Ask Me Anything 2015: The Answers

It’s time for me to answer your questions for my Ask Me Anything series! Thanks to those of you who took time to leave a question and for being kind 🙂 Here we go…..

Gill asked “what’s your favourite thing to make? Also, how do you pose for photos and look so natural?!”

That’s a tough question! I do love to crochet and making garments is always really satisfying. However, I love making the personalised Scrabble Inspired Wall Art pieces for my customers as each one has a story or meaning attached. I recently made one for a groom to give to his bride and it touched me how romantic he was!

Valentines-Scrabble-Wall-Art-Love-Forever-Claireabellemakes

Oh and I definitely don’t look natural all the time. Here’s a dodgy outtake from my photoshoot!

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Jo asked “Is Cambridge a good place to be a crochet fanatic? For example, is there a network of crafters, lots of good supplies, places to sell crocheted items? I’m moving back to Cambridge myself next year and would love to hear your view.”

Hi Jo! How exciting you are moving back to Cambridge!! If you are a crochet fanatic I would recommend visiting our local yarn stores Sew Creative and The Sheep Shop. Our John Lewis department store also has a good supply of yarn. Ravelry is a great place to find craft groups and there are a few dotted around the city, often held in cafes or pubs. Most people who sell crocheted items actually sell online, but I would recommend talking to the LYS for more advice on this!

Crochet-Ripple-Blanket

Jill said “I’d love to know more about your journey towards becoming a small business owner. How did you start? What has been your biggest challenge? How do you have the confidence to put yourself out there?! Any advice for someone wanting to start their own etsy store?”

My business has grown quite organically and having worked a day job alongside, I have had the financial security to take some risks which has helped. I began writing this blog in 2012 and shortly after I opened my store and then began freelance writing and hosting craft parties.  I love learning so just read blogs, books, articles and took classes along the way. One of the biggest challenges has been finding a balance between work life and home/social life. I find it really tough to have a day off now! My confidence has grown over the years and largely because people have interacted with my blog or purchased a product I’ve made. Everything takes time.

If you’re interested in starting an Etsy store I would recommend doing your research first and spending time on photography as it is so important for getting your items noticed. A good place to start is with the Etsy seller handbook. If you use this link to open your store, you will get 40 free listings.

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Lucinda asked “what was your favourite product you’ve developed and sold and why? Where is your favourite Cambridge place and the most important question must be why is Tammy so cute?”

I think it has to be the bicycle bracelets. I feel like they represent Cambridge for me and to see them sell so massively during the Tour De France last year, was so great!

Orange-Bicycle-BraceletMy favourite place in Cambridge is the river! I am lucky enough to live close to the riverside and I always feel like it is a space to breathe. Plus, I love punting in the summer as the vibe on the river is so fun. Don’t tell anyone, but it took me 6 years to learn how to punt.

Punting-Cambridge

Glad you enjoy Tammy pics on the blog. I have to say, this one that Lucy took on our photoshoot is my favourite!

Claireabellemakes-Persian-Cat-Tammy

Alice asked “If crafting was illegal what lengths would you go to that would ensure you could continue?” and “What was the last really vivid dream you had?”.

Wow that first question is tough!! I think I would just craft in my own home behind closed doors! I guess it if was illegal it would be difficult to find supplies, so I reckon I would make my own supplies such as cutting up old clothes for fabric and unravelling old jumpers to get yarn. I would probably have secret craft parties in my house too. Don’t tell!

Hmm the last vivid dream I had…..I can’t even remember! Oh yes! I recently took up roller skating and I dreamt I was AMAZING at it. When I woke up I was super disappointed as I realised it wasn’t true and I’d have to keep practising.

Craft-Lay-Make-It-Sewcial

Pippa asked “I want to learn how to make my own cards as you have inspired me – how would you recommend I start?”

So glad to have inspired you! Definitely experiment and find other card makers that inspire you (I recommend the Sizzix blog and not just because I write for them!). A lot of the cards I make have a simplistic style, so play around with supplies and ideas until you find your style and most importantly, just have fun with it! Mixed media cards are often fun too, so maybe try to combine different materials such as images, fabric, paper etc? Please do share anything you create with me, I’d love to see!

Home-Sweet-Home-Scrabble-Card

Well that was fun! Thanks so much to everyone who asked a question and let’s just hope that crafting never becomes illegal…….I can’t even imagine it!

