Five top tips for working a trade show... September 19 2016
I'm back, after a long and slow Summer off with my family ; we've holidayed in Cornwall, spent endless days chilling in the garden and generally switched off from the world (especially anything work or tech related) for the whole month of August and it's been absolute bliss.
And after some serious downtime September sees us easin' ourselves back in feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to go, oh yeah!
The new season always starts with a couple of buying trips to trade shows for me and Mr C and we always have the same conversations in the car on the way home... we talk about the products we fall immediately in love with, the suppliers, designers and makers we want to sell in our store and we also talk about the things that can make or break a deal for us too... these same things stand out 'every time' so today as I worked my way through a ton of brochures, I thought it would be a good idea to blog about them here...
Number 1 - BE FRIENDLY!! seems obvious huh?! but so many suppliers don't even say "hello" ok, so no one wants to be pounced upon immediately but we don't want to be ignored either! If you are playing it too cool for school, chances are we ain't gonna fall in love anytime soon. Even if you are busy with another client, just raise your head for half a second (seriously, that's all it takes) and say "hi" because chances are, if I've stood around for longer than a minute or two and nobody's acknowledged me, I'm gonna head off to find some one who is up for chat. Chatting leads to relationships and nice friendly relationships leads to sales! Result.
Number 2 - Have your products clearly priced, as a buyer it really feels like too much hard work to have to ask about every single item on a stand and price is very often an indicator as to wether it's going to be a good fit for your store or not, make it easy for your buyers to make snappy decisions, time is of the essence and you want to keep your customers keen and interested and hopefully get them making decisions there and then.
Number 3 - Treats! even teeny tiny ones make a huge difference, they don't need to be expensive, just a small token gesture with a nod towards your product or service (use your imagination) because by the time us buyers get home, we are pretty much laden down with a million catalogues to work our way through. Treats act as a perfect reminder of you and your brand or product and are a guaranteed way of making you stand out from the crowd. Plus it's always nice to give right?... :)
Number 4 - Minimum orders, gah! Why so huge?... It's far better to offer some flexibility and leeway to entice potential new customers to place an order. Large minimums can be so daunting if you're a small indie business trying to spread your budget across several brands. Chances are if it sells well you will end up re-ordering heaps more next time anyway so it's win win for everyone. I've lost count of the amount of time suppliers have dug their heels in and missed out on a sale. A sale which could potentially lead to a longstanding relationship. Tut Tut. I promise if you work together everyone will be happy.
And finally, number 5 - Keep in touch, just because it didn't happen on the day doesn't mean it won't happen at all. Don't be afraid to send a nice 'friendly' follow up email, it can go a long way to securing an order at a later date. Sometimes I add suppliers to my 'maybe pile' and an email or phone call to jog my memory afterwards works wonders if you happen to catch me at the right time!
Ok. so that's my top five tips for working a trade show. I hope if you're just starting out or thinking of doing a show in the future, these tips will help. It's a tough marketplace out there and if you've paid a small fortune for your pitch, you'll want to make the most of every opportunity. I've been visiting trade shows for nearly 20 years, so I'm talking from experience! It could make the crucial difference between a potential stockist placing an order or walking away. Good luck!
keeping an eye on time... July 04 2016
Hope you're here to tell me how we got to July already?!.. No?.. Well I'm hoping my gorgeous new JORD watch is going to keep me on track because I've still got heaps to do before I wind down for my August Summer break!
I'm not normally a watch wearing kind of girl, preferring instead to fill my wrists with multi coloured arm candy :) but I was more than happy to make an exception for this beauty...
These super stylish time pieces are hand crafted from different types of sustainable wood, I fell in love with the maple, because of it's simple contemporary colour, I reckon it will look great with my ever growing wardrobe of jumpsuits!
You can view the whole womenswear collection here, I promise you'll love it too, especially the rose gold version. Swoon!
And if like me you need to keep an eye on the time, then it might just be your lucky day because I've teamed up with JORD watches to offer my lovely readers the chance to win an e-gift card towards a wooden watch of your choice.
Click this link to enter the giveaway, you have until 10th July, so talking of time, you better make it snappy!
Good luck lovelies :)
The Sadler's in Sorrento!... Part 2 June 23 2016
Hey lovelies, good to see you again!
If you thought part 1 of our Italian adventure was exciting, then you're in for a real treat because I've got lots more to share with you yet! Challenged with only a day and a half left to explore this beautiful place, we were determined to pack in as much as possible.
There's lots to see in an around Sorrento, so It was a tough choice between visiting the Mount Vesuvius volcano or taking a boat trip, we opted for a boat trip to the island of Capri, but first let me tell you about the lemons!
Remember there are tons of lemon trees everywhere in Italy and the Italians sure know what to do with the them. They turn it into a potent alcoholic beverage called Limoncello. Ok, so the first sip might make your hair curl but after that' woah it certainly puts some colour in your cheeks! Especially for breakfast! Did I just say that?...
Well, we were innocently heading down to the Marina to take a boat trip to Capri, when we passed this cute little place that refused (ok we didn't need too much persuading) to let you walk on by without sampling there wares. And it just so happened that once inside, their wares were ALL limoncello shaped, literally by the bucket load. And I kid you not, they were serving if from a giant lemon shaped bar; these guys really do a good job of spoiling you! Enough said. :)
Limoncello also puts a spring in your step ready for that boat trip! You can book these from the Marina, where there are lots of options available from teeny tiny two person boats to bigger double decker versions, where you can sit upstairs in the sunshine and take in the amazing views. We picked a big one to take us to the Island of Capri, it's a short twenty minute journey across the sea and boats leave about every half an hour or so.
I would have spoilt you with some cool video footage I filmed here, to prove I did it (wobbly nervous knees included) but in all the excitement, I managed to delete it before saving it (total fail) but trust me, It was ace!
You arrive on the Island to a bustling harbour, a few touristy shops and restaurants, a small pebble beach and the sweetest guy in the world making handmade leather sandals! We could have stood and watched him all day!
The way into the main town is about 20 minutes up a steep and winding hill, I guess you could walk or take the cable cars, but we chose an open top taxi to arrive in style. Once up the hill, grab yourself a lemon granita which is a freshly squeezed icy lemon drink, perfect for cooling you down and possibly one of the most refreshing things I've ever tasted; I will forever be craving these on hot Summer days!
The Island of Capri is very different to Sorrento, it feels much more fancy and up market compared to the laid back charm of its neighbour. The shopping is mostly high end, so if you fancy spoiling yourself with designer labels, you'll be right at home here. For me, the sweet guy making leather sandals had already stolen my heart and was a little easier on the bank balance!
If fancy shops aren't your thing, then head for a wander down the cobbled side streets for an explore. Here you will find lush gardens, scenic walks, courtyards and plenty of beautiful views to take your breath away.
And of course we found the perfect spot to take a Sadler family selfie too! Priorities! :)
It will probably take you around three or four hours to soak up the atmosphere in Capri, a little more if you head even higher up the hill to visit the shops there, but we decided to head back down the hill for a beach break, Mr C even went for a quick swim but I won't indulge you with pics of him in his cozzie!
They're not big on beaches in this part of Italy, but this one in Capri, although small, was beautiful and very relaxing. A couple of hours spent chilling here is the perfect way to wind down before you head back on the boat... bliss.
Once we arrived back in Sorrento we had a quiet couple of hours back at our hotel around the pool, before heading out for dinner in the evening.
