Life Lately #16: Fun Days Off

Anyone else feeling a little bewildered that it’s May already?! I’ve had a pretty hectic calendar these last couple of months, so I thought I’d share an update on what I’ve been up to. In between all the biz stuff I’ve managed to have a few fun days off.

At the end of April I joined the In Colourful Company folk on a colour walk around Brighton. We discovered some great murals and colourful buildings, enjoyed the pier and stopped at the C:\ Side Quest gaming cafe to hang out afterwards. I love Brighton (even if it was so cold with the seaside wind!) and seeing all my favourite creative pals was great. Especially as a few of them were wearing pins and necklaces from the shop!

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Top photos credit: HAH

Over the May bank holiday weekend, I had the pleasure of celebrating Jo’s hen do with a camping break in Burton-on-Trent. Now, I’m not one for camping usually, but we had the best time and the weather was really on our side. We had camping picnics and embraced the theme of “Jo’s Llama Llama Duck Do” with lots of decorations and a Llama pinata filled with mini cheese. We had pub lunches, went stand up paddle boarding and took Llama’s for a walk. What a dream weekend!! It was amazing to see Jo’s happy face all weekend and we had THE BEST time at the wedding yesterday – it was truly magical!

Jo's-Llama-Llama-Duck-Do Jo's-Llama-Llama-Duck-Do

Jo-and-Will-WeddingI’ve also been enjoying the sunshine in Cambridge now Spring has finally sprung. This week I had a day off with my fellow creative business friend Fuz who visited Cambridge with her little boy. I took them out on the river, we ate tasty food from the market (so much choice there these days!) and enjoyed treats from Jack’s Gelato.

Punting-In-Cambridge-Spring-2018 Cambridge-Bike-Spotting-Spring-2018

So it has been a fun couple of months! I’m still working on new collections, the website behind the scenes. Make sure you’re signed up to the newsletter to be the first to hear all the business news ­čÖé

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Life Lately: #15 What Have I Been Working On

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any updates here…… *Blows dust off keyboard* but I’m happy to be back today to share a little of what I have been working on.

February and March are typically quieter months for sales, so I have been spending time working on stuff behind the scenes such as planning a new website and designing new product collections. I’d love to know if there is anything you’re interested in seeing on the new site as it will have a shop built in and lots of new features!

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New Glitter Heart pin colours coming soon!

In March I was also super excited to work with Lucky Dip Club again to create a surprise stationery set for their subscribers. It was so much fun testing the waters with this new product idea and it seemed to go down well. I have a few of these limited edition sets available in my Etsy shop if you would like to snap one up. They will be back in different designs in the future, so watch this space for more stationery!

Fun Plans Stationery Set Lucky Dip Club Claireabellemakes

I am thrilled to┬ábe working with a few new stockists this month, both in the UK and internationally. Tania’s Teahouse in Dubai is one that I am dying to visit – it’s the most beautiful place which opened on 8 April! They are stocking my TEA necklaces which I am so pleased about and I’m following along on their Instagram and dreaming of visiting one day. If you are a shop interested in stocking my work or you know somewhere that would fit my designs, just get in touch!

Tania's-Teahouse-Dubai

Image credit: Grazia Middle East

I have also been working on uploading my designs to the Thortful website and app via my shopfront here. The selection of cards available on Thortful is really fantastic and they support independent illustrators and designers by printing and shipping cards directly to the customer.

Thortful-Store-Front-Claireabellemakes

On a personal note, I’ve been struggling with migraines a lot lately and had a constant fortnight of pain at one point which was very frustrating and draining. A lot of people ask me what I have tried or whether doctors can do anything more and to be honest I’ve exhausted most options! I currently use a neuro-modulation device called Cefaly on a daily basis which I love as an alternative to preventative medications.

The Migraine Relief Diet

In April I began a very strict elimination diet to determine if any foods or drinks have been acting as triggers. So far it has been a huge amount of work – thank goodness for my Bullet Journal for planning! I am cooking every meal from scratch and avoiding so many things such as gluten, most dairy, processed food, sugar and a huge list of random ingredients (no avocados, garlic or tomatoes which I am finding hard!). Hopefully I will see some results after a couple of months of using this book. If you are ever interested in hearing more about my health journey do let me know and perhaps I’ll write a separate post.

So that’s my updates for now! Even though it’s been hard to be working at a slower pace, I’m prioritising my health for a little while and that feels good right now. I hope to have more news on the website and new collections very soon!

