Monday, 23 January 2017

Looking Forward to the Year Ahead : Happy 2017

Our stall on Manchester Christmas Markets - and my Dad who popped down for a visit.

Well, here we are in 2017 and we are really looking forward to the year ahead. 2016 was a fantastic year for us and our little business. We had our best ever year on Etsy and on our own website, got accepted for Not on the High Street and had a fantastic year of fairs and shows.  We were fortunate enough to be invited to have a chalet at Manchester Christmas Markets at the last minute and very enthusiastically snapped up the offer.  It was very hard work - 41 days of selling on top of managing our Etsy shop and our website - but totally worth it. After 2 months of nothing but work and packing orders, we treated ourselves to New Year in the sunshine and went on a Caribbean cruise. It was definitely what we needed and now we are fully refreshed and recharged and full of enthusiasm and new ideas for the year ahead. In fact, we loved it so much that we have already booked to go again this New Year ;)

Rum punch in the Barbadian sunshine 

We have been selling on Etsy for a few years now. Our Etsy products range from assembled gemstone and charm jewellery to hand stamped, personalised pieces and handmade polymer clay and resin jewellery. We have lots of gorgeous things and love making and assembling every piece. It really is a great feeling when someone parts with their hard-earned cash for something we have created. At the moment, we are focusing on developing our hand stamped range is one of our handstamped keyrings, inspired by the episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel first get together. These have been really popular in the last week or so, presumably because they make great Valentine's gifts :

Handstamped You're my lobster keyring.

We also have a lot of assembled gemstone jewellery and with February on the horizon, we are featuring a lot of beautiful amethyst jewellery. Amethyst is February's birthstone, so we thought it appropriate to make lots of new amethyst pieces......such as this lovely raw amethyst necklace :

Raw amethyst necklace

It is all looking very exciting for 2017. We have added a lot of new fairs and shows to our diary, including the Great Yorkshire Show and Chatsworth Country Fair - which we are really excited about. We are desperately hoping that 2017 is the year we can both work full time on our business. James is still working his day job, but I have been full time on the business for nearly a year now. I had to give up my career due to illness (lupus) and this little business has been a life saver for me. We are always looking to expand and develop our business further and late last year, we added a range of sourced jewellery and gifts to our collection. Our own website features lots of animal-inspired jewellery and gifts and although the site is still very much a work in progress, there is plenty to see there. Our newest addition to the site are these cute cat watches : 

How cute is this cat watch?
I am a huge cat lover, so any excuse to involve cats is welcome!

Anyway, I guess I best swing by Handmade Monday in it's new home and check out what everybody else has been up to lately......and then get on with some more product photography and website updates. 

Have a great day xxx

Monday, 24 October 2016

Getting Ready for Christmas

Stunning Christmas Decorations by Ioulia at By Hand Heart

Well, here we is nearly the end of October and I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by! We are getting all geared up for Christmas - it is all go here at Poppy Kitten Designs Towers!

We have a very busy few weeks coming up. We were invited to have a chalet at the Manchester Christmas Markets and very enthusiastically accepted. We are really excited and a little is a great opportunity for our little business and we cannot wait!

Ioulia - working from her balcony studio  in Athens
Before all the Christmas madness kicks off, I decided to take a trip to Athens last week - to visit my family and my lovely friend Ioulia. I was very jealous of her gorgeous balcony studio where she can work outdoors nearly all year round, painting her stunning creations. I was particularly taken with how gorgeous her hand painted Christmas decorations are. The main picture at the top is an example of some of her work.

Paw print earrings
We finally got round to launching our brand new website on Friday night! We are really excited with how it all looks. We will still be primarily selling on Etsy but we have also added  range of sourced rings and earrings to compliment our existing range - which we are not allowed to sell on Etsy - so here is our brand new site : Poppy Kitten Designs.

Mermaid keyring

We still have so many products to upload to both shops. Our most recent new makes have been these mermaid keyrings. They are perfect for stocking fillers at £5 each and they have been very popular at craft fairs. They are now available in our Etsy shop. 

Anyway, I best get on with preparing all our stock and getting ready for the Christmas markets....and before that a fair at Harewood House in Leeds. We are both feeling very excited about the next couple of months (and a little scared) but hope this will help our business continue to grow and help make our dreams come true.

Just going to pop over to see Lucy at Handmade Monday and see what others have been up to over the last week or so.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Autumn Time : Pine Cones and Acorns and Rose Gold Jewellery

 Here we are and it is now mid September! We really don't know where 2016 has gone....but we are now focusing on the run up to Christmas. We have some fantastic fairs lined up....including a return to Knutsford Christmas markets for the fourth year running.