We loved that the streets were still buzzing way into the night and won't ever forget that magical evening we spent sat outside by candlelit, being serenaded by an Italian couple with a guitar, whilst eating all the pizza' again! yes, this was about our third in two days but it was just too good not!
So that my lovelies, was day two of our adventure in Sorrento, limoncello for breakfast, a boat trip to explore the island of Capri and an evening of fun by candlelight... hope you enjoyed it as much as we've enjoyed sharing it with you?..
Luckily we still had a few hours left the following morning to see some more of this wonderful place.
There is always room for more Gelato... especially at Puro bar in the centre of town.
And for peering into doorways with stairs and tiles like these... swoon.
And for stocking up on blue skies and turquoise sea for miles...
And for cactus as tall as you and lush greenery to die for...
And for roof terraces perfect for lounging and watching the world go by...
And 'finally' for sipping strawberry flavoured cocktails... underneath the Sorrento sunshine!
It's amazing just how much fun you can squeeze into a few short days!
Italy... the Sadler family have totally fallen for your authentic charm, romantic style and warm and friendly ways, not to mention the food :) we don't ever want to leave, and for the family who only ever holiday close to home' this is quite the achievement!
If you're tempted to explore somewhere new, then this is definitely the way to do it, short but ridiculously sweet, with enough excitement to keep you coming back for more.
Oh' and if you would like to see Sorrento through the eyes of my 18 year old son Milo, then look out for his photography post I'll be sharing that with you soon.
The Sadler's in Sorrento!... Part 1 June 20 2016
How're you doing?... If you're in the UK you're probably desperate for the sun to shine and if you're elsewhere and the sun is spoiling you with warm rays, then send some this way! Or if you're in a complete panic that the sun may never shine again, then how about heading off somewhere where the sunshine is guaranteed?... We did and over the next few days I'm going to be sharing our little adventure with you right here on my blog.
No need to pack your suitcase and flip flops yet, just pop the kettle on and enjoy your mini break with the Sadler's!
So first up, how exactly did the family who only ever holiday in Cornwall end up in Sorrento?... Well I have the Blogtacular event to thank for that and of course a certain wonderful holiday company! :)
Way back in 2015 I attended Blogtacular and was given the opportunity to pitch an idea to Thomson's, I'd never pitched for 'anything' before or worked with a brand but in true Allison style, I thought I'd give it a whirl and see what happened. I didn't take it too seriously and just had some fun connecting with the crew (especially Christian and Nicky who I've fallen a little bit in love with' ok I love them millions!) And bingo, a few weeks later I got the most exciting email ever 'Thomson's wanted to work with me' eeek! I could not believe it. I remember that morning driving down the road in my pyjamas to tell Mr C the good news, we literally danced around the shop squealing with excitement!
Stuff like this only ever happened to other bloggers not to little old me! Now to wait and find out where we were going. I swear the angels up above must have been shining some kind of magic down on us because when we found out we were going to Italy we couldn't have been happier. It was right up there at the top of our wish list of destinations to visit. The Sadler's in Sorrento has a certain ring to it don't you think?...
Challenged with squeezing as much as possible into a three day short break, here's what we got up to.
Challenge number one (well for me anyway) was flying, I can do anything in this world except fly! It fills me with a crazy fear and I literally go weak at the knees when I think about travelling up high in the sky (this is one of the reasons we holiday in the UK) but I was determined to be super brave and to not let 'my fears' stop me from going on this amazing adventure. And do you know what it was fine, short flights and fluffy clouds are absolutely the way forward for a scaredy cat like me, yay! Just two and a half hours from the UK, a few drinks and nice nibbles and you're there. Job Done :)
And boy was it worth it to experience something new! We arrived late at night, but started our adventure immediately wandering the still busy streets and standing in awe staring at the orange trees. Yup. We had never seen them before and seeing anything for the first time is pretty special isn't it? We could have walked those streets all night long, but sleep was calling ready for an early start the next morning; with only two and a half days to pack it all in we didn't want to miss anything.
We woke to brilliant blue skies and more citrus trees, the hotel was completely surrounded by them and it was even more magical in the light of day! And that pool, swoon, blue, orange and chevron floor tiles forever!
'That first morning when we stepped out of our hotel into the streets was unforgettable, the warmth of the mediterranean sunshine hitting our skin, the sweet scent of oranges and lemons filling the air mixed with the sound of a thousand scooters racing by and those beautiful faded buildings lining the roadside into Sorrento sent the Sadler family senses rushing'
Every part of us felt alive in a way that we hadn't experienced in such a long time. The excitement was electric, there was just so much to see and breathe in at every corner.
We stayed at the Parco del Sole which was about a twenty minute stroll from the centre of Sorrento (or a couple of hours if you stop and take pictures of everything like we did!) you can use the hotel shuttle bus if you're in a hurry, but we recommend walking to soak up the sights!
Oh' and walking gives you plenty of opportunity to meet the locals too, like these guys, sat outside a traditional Italian coffee shop all in a row! You know when you've seen stuff in the movies and then suddenly you're standing there for real taking it all in?... Yeah that! Italian sidewalks were just how I'd imagined them to be, I even got a cheeky "Ciao Bella" as we passed them by! so totally charming! :) Honestly, I think anything said in a romantic Italian accent will forever melt my heart.
And while you're strolling... you get the chance to discover the best gelato and cake shops too! Nutella with cream anyone?... Yum!
When you've finally made it into the centre of Sorrento, you can keep on strolling slowly through that endless sunshine all day long; taking in the smell of fresh coffee as you go, stopping for the occasional espresso and exploring the narrow cobbled side streets filled with cute stores each one tempting you inside with sun dried tomatoes, peaches, pasta, leather and lace! Just heavenly!
Once you've finished shopping for goodies and wandering through the pretty streets, you can head gently down to the Grand Marina where you will find breath taking views of the sea, plenty of boat trips and the best pasta and fresh fish restaurant in town! Trattoria de Emilia is a family run place located right on the edge of the seafront, here you can sip limoncello or Prosecco, sample the authentic homestyle cooking and paddle your toes in the water all at the same time. Bliss.
Mr C and Milo certainly enjoyed it! and I won't tell you how quickly I polished off the calamari and pan fried prawns... mmmm .. and lil miss hasn't stopped talking about the delicious gnocchi! This place is definitely a dream come true for a family of foodies!
After lunch, you can go for another walk to work off the guilt of eating your own body weight in pasta! try taking another route on the way back into town, like we did to get lost in those streets all over again and stumble across the most beautiful courtyards you've ever seen!
Then we made our way 'slowly' back to the hotel for an early evening swim and some more cocktails... cheers!
Well we had to build up an appetite again ready to go out for pizza! the food is just so good in Italy, it's only right to enjoy it while you're there! And we were fortunate enough to find a place frequented by the locals, nothing fancy, just one hell of a really good pizza menu, stone baked right there in front of you. It was called Popolino's and I promise it was worth flying out to Italy just for that! It was the perfect end to a pretty perfect day.
So that was day one, spent strolling in the sunshine doing all things typically Italian. I think that's the beauty of going somewhere new, the simple things to be found locally right there on your doorstep are enough to make you smile and fall over yourself with happiness, or could that have been the several cups of espresso we drank too! :) whatever it was, it was plenty to keep us busy and the vibe had completely captured our hearts, we couldn't wait to explore some more.
I'll be back again soon with part 2 of our little adventure where you can join us for a short boat trip across the ocean to the beautiful island of Capri. Eek! I'll let you into a little secret, I'm not a fan of boats either, but I'm being brave and doing all the things remember!
