New Ventures

As you may have seen if you’ve been following our blog or social media, recently we have been a little more inactive recently. Other than our activity in the Cherished Moments Market Night (happening all weekend for this weekend only! ) and our own Market Nights that have just been launched ( Keep It Personal Market Night and An Animal Affair Market Night ) our activity has been lower than usual.

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There’s good reason, and exciting news-to-come, for this miniature break from our usual activity. It has recently been a year since we started (Yay!!), so as we’ve been trading for a whole year we wanted to take some time to reflect and review. Having completed a review of our business, our aims and our successes so far we have found our focus and took some time to work out a better and stronger plan both for our business, our products and our marketing plan. Not only are we going to be focusing on even better products and projects, but we are also coming back with a better, more exciting and more interesting marketing plan. You’ll now see who we are, how we work while we’re sharing introductions and details about those behind the face of the business, as well as videos, blogs, tips and tricks behind our work and other gorgeous handmade and designer work.

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So keep an eye out for some great new things from us over the next few months…and don’t forget to join the fun- attend our events, get involved and share your thoughts and ideas, say hello and introduce yourself too!

 

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4 Reasons Why Nature Inspires Us

Nature is a huge part of us. Many of us prefer natural products, and designs incorporating aspects of nature are always desired. For example, naturally sourced cosmetic products and plant-inspired tattoos, to name a couple. Plant-based diets are on the rise, aiding the preservation of our environment and protection of animals. Evidently, nature is a great influence on humanity, and what better way to celebrate this by incorporating it sustainably into our everyday lives? This poses the question of why, therefore, is nature so influential?

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  1. It’s beautiful!

So, it goes without saying that nature is good-looking. If nature was a person, it’d be up there with the great beauties of the world (Beyoncé comes to mind). Be it the sun setting over the horizon, The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or even a budding tulip, nature is undoubtedly beautiful. How can we help but admire it with awe and wonder? In replicating and producing our own interpretations of nature, we’re spreading the unmistakable beauty it holds.

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  1. It provides an escape from our urban reality

Many of us, especially those of us in cities, experience long periods of seclusion from the natural world in our day-to-day lives. We can be surrounded my man-made buildings, be it in our workplace, home or university whilst being constantly tied to our electronic devices, which, as connected as we feel socially, can exclude us from the natural world. Personally, I find that simply taking a stroll in my nearest park, or even round the surrounding countryside can greatly help produce a clear mind. Distancing yourself from the noise, chaos and bustle the urban space imposes upon us by basking in the serenity of nature really does some good. It nurtures the mind – we sometimes really need a breather.

 

 

 

  1. Our natural habitat!

As we all know, it wasn’t always houses, shops, and public transport. Our ancestors used to be dependent on our natural world for basic survival. They were completely in sync with the surrounding environment, relying on it as a necessity. As much as we have developed from this primal state, natural resources still need nurturing, and we are still embedded within them – and will continue to live on to be so.

And on to the final point, which gently reminds us how we’re still just as reliant on nature today.

 

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  1. What would we be without it?

Finally, in the words of the Pope himself: “We must never forget that the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone” (https://twitter.com/Pontifex/status/871690564483375104). We need to commemorate and care for the environment as it does for us. Without it, we wouldn’t exist! Nature is what is needed to keep us functioning, therefore why not reap the benefits of it?

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So, nature is obviously a pretty big deal! What better way to surround ourselves with all its advantages? We are compelled to express our admiration for nature through art and design and will continue to do so!

 

Written by Alice Stringer

 

 

You’re gonna be okay

I love running my own business, being a designer, a creator, a maker and entrepreneur. Having days when i’m a social media manager, an event organiser or promoter. Days when i’m an illustrator, a letterer or a pattern designer.

But not every day are tasks I love or a fun new challenge. Some days are just down right difficult.

Today for example has been one of those days. It’s just been one of those days full stop. One where nothing seems to go quite right, and when you finally achieve something great it still doesn’t seem like enough or something else sends you into panic and doubt.

After dealing with undercutting companies with £5 logos and battling the quicksand that is Instagram, which does a good old job of knocking confidence to begin with….I then moved on to new stock planning. When you’ve had a bad day, with a few confidence knocks it is not the day to be critical and deeply considerate of your stock ideas and design work. I really should have known better.

But after a great planning session for upcoming events, giveaways and other exciting updates I felt inspired to get some special summer stock ordered. This seemed like a great idea and it started that way.