Much as we love summer, we are quite fond of autumn too......bonfire night, toffee apples, autumn colours, halloween......the run up to Christmas. There is so much to be excited about! We have developed and expanded our autumn-inspired range of jewellery from last year. We launched our latest designs a couple of weeks ago at the Weald of Kent Craft Show to a great reception.

James on our stall at the Weald of Kent Craft Show
Much as I love all our designs, I think the rose gold range is my absolute favourite. I love our acorn and pine cone jewellery and I am so thrilled that it has been a success so far. We have been so busy lately that I have barely had time to work on our online presence. I have neglected our Etsy shop and our own website launch has been put back by a month. This week, working in the shop and preparing the website for launch is absolutely top of my list of priorities.

Acorn Earrings in gold plated, rose gold plated and silver plated. 

As well as rose gold, we also have our autumn-inspired range available in gold plated and silver plated versions. Aren't those little acorns and pine cones just soooooooooo cute?

Anyway, I had best get on with photographing and listing our new pieces for Etsy and making our new website look perfect....and of course popping over to Handmade Monday.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Full Time and Craft Fairs

Well, it has been absolutely ages since I last blogged - April in fact - and so much has happened since then. I am not sure where to even start after such a long hiatus!
Unfortunately, I have not had a good year health wise and took the step to take an unpaid career break from my job as of August 1st. I am now working on our little business full time and this is the end of my first month as a full time crafter and seller. It was a really tough decision to take and very scary as I am used to a regular salary.....but I felt ashamed being off on the sick and felt that this would help with my pride and self esteem, and so far things are going really well!
We got off to a flying start in August by finally being accepted as a Not On The High Street partner. We have been wanting to get in with them for ages and applied several times in the past. We ended up going to their 'Pitch Up' event at their offices in Richmond at the end of July and took a few of our products for feedback and advice. It was totally worth the trip to London and I would recommend to anyone interested in joining NOTHS to go to their next one in October. A lot of our products were declined as the market for jewellery on there is already saturated, but they did like our molecule necklaces and gave us some really good advice on branding and photography......we went home and worked in these and 2 weeks later got accepted!!!! Here is our little shop : By Poppy NOTHS shop. We are sooooooo proud of it and it is doing really well so far *fingers crossed*.

My Exhibitor Badge & Show Guide.

For the third year running, we also had a stall at the Chilterns Craft & Design Show at Henley on Thames. I felt very nervous indeed this year as it is a very expensive fair to do and felt like a bit of a gamble now we are reliant on the income from our business. We took a large 6 metre stall this year as we wanted to keep our spot from last year and they were changing the layout of the marquee.....and also decided to stay in a B&B instead of our costs were much higher. I spent the fortnight before panicking and stressing that we wouldn't sell anything and that it would be a disaster, but thankfully we did really well. We had a lot of customers come back to see us from last year and met loads of lovely new people. It has taken me a good week to recover from it.....and now we are doing it all again this weekend at Penshurst Place in Tunbridge! (Only we have a more manageable 4 metre stall this time ;) ) 

Our Stall at the Chilterns Craft Show

Hopefully we will continue to grow both online in our Etsy shop and NOTHS. We are also in the process of totally redoing our website, but it has had to take a bit of a back seat whilst we have been concentrating on the fairs. 

Anyway, I had best get on with making and preparing stock for this weekend and get the weekend's orders prepared and posted out. I am feeling much more positive about the future now and working for myself is doing wonders for my self esteem - I can also plan my day around my energy levels (thanks lupus) and rest when I need to....whilst we are talking about resting, I might just have one more coffee and pop over to Lucy Blossom and Handmade Monday to see what some of the other ladies have been up to......have a great day xxxx

Monday, 4 April 2016

Metal Stamping and Name Plate Necklaces

Handstamped Copper Wish Bracelet
 Good is a cloudy Monday morning here in Manchester so hope it is a bright and sunny day wherever you are! We have had a busy weekend creating new designs and booking some new shows for later this year. We both love lots of jewellery making genres and have hundreds of half completed ideas and projects about! This weekend we have been concentrating on metal stamping.

We started learning metal stamping a couple of years ago and have been practising and honing our skills since. Last October we finally felt confidant enough to start selling our metal stamped creations in our Etsy shop. We started off listing handstamped name rings - which have been pretty popular - and have been slowly adding new ideas and pieces ever since. Metal stamping is very popular at the moment and there is a lot pf competition for metal stamped jewellery. We are hoping our pieces are a little different. Here is a selection of new stuff from the last few days :

Name plate necklaces

These cute little name plate necklaces are available in gold plated, silver plated and rose gold plated in your choice of necklace lengths. 

Personalised name necklace in silver

Here is a close up of the 'Maisie' necklace in silver plated metal. 

Gold Plated or Silver Plated Name Necklaces

We also have the name plates available in the slightly different bar design in gold plated and silver plated metal.

Fingers crossed our customers like these are much as we do........