See you soon lovelies
Freestyle creative living... part 2 May 26 2016
Hey lovelies! I'm back with part 2 of freestyle creative living...
In my last post I back tracked a little to share the reasons behind my break from Make it Sewcial, you can read all about that here and this time I want to share the thinking, philosophy and ethos behind my new hashtag.
So what is this freestyle creative living I'm so excited about?... Well it's pretty simple really, it's about giving yourself the freedom to create the life you love your way. And that's it, big love for now, wishing you all the best, Allison. kiss kiss kiss. Ha ha, just kidding! although as this thing is about freestylin' it is very tempting for me to sign off here to let you make of it what you will. But I won't do that because I've got heaps to say yet!
As you already know I'm completely passionate about making life beautiful, visually and emotionally and I'm hell bent on following my dreams to create a life I love, one that makes me feel good and happy everyday and the way I do this and arrive at 'my happy place' is by following my heart, listening to my soul and living creatively MY WAY.
I've never payed much attention to the rules and pressure that society throws at us everyday to do things a certain way and I've never lived my life to suit anybody else but myself and my lovely family. We are all unique and find our happiness in many different ways, so why should we try and conform to fit a one size fits all template?... It's crazy, it just doesn't exist. They tried to squash me into a box when I was a kid at school and I rebelled and was really naughty. I like to think I was spirited :)
Constantly we are told how to style our homes, from the colours to paint our walls to the cups we should be drinking from, or what we should be wearing next (I have totally rocked up at every meeting ever wearing happy beads and trainers and it did me no harm at all) and don't even get me started on what we should all be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you want cake for breakfast, eat the goddamn cake and hell yes pile on the donuts too! You only live once, you hear me. Do what makes you frickin' happy, better to leave this world in a pile of sugary cake crumbs than to depart whilst munching on a plate full of sh*ty coloured kale. Yuck. Banish that evil thought right outta your minds.
And yup .. what about the day job... work just doesn't have be 9 to 5.30 shaped leaving you feeling worn out and desperate for the weekend just because society says that's the norm and it will give you some 'security' who the flying monkeys wants to be 'normal' anyway and security, yes it pays the bills, but will making enough money to pay the bills really bring you true happiness?!... or is it about much more than that?... you decide. Maybe it does, but it's A'ok if it doesn't.
And education and how to raise our kids. Sheesh. No one in this world knows more about what your kids need than you do. If they want to paint and draw and dance and sing and play music or they love baking and getting clever with a camera (yup, I'm talking about you Milo and Missy) then give them the freedom to do just that. Yes, they need to learn to read and write, of course they do (I'm not dissing all things academic here) they just don't need it rammed down their throats 24/7! Give them the freedom to explore who they are and let's encourage them to be creative with their lives too.
Starting to feel this freestyle creative living vibe yet?... good stuff. If you take a little breather and look at my pretty pictures above, you'll see what I'm talking about. Me, living creatively my way. I do it all the time :)
But obviously these pics are personal to me, let's take a look at yours... here are some beautiful examples shared in the Instagram gallery over the last few days, they represent freestyle living really well.
Growing your own flowers from seed, so you can have a constant supply for filling up pretty jam jars - Katy Living
Designing and making his and hers wedding rings to treasure forever - Amy and Neil
Making space in your home for a beautiful craft room to get creative whenever it takes your fancy - Hanna
Styling the biggest and brightest bunch of flowers using all the happy colours that make you smile - Xanthe
Making a floral wreath with no instruction, just your imagination flowing freely - Emily Quinton
Creating a cute little sewing corner in the tiniest of spaces - Hannah
Fresh rhubarb grown on the allotment, picked after school on the way home - Rebecca
Crocheting... you can still share your makes over at Make it Sewcial headquarters of course, but it's good to see a snapshot of the process.
Showing your freestyle attitude and just being bold and beautifully you - Ruby
So much diversity, I could not love it more, you guys were certainly ready for something new.
I've lived a creative lifestyle forever because it felt like the most natural place to be and I've always applied this philosophy and way of thinking to my work and day to day living and now I'm on a mission to encourage you to try it too.
I really don't want this to be another Make it Sewcial (obviously you can keep on sharing your makes using that hashtag) but Instagram is already full of enough crafting and making hashtags to keep us all happy forever, we don't need another one!
Freestyle creative living is the next part of the journey, it's about sharing something different, taking the best bits of Make it Sewcial, the creativity, the confidence, the attitude and the inspiration to try something new. And then applying those things to your creative lifestyle as a whole.
It's about getting up each day and doing more of what makes you happy, it's about taking risks, styling your home your way, creating from the heart, chasing your dreams and making them a reality, its about being brave, being true to you and letting your passions run wild, but most importantly of all it's about allowing your creativity to be free.
It's also about you telling me what it's all about!!! haha. I don't pretend to have all the answers and I don't want to start dictating what you should share. I just know what works for me.
So keep on freestylin' your creativity folks, share your lifestyle pics and let's inspire each other to live a life we love... and if you want to share your makes then head on over to Make it Sewcial headquarters, I know I said no rules, but let's make this a different place to hang out!
I'm not sure where this new adventure will take us, but I have a feeling it's going to be somewhere special. #freestylecreativeliving
Allison x x x
Freestyle creative living... part 1 May 19 2016
Hey lovelies, really good to see you!
This week has been a biggie for me, I've been plucking up the courage to share an idea I've had for ages and finally on Monday I felt the moment was right to put it out there into the world. I'm guessing you all know me well enough to know that for a girl who pours her heart and soul into everything she does, this was a big deal in many ways.
It's an idea that I've been thinking about loads for such a long time... almost 9 months to be exact, yup, it's been 9 months since I stepped away from my last 'big thing' It was Friday the 2nd October 2015... and I can honestly say not a day has gone by where I haven't thought about Make it Sewcial and how huge it had become, but still I had this overwhelming urge to walk away... to be free.. but more on that later. I hope you've popped the kettle on to make yourself a brew because this is set to be my longest and most personal blog post to date. Eek!
Now 9 months is the length of time it takes to grow a baby and whilst it may not look like I did anything quite as extraordinary as that, it certainly felt like I'd given birth on Monday when I woke up and decided that that was the day for my new idea to be born. I know, I know I'm so dramatic! But I'm a firm believer in timing and trusting the process and I've been relying on my gut to tell me when the time was right to do this. I was also waiting for that magic moment to feel brave enough to write this post, I've been carrying it around in my head for months, I'm sure I'm feeling a little lighter already :)
So I'm going to take you back a little first... Make it Sewcial had become such a huge part of my life, in fact sometimes it felt like it 'was' my life, I was giving more time, attention and energy to the community I had created than anything else and the bigger it became the more it needed from me. For two whole years I was happy giving it everything I had, starting on a Monday morning at 7.30am sharing the first post on Instagram to encourage my followers to get creative, to craft, make, bake, stitch, carve, build, knit and to produce something with their hands. Then I would make something too and share it on my blog as a tutorial, whilst stopping every few minutes throughout the day to like and answer every single post and comment that pinged up on my phone! I was on a mission to make everyone feel good about sharing their creations.
This would continue right through to the early evening, when I would host the community chat session - it should have happened between 9 and 10pm, but oh no, I would take my phone to bed with me and keep on replying to EVERYTHING until the early hours of the morning, long after Mr C had gone to sleep beside me. And then I would wake up the next morning, check my notifications and so it would begin all over again! And it didn't stop there, my inbox was alive with email after email coming my way and yes, I would spend hours answering them all in depth, they were all important to me and I wanted to give them all valuable feedback.