Item one selected, design chosen…feeling great!

Item two, debated a few times, decided it’s a great summer addition…feel even more excited!

Item three (should have stopped while I was ahead)…happened across this item, it could be amazing, could be a hit! I have a great idea, I open the design in mind…now i’m not sure. I go back and forth (what feels like 100 times) and end on yes, they’d be a good idea. But they’re quite an investment, but an investment that will pay off? Yes, I think so…as long as they’re marketed right.

And we’ve gone full circle. Market it right is the key. But today Instagram was such a hit to my confidence, it was a bad interaction day. These days always lead me to debate what i’m doing, what I want it to be, what I want to be sharing and creating. Such a simple confidence knock can have such an influence, it’s like a ripple effect. Suddenly it’s in the back of your mind at every step, influence every decisions.

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It’s moments like this that I realise just how vitally important a support system is. It’s my friends giving me design advice who respond to my messages of doubt with such support, uplifting comments and belief that I begin to come back around. Who support my decisions and provide advice and insight from another point of view helping me bring back my confidence and motivation. Without a series of support networks I know personally I would find it so difficult to keep going day in day out, and i’m sure this is the same for many small business owners. While we may keep powering through the hard times if we were alone, it’s so much easier to find the motivation, determination and confidence to keep going when you have such incredible support.

So to each of my friends helping advise, support and motivate me during the hard times; To my family and boyfriend who deal with the stressed out moments and the long hours and busy schedules; To my fellow creators who unlike many industries do not compete and bring each other down but help raise each other, share kindness, love and support: Thank you. On days like today it truly makes the difference, it’s what keeps me going, what keeps me motivated.

 

Feature: Stitching a path with Alexandra of Bagel Face

Alexandra had a series of potential career paths open to her as she left University in 2015. It seems like the perfect position, how can having so many career paths possibly be a bad thing? There are people out there who by 21 still have no idea what path they’d like to take or could possibly have as an option. Alexandra was lucky, with a degree in 3D design behind her, and a specialist focus of interior design it seemed a clear path. However, Alexandra had always loved to be creative, whether drawing, painting or making things she was happy.

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With the passion and qualifications she held for interior design, this is the path Alexandra found herself taking to begin with. Under 1-month contracts, Alexandra worked on set design at a huge cultural festival in Abu dhabi for 2 years.

Having had a love of crochet since she was first taught, while studying at University Alexandra started crocheting, designing and making items such as crop tops, bralets and bikinis to sell online. These quickly became very popular, and so the range expanded! Adding baby accessories and clothing, blankets, cushions and more to the range, the popularity of Alexandra’s goods only grew.

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While Alexandra loved the interior design world, from her studies to the jobs in Abu dhabi, her real love was working hands on. The designing and making was where Alexandra found her real interest lay, and while making props in Abu dhabi was hands on as a prop stylist, most interior design work is drawing and computer aided design visuals. Crochet allowed Alexandra to be creative in a hands-on manner while producing something unique that people loved. Having noticed that most crochet makes tend to follow the traditional, old-fashioned style; the sort that your grandma would make for you as a child, Alexandra had also found a gap in the market using this old fashioned technique to create modern style goods.

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Having spent time juggling part time work in retail, internships, freelance jobs such as the Abu dhabi job and a Selfridges campaign, while also crocheting Alexandra finally decided ‘I had nothing to lose in starting up my own business!’ Months were spent researching, making different products and trying new techniques. Starting with making lots of gifts for friends and family, Alexandra spent time testing the market and trialling designs before officially going to market. Once comfortable with the products and the level of feedback being received Alexandra took to Social media, opening up an Etsy, Facebook, Instagram and Depop (which is where she began selling during university). Now with some stock in a small shop in Runcorn, while in discussions with other potential stockists, Bagel Face is swiftly expanding.

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Alexandra left her retail position last year after having worked there for 3 years through uni. Excited at the prospect of being able to leave retail and work full time at Bagel Face, Alexandra skipped out of there on her final day!

 

Alexandra was faced with a series of career path options as she graduated from University. Faced with so many options it can be difficult to decide what should be the correct path to take. Alexandra has found her passion and created a wonderful career, which allows her to incorporate her various loves through freelance work alongside the business. If you look hard enough and are willing to work for your passion, it is possible to create a career you love and allows you to work within all your aspirations.