Anyway, we have a few orders from our Etsy shop to pack and get into this morning's going to link up with Handmade Monday and then get on with our orders. We are now 5 sales away from 3500 sales on Etsy! Hope I haven't jinxed us now by saying that ;) xxx

Sunday, 6 March 2016

It's March Already

Well, here we are in March already and I really don't know where January and February went! This year seems to be flying by already. Aside from another rotten lupus flare, this year is shaping up to be a pretty good one. We are really making an effort to make the most of our lives in spite of my health letting me down! We went on a city break to Vienna and the end of January and then I took James to Venice for his birthday. I figured he already had pretty much all the stuff he wants and the house is cluttered as it so I thought a city break would be a lovely gift. We were really lucky with our hotel and ended up right by the Rialto bridge with this view from our room! How fabulous.

We went for three nights and absolutely loved it....would be fantastic to have a little shop there. We took a trip over to Murano and Burano which we loved and also enjoyed many a glass of wine by the canal just admiring the view and relaxing.

In amongst all this jetting we have been working very hard on our Etsy shop and on our little business. We had an absolutely fantastic couple of months of sales in November and December and were really worried things would totally drop off in January and February. Although we haven't done as well, which is to be expected, we were thrilled to have a fantastic January and February too and have been working very hard on new ideas and designs. We have been developing our metal stamped range behind the scenes and will have lots of new things over the coming weeks. We have also had a delivery of gorgeous gemstones and here are some of our latest additions......

Silver Raw Amethyst Necklace
Amethyst is February's birthstone and we just had to have some new amethyst in stock to mark February! Here is one of our newest amethyst pieces, raw amethyst chunky necklaces. We have had the gold version in stock for a while now....but now have the silver one too. I just love amethyst, it's so beautiful. 

Blue Druzy Geode Necklace

Gorgeous Druzy Geode Necklace

Druzy is very popular at the moment and these cute little druzy geode necklaces are no exception. I just adore these and keep helping myself to them when they arrive. I have a purple one and a green one and think I am going to have to add a blue to my own collection. They really are absolutely stunning.

Blue Agate Slice Necklace
Last, but not least are the agate slices. These are a new addition to our shop and I have loads that I really need to make up in to necklaces and photograph them for our shop.

I guess I should get on with doing the photos and listings....first of course, I will pop over to Lucy Blossom Crafts and join in with Handmade Monday. Have a great week xxx

Monday, 15 February 2016

Valentines and Vienna

Well, it is a cold Monday morning here in Manchester following a lovely weekend. We spent the last week making up more druzy jewellery like these pretty druzy heart necklaces and photographing them for our Etsy shop. We are always trying to add new things to our shop so we end up having mammoth photography sessions with pieces we have made and then adding a few pieces a day for a few days. It is important to keep our shop looking fresh and new as we don't want our customers getting bored......and any excuse to keep buying beads and stones to make new stuff!

We have been really lucky with our Etsy shop and it is continuing to go from strength to strength. We were worried that we would end up having a quiet January and February after an amaaaaaazing few pre Christmas months but thankfully we are still doing well. We have worked really hard on the shop and spend hours on our business every day.  Hopefully this will be the year that at least one of us can give up work and do PoppyKittenDesigns full's a dream for us to be able to both work on our shop full time and have a gorgeous motor home to travel the country doing fairs and shows and meeting people.

Both of us love travelling and seeing new places. We recently treated ourselves to a long weekend in Vienna.....and the first place we stumbled across was a cat cafe! What an amazing idea. It is run by a Japanese lady who says that cat cafes are all the rage in Japan, particularly Tokyo, as so many people live in flats and cannot have pets. The cat cafes enable people to spend time with the cats and stroke them whilst relaxing over coffee and cake. Perfect! Sadly, I don't there is much call for a cat cafe here in Stockport though.

We also took a trip to the famous Hotel Sacher and home to the sachertorte. Cake is one of the great simple pleasures in life and we ended up having far too much of it!

On the last evening we went to the gorgeous St Anna's Church, Annakirche, to listen to a string quartet playing Mozart and Beethoven. I don't really know much about classical music but it really was a lovely setting and the music sounded fantastic. I think I will learn more about it this year as I did find listening to it very relaxing. I absolutely love churches too and always try and light a candle for my Nana when I go into one. St Anna's Church was no exception, absolutely stunning!

We very much seem to have the travel bug at the moment! It is James's birthday this week and I have treated him to a weekend away in Venice. The house is crammed full of junk so I figured he didn't need any more stuff and went for a city break as a gift instead.......somewhere I wanted to go to myself of course ;) 

Anyway, with holidays on the horizon I really ought to get on with our weekend's orders and get to the Post Office - on foot to try and burn off some of the cake calories. Will just have a quick trip over to Handmade Monday then time for work! Have a great week xxx