Then I would finish up on a Friday with a carefully curated weekly round up of makes and finally a Maker of the week interview and blog feature. Ahh man, I honestly don't know how I squeezed it all in around running my own business, a busy shop, hosting workshops, writing editorials for magazines, mentoring and taking care of my family, oh and trying to find some time for me and Mr C too! I feel like I need to lie down in a darkened room just thinking about it now! Phew!
After two years of doing all of that it was no wonder I felt a little burnt out, I had no energy left for me and the other things in my life... crafting was just a teeny tiny part of what I did, a hobby really, yet it had completely taken over and become my world. I had created something so big, it was shaping me as a person and my days no longer felt like my own. And while I loved it passionately and adored the community, I was starting to feel trapped. I wanted to break free. I was drowning in crochet (did I just say that!) I mean I like crochet, but just not for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Please forgive me crochet lovers! Your work is truly amazing!
It was at this point that I had a big decision to make, I could take this thing forward and run with all the ideas I had in-store and there were heaps, craft kits, meet ups, workshops, a book, I even won an award for my contribution towards the handmade community, which I almost felt I should have handed back because I had decided to change direction. I felt torn and emotional for weeks because I knew the community I had created needed me. What would they do without me?... who would encourage and motivate them to get creative?... I owed it to everyone to keep on giving. I felt under pressure to keep on nurturing and growing this wonderful and amazing thing! I was consumed by it.
It could have become my full time work, I could have 'monetised it' (so people kept on telling me) but that was never my intention. I gave up my time and energy because I wanted to, because I loved doing it and I could see the difference it was making to peoples lives and this filled my heart up and made me feel like the happiest girl. It never put any pennies in the bank but I didn't care... I was doing good stuff in the world and that was all that mattered.
The day I made the announcement that I was taking a break, was tough. I think I cried for about 48 hours solid. And then I cried every Monday morning after that for about a month, I was missing my Make it Sewcial thing big time. I wondered if I'd done the right thing, would people understand, would they still like me now I'd fessed up about the crochet! What was I going to do next, I had no idea, well I kind of did deep down inside. I just needed time to get my mojo back.
My creative heart was starting to feel the change coming too... it happens. I build something, I make it magnificent, I pour my all into it and then I'm ready for the next part of the journey. It's the way my head works and I'm happy to go with it. The ideas keep on coming and when the time is right I'm ready to embrace them. As a creative, this is all part of natural growth and progress and for me personally, my wellbeing and happiness, rely on me changing things up every now and then... plus I actually might go mad if I ever stood still for too long! Can you imagine! Not sure Mr C would know what to do with me either! Ha!
So' I made the brave decision to step away from Make it Sewcial, knowing in my heart there was no going back. Friendships had been forged, new businesses started, and life long connections had been made. Right now the community is still active and growing stronger every day and there have been over 30 thousand handmade projects shared worldwide to date. Sometimes I have to stop and remember what an incredible thing I started there... and yes it survived without it's crafty mama!
Ok. so enough about the past... what about the future and the next part of the journey.
Well it's not Make it Sewcial shaped and I wouldn't want it to be because that would be going backwards and I want us to go forward together and whilst my love of crafting and making will obviously always be there, I wanted to create something focused on lifestyle something that embraces creative living as a whole. That's how I live, after all, so it makes perfect sense to move forward in that direction.
Freestyle creative living is about having the freedom to do just that... to create the life you love, your way. Sounds pretty gorgeous doesn't it?! I hope you like it as much as me.
If you want to find out more, then head back to my blog soon to read part 2, I'm looking forward to sharing the philosophy behind the new hashtag. Oh and don't forget to share your creative lifestyle pics over on IG too, the new gallery is filling up nicely already! Result.
Big love for now lovelies
The craft network... my happy place April 25 2016
You know how much I love my home right?!... and how much I love 'styling' my home and sharing pics of it all over the internet! haha! :) well this month I'm lucky enough to have my 'happy place' featured in a new magazine called The craft network home.
Whoop whoop exciting right?!... Yes, the Sadler family residency has appeared in an interior magazine before and yes I got all excited and danced around the kitchen that time too, but I'll never tire of seeing my work in print, especially issue 1, it feels extra special and I've changed things up a bit since the last time, so it's all good!
If you fancy having a nosy around my home go get yourself a copy and you can read my styling and DIY tips for creating a happy place too! Enjoy :)
Macrame plant hanger for Atmine... April 15 2016
For the month of April I'm delighted to be co-hosting a DIY challenge with Atmine... If you're not familiar with their work then go and check them out now for all kinds of super stylish interior goodness! It's the perfect place to find lots of ideas and inspiration for your home.
If you head over to their blog you can find the full tutorial for this gorgeous make, I'm just sharing a few pics here as a little teaser and If you haven't guessed what I'm making yet, it involves plants, tying a few knots and there's a clue in the title of this post! :)
You can join in all the crafty fun too by sharing your 'proud DIY moment' it can be anything you've made, up-cycled or crafted, no rules.. just have fun and get creative!
Then post a picture to Instagram using the #Styleatmine or upload an image to the DIY section on the Atmine blog. And that's it easy peasy.
Oh .. and don't forget to follow us both over on IG, we hang out there a lot! We will be picking our favourites at the end of the month and there will be some lovely prizes on offer for the best entries.
So.. go get crafty my friends! you have until the 28th April...
Allison x x x
Creative business mentoring... January 15 2016
Hello lovelies! did you know that I do one to one business mentoring sessions for creatives?... well if you didn't, read on...
I've been doing them for a few years now and places seem to be booking up faster and faster as more and more creatives turn away from the structure of a 9 to 5 day job in favour of the freedom of going it alone.
These one to one mentoring sessions are invaluable if you want to concentrate on a particular area of your business or if you're a start up and want to know where to begin, as you don't have to share your precious time with anyone else - whilst a busy workshop with lots of people can be inspiring too, it can be much more productive to focus all of the attention on 'you' and 'your' creative venture.
So what can you expect from a one to one session?...
Well it's definitely nothing like any other 'traditional' business type mentoring session you may have seen before, if you already follow me on social media, you'll know I'm seriously passionate about a 'do it your way' creative lifestyle and that absolutely includes the way I do business too. There are no hard and fast rules or magic formula to getting this stuff right, but I truly believe that if you follow your heart and soul and rely on your intuition to guide you (it's trying to tell you stuff for a reason, listen to it) then you'll be a very happy bunny! Go one step further and apply this guidance to your work too and you'll be absolutely winning. It certainly works for me.
Ok. Enough of the philosophy. Back to the session.
They usually go something like this - crafter, maker, wannabe business owner drops me an email asking for help, we make a date, I make tea and cake and then we meet up and chat about all things business related, like branding, social media, selling, marketing, pricing, planning, etc etc or whatever they need to talk about... in a nutshell, all of the things you need to know about being your own boss.
I've got over 20 years worth of business experience packed under my belt so no topic is too big or small.
Then, after all the talking and the brainstorming and sharing of ideas - the crafter, maker, wannabe business owner leaves with a belly full of cake and a head full of inspiration ready to take on the world. All sorted.
Sound exciting?... Well if you're sitting at your kitchen table or you've just finished another long day at the office and you're dreaming of doing something else and taking your creativity to the next level, then do it, do it now, make a start and send me that email, invest in yourself and let's make 2016 awesome together.
Sessions are charged at a 2 hourly rate - you can find out more about them here or drop me an email at email@example.com
Look forward to seeing you soon lovelies
make a hanging jam jar... January 07 2016
Hello lovelies, good to see you again and a happy new year too!