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Ask Me Anything 2015

Back in 2013 I did a series of posts where you guys could Ask Me Anything. As it has been exactly 2 years, I thought I would do it again, especially as there are lots more of you now yay!

So how does this work? You get to ask me whatever you like in the comments below and I have to answer in a second blog post. It can be about my business, my life, my blog, my cat, whatever you wish!

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I will do my best to answer every question and to be interesting! I like little experiments like these as I am really nosey and I bet some of you are too 🙂

The answers will be posted a week or so later – so keep an eye out. I’d love to also get to know you guys a little more, so please do tell me a bit about yourselves when you ask a question too.

So it’s over to you in the comments now – be kind!

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Join the Claireabellemakes Tea Party

It’s been really fabulous lately to welcome a bunch of new followers, so today I thought I’d host a virtual tea party to get to know you all a little more!

Tea Cup and Doily

Join me wont you? Sugar cookie?

Cat Sugar Cookies

I think you know enough about me now (about page here / Ask Me Anything series here), so I want to ask you a few questions so I can find out a little more about you all!

Feel free to answer my nosey questions and tell me more in the comments!! Even if you have been a follower for a while, do share so we can all get to know one another.

1) What’s your name and where do you come from?

2) Tell me your craft of choice or favourite hobby….

3) If you could do your dream job, what would it be?

4) Please share with us your favourite blog so we can add some new ones to our readers!

Thanks for joining my tea party today. I hope you liked that sugar cookie.

Don’t forget you can follow me on all.the.places using the icons in the right hand column under my face.

Toodles!

Claire

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Ask Me Anything: The Answers (Part II)

Happy Friday! I’d like to extend a special welcome to my new followers who have joined us following my Crafty Giveaway.

Last week I challenged you to Ask Me Anything. Part I was great fun to write, so today I am sharing Part II.

I live in Cape Town, South Africa – so my question is have you even been? (Shani)

I have never been, but it looks beautiful! It’s one of the places to visit that is on my list, along with China, India, Vegas and many more. I should get saving 😉

World Map Print

Source

Do you have any funny school stories? (Crafts from a Ravenclaw)

Hmm this is a hard question for me as I have a terrible terrible memory from my school days. I do remember playing a lot of outdoor rounders and hopscotch as a kid and pressing flowers and making perfume. We used to try and sell the perfume to our Mums but it smelled awful!

What craft (or technique) haven’t you tried that you would like to?
Only one craft for the rest of your life – pick one! (Not So Granny)

I am super excited about a screen printing course I have booked in a couple of months as it has been something I have wanted to try for a while. However, I’d also love to try lace making as it is so intricate and has a historic element. I love the idea of traditional crafts such as willow weaving too. So many!

Gosh one craft for the rest of my life………I think it would have to be crochet and I’m not just saying that as I learnt from you!! It has endless possibilities for creativity and I love yarn shopping/squishing. Yarn squishing is a thing, right?!

Learning to Crochet by claireabellemakes

I want to have 2 lamas and spin their wool!!! Can you remember when you first took the plunge to sell your own goods? (Little Poppits)

It was only in the last year! I started making accessories for people as gifts and I realised that I should set up an online store as I was inspired by so many others selling their creations. Finding a way to make a business out of my love for fabric, buttons and accessories was very exciting!

Claireabellemakes Etsy

How important is sponsoring other blogs in relation to selling on Etsy? (The Dusty Attic)

Good question! I make a point of sponsoring one blog per month and select one with a readership that fits my target market. I haven’t always got it right in the past – even sponsoring some big blogs didn’t generate traffic and sales, so I try to think carefully about it. I check my Etsy stats regularly to see how people found my shop, but I’m still working on how to translate more visits into sales!

I also think it is important to support other bloggers through sponsorship as for some people that is their income stream. One blog I like to support often gives all her sponsorship fees to charity which I love the idea of.

Do you follow a set process from design to finished product or do you make things off the cuff? (Pattern Piper)

I do plan a design beforehand and always always product test as I would hate for the standard of the product to be below par. For example, I experimented with the blank scrabble tiles and patterened paper to create a unique jewellery piece, but the end result wasn’t as I expected it would be. I definitely plan time for exploring the creative process, but equally I have produced designs off the cuff before and they have sold like hot cakes!

