case – you do also get some tacky Christmas themed pop up shops, or corporate businesses occupying a retail unit for a short time to introduce a particular product or brand, but the ones that I find most interesting and feel really being something to the community and town centres are the ones which showcase items from local artists and crafters who perhaps wouldn’t be able to have their own entire shop. It makes for eclectic collections, interesting shopping, and breathes a little life into town centres which sadly so often are almost clones of one another. It also makes use of empty spaces which are becoming an ever more present occurrence in the highstreet, and that can’t be a bad thing, nobody likes to see empty spaces being put to no good use at all.

Print Shop and Social was a Pop-up Shop in Liverpool on Bold Street in 2011, opened by local designer Gary McGarvey.

Pop-up Shops can last anywhere between one day and a few months or more really, I guess it can depend on the original plan of the shop, how well it does, how many people are involved, or how much stock there is to sell. They’re great little ventures, and if you spot one in your local town or city centre then I would urge you to go take a look, you might find something really unique, or simply be inspired by the creativity of the people involved.

Lately I have been presented with the opportunity of having my Linziloop Handmade accessories in a Pop-up Shop in Liverpool and I’m really excited about it. The Pop-up Shop has been acquired by the lovely people of Made-Here, a website where I currently sell my handmade items. It will be in the Liverpool One complex which sees an average weekly footfall of 550,000, which I’m sure you will agree is quite impressive! I had been wondering for a little while about how to get my items in front of a different audience to that of craft fairs and this may well be the perfect thing to try out next. It has so many benefits too – customers will be able to pay by card (which I can’t offer at craft fairs), people will be able to physically touch and try on items (which obviously they can’t do online), and it is in an area where pretty much people come solely to shop!

Made-Here Pop-up Shop interior design

This is an image of how the shop might look inside, doesn't it look lovely?!

I’ve made some new items especially for putting in the shop, so I’m very interested to see how they will sell. I’m also really excited to see how the shop will look (I had a little sneak peak as it was being built last week!), and to see what other wonderful items my fellow crafters have been making. The shop will open on Saturday March 10th, so if you’re anywhere local to Liverpool then please do come along one day and show your support. I’m not entirely sure of the total time it will be there, so get down before it’s gone! You can join the event page on Facebook or follow Made-Here on Twitter to keep up to date with how it’s all going.

Liverpool One Pop up Shop

The shop can be found at: 4 Keys Court (the cut through by Top Shop), Liverpool One. Come along!

Yarn Bombing Liverpool

A few weeks ago I was tagged in a post on Facebook by a friend who had spotted a guerilla crochet / knitting / yarn bombing project that she thought I might like to get involved with. It’s something I had been itching to do for a while but never really put aside the time to do it. You know, one of those “I’ll do that one day” things that, lets face it, don’t get done often enough. The project I had been directed towards was for the Threshold Festival which takes place 10th – 12th February 2012. I won’t go into the details, cos that’s a surprise for those of you who want to visit when the festival is on, but it’s quite the undertaking and I am quite excited about how it will all look when it’s done!

I don’t have a massive amount of time to contribute to the project but as the saying goes, every little helps, so I have started putting together some granny squares that can be pieced to other work, and some decorative flowers too. It’s great to be crocheting something that isn’t going to be sold and that will hopefully bring pleasure to those who see it. It’s great being able to use up some of the wool in my stash that had been sat there for a while as I didn’t have a clue what to do with an odd piece of chunky red wool but didn’t have the wastefulness in me to throw it away.

Liverpool Yarn Bombing Linziloop Pieces

On the right you can see the largest piece, which I can't actually take credit for, this was made by my good friend Liz and put in a bag with a load of wool she donated to Right Said Thread, so I'm sure she will be very happy to know it's going in a great project! The smaller square I made from lots of bits of yarn I had left over, it worked out better than I thougt it would! And then I have some more smaller bits from wool I probably would have used but am happy to donate to the project 😀 Apologies for the slightly rubbish picture quality!

The deadline for submissions is Feb 6th, so if anyone reading this would like to get involved – it’s open to you! Please do! Just get in touch with me via Facebook or Twitter and I shall pass you on a link with all the details you need to get involved.

To get you all inspired for taking part in such a project, or if you have absolutely no idea what the heck yarn bombing is, here are some of my fave pictures:

Street knitted bike

Knitted Tree

Knitted balustrade

Guerilla knitting telephone UK

I will be sure to take some pictures of the Liverpool yarn bombing project and post them up on here as soon as the festival is finished, as I will be doing a craft stall at the festival on the Saturday so will be a very busy lady that weekend!