I'm guessing right now you might be feeling a little bit like me... you've taken the Christmas tree down and all the pretty decorations too and there are little corners of your home that are looking a little bare. Am I right?... if so, then you might appreciate some simple ideas to style those empty spaces in your home.
Try this for starters! please excuse the photo, I know it's not the brightest and best, but the gloomy dark weather is something even I can't fix... roll on those brighter days hey! :)
All you need to create this look is, an empty jam jar, painted white (it will probably need a couple of coats of paint) or leave it clear glass (either works well) remove the labels and tie some string or twine around the top (making a loop for hanging) and that's it, as simple as that.
You could go to town and decorate your jam jar some more, but personally I think after all the full on festivities of the last few weeks - less is definetly more. Fill your jar with some refreshing eucalyptus or flowers of your choice and hang it on the wall. All sorted.
Happy making lovelies, pop back again soon for some more simple makes and styling ideas to ease you into the new year!
The People shop Christmas window... 2015 December 06 2015
This is my 16th Christmas window at the People shop ... I know, how crazy is that, time sure does fly in the world of independent business! I can't believe I've done so many and every one so different from the last.
There's been bright ones, pure white ones, vintage style and neon! traditional red and white with reindeers and a sledge and a 50's style display complete with a cardboard cut out Elvis and a jukebox! Oh and we've even had a real fire - well if you can picture a TV playing a cackling fire DVD with a brick fire surround, you'll come close to realising just how much thought and effort goes into every single display.
This year it's a simple 'cosy' Christmas story...
Think full on cosiness, comforting and rich, with tons of greenery, eucalyptus ... always eucalyptus, foliage and pine branches, old wooden crates, enamel buckets filled with dried fruit, copper stars, baskets and brown paper parcels all tied up with string. Oh.. and that dress, lovingly designed and stitched in-between installing the window. Mr C always makes something special for the Christmas display (usually a one off) but this year, we're spoiling you ... we ordered some extra fabric (we're getting good at this) specially for you, so you can get one in-store and online too.
Teehee, I almost forgot to tell you about the fairy lights?... all 600 of them (it's the only time of the year me and Mr C come close to falling out!) well you know what a sucker I am for details ... well 'every single one of those 600 fairy lights had to be hung just so and let's just say Mr C is far more comfortable sitting behind a sewing machine than he is stood on top of a ladder after a long 12 hour day!
And then when I told him we had some festoon lights to hang outside too... (I may have been pushing my luck just a wee bit) anyway, it was a happy ending, 6 hours later, the window was complete and it looks fabulous don't you think! and Mr C is an absolute angel face for always being so patient with me!
Each year, seeing my vision come to life is a really good feeling, I've been planning it for such a long time, it's lovely when it finally comes together. I think this might be my favourite one yet, then again I think I might say that every year! Hope you like it and it puts you in a happy and festive mood!
love and best wishes for now
Allison x x x
November looked like this... December 04 2015
Hey lovelies! good to see you again :)
The run up to Christmas is my busiest time of the year at the shop, which leaves me very little (ok, NO time) for blogging... but I'm determined to find at least a few minutes each month to share my highlights.
So here you go, November looked like this...
It always takes me a couple of weeks to adjust to the darker shorter days as I'm mostly a Summer and sunshine girl (gimme blue skies any day of the week) but once I settle into the flow of getting all cosy and piling on the layers, I'm ready to embrace the Winter in all it's snugly loveliness!
Work maybe busy but life at home is slow and the evenings are spent in pyjamas eating all the comfort food. Lots of candles are lit (although I confess to being a candle lover all year round) home doesn't feel like home without candles .. oh and flowers ... always flowers.
Sheepskin rugs and blankets are stacked high for wrapping up warm, (more) fairy lights are draped through the home wherever I can hang them and the lights are turned down low to maximise the twinkly'ness! I've even had whole evenings lit purely by candle light, you should try it... it's the most magical and calming thing ever!
And finally every room is filled with refreshing bunches of eucalyptus, tied, hung and displayed in jam jars. I'm fortunate to live a few minutes drive away from the flower market, so I can buy it by the bucket load :) and it's such an easy way to bring lots of greenery into your home.
So that was my November, I'm looking forward to the month of December and the festivities it brings (yes .. I may have put my tree up already! why ever not?.. I like to make the most of this time of year) it's a special time at the shop as everyone is in a happy mood, plus it's another excuse to make home look extra pretty, win win!
See you again soon sweet lovelies
lots of love
Allison x x x
October looked like this... November 06 2015
Slowing down after a crazy busy Summer, embracing the start of a snugly new season and stealing away to the sea to soothe the soul...
Now I'm feeling ready for all that November brings... some festive making, preparing the shop for Christmas, filling my home with candles, comfort food and strings and strings of sparkly fairy lights!
Homemaker magazine... August 17 2015
Whoop Whoop! hello lovelies!
Me and Mr C are so pleased to be featured in this month's Homemaker magazine ( issue 35 ) its a really inspiring mag, full to the brim of lots of crafty handmade projects and great ideas for creating gorgeous goodies for your home too.
Look... here we are! How gorgeous is this?.. two whole pages about the things that inspire us, the story behind our business and life as creative owners of the People shop. Oh and there's lots of pretty pictures for you to enjoy too! Swoon.
So if you haven't discovered Homemaker magazine yet, now's the time to give it a read (yep .. another lovely crafty mag to add to the list!) we hope you like our story and if you want to read the full interview, head on over to the Homemaker blog for some more Sadler loveliness!
big love for now
Allison x x x
I made it my own with Annie Sloan... August 14 2015
Hey lovelies, SO good to see you!
It's been a while since I found a bit of time to post anything on my blog... so it feels lovely to be back again after a long break, I've got so much to share with you!
If you follow me over on Instagram, you will know that the last couple of months have been crazy busy for me, it's been a whirlwind of exciting projects, speaker events, magazine features, trips to London, awards and a two week holiday to Cornwall! but more on all of that loveliness later, for now, here's one of my favourite projects of the Summer...
I was so excited when I got the call and found out that team Annie Sloan wanted to work with me, you all know how much I love painting up old furniture and I'd never used the chalk paints before or featured in a video, so I was thrilled to bits for this amazing opportunity ... and boy did we have lots of fun!
Press the play button sweet lovelies to check out my luuuurvely Brummie accent and see what we got up to... tee hee, we really did have the happiest day, all served up with lots of tea and homemade cake!
What did you think?... I hope you liked it my friends and are feeling inspired to have a go too? I would love to see your wonderful creations, you can join in by using the #madeitmyown hashtag.
I must confess, It's a little bit funny seeing yourself in video for the first time and I was a teeny weeny bit nervous before the cameras arrived, but team Annie Sloan were just so gorgeous and friendly, they made me feel super relaxed in no time and I think we made a super team, don't you?
In fact, now I've done it once (and conquered my filming fears) I can't wait to do it all over again, so keep an eye on my blog for some more crafty video action coming soon...
This is me and my finished chair, in delicious shades of pink and grey... I really couldn't love it more and it fits in perfectly with the pretty pastel colours in my home, shall I let you into a little secret?... this delightful shade of pink is called Antoinette, which just so happens to be my middle name, I know ... how sweet is that! some things are just meant to be!
The lovely Annie Sloan also spoilt me with some other paint colours, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into those over the next few weeks, you can look forward to seeing what I get up to with a tin of English Yellow, I just need to hit the second hand stores to find me the right piece of furniture...
until then, happy painting everyone!