Handmade Scrabble

If you could have a career doing anything you liked (money no object) what would you choose to do and why? You can choose more than one thing if you like, because I’m feeling generous :p (Hook Line & Sink Her)

Hard question, thanks Katie! I would love love love to run a craft space/tea drinking emporium/cat cafe. That would be my most favourite place to be, so I could imagine it would be a fun place to work. I would have lots of lose leaf teas on offer, yarn ball pits for people to lay in, cats to cuddle and glue guns ready. There would be CAKE. Tammy could get all the hugs she needed.

Tammy

So there you have it! Enough about me for the time being I think……

Thanks SO much for all your wonderful questions and for being so very kind to me. I was secretly scared that someone would ask me a horrid/scary question but you were utterly super! I hope you enjoyed being a bit nosey 😉

Back next week with the last of my April giveaways on Monday. It’s craft related (of course) and very exciting!

Happy Weekend!

claireabelle

Ask Me Anything – The Answers (Part I)

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Earlier this week, I gave my followers the opportunity to Ask Me Anything. Thank you for not leaving me here talking to myself and for asking super questions! I am posting Part I of the answers today, with Part II coming next week!

What do you actually like about living in the UK? Everyone always moans about it…but what do you like/love?! (Carla)

I’m lucky enough to live in the perfect place for me – Cambridge. As a city it offers me everything I could ever wish for; it’s small enough to get to know people and cycle around, and has a vibrancy like no other place. The river, the architecture, the creativity – all things I adore about living here. I wrote a post about Cambridge a while back where I gush even more hehe!

Cambridge

I also have dreams about living back in Canada. I did live there for 4 years and loved it (was in Calgary/Canmore)! What is your connection to it? (Fiona)

I was given a Canadian penpal in Brownies when I was 7 and we have written ever since.   We spend time with each other every couple of years and my first visit to Canada (Ontario) had me falling completely in love with the country. There is something about the positivity in people there and the way of life that entices me.

I spent Christmas in Vancouver last year which was awesome. Now some of my family members are located there and a whole heap of our friends have emigrated. I know we will always have an excuse to visit. That and my need to stock up on David’s Tea!

Downtown Vancouver and Coal Harbour

I recently opened an etsy shop. Have you got any top tips for marketing and making it a success? (Kat Got The Cream)

Network as much as possible! Most small businesses just starting our wont have a big marketing budget to play with, so write a strategy that suits you and is realistic. Most of my promotion revolves around social media which can be so powerful for getting your work seen.

Join Twitter chats (#cbuk / #HandmadeHour) to find other shops/blogs and promote your work. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your creations.  Good luck with the store!

claireabellemakes on Etsy

How do you keep track of all the ideas and projects you have? (Miss Dotty)

I have notebooks a plenty – I’m a big list maker. If I spot a project I want to try I will write it down. I brainstorm regularly and return to these notes on a regular basis.

In my lounge are two big picnic hampers of my WIP projects. I try to visit the baskets at least once a week to work on them. However, I can’t help but start new things all the time. Mostly the baskets contain longer running projects like knitting and crochet. The dreaded Granny Square blanket is coming together sloooowly.

Granny Square Blanket planning by claireabellemakes

Is the crafting/blog side of you fairly well-known or secret? Does everyone in your home/work life know about this side of you? (Craft My Escape)

Ooh good question! All my friends and family are aware of my blog and creative side, although some of the closest people to me don’t read my posts (G and my parents!). In fact, most of my friends are crafters and bloggers too which is great because we share so much.

My work colleagues are aware of my creative side and know that I sell accessories, but they do not know about my blog. I prefer to keep it that way as it is quite personal to me.

Where do you get all your amazing ideas from e.g. this post. So original and different? (KnitnRun4Sanity)

I’m not sure I’m an amazing ideas person, but thank you! I think this post came from my nosey side. A lot of the time when I’m reading other people’s blogs I wonder things about them…..I thought this would be a chance for people to be curious in case they were feeling the same.

If I do have an idea I like – I’ll jot it down. Much of inspiration comes from the online world, other makers, pinterest, books, my environment.

Oooooh, what is your favourite home cooked (by yourself!) meal? (Onetenzeroseven)

This is a hard question, but I think it is Sausage and Butternut Squash Stew. It’s one of those meals where I just chuck everything in (with lots of sage) and hope it turns out right. I serve with fresh crusty bread. If we are talking about desserts, I always make this marshmallow cheesecake!

Easy Marshmallow Cheesecake by claireabellemakes

Thanks to everyone who asked a question and shared a fact about themselves, it was really fun. Do be sure to visit everyone I’ve linked to and share the blogger love!

Keep an eye out next week for Part II.

Happy weekends!

claireabelle