My latest craft fairs; Part 1 – Made-Here Christmas Arts Market

Wow, it has been a long time since I last posted, what can I say, I have been a busy little bee between work, Linziloop stuff, exercising the beejesus out of myself and having some kind of social life amongst it all, oh, and a little thing called Christmas! Squeezed in there somewhere I also managed two craft fairs in the run up to the holiday season, one straight after the other on the weekend of 17th and 18th December. I think I might well fry your brains (and mine) if I try and fit in all my recent adventures into one blog post so for now I will do my best to fill you in about the two craft fairs I did, they were both quite different, and I think I learned some things to share with you all 😀

The first craft fair I did was the Made-Here Christmas Arts Market in Bold Street, Liverpool. I booked this in quite a while ago so had plenty of time to prepare, make more things, even do a test run of how my table would look in the living room. Would you believe I have never had the chance to do this before?! It was quite the luxury!

Linziloop Craft Stal Test Run

The test run of my stall in my living room - taken on phone camera so not best quality but made for a great quick reference guide for me when setting up on the day!

I would say if you have the time, definitely do a test run of how you want your stall to look – if you’re anything like me you will have plenty of new items since you last did a stall so will need to perhaps do it differently to how you last did it. Doing a test run when you have plenty of time and then taking a picture makes for much less faffing on the actual morning of the craft fair. What I would also say, is make sure you do actually take everything you used to create your display – don’t do what I did and forget your mannequin or box to raise your polystyrene heads up with. That would be silly ;p Luckily I had a friend at the craft fair who had a mannequin nearby in her studio (thank Beccy!) and so this is how my stall ended up looking on the day:

Linziloop Stall

Maybe not a carbon copy of the test run, but fairly happy with it. Still room for improvement me thinks!

Linziloop Craft Stall Display

Linziloop Handmade Craft Stall

And because I know how much you all love to have a nosy at other craft stalls, and because I was next to two absolutely brilliant fellow crafters, here are some pictures of the stalls I was next to too! On my right there was the legend of a lady who is Kiki of Aliki Bags, who I have now had the pleasure of doing the Made-Here Arts Market with twice, and it has been a pleasure!

Aliki Bags Craft Stall

Aliki Handmade Bags Craft Stall

If you like what you see here on Kiki’s stall then please do take a look through her website alikibags.miiduu.com, or go like her page on Facebook – she is the most friendly and inviting person ever! And talking of very friendly, lovely people, I was surrounded by them on this day, as on the other side of me was Genevieve of Bug Pop! Two very different craft stalls to mine, so very complimentary I think, Queen Bug Pop can be seen here behind her stall, a stall to be proud of me thinks!

Bug Pop Handmade Jewellery Stall

Bug Pop Handmade Jewellery Craft Stall

Queen Bug Pop also has a Facebook page, and a shop on Etsy where you can purchase her very unique and interesting jewellery, lots of one of a kind stuff don’t you know, well worth checking out!

So, how did my day go I hear you ask? Well, to be honest, not as well as I had hoped. It being the last weekend before Christmas I really had high hopes of this, being placed on one of the busier shopping streets in Liverpool, I really thought we would get the footfall up the stairs and buying our lovely handmade wares. Sadly it didn’t turn out that way. Why, I’m not entirely sure to be honest, which is slightly frustrating as when you don’t know these things you can’t very well make adjustments for next time. If anyone has any ideas then please do shout up in the comments! Anyway, never one to be put down by a poor sales day, I picked myself up and prepared for the next day of selling which would be at The Great Kazimier Yuletide White Elephant Bizarre on the Sunday – a fair I had done extremely well at in 2010 and had high hopes for also…..my next blog post will be about this.

Until then my friends, keep on crafting and buying handmade, much love xxx

The makings of a craft stall – Part 4 (final)

First and foremost I would just like to apologise for the gap in between this post and the Part 3 post – I never intended for it to follow this late on, but things got in the way ! Hopefully there are still some of you out there still interested!?

This is my fourth and final post in my “makings of a craft stall” series in which I hope I will help those setting off to go about having their own craft stall by sharing my experience of my first proper craft stall. The fair I was attending was at the Adlephi Hotel, Liverpool. Luckily I know where this is and where the nearest parking is located (a multi-story, across the street from the same side entrance the fair organisers had told us to use).

Upon arriving I was directed to where my table for the day would be and had about an hour to set up before the event started. It took me three trips to the car and back to grab all my stuff, with a little help on the last trip from a lovely lady who was also at the fair. I hadn’t actually done a trial run of how my stall would look as i didn’t have a table big enough at home, so I went about setting up in a reasonably organised way but with no real idea of how I wanted it all. I think it turned out quite well though, what do you think?!