Allison x x x
Mollie Makes... Good day banner June 29 2015
Hey lovelies! how good is this?... pardon the pun'
I'm so pleased to have worked with Mollie Makes Magazine again to design and create the latest cover gift for issue number 55. If you haven't already got your copy, go get one now and stitch up this cute positive mantra to hang on your wall. Instant sunshine, just like that!
Honestly, these banners are really simple to make, so if you're thinking of dusting off the sewing machine, then this is a great place to start and will add an instant splash of colour to your craft room or a space in your home that needs a little brightening up. You could even have a go at hand stitching or why not try some colourful appliqué.
And just take a look at all of the other gorgeous goodies you can make in this months issue too, enough crafting ideas here to keep you busy until next months copy lands in your lap!
I hope you have as much fun making it, as I did creating it and I'd love to see what mantras you design too, don't forget to share some pictures, I'm sure team Mollie Makes would love to see your ideas just as much as I would!
Have fun lovelies and remember to stay positive, it's good for the soul!
Allison x x x
I won a Mollie Makes Handmade award! June 12 2015
Yaaaaaaaaaaaay I did it lovelies!
I won the Mollie Makes Creative idea award with Make it Sewcial, how AMAZING is that?... It feels all kinds of wonderful to be recognised and rewarded for my contributions and commitment to the Handmade community... Its certainly a celebration of everything I've dreamed of and worked so hard to achieve.
Apologies in advance for sharing a pic of me with my head chopped off, but of course, in true Allison style, I cried all the happy tears and couldn't stop blubbing for long enough to have my photo taken! Anyway, look how pretty my award looks?.. best to focus all eyes on that little beauty instead, I've been looking at it since yesterday and I'm still smiling now! :)
Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever felt much happier (well, except when I married Mr C of course and had my two children!) Oh, and maybe when we appeared on the cover of Mollie Makes home magazine 'and when I'm sat on a beach in Cornwall watching all the surfers.. a'hem.. I mean 'watching the sun go down (tee hee) that sure is a whole lot of happy!
I'm so fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a gorgeous day in London with the Mollie Makes team and to have had the chance to meet so many inspirational people too was just magical, here are a few pics I managed to capture of the day, in-between all of the hugging and chatting! It started with a photo walk lead by the gorgeous Xanthe Berkley...
Xanthe and Charlie snapping all the pretty things...
Adorable coffee shops along the way
Me an this girl taking selfies in the sunshine...
These two lovelies!
And the beautiful location...
And all the happy people getting their craft on!
What a day! Thank you so much Mollie Makes for making the magic happen, and for spoiling us all, I'm so looking forward to the next part of the journey, and thank you to Pinterest UK for all the love and inspiration, I'm so excited to work with you guys too. Eek!
And finally, heres's another pic of that 'beautiful' award... gorgeous isn't it?...
I feel so proud, I'm guessing this is what it feels like to win an Oscar huh?!?... (at least in the world of handmade it does!) except you probably won't be seeing me on the big screen anytime soon, but I've sure got big plans for Make it Sewcial and I hope this lovely community will be starring in it with me!
Big love for now
Allison x x x
The Mollie Makes Handmade awards June 10 2015
Just incase you havent heard my screams of joy and excitement, I'm sharing the news right here too... I'VE BEEN SHORTLISTED FOR A MOLLIE MAKES HANDMADE AWARD!!! Woohoo!
Yes sweetie pies, I'm a finalist in the 'Creative Idea' category and I'm taking 'Make it Sewcial' to London ... tomorrow! Eeek, yes I did say tomorrow, I can hardly contain myself and type these words because I'm so happy and excited and nervous and all of the lovely things rolled into one!
I entered the awards a few weeks ago and was keeping everything crossed that the Mollie Makes team 'might choose me. And they did!
Honestly when the email landed in my inbox, I was in town on a girly shopping night out with my mom and daughter, I literally squealed out load in the middle of the chocolate shop and the happy tears and joy came flooding out, right there and then in front of everyone, I may have even done a moonwalk type happy dance around the store too because I felt soooooo elated!
I can't really explain and put into words exactly how much this means to me, but I can say that being shortlisted has filled my heart right up to the top and had me skipping around with a tummy full of butterflies ever since.
I've been living and breathing a handmade lifestyle for the biggest part of my life (26 years to be exact) and I started out on my creative journey when I was just 17 years old with a sewing machine, a piece of fabric and heaps of attitude, so to be shortlisted and recognised for my work really really is the best feeling ever.
Whatever happens tomorrow, I'm going to be spending a whole beautiful creative day with gorgeous people, crafting, making, chatting and having a wonderful time and even if I don't scoop the award, it really doesn't matter, because the happiness I feel right now is immeasurable and I absolutely feel like a winner already!
Wish me luck guys and thank you Mollie Makes for making me the happiest girl in the world!
big love for now
Allison x x x
Make it Sewcial... macrame pot hanger June 01 2015
If you're here to follow this weeks easy peasy tutorial, I promise you won't be disappointed, this tutorial is so simple, you can have it completed from start to finish in around ten minutes, so there's no excuses, you could even have a go in your lunch break!
And if you just dropped by for a nosey, well what are you waiting for?... pull up a seat and grab some string, we are going retro baby and making pot hangers! Oh yeah!
This trend is 'huge' at the moment and I've stripped back all the fiddly bits and applied the 'life is too short for complicated crafting rule' so you can all have a go at making one ... tying just nine simple knots, is all that stands between you and an ultra cool pot hanger, you'll be styling up your homes in no time, almost as quickly as you can say "I remember those the first time round"
Right, ready to do it?... good stuff, let's get cracking .. or should I say knotting!
1) materials - you will need some chunky yarn, cotton cord, string, ribbon or even strips of fabric, anything that you can tie knots with that will hold the weight of your pot will work just fine, you will also need a small wooden hoop, I used a curtain hoop for mine.
2) start by cutting 4 lengths of cord about 2 metres long, again, you can make yours whatever length you fancy, these are just guidelines. fold them in half and thread them through your wooden hoop
3) pulling tightly together as in pic number 3 - you should have 8 lengths hanging freely
4) separate your cord into two's ready for your first lot of knots - I've measured 30cm down for mine
5) with two strands of cord together, tie your knots - four in total
6) then bring the remaining six inner cords together as in pic 6 (leaving the two outer ones free)
7) measuring about 10cm down tie another three knots, then tie the two outer strands together to create another knot
8) and finally - bring all eight strands together and tie your ninth knot about 10cm down. voila ... all done! how easy was that?... you can finish off by cutting the tassel to your desired length, if you want to be twinsies' mine measures 15cm! now all you need is a cute potted plant, to try out your creation, succulents and cacti all look good in hanging pots.
Looks lovely doesn't it?... this seasons must have home accessory in under 10 minutes can't be bad! I reckon once you've made one, you'll want to make lots more, I did, here's an alternative I made using white yarn with a simple glass bowl
Just perfect for displaying a single pretty pink peony or a small posy of Spring flowers!
I'd love to see what you do with yours, so don't forget to share some pics with me over in the Make it Sewcial gallery! I think I might leave this pretty one right here, hanging over the desk in my workroom.
happy making everyone!
big love until next time
Allison x x x
Nice to see you again so soon, I'm guessing you're here to soak up more of the Make it Sewcial magic?... Yay, good stuff :) because you are in for a real treat!