 

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Find Bagel Face on Facebook  ,  Instagram or Etsy

 

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Wondering where the name Bagel Face came from? So was I so don’t worry…I asked for you!

“Bagel is my nickname a lot of family members call me that and have done for years, I get bagel/little bagel/bagel brain/bagel face.. If just seemed appropriate and like you say it’s pretty unique!”

But why that nickname?

“To be honest I’m not really sure! There’s a group of us that are a similar age so we all have quite funky nicknames for each other!”

 

How fantastic is that! We love a business with such a wonderfully fun and unique name, and the explanation behind it is just even better!

 

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Feature: A Pinch of Fairy Dust with Emma Nightingale

Emma from Fairy Dust is all about all things glittery. While some may not agree, I do believe there can never be too much sparkle, and clearly Emma follows this motto. In business, especially a handmade or craft business, there has to be at least a little bit of ‘sparkle’. Fairy dust seems to have a never ending supply of sparkle, and that’s not just the glitter.

 

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In 2015 Emma went on maternity leave from her sales assistant job at co-op. With free time while on leave, Emma put her creative personality to use. Stuck with the common conundrum of what to buy for someone who already has everything, Emma turned to creating to solve her problem. As she started researching the crafting world for handmade gift ideas, Emma realised the scale of the crafting world and crafting options that she had previously been unaware of.

First creating a football frame for her dad, a frame for her new born daughter shortly followed. Having loved the process, initially Emma was happy creating these products as a hobby despite her family’s words of encouragement that she could go into business. At the end of her maternity leave Emma decided to give it a shot. Owning a business would mean being able to stay at home with her daughter, and so fairy dust began.

 

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Fairy dust started with personalised gifts and grew through a lot of hard work and networking in the beginning. Now fairy dust have over 1500 likes on Facebook and a staggering 31 reviews, all 5* which I am sure will continue to flourish.

Back in December 2016 I first came across Fairy Dust when searching for a bespoke 21st gift. At my request, Emma created a gorgeously glittery mug personalised with a message for my friend. I could not have asked for a better company to buy from. Emma was flexible with colours and designs while being friendly and incredibly quick throughout the process, and the best bit about it…it didn’t break the bank! It’s not always easy to find a company these days that cares about customer service, creates something beautiful and of high quality while being affordable.

 

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Now with 2 years of personalised gift creation behind them, Fairy dust have started offering a new bespoke service…

This new option offered through Fairy Dust came to light through their own necessity. Undertaking a rebrand, Emma invested in a new logo but as it came to finding business stationery she found herself at a loss. Unable to find what was needed, Emma decided to create her own- custom cut and hot foiled. This led to Emma supplying other small businesses with stationery. Now 4 weeks into offering this new service, the interest is flourishing with the option becoming especially popular. Jumping straight in, investing in machinery and materials needed for this new task, Emma is learning new tricks as she goes even now- not that you’d ever know from her work.

 

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Receiving samples this morning, I was taken aback at the quality and prettiness of the work. From stickers to notecards and save the date cards, each one was of high quality both in the product itself and the added hot-foiled sparkle. Not only was Emma kind enough to share samples with me so I could see the quality before writing about her work, but the package arrived covered in beautiful sparkly stickers and notes.

While almost all of Fairy Dust’s products and packaging come in glittery designs, it’s Emma’s attitude, attention to detail and caring approach that gives fairy dust a true sparkle. Customer service is so often lacking nowadays in large corporations, and surprisingly even in small businesses. The key to success is having happy customers, which is best achieved with great customer service. So why not follow suite add a pinch of fairy dust (actual glitter optional) to your business.

 

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To check out Fairy Dust and see their amazing products or have a chat with Emma you can find them here:

 

Feature: Seriously Social Crafts with Laura Bailey

Laura Bailey of ‘Serious About Social’ is an incredibly supportive and kind woman who prides herself on providing advice and support to small business owners. The website focuses on opening up opportunities, sharing advice, content ideas and on business topics and business growth.

Serious About Social ‘ for ladies who love arts and crafts’ is focused on sharing “crafty biz tips”. Running a craft based business has become very popular in the past few years. More people are now able to turn their crafting hobbies into profitable businesses. With such a saturated market, and so many options finding your voice in the mass can be a difficult task. Most small craft businesses begin through social media, most commonly Facebook. They join groups, start networking and growing their business.