Linziloop Craft Stall Display Design

I think it would be better for me to get a sign that i can hang down the front of the table, it seems like such a wasted opportunity! Then perhaps I will have a little more space on the table for my items.

Linziloop Handmade Craft Stall

I used a sturdy cardboard box covered in hessian fabric to raise these items up so everything was flat on the table

Linziloop Handmade Display Tree

My tree! It held plenty of items and there was probably room for more!

Just as the fair started, a lovely jolly gentlemen came up to my stall and I made my first sale! He had been away on business for the weekend and was looking for a little something for his wife, but didn’t have much money (only the small amount of change in his pocket), so my sale sign caught his eye and he bought the little grey purse you can see in the picture below there! A sign of good things to come I thought! Shortly following this, my beautiful assistant for the day turned up and the tai chi lessons started – I convinced her to get up (the only one at first hehe! How brave of her!).

Linziloop Handmade Sale Basket

As the day went by I had a little chat with the lady on the table behind me, the stall to the side of my promoting the fishy foot spa things that seem to be cropping up in every town centre at the moment, and had a look around the fair myself. Plenty of people came by and had a look, some tried things on, some (ok, a LOT!) reminisced about the old days when they used to knit, some took flyers, some walked straight on by. My mum and dad came to pay a little visit (thanks mum and dad!), so my dad got to see his handy work put into action, and my mum got to buy photos for the house from the lovely photographer that was there.

Hours went by, and still no more sales, not a bean. Eight cups of tea, plenty of cake, fudge, pineapple and sandwiches later, and the day had drawn to an end. My dreams of kicking ass at my first craft fair were in tatters. Not one to be defeated or wallow in self-pity I put it down to a good experience (perhaps one not to be repeated, at least in this location), and looked at the good points, such as all the new stock I had made in preparation for the fair could now be put on my online stores, I had got my arse into gear about getting PLI sorted, and I discovered peanut butter and chocolate fudge (Oh my!)

When I spoke to others at the event the lack of sales seem to be a common theme, so whilst I was sad most of us were going home out-of-pocket (except perhaps the fudge man who had almost cleared out selling to us lot haha!), I was kinda glad it wasn’t just me. So, what have a learned from my first experience of a craft stall? Turns out, quite a bit, here are some of the key points I would like to share with you that I think may be of use:

  • You will need PLI (Public Liability Insurance). This can be found cheaply through AIR if you subscribe to their magazine
  • You will need to fill in a risk assessment form – this isn’t as scary as it might seem at first (see Part 1)
  • Write a list of everything you will need for your craft stall
  • Consider how you can use height on the design of your table – it’s valuable space when you only have a small table and can have paid quite a lot for it
  • Use a selection of only two or three colours as your background or table-cloth, meaning your items have more chance of standing out
  • Have fun with inventive ways of displaying your items – I was really happy to see nobody else had anything like my tree!
  • If your stall sells handmade items why not try making your display pieces by hand?! It keeps costs down and adds to the handmade appearance of your shop
  • Don’t try to do too much or spend too much for your first craft stall, you’re just trying to get a feel for it after all, and if it turns out you don’t enjoy it, then you may have wasted a lot of money
  • If you sell things you can put labels on, then do label them. That way, if the item is bought as a gift, the recipient can find you again should they want another, or someone else wants to buy the item
  • Don’t forget you will need a float of change on the day, a lot of craft fairs are on a Sunday so you probably won’t find a shop open to help you out first thing. This is something best remembered to do during the week
  • Take a flask of tea (or juice, or whatever your drink of choice is) and a packed lunch. If you are running your craft stall on your own chances are you won’t be able to leave it (someone next to you is usually ok for minding your table whilst on a trip to the loo!)
  • If you have a friend who doesn’t mind coming along to help then why not take the offer? Perhaps you could give them something from your stall in return for the favour?
  • Do be friendly, smile, chatty, but don’t push any sales on anyone, make them feel comfortable to try things on and not feel pressure to buy
  • Be prepared for getting no sales – if you can’t afford to fork out the table fee and not recoup it, then don’t do it
  • If the event you are thinking of attending is a regular event it may well be worth attending it as a buyer before you cough up your cash. This way you can get a feel for the fair, see how many attend, how it all works etc.
  • It would be well worth your while to find out if there is a seller at the event you’re thinking of attending selling similar things to you. If the event is regular, pay it a visit, see what’s on offer. If not, or if you can’t attend one before you sell, do ask the event organiser what their policy is regarding selling stalls to people with similar offerings. If they are going to let more than one stall selling similar things in, may be best to steer clear
  • Try and find fairs that are in a location that will do well with passing trade as well as the people who may have seen the event advertised and come especially. One of the problems with this particular location is that there seemed to be no passing trade whatsoever, and whilst in the run up to the event I had seen them do quite a bit of promotion, it didn’t seem to pay off and footfall was low