The super lovely Kat (one half of team Blogtacular ) was there for the whole event, crafting, making, chatting and inspiring all the lovely people with her colourful, happy and bubblicious charm! In between doing all of that lovely lot, she snapped lots of amazing pictures too! Like this one... naughty Mr C was saying something very funny here!
And this one... I think this is what happiness looks like!
And ALL of these... I'm not going to say anymore, right until the end of this post, because this time the pictures are enough to tell the beautiful story ... relax, enjoy and get lost in the magic and details of a wonderful day!
Hooray! there we go sweet lovelies! how gorgeous was that? hopefully you'll feel like you've experienced a part of it even if you weren't there! And full marks to me for not talking my way through any of it... I think the pictures say it all don't you?
Thanks to the best creative space in Birmingham, Impact Hub, for providing the perfect venue and thanks again Kat for doing an amazing job, we can relive the magic all over again through your wonderful photos, at least until the next Make it Sewcial Meet up, which could be popping up in a town near you, watch this space for more details coming soon... Oh and here's part 1 if you want to read it too.
Big love for now
Allison x x x
On Saturday a very special dream of mine came true, one that I've been thinking about and planning for a long time, a dream of a beautiful community of like minded crafters, makers and creatives, all coming together to inspire each other to make 'their' dreams come true too, whatever they may be.
A dream that would bring the #makeitsewcial hashtag to life, through organising a real live event. A dream that will support, encourage and enable creatives to live a handmade lifestyle too.
I know .. I know, there's a whole lotta dreaming going on there, but dreams are magical things don't you think?... especially when you actually turn them into reality and all of the pretty pictures and colours and happy thoughts you've been thinking of for ages and ages actually come true!
Fifty fellow makers from all over the country, London, Devon, Essex, Newcastle, Manchester, Norfolk, Malvern, Bristol, Northampton and more were quick to book the 50 places on offer, I could have doubled that number and filled the beautiful Impact Hub space twice over.
It really is almost impossible to put into words the joy and happiness that was felt on Saturday... but I'll let you into a little secret, all of my guests (yep, all 50 of them) may have seen me shed a tear or two, happy tears of course! so its all good! I'll do my best not to get too gushy all over again and try and let the gorgeous pictures do the talking! (well, we'll see how I go, I've never managed to keep quiet before, especially when I'm feeling this happy and excited!)
No Make it Sewcial Meet up would be complete without sweet things and treats and I love to spoil my guests and make them feel really special, and apparently love hearts, flying saucers and marshmallows are very good for your creativity ... well, it always works wonders for me! :)
Then of course there's the styling of the venue, my faaaaavourite bit, I had so much fun making all the props and decorations for the day! paper poms poms, garlands, bunting, pennants and heart shaped confetti ... just so much pretty! to quote the lovely Amy "I had such a wonderful time, It was like the best children's party, for adults I've ever been too" tee hee, what a result! love it when a plan comes together!
And then there was cake, lots of it! I'm so proud of lil miss for making this one, the prettiest, sprinkliest cake, I ever did see... even the shade of pink was just right, I can't imagine where she gets her attention to detail from! We may have eaten cute mini donuts and drank lots of cocktails too... juicy ones to begin .. the rum came later ;) 'oops, not doing a very good job of being quiet now am I!
Then there was the creative stuff... we had crafting and knitting and biz chat and sewing and pom pom makers and happy beads, we didn't just enjoy ourselves eating all the cake and drinking all the cocktails, we made loads of stuff too! Oh and I love how the gorgeous Kat painted her nails to match the colour theme! It's all in the details!
We also had a table full of beautiful flowers from Pollen floral Joy to make pretty posies...
Then there was the conversation and sharing of ideas... and a whole load of following of Instagram accounts too, WE HEART INSTAGRAM, none of this would have been possible before this lovely community came together through that magic hashtag #makeitsewcial and a series of pretty photos in squares! It was such a pleasure to meet all the lovely people who live in my phone in real life!
More happy people... wearing their creations and embracing the mantra!
And another delicious cake too good not too share, even the chocolate buttons and flag cake toppers were handmade!
Then after a busy day of creating, we went on a lovely photo walk, who knew that jumping around with giant balloons in front of colourful painted walls could be so much fun? all the giggles and all the laughter, the letting go, being a bit silly and pretending like nobody's watching was such good tonic to feed the soul and fill your heart up.
Look, I even managed to grab Mr C for a quick photo too... I think he was a teeny weeny bit shy bless, he's such a sweetheart!
And there we have it, the first ever Make it Sewcial Meet up really was the best day ever, a day full of inspiration, crafting, making, laughter, learning, smiles, sharing, joy and happiness, all brought together to celebrate this amazing creative handmade community.
Thank you to everyone who came along and help made it happen, bye bye birdie for her biz chat, Sewist for supervising the sewing machines and obsessive crochet disorder and her buddy for getting nifty with the knitting needles and an extra big thank you goes out to Impact Hub for providing the best venue in Birmingham. Oh, I mustn't forget to thank Mr C and my lovely little family too for EVERYTHING, they really really are the best!
The good news is, the dream doesn't end here... It was such an amazing day, I can't wait to do it all over again and I'm already planning the next part of the Make it Sewcial journey, I hope you'll be joining me too?... or if you're thinking about organising your own event, I'll be here to help you make it happen. Oh and don't forget to join me again soon for part 2 of the Meet up story... capturing the magic, with pretty pics snapped by the gorgeous Kat.
Big love for now
Allison x x x
How to style your brand... by Fiona Humberstone May 19 2015
I'm so happy you've joined me for my first ever book review, especially as I've been looking forward to this one for sometime! Can you imagine my joy when I got an email from the lovely lady herself asking me to be a part of the official 'blog book tour' thrilled, happy and excited is an understatement!
I was lucky enough to meet Fiona at an event in London last year and instantly fell in love with her work, passion and enthusiasm for creative business. I've been a fan ever since and an avid reader of her beautiful blog too, It's always so exciting when her newsletter lands in my inbox as I can guarantee she will be sharing something special that never fails to inspire me.
I think it's worth noting here that with countless online resources available at our finger tips such as Instagram, Pinterest, twitter and a wealth of pretty blogs all actively fuelling our imagination, It can be difficult to find the time to sit and read a book, well my lovely friends, I suggest you put your phones down, turn your computers off, pop the kettle on and make the time for this one, it will absolutely be worth it ... and here's why...
The language is so simple...
This is a bestselling book about business that doesn't use fancy jargon and big words that you won't understand, there are no hard and fast rules to frighten you off before you've begun and the narrative is easy going and flows at a lovely pace to take you on a creative journey that suits you. I love that you can dip in and out of the chapters to enjoy the content that works best for the different stages of your business, after all, I believe its about enjoying the process as much as the end result, I'm so glad Fiona agrees too!
The visuals are pleasing...
It's no surprise that I'm attracted as much by the visuals as I am the content as I'm sure most of you will be too, and the gorgeous pictures in this book won't disappoint you. Unfussy, uncluttered, clean and calm, the imagery instantly makes you feel at home and comfortable when you flick through the pages. The colour palette is soft and reassuring and the photography will 'inspire' you without dictating how 'your' story should look. It's a very clever book that manages to give you all of the beautiful details without overwhelming you, leaving enough room for you to have the freedom to explore your own ideas too. Yup ... it does all of these magical things and more!
The message and ethos...
are very clear, through sharing her wealth of knowledge and years of experience working with brands all over the world, Fiona helps you to unravel your thoughts .. to find the focus to fulfil your inspirational vision, while providing you with the tools and clarity to create a beautiful brand that is distinctively you. An ethos I share and have lived by throughout my 20 plus years of running my own creative business and a message I promote and encourage my readers to live by too.
My favourite bits...
Would it be ok if I said "all of it" seriously, I've looked through this book several times and there really isn't anything I don't like about it, and after all these years of being my own boss, I'm not easily impressed by your average run of the mill business books, but this one is different, It has an energy running through it that will ignite your creativity, spark your entrepreneurial senses and fire up your passion ready to take your game plan to a whole new level.
I guess if I had to pick just one real highlight it would be the 'Colour Psychology' your secret weapon, as a lady who lives and loves a very colourful lifestyle this section resonates with me the most (It has nothing to do with wearing certain colours that suit your skin tone, shudder shudder, thats not my bag at all) its much more about telling your story using colour to reflect your personality. In fact Fiona runs a workshop all about this and one day I'm going to take some time out, just for me and I'm going to spoil myself and book a place! I love how you can use colour emotionally to set a mood and tone, so this is definitely an area I would like to explore some more.
One more teaser you say?... Oh, go on then, I love 'styling it up' too! in this section you'll find essential tips to help make your brand look polished and professional and there are also good examples from small business owners showing you how they've achieved amazing results too. its the perfect finish to a pretty awesome book.
I could go on and on sharing all of the best bits, but if I've whet your appetite with these tempting teasers or you're thinking of starting up a new blog or venture or you just simply want to breathe a new lease of life into an already existing business, then this is the book for you.
I hope you've enjoyed reading my first book review as much as I've enjoyed writing it, if you want to follow the rest of the blog tour this week then head on over to We are Branch Weds 20th for the next instalment or you can buy a copy here
And finally to say a big thank you to a very inspirational lady for inviting me to share her work here, I feel very honoured to be a part of the tour for a book thats currently a number one best seller! Congratulations Fiona!
The Make it Sewcial Meet Up May 11 2015
As you probably already know if you follow me over on Instagram, I've spent the past few weeks organising the FIRST EVER MAKE IT SEWCIAL MEET UP EVENT!!!
I'm shouting because I'm ridiculously excited and so happy that I'm actually making this happen... its been a little dream of mine for a long time and finally this Saturday, I will be bringing some of this gorgeous community together for a full day of creative loveliness! Yup ... I will actually get to meet some of the lovely people who live in my phone in real life! How amazing is that?..
When I started the Make it Sewcial hashtag a year and a half ago, I had a head full of ideas of what I wanted it to be ... celebrating creativity and bringing a community together were right at the heart of my plans. I wanted to share all of my experiences of living and loving a handmade lifestyle, to support, inspire, encourage and motivate my fellow crafters, makers and wannabe creatives to live a handcrafted life they love too.
And with the help of social media and Instagram, the magic is happening and my little plan is coming together nicely, this Saturdays Meet Up in Birmingham will hopefully be the first of many more to come.
They'll be crafting and making, cake eating and cocktails, chatting, giggles and lots of photo taking ... well it wouldn't be a proper Meet up if we didn't snap lots of lovely pictures! You can look forward to seeing them all here next week.
Wish you were coming too?... so do I, but there's no need to miss out on all the fun, you might not be able to hot foot it to the Birmingham get-together, but wherever you are in the world you can organise your 'own' Make it Sewcial Meet up because I've created an Organisers pack specially for you!
Its full of tips and ideas to help you create your event and I've even provided cute printables so you can make your space look pretty too! I know, I know, I like to spoil you!
All you've got to do is be brave, promote it through your social media and blogs, gather your crafty locals and bingo, you've got yourself a party! and remember to use the magic hashtags that connect us all together #makeitsewcial #makeitsewcialmeetup
Interested? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you everything you need to start planning you day.
Right, for now it's time for me to crack on with my 'to do list' its as tall as me and I'm adding to it as quickly as I'm ticking the jobs off! Oh ... and if you see me bouncing around this week like an over excited kid at Christmas, it might just be because I've got a tummy full of butterflies and I'm a teeny weeny bit nervous .. eek, wish me luck, I think I'm gonna need it!
Allison x x x
Maker of the week ... byebyebirdie. May 01 2015
Hello sweet lovelies and welcome to another Maker of the week!
I am absolutely thrilled and excited to share this one with you, as this super talented lady happens to be one of my most favourite makers in the whole world and I'm lucky enough to have her as one of my best friends too! I love the way she thinks about life, I love her limitless creativity and I LOVE how she is 100% true to herself and her brand.
Here's her lovely story...
Tell me a little bit more about you? ...
Hello! I’m Carol. I am a designer and maker, and the owner of a little label called byebyebirdie.
And where are you based?
I have a small workroom/studio space in my home in Birmingham, England. I love the flexibility this gives [the brilliantly short commute and the late night pyjama-wearing sewing sessions] but stock and fabric supplies are beginning to spread beyond my work space. So the search will soon be on for a new home for byebyebirdie!
What lovely things do you make?
A range of clothes, gifts, prints and cushions for little ones aged 0-2 years. All beautifully British [wherever possible I use British-made fabrics and supplies], lovingly handmade and hand printed to order.
And where do you sell your products?
I have my own online shop, I also sell through ETSY [which is great for international customers] and Down That Little Lane [mainly for customers in Australia/New Zealand].
What inspires you?
I’m at my most inspired when I’m sat in front of a clean white piece of paper, with a black pen [never blue!], a good podcast [lovebeingboss.com is a current favourite] and a good strong cup of tea. I sketch, scribble and doodle until I start to see the shape of an idea and then I get making.
And do you have any advice, words of wisdom for anyone starting out?
What are the pros and cons of running a creative business?
After 4 years being my own boss, I've come to the conclusion that the pros and cons are the same. The biggest pro is the flexibility it gives. The ability to set my own hours, work around the family, take time out when needed is such a gift. Similarly, the biggest con is that same flexibility. The lack of structured work hours can mean – during really busy times, particularly on the run up to Christmas – some very long hours at the sewing machine and very little time away from work. But I wouldn’t have it any other way! Having worked for many years as a Brand Manager in a variety of Corporate roles, I wouldn’t give up the freedom I have, the flexibility or the opportunity to push my creativity for any 9-5 job. Life is simply too short.
My three top tips for someone starting out would be …
Don’t be afraid to start small. Some of the most successful stores on ETSY and ‘Not On The High Street’ sell just a few, beautifully designed, and lovingly made products.
Don’t get caught up in what other designer/makers in your marketplace are doing. Create what is true to your style, what comes from the heart. Be brilliant at your thing, not a poor imitation of someone elses.
Ask for help/learn something new every day. There is an amazing community of makers out there – and everyone has tips, hacks and shortcuts that can help you through the early days of a new business venture. Allison’s fabulous #makeitsewcial community is a brilliant example of this. Also, Google is your friend. Anything you don’t know and need to know, from SEO basics, to how best to wrap a parcel for international delivery .. it’s all out there!
And finally, what are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I have no idea what the future holds but I do know that I'm excited about it. I plan to still be my own boss in 10 years time. If that’s running byebyebirdie then great, if not then that’s fine too. So long as I wake up every morning, excited to get to work then that’s all that’s important to me.
My dream is a common one. Me and my lovely family tucked up in a quiet little house, living by the sea. Now, that would be perfection!
Me again! See ... I told you she was an absolute sweetheart! If you want to follow more of her lovely story and spoil yourself with pictures of her gorgeous baby products, beautiful home and delicious cakes, then head on over to Instagram, I promise you won't be disappointed!
Keep on making lovely people!
Allison x x x
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