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Social media is a great tool for any business and is the reason so many people are now able to start. This route is low start up cost with large audience access, but the training behind business start-up and social media management is not such easy access. Many people are now starting their businesses without prior knowledge, advice and support systems. While this approach can and does work, it’s a much harder venture than those with full support and background knowledge. The problem with business start-up is no matter the venture; there will be a range of skills required. No one individual can be good at everything, although will training and support it is possible to become sufficient in all aspects required for most small businesses.

When starting or growing a business it can be difficult to find the support and advice that’s needed. Laura’s mission is to help more craft business start-ups reach their goals and succeed by bringing this support and advice to all.

While the website is currently a small venture, Laura has great plans, hoping for Serious About Social to eventually become the one stop spot for ‘ladies looking for craft advice, ideas on craft techniques and details about craft shows etc.’ Aiming to grow a community of women to support each other; Laura plans to always be in the background, able to offer advice and support where needed. Serious about Social has recently begun taking off and is undergoing changes such as a new website to bring even more support to small businesses. With so many great resources for small craft businesses, it will be fantastic to see the growth of Serious About Social.

Laura’s dedication to small crafting business success is an inspiration. Providing opportunities as well as support to all small business owners she meets, Laura takes great care and dedication with every task. I have never met a friendlier, more supportive individual and I know that anything I need, Laura is always happy to chat, advise and support where possible- as I’m sure she is and would be for any small business owner.

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Continue reading as Laura shares her story of how she came to run Serious about Social:

 

The idea of being self-employed wasn’t one that had crossed my mind. I had worked quite happily in the corporate sector for 16 years but following a bout of illness and eventually being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and inflammatory arthritis, the stress of the job began to take its toll on my health and I realised the sensible option was to opt for voluntary redundancy.

Over coffee one day a close friend of mine (who also owned her own marketing business) told me that a course was starting in my home town which was aimed at helping people to start a business. She suggested I go along and give it a try.

From day 2 of the course there was no turning back, I had no idea what I wanted to do but I was hooked on the thought of being my own boss. For the first time in years, I finally felt like me again and I had passion and drive.

I began to manage social media pages on behalf of clients (from small businesses to corporate); I loved the flexibility of being my own boss. I was able to work around my small children and earn money for the family. Probably, most importantly for me, I was able to get my strength back, adopt a positive attitude and fight the Fibromyalgia head on which I continue to successfully manage.

An opportunity presented itself for me to travel around the country and co-run courses to help people from all backgrounds become self-employed. I absolutely LOVED this “job” and am so proud to have been able to support others in the same way that I was supported.

It was a mixture of managing social media accounts and coaching others which led me to create Serious about Social. I was having a coffee with my friend Paula (The same friend as mentioned above) and I was pouring my heart out to her that I was struggling to find my “niche” because I loved coaching but I love social media management too. She said “Why don’t you work with ladies who love to craft and need help running their businesses?” She had struck gold with this comment! Both Paula and I had previously managed a large client who organised craft exhibitions and we loved it.

I have huge aspirations for my business, but I have to remind myself Rome wasn’t built in a day! It is better to take my time and do things step by step that rush into things and crash and burn (something I’ve been guilty of in the past!).

So if you need support creating or building your business then just pop onto my social media pages and ping me. I love meeting new people and nothing makes me happier than seeing ladies reach their goals.

I’m always on the lookout for lovely ladies to blog for me. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but my goal is to create a community where craft ladies can support each other with anything. Whether that is craft related or business related. Your blog can be about your business or simply the trials and tribulations of running a business whilst at the same time living your life and having to manage other things such as raising children or holding down another job etc or caring for someone etc. If you would like to have a go, contact me and let me know!

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Image curtsey of Laura Bailey-Serious About Social

 

If you own a small business or think you may like to try a venture like this I would highly recommend having a chat with Laura and checking out Laura Bailey- Serious about Social or find them on Facebook.

Feature: One Step at a Time with Bee My Memory’s Bianca Crofts

 

Bianca Crofts was born in Walsrode, Hannover. Having met her British army ex Husband, based in a camp near her parent’s home in Germany at age 17, they were married a year later. Bianca had her daughter, Victoria shortly after, then a son named Benjamin 2 years later. The family moved together and over the years and had many different postings from London, Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus and Germany again. Eventually they settled in Lincoln where they bought a house. Bianca has since lost a husband but gained a wonderful granddaughter.

 

Like many of the crafter businesses we speak to, for many years Bianca had never done more craft work than the standard knitting and crochet lessons at school. In 2001, Bianca met the woman who would introduce her to the craft that would become her life. Daniela, who lived next door and was also German, had been doing traditional patchwork for many years. Convincing Bianca to try, Daniela lent her sewing machine, cutter and ruler to her new neighbour. With no jobs around, Bianca was home most of the day, so as Daniela showed her the basics, Patchwork quickly became her hobby.

 

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The problem with a hobby such as this is no one realises the expense. The fabrics required to make just one quilt were exceptionally expensive. However, Bianca loved her new hobby. The highlight of her month became the fabric-shopping trip in Limassol, the only fabric shop in Cyprus at the time, an hour away from their home. Bianca made her first bed sized quilt for her daughter as a surprise Christmas present in 2002, having worked on the gift while Victoria was at school. Now 25 years old, Victoria is still using her quilt in her own home.

 

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As the family moved back to Germany, Bianca continued her hobby for a short while. Now having to return to work, while also caring for her two children, there was no longer the time to patchwork. Having only made the odd quilt, tablecloth and wall hangings during this time. Bianca didn’t begin quilting again until she got her own office/sewing room when they moved into their house in Lincoln.

 

In 2014 Bianca decided she liked the idea of baby keepsake blankets, made out of babies outgrown first clothes. With this idea, Bianca thought she may be able to start a business for the very first time. Approaching local information pages, Bianca began to ask whether anyone would be willing to trust her with their child’s precious clothing to make a keepsake quilt. Offering the service at just material cost, which at the time was around £20, Bianca received a lot of offers. Selecting the first lady who had commented, Bianca made her very first ‘Bee my memory’ keepsake quilt. Little Zak’s mum loved it!
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The Facebook page was set up, just for fun at the time. With friends calling Bianca ‘B’ or ‘Bee’, Bee my memory was born. Making another quilt, this time for a little girl at cost price through the local information page again, Bianca had 2 examples to start. Finding a lack of interest when the page opened, Bianca noticed people were not willing to pay the price she believed they were worth.

 

Taking around 10-12 hours to complete a large cot size blanket, and cost prices of around £25 materials per blanket, the products were high cost. Losing a bit of faith in the business, Bianca stopped again until September 2016. When visiting her daughter Victoria and granddaughter Lillie, Victoria showed her mum another facebook page. The woman Victoria found also made memory blankets, she had not been doing it for long but the business was doing fantastic. Victoria reassured her mum; “yours are far far better than hers and you can tell yours are better made too, give it another shot, I believe you can make this work”. This time when Bianca started again she had the confidence in her work that she needed. Having the choice between making blankets as quick and cheap as possible, with a low quality end product, or sticking to what she believed in, Bianca knew what to do. As she began promoting on Facebook and building a portfolio of work though a few giveaway competitions Bianca’s page came a long way. As Bee my memory was beginning to pick up, it also began to receive a lot of good reviews and compliments.

 

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In January, Bianca had an awful fall when slipping on ice, breaking her leg in three places. As she wasn’t able to work for 9 weeks, suddenly Bianca had lots of time to start networking, making connections and promoting her business. This time made a huge difference to Bee my memory. With a few orders as Bianca came out of the hospital, her partner Rick set up the sewing machine in the lounge. Having to train her left leg to work the sewing machine pedal, the project was hard work and took three times as long to complete. However Bianca managed to complete the orders.

 

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Bianca took a slow and steady approach to her business, having taken things step by step from learning the craft, to testing the product and building an audience. Sometimes even taking a step backwards, by taking things one step at a time Bianca now has an incredible business that not only her customers believe in, but she also believes in. Sometimes to succeed it’s not only about reaching the top and hitting your goals. Sometimes it’s about taking things one step at a time, learning as you go and building slowly, and sometimes it’s about being able to step back, review and see yourself and your business honestly. To step back, and see yourself honestly, to admit the mistakes you see and to believe in the potential you see, you will know your strengths and weaknesses. By stepping back and taking some time, Bianca now believes in herself and her work, valuing it as she should. If you don’t value yourself and believe in yourself, your customers never will. Now, Bee my memory has over 1000 likes and every one of her 16 reviews is 5* on Facebook. Bianca has seen great business growth within her hobby turned business, and we expect to continue to see incredible things from them.

Kids Easter Activities

Are you looking for ways to keep the kids busy this Easter break? It’s lovely to have the kids around during the holidays but keeping them busy during the long spring days and excitement can be challenging.

 

Here’s a few ideas that could keep the little ones creative and occupied this half term…

 

Create finger print animals

Whether Easter inspired or their favourite animals, with some basic paints, plain paper biro and fingers there’s bound to be some masterpieces! Just be sure to cover surfaces for this messy fun!

 

Marbled eggs

With hard boiled eggs or card egg cut outs this simple project will be a hit with the kids and parents! Using everyday household items of cooking oil, water and food colouring or shaving foam and food colouring it’s a quick and easy solution. For super easy cleaning why not make the most of the sun and set the kids up outside? For more ideas and instructions on household item marbling check out this link:  https://www.surfexcel.in/dirt-is-good/arts-crafts/art-ideas-for-kids-how-to-make-marbled-paper.html

 

Easter Olympics

With this springtime weather you want the kids to be making the most of the sun and getting outdoors, so this half term why not run your own easter olympics? With your basic easter egg hunts, egg and spoon races and sack races you’ll be sure to fill some time. Make things more interesting with egg and chopstick races, puzzles to complete such as matching card eggs, before returning to your start position. For more ideas check out this link http://www.beau-coup.com/party-planning/8-fun-creative-easter-games.htm

 

We are currently running an offer to receive a free kids easter activity pack. Each pack is a random goody bag of a range of products from magnets, stickers, colouring cards, colouring postcards, bookmarks, badges and more! All you have to do to receive your free pack is join our mailing list!

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If you would like to join our mailing list and receive a free kids activity gift pack just sign up to our mailing list here: http://eepurl.com/cKvZkT

By signing up for your free pack you are agreeing to join our mailing list (don’t worry we only send a monthly update with news and offers, and we do not share our list with any third parties!)  The offer runs until Sunday 23rd April so to receive yours make sure to join soon!

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Feature: New Aspirations with James Welsh

 

We all grew up with dreams and aspirations, wanting to be firemen, nurses, ballerinas and footballers. By the time we hit secondary school the lucky few of us who’ve found our calling start working to achieve our career goals. James was one of these lucky few. Having fallen in love with football at an early age as many children in Britain do, James had the opportunity to start making this dream a reality. From the ages of 12-18 James was signed to a professional football club and played as a pro for 2 years before his dreams came crashing down when injury struck.

Having to form a new career plan at just 18, James enrolled onto the business studies and marketing course at Southampton Solent University. Shortly after graduating in 2014, James landed himself his first sales job, staying for only 6 short weeks.

 

Blog- James Welsh quote firstDespite being unable to play, James’s love for football had not faded and he found himself taking on a position as an area organiser for a local sports coaching company. As one of only 7 employees at the time, James worked his way up to become the Director of Coaching within three and a half years. With the company turning over £300k as he joined and an incredible £1.2million now, you would think the role James had achieved would be a great career achievement alone, but it wasn’t all to come.

Feeling as though a change was due, James moved on to work with other professional clubs before becoming the Assistant Academy Director at AFC Bournemouth. With over 2 years at Bournemouth, James continued to work with various clubs in both their academies as well as scouting in the Football League and Premier League. Despite loving the job itself, James became discontent with the football industry and realised he was never really happy.

 

Blog- James Welsh quote middleAs James began his new venture, luckily with an old contact from his football days that he trusted greatly, they figured it out and created a franchise still profitable to this day. With his partner’s contacts and knowledge they were able to create a great franchise, which now takes up about 4 hours a week of work and provides a weekly income every Friday.

At this point James realised how much more there was to work than just becoming a face within many, moving from city to city as he had in the football industry. No longer putting his trust in the industry, James moved on to bigger and better things, deciding then to take on a role within a training company in Sussex working with young people no longer in education, employment or training, through sport. Having worked for them for just over a year, only 3 weeks into the academic term of his second year with the company, James was informed over the telephone that the company had been liquidated overnight. With no prior knowledge of the company’s poor financial state, James found himself no longer employed as of the next day.

 

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While for many this would be a shock and make many people panic or question their options, James saw this as an opportunity. While the experience was an awful one, it did lead James to realise the potential. Knowing that he could succeed where that company had failed, My-Coaching was formed. Having started as his first full time business in February 2013, by December that year the business was incorporated and the limited company My Coaching Education Ltd was formed. The business did not begin as many start-ups’ do. With three employees working for the company and only a £4,000 turn over it wasn’t an easy start. With an investment of £10,000 personal money, the company still needed a £8,000 turnover to break even.

With the financial problems and stresses, James started keeping secrets from his family and employees. Beating staff into work every morning to check the bank account to prioritise what could be paid that day and what could be delayed just to be able to ensure his employees pay cheques at the end of the month. James hated this period and began to examine himself, and the business, in order to better run the company. In August of the first trading year, James found the Entrepreneurial Circle. By joining, James began to grow as a businessperson and notice the negative daily actions causing problems within the company. Eventually realising things needed to change to stay afloat, small positives began to be seen in the company, despite things having not gotten easier.

 

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One night on the way home, James was informed that a college client had not paid a vital invoice. Without this money there was no way to meet payroll and monthly bill payments. Despite days and days of promising the invoice would be paid, the client failed to make the payment. Stopping in the services for a coffee on his way back, James checked the bank account. Seeing the payment was not there was all too much, James started to cry knowing at that point it would mean the business was over. With the situation too dire to ignore anymore, James finally opened up to his family sharing the secrets he’d hidden for a long time. Luckily his family were supportive about the issues and James’s sister agreed to help recover the money due. As a finance director of a large company, she knew what to do and how, quickly recovering the money from the college client within just three days. With the success of this, James’s sister joined the team on a permanent basis, taking over the finances as Financial Director.

 

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This was a turning point for My Coaching Education Ltd. Realising the importance of hiring in the areas that aren’t your strengths is so vital to the success of a business, especially in the important aspects such as finance. With stable finance management and the support of businessperson development with EC it’s been an upward journey since! They began to land big contracts with national partners and large corporations, became a recognised training provider for 5 city councils and 6 county councils supporting schools and education for 16-24 year olds, as well as providing apprenticeships.

 

Blog- James Welsh quote lastFinding a point where their expansion meant their brand no longer matched their services, 18 months ago the brands were split to reflect each business component. Now with three businesses to focus on, while looking for further regional expansion, James has found his stride. The My Coaching Education Ltd story has been featured in the Entrepreneurs Circular magazine in February, and James has been made a associate fellow at Southampton Solent University this March.

 

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If you had asked James at 16 what he thought his career would have been, he’d have believed pro football was his path, at 19, or even 5 years ago, I am sure he would never have guessed where he would be now. With a completely different career plan and dream that had to be rethought and re-planned, James has moved between some amazing opportunities and jobs over the years. With such an incredible business now, it really couldn’t have worked out better in the end. There’s always going to be difficulties and set backs in life and in career, and James has had more than his fair share. But despite these set backs this story just proves that if you keep moving forward, keep giving your all, you can get there in the end and have some amazing experiences on the way. It’s easy to get set on one dream, but maybe there’s a better dream out there. The only way you’ll know is if you keep moving forward and keep learning.

 

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To find out more about My Coaching, or to get in touch check out their website here

It begins with a name

Choosing a name for your business can be one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make. For some people it comes naturally but for many of us it isn’t that simple.

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I have always been awful at these sorts of task. Fake business activities in school would have me stuck at task 1- Name the business. I was the last person you’d want on your pub quiz team (and not only because I suck at general knowledge quizzes); I’m just not witty or funny enough (it’s ok…don’t feel bad for me, I have my…um, I’ll get back to you on that). The thought of someday having to name a child terrifies me, not the having a child part but the giving them a name they are stuck with forever. At least with my business I could rebrand.

Now there are lots of terrific ways you can come up with ideas for business names that should help you work out that name in no time. It still took me a year…but I’m pretty sure that for most it really isn’t so much of a challenging task, I’m just a little special that way (and a lot fussy!).

So how did I come up with my name? Well after a year of having the idea, discussing it and ending any conversation with ‘but what would I call it?’ I’d tried word games and market research but my mind was still blank. No matter how many ideas I had or how many ideas other people suggested nothing felt quite right. When it’s your business, starting up from the ground, it has to feel right to you. I took this very seriously though and once I found something I liked became very attached. It was the only thing that felt right so nothing else would do. Does that mean it was the best name for my business? Who knows. All I know is that finally I found something I was happy with and I wasn’t going to waste another year of “hmm, I’m not sure. It just doesn’t feel quite right”

A Thousand Yellow Daisies is actually a reference to a pretty big US TV Series. Got any guesses? I’ve only ever had one person make the reference when they first heard my business name, some of my best friends who were also fans of the show didn’t even make the connection!

 

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When trying to come up with business names and nothing felt right, I realised that a name that meant something to me could be the solution. While the reference to the program is not a specific scene or moment that I personally related to, the program itself has significant meaning to me. Having been part of my life at a time that was needed, while I was at the right age to be connecting with the show, it has had a significant role in my teen development and will always be a fond favourite. My business is a small, personal brand. It all comes from me, is all directly influenced by myself. So for the business name to reflect something so personal and directly mean something to me, it feels right.

Even once I decided I wanted something personal that didn’t make the process instant or easy as you may presume. It’s always difficult even if you know what you want. I sat listing and talking about all the things that I liked, all the things that meant something to me or that people would relate to me when asked. My housemate and I would sit for hours talking it through and making lists while our favourite TV shows played in the background hoping to spark some inspiration. Thankfully after a few (ok, quite a few!) episodes I heard it. “Wait, rewind that. Right there. That’s it”. In the end that’s all it took…an overheard sentence in the background. A Thousand Yellow Daisies. It’s not the shortest name in the world, and trust me, that’s had its issues. But we always figured if I made it big enough to get a store, everyone would just call it Daisies. It turns out the Internet is a much more difficult place and finding a name that is allowed (which is different on every platform…super helpful!) means that I had to be creative, but that wasn’t going to stop me.

There’s always ways around it. Once you find the name you want and it suits your brand then you can make it work. Of course you do need to be sensible and check the legalities, such as does the name exist? Check on Google and social media to check, you don’t want to be competing with another company with the same name! Not only would that be frustrating and make your business and audience growth un-necessarily difficult, it could also cause you costly legal issues down the road. You can check for existing companies at https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/ but bear in mind that only Limited companies have to register their name, not sole traders so it is always worth doing a Google check as well as checking the government register. You will also need to check for trademarks, as you will not be able to trade under or use a name that is trademarked. It is best never to use a name that exists as a name is intellectual property and will have a common law trademark automatically, however using a registered trademark is a sever and costly mistake so do your homework and check out the trademark register here: https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/welcome

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If you’re looking for a business name and don’t know where to start try these simple activities to see if they spark an idea for you…

 

The Word Association Game-

 

Write a list of all of the words that you want to be associated with your brand, the words that describe your business and/or industry. Now take one of those words and start a column, underneath think of the first word that comes to mind when saying the first word on your list. Now do the same underneath looking at the 2nd word and on and on.

E.G.-

 

Design

Drawing

Pencil

Lead

Metal

 

The word only needs to directly relate to the one above, not all of the words above. Metal is related to Lead, but is not directly related to Design. You can do this game for as many of the descriptive brand words as you like. Now look over your lists, does anything stand out? Does anything sound good as a business name or spark another idea?

 

The Word Map Game-

 

This game is similar to the previous word game but will give words only directly related to your brand and industry. Fill a page with words related to your brand, industry and company only. There are far more words than you think. Once you have run out of words that may relate to your brand open a thesaurus and start looking for synonyms of these words. You may find that you’d like the idea of ‘Confidence’ to be part of your ethos and brand identity but find the word ‘Sanguine’ to be a much more interesting and suitable word for a business name.

 

Personality Game-

 

List all of your strong traits that you associate with yourself, list your favourite things, people, places and moments. Now ask others, what do they associate with you? Once you have a comprehensive list of what matters the most to you, who you and who others view you to be, you can filter through to see what’s relevant. Is there a personality trait that could be a business name, or a synonym of that trait that would work? Is there a thing that everyone relates to you? Is there a book, a program, film or place that means a lot to you? Break it down; if it’s a place is there a street or a beach etc. that stands out in your mind? Is that a good business name? If it’s a book, film or TV show is there a line or a word used that gives the feel of your brand while only you know the true meaning and relevance?

 

Naming a business can be a long and sometimes frustrating process, but it’s worth it in the end. Having a name that you are truly proud of will only help your business succeed and make you feel more connected to your company. Try to have fun with the process and good luck! If you’re naming a business now or have a story behind how you got your business name why not share it with us? We’d love to hear more naming stories!