So! That’s the end of my Makings of a Craft Stall series, I do hope I have helped you through my experiences, please do feel free to ask any question in the comments! And what is it I hear you ask that has been taking up my time so much these last few weeks?! Well! My next endeavor! I will be running a stall at Eden Festival in Scotland along with another lady who sells handmade feathered jewelery so as you can imagine, there has been quite a lot of preparation for that!  The festival starts June 10th, do check out the website. More on that soon, it’s all very exciting and I’m sure it will be another great learning experience, with hopefully a damn site more sales!

Good luck to all of you about to take part in your first craft fair! Do come share your thoughts xxx

The makings of a craft stall – Part 3

This will be my third  of four posts in my ‘making of a craft stall’ series. The craft stall is now done and dusted, and I feel I have some valuable information to share with newbies to it all like myself, so please, read on!

In my last post I mentioned the risk assessment form – well, it turns out, if there were grades given for filling out risk assessment forms I would have got an A, yay! So that’s good to know, they’re really not as scary or as difficult as they may at first look. Check back to post number 2 if you would like a little more info on this, or please do feel free to get in touch.

I believe I last left you at the point where I was about to get on with making a sign for my craft stall. My original idea was to make some signs out of foam board and cut them out in the shape of clouds, dotting them around my table to make it look that bit more special and inviting. Sadly with time constraints and a few ‘technical difficulties’ this didn’t quite materialise but I did manage to design a couple of signs quickly and mount them on foam board for that professional look (and still handmade!)

Linziloop Craft Stall Signs

It was a pure fluke that the signs happened to fit nicely inside the vintage suitcase I use in my display!

Another task on my list was to sew up the fabric I had as my table-cloth – I had bought about 4 metres of red and white gingham which is far too long for one table, and a little bit to narrow to hang right down the front.  So I chopped it in half and sewed the two pieces together to make a bigger width. On Friday, my new embroidered labels arrived, so a LOT of Saturday night was spent sewing those into my items – thankfully this worked by sewing machine I realised after doing two by hand and thinking I wasn’t going to get through it alive! Ok, slight exaggeration but it was pretty time-consuming and I had left it pretty late so I’m sure you can imagine to stress levels bubbling at that point 😉

Linziloop labels

I thoroughly recommend getting some tag for your items (if applicable). They made my items instantly more professional looking, and if it is bought as a gift and the recipient likes it, they'll always know where to get more 😉

After giving my tree a lick of white paint, making sure all my items had price tags on, packing them up along with all the other bits and bobs I had deemed absolutely necessary (double-sided tape, pins, tissue paper, bags, business cards, flyers, polystyrene heads etc.), I realised I had forgotten to sort my float money out – argh! Dad to the rescue once more! Off I went to raid his change bottle so I wouldn’t be stuck looking for somewhere open on a Sunday morning. Thanks god for parents who stay up late hey?! What would I do if my first customer turned up with a £20 note and wanted to buy something for a fiver?!

Thinking everything was sorted, I then remembered the clocks went forward! Soooo, it wasn’t 12:30am like I thought, technically, it was 1:30am, and I had to be up in 6 hours – yawn! Oh well, I’ve survived a day on much less sleep! And I had my friend Marlene to help me, and with 3 beautiful kids, shes the queen of surviving on no sleep!

Photo of Marlene :)

My glamorous assistant Marlene modelling the headband I made especially for her 🙂

One thing I can recommend to anyone doing a craft stall – take a flask of tea and a packed lunch. If you’re lucky like me, you’re boyfriend will even make that lunch for you (with a few disapproving grunts) while you have your breakfast and panic about having forgotten something important. It’s hard to find the ‘right time’ to get away from your stall for a spot of lunch, and I noticed so many people just seemed to go without, and that seems silly when with just a little preparation you can avoid the stress of that.

9:00am Sunday morning and I had packed everything into the car (again, with help of sleepy-eyed boyfriend) and had one last check down my list. I had everything, I was ready!

Come back soon for my fourth and final post about the day itself, my conversations with people, what I thought worked and didn’t,  how my stall looked, and if all this preparation paid off in the end!

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