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* Some links shown above are linked on an affiliate basis. Items purchased via my links will earn me a small amount of affiliate commission.

Life Lately #13: In The Studio

Eek I’m finding it super hard to balance all the things at the moment. It seems like when I’m back in the swing of blogging, my YouTube channel goes quiet and vice versa. I am also working a few more hours at my part-time job lately, which means a lot of┬ámy time in the studio is during the evenings. Regardless, I thought I’d share another Life Lately post so you can see behind the scenes in the studio, and what has been keeping me busy!

Claireabellemakes-DeskThe studio has been looking particularly cheery lately after a big bunch of sunflowers arrived from Pinterest to say thanks for my Handmade Fair session.
Sunflowers-Bloom-and-WildI’m feeling pretty proud of how well my Pilea is doing too – started as a baby at Christmas time last year. It lives on my desk so gets plenty of light but not direct sun.Pilea-Plant

There has been a lot of making for upcoming winter markets (see details here) and my handy pink tray from Flying Tiger has kept everything tidy when in progress.In-Progress-Making

I’m still not bored of Scrabble. Are you? And this fabric sample pack from Cloth and Candy┬áhas definitely got me thinking about more frame ideas.┬áWork-In-Progress-Claireabellemakes

I’ve been packing up wholesale orders for lots of lovely places – the TEA necklaces went off to a stockist in Dubai and Washi Gang in Australia are now stocking the planner pins YAY!Packing-Wholesale-Orders

I had the opportunity to work with sewing subscription box company┬áSew Hayley Jane on an order for the SEW pins. Exciting to think there are lots more people out there wearing these now!SEW-Pins-ClaireabellemakesIn small business world we think about Christmas products in the summer. I had the tree up in the studio in October to shoot all the new decorations for the shop and I restocked the original wooden decorations too. All of the Christmas collections are now live and I’m preparing for a Black Friday sale towards the end of November too.Wheelie-Festive-Bike-Christmas-OrnamentThe lovely folks at OttLite sent me one of their Natural Daylight LED Flex Lamps to try out in the studio – they are so awesome for crafters as it allows you to see detail clearly and accurate colours. Since the clocks changed it’s been so dark – so I have used it every day!!Ottlite-Lamp_reviewIt has 3 settings for brightness with a touch button to switch on and off. I am so impressed with the lamp I kind of don’t know how I worked of an evening before it arrived! I would definitely recommend their lamps for creative studios.Ottlite-Lamps-For-CraftingIn other news, I’ve been chomping away on all the leftover Halloween sweets in the studio….as well as fruit and tea of course!
Glitter-PumpkinI had a thorough declutter and changed the stock storage to open shelving which has been so great – makes such a difference to workflow when you have lots of different products. There is still a way to go with organisation, but it’s getting there. The shelving is from IKEA and is next to my desk along with a new white board for restock reminders and money tracking.

Claireabellemakes-Studio-Stock-StorageIt has these great hooks on the end too where I can display my pin collection banners!Pin-CollectionAnd of course, Tammy is always keeping me company in the studio. She’s been a bit poorly lately (we had a severe allergic reaction scare) but after some medicine and rest she’s much better. Just lots of blood tests and vet bills to come!Persian-Cat-Tammy

I couldn’t be without her on the chillier days though – she’s my personal hot water bottle in the studio!Sleeping-Tammy-CatThanks for letting me share today, it’s been a busy few months and I’ve just had to get my head down and keep making making making!

I’ll be back soon with a round up of my favourite Etsy Christmas decorations and some planner reviews you won’t want to miss.

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*The OttLite lamp was sent to me for review purposes and as always, all opinons are my own. This site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates.

Life Lately #12: In The Studio

It’s been a while since I shared a Life Lately post and I always enjoy showing you what I have been up to behind the scenes. March and April have both been busy with events (more on this another day) and it has been a time to finish up some freelance contracts and projects. A bit of a transitional time for the business!

I worked on some fun crochet commissions for a magazine and I sold at┬áNorwich Makers Market for the first time. On the product side of things, I’ve been working on updating my product photography (ongoing) and some new designs.

Mini-Bikes

I product tested some wooden keyrings, but I’m not 100% happy with them yet so have been working on ways to make them more robust.Keyring-Prototype

I took on a big pencil commission for Tech Ladies in NYC which is an inspiring collective of 10,000 women! Each of them receive a custom pencil set when they join the collective.Tech ladies pencilsWe worked on packaging together which is almost as fun as designing the product itself!
Tech-Ladies-Custom-Pencil-