Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Creative Business Advice

As you may know, I recently took the plunge and left my full time job to fully concentrate on Patchwork Harmony and 91 Magazine. I started blogging in 2008, and since then the business has evolved and changed greatly. It's been one of those experiences where I've just learnt 'on the job'. You learn from your mistakes, you learn from others and you learn that it is damn hard work.

There is absolutely no shame is firstly admitting it's hard; goodness knows I've considering packing it all in for the easy life many times! and secondly realising that its ok to ask for help every now and again. For most people there are skill gaps. For example, I'm not particularly good with numbers, so I ask for help with my books and tax.  I'm not a web designer, so I ask for help with designing my websites.

Whatever your skill gap, the wonderful thing about the world wide web and online communities such as Twitter, is that it is easy to find people who can help you. Check out my previous post where one online shop owner employed the expertise of a stylist and photographer to collaborate with, to create some great photography to help promote her business and showcase what it had to offer.

When I decided to downscale my online shop last year, I took a step back and tried to reevaluate things, and work out how I might move forward. After nearly 5 years of running and evolving Patchwork Harmony, I decided that I may well have something to offer in terms of helping other small creative businesses. I'll admit, I don't have any business related qualifications, I have a degree in photography, but I do think my real life experiences are of value, and I really want to share what I've learnt with others.

So I decided not long ago to start offering some creative business advice sessions. These are totally tailored to the individual, depending on what stage you are at with your business - a seed of an idea, or 3 years in - and are on a one-to-one basis, so you can ask absolutely anything and I will give an honest answer or opinion. Anything from editing press releases to blogging to using social media to your advantage - I will try and help in any way possible.

I've already been working with a few clients - one which is a fledgling idea which I'm excited to see what happens with, one is a established brand who are wanting to develop, and one is a brand new, freshly launched childrenswear brand - La Coqueta Kids. Owner Celia contacted me a few months back and asked me to help with a few aspects of her launch - editing copy for her website, as well as some tips on blogging and social media. The editing side of things was all done via email, but the other areas we covered in a 2 hour one-to-one session.

I was so excited and chuffed to see Celia announce the news of her Hampstead shop opening via Facebook and Twitter recently, and later the opening of her gorgeous online shop accompanied by her blog! She told me she found the session really helpful and we plan to work together further soon. Celia said: "Caroline gave me a very good understanding of how social media works and showed me the benefits of it all when you build a business from scratch. She was incredibly accommodating to my brief and tailored the sessions to my needs as a business and as a mum of five under five. I would definitely recommend her. She was great at thinking outside the box and highly creative when it came to providing an online strategy. What I thought was very good were her scriptwriting skills which helped me greatly writing my bio and T& C's." Here is a taste of Celia's gorgeous range....

I truly love finding out about fellow creative businesses, discussing plans and how to make it work, so do drop me a line if you think there is anything I can help you with and I can give you a (very reasonable!) quote.

I hope to share some small business ideas and tips on here too, so feel free to subscribe for updates on the right hand side. Or just follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Also check out a feature we ran in the current issue of 91 Magazine which is an extract from a brand new book by Emma Jones - A HouseBeautiful Home Business - which shares lots of tips and ideas for setting up your own homewares or craft business.

In fact the publishers have given us an exclusive discount code to buy the book for just £10 (including P&P) instead of the usual £14.99. Just use code 91MAGHB when ordering.

Finally, if you are interested in hearing my story I will be speaking about my experiences at the Cybher blogging event on the 1st June in London! Hopefully see you there!


Monday, April 29, 2013

Creative collaborations

One of the things I love about running a small business, is the chance it gives to collaborate with like-minded people and create something really great. It's at the heart of what I do with 91 Magazine and I love how it is a bringing together of different creative skills and ideas to produce an end product.

So it was really lovely to see online boutique Magpie Miller (a current 91 Magazine advertiser!), Stylist Charlotte Love (a 91 contributor!) and photographer Jon Day working together on a photoshoot showcasing the lovely range of Magpie Miller products.

One of the most imperative things when you are running a small business, whether it be selling products or services, is the necessity for good photography and this is the perfect example of how to really gain exposure for your brand. I love what the guys have done here; bringing together Charlotte's wonderful styling, Jon's clean, crisp photography and Magpie Miller's lovely products, they've created a set of beautifully fresh and fun images that keep the products centre stage and really show them off at their best.

If you're running your own business, I would highly recommend looking into the idea of  collaborating. While it may seem like a costly outlay initially, when your brand begins to gain exposure via blogs, Pinterest and other social media, the benefits really become clear. The internet is a big old place, so to stand out, you gotta utilise the creative talent out there and start combining your skills!

White & Pink Moth Origami Light £48 / / Technicolour Cushion £60 / / Betty Cushion £38 / / London Cushion £28 / / Black Amish Metal Star £22 / / Oh La La Print £30

Anchor Pillowcase / / Neon Pink Feather Tea Towel £12 / /Black Planet Print £20 / / Black Antler Tea Towel £12 / / Pattern Black and White Print £30 / / Hand Embroidered Black Laurel Cushion £38 / / London Cushion £28 / / Zebra Tea Towel £11

Rain Cloud Tray £20 / / Cloud Bread Board £20 / / Rain & Cloud Tote Bag £12

Polyhedron Origami Candlesticks £25

Blaue Blume Lace Plate £12 / / Porcelain Dove Necklace £20 / / Porcelain Hot Water Bottle Vase £26
Porcelain Pharmacy Bottle Vase £25 / / Yellow Sherbet Cup £10 / / Yellow Handmade Mocha Cup £14 / /
Blue Handmade Mocha Cup £14 / / Green Handmade Mocha Cup £14 / / Azurite Cup & Saucer £15 / / Yellow Retraware Plate £6 / / Green Retraware Plate £6 / / Lilac Ombre Tumbler – Coming soon!

All products - Magpie Miller

Friday, April 26, 2013

Stationery customising with BLANK

So as it's still National Stationery Week, I wanted to highlight another little online shop that caught my eye recently. Based in Australia, Danie Pout, a graphic designer, set up BLANK which she describes as 'your toolbox for personalised goodies, projects and creative play'.

The range is beautifully simplistic, but gives you the opportunity to get creative and put together your own packaging, cards, gifts and decorations - or whatever your heart desires! The lovely thing is that for each item she sells, Danie shares some of her own ideas to get your creative juices flowing, and proves that often less is more. Here are a few of my fave products and ideas from BLANK...

Check out the rest of the range here

Don't forget to enter our current competition to win some mini milk bottles and washi tape! Find out the details here!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

WIN! Mini milk bottles & washi tape

To celebrate the launch of the latest issue of 91 Magazine the lovely people at dotcomgiftshop have given us some goodies to give away! You may have spotted some of their products featured in our The Making of a Trend feature on page 21.... the sweet little mini milk bottle on the left? Well you can win a set of 6 of these lovely bottles, which are perfect for displaying flowers and foliage like in our shoot, or are great for serving drinks with stripy straws in the garden!

The set you can win also comes with this cute little carry crate...

Not only that, you will also receive a pack of these candy coloured rolls of washi tape, so you can decorate your bottles similar to what our stylist Sally has done in our shoot! 

So, how can you enter?! We would love to hear what your favourite craft and styling trends are. So are you obsessed with washi tape, do you love pom poms? or is there something else you think is going to be big this year? For a chance to win either:

1/ tweet us at @91magazine, tell us your fave trend, and add #crafttrends

2/ post on our Facebook page with your fave trend. (feel free to include a photo but not essential!)

3/ Instagram a photo of your fave trend, tag in @91magazine and #crafttrends

4/ leave a comment on this post with your fave trend (be sure to include a contact email address, so we can notify you if you win!)

Lots of ways to enter and you only have to do one of the above, but if you do more than one you will get more entries, and more chances to win! There can only be one winner, so make sure to get your entry in asap! I will pick a winner at random after the closing date.


If you'd like to find out more from Decor8's Holly Becker about whether bloggers can influence the creation and spread of trends, then pop over to her recent guest post, and join the discussion!

And check out our Pinterest board for some of the inspiration behind our craft & styling trends shoot too.

Good Luck!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Great Gatsby style in CRAFTY magazine

I recently blogged about a new launch magazine called Crafty - did you manage to pick up their first issue? Tomorrow their 2nd issue will hit the shelves, so I'm really excited to see what's inside this time. Here's their eye-catching new cover...

One thing you will find inside, is a feature written by yours truly about 1920's style inspired by the long-awaited release of The Great Gatsby. (I cannot wait to see this film, the trailer looks fab!) The lovely editor at Crafty has allowed me to share with you a little preview of the feature which includes a how-to for making your own Gatsby style headband.


What you'll need:

*approx 70cm of sequin, lace or plain trim (long enough to wrap around your head)
*assortment of sparkly buttons, diamant├ęs, feathers, sequin motifs
*snap fasteners
*needle & thread

1 / Wrap the trim around your head to get the correct measurement and cut it to size, leaving a small amount extra.

2 /  Double fold in each end and stitch a hem to stop it from fraying. Add a snap fastener to the ends and make sure it fits comfortably on your head.

3 / Get creative with your adornments! Stitch as many or as few buttons, feathers and motifs as you like to one side of your headband.

Get Crafty magazine to see the full feature, as well as lots of other lovely ideas, including a crocheted cover for an IKEA stool, how to make a bottle garden as well as a visit to London's Maltby market and a peek inside a narrowboat home. If you do pick it up, we'd love to hear what you think! xxx

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Our top 8 online stationery shops

So this week is National Stationery Week (22-28th April) and while on their official website it is supported by big chains such as Ryman's and Staples, I thought this was a good chance to champion some of the independent stationers that I love and have MUCH more exciting stationery than this big chains! I am a little bit of stationery addict. I love a notebook, have multiple rolls of washi tape (who doesn't?!) and love giving lovely, unique greeting cards. So here are a few of my fave online stationery shops from around the world...

Abigail Warner

Bonjour Pony
Present and Correct
Quill London
Upon a fold
Are you a stationery addict too?! If I haven't included your fave online stationery shop here, do comment and let me know who they are! xxx

Monday, April 22, 2013

91 Magazine - Work/Life/Style shoot

Our photographer Michael Sinclair did such a great job on our recent shoot for 91 Magazine at The Hambledon in Winchester that, as we couldn't fit all his fantastic shots in the magazine, we thought we'd share some of the extra images here!

If you haven't seen the magazine yet (and why not?!) this feature is called Work/Life/Style and is basically where we meet a homeowner whose home interiors inspire their workspace and vice versa.  In issue 6 we visited The Hambledon, a beautiful lifestyle store in Winchester and also popped over to owner Victoria's stunning home for a cuppa. Read the full feature in 91 Magazine by Chloe Mitchell.

The first set of images were shot in The Hambledon store...

The following images are from Victoria's home....

Thank you Victoria for letting 91 Magazine's Michael and Chloe stop by!

If you haven't come across The Hambledon before, I suggest you get yourself over to their website pronto - you won't be disappointed! And don't forget to check out the rest of the feature in our latest issue of 91 Magazine, as well as lots of other interiors, vintage and crafts features to inspire! x
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