We are going to open our own shop. Our own shop, with real shelves and a till and a window looking out to the high street. With little paper bags with our name on and a bell that goes ‘ping’ when someone comes in.
It is, without doubt, the most excitingly-scary thing I have ever done. More scary than walking on glass? Would you like to see me walk on glass – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ0CucHC9yo&feature=youtube_gdata_player? (Warning: I really am).
A bit about me…
But that’s stepping forward a little. Hello, my name is Rebecca and I am an Illustration and Animation graduate from Coventry University. I graduated in 2010, moved back home and then found that no-one really wanted an illustration graduate with no work experience; but were very, very happy to let me work for them for free in their offices in London or Oslo or the US for free. With little savings and a big wodge of student debt, moving out to live in London or Oslo and getting paid nothing didn’t seem like a great idea. So I got a job in my local pub (which was lovely, actually) and spent many of my days pulling pints and having a Really Good Think.
After a while of thinking I realised I love making things and I really, really love getting handmade things as gifts for people. I had heard of Etsy and Folksy, but found the sites tricky to navigate and didn’t like the fact you ordered bits from each seller and they shipped out to you (meaning big shipping prices) and the often really long wait for items (crafters are fab people, but many juggle Real Jobs, so making your item and shipping it fast takes a back seat) often put me off from buying, especially for time sensitive presents like Christmas, Valentines or Birthdays.
Why not make my own shop sourcing the best in crafts made in the UK and locally to me?
I thought, why not make my own shop sourcing the best in crafts made in the UK and locally to me, put them in one place, list them online with lots of lovely photos and ship them out from the one place with firm shipping times, gift wrapping, etc?
A selection of handmade gift and treats sourced for the website – we have Oakwood Soaperie, Fyne Silver, The Mosaic Garden, Emporium Candles and Birdie and Beau. All handmade in the UK and all very lovely people who were hidden away on Etsy and Folksy, not getting the attention they deserved.
Getting Started – Help from the Princes Trust
I approached the Princes Trust, went on a two-week course on running a business, then was granted a loan to get things moving – but only just enough for an on-line shop, no bank would touch me except to gently and kindly shoo me out of the door.
The Handmade Emporium was born
The Handmade Emporium was born – http://www.thehandmadeemporium.com/ . Lots of really amazing artisans joined and we have gone from strength to strength getting more and more lovely things, a fab customer base, loads of support on social media and even a plug from a BBC Dragon in July of 2011.
Theo Paphitis “Small Business Sunday” Winner!
My badge from Theo Paphitis, BBC Dragon. Very nice chap.
And now a local shopkeeper in my lovely home town of Oundle is offering me to rent part of her shop, all for me, separated from hers with my own window and doorway. And we open on the 1st of February. I’ve no idea how this will go – will this be the start of bigger things – a revolution in how we buy things made in the UK? I hope so! But, until then I have a whole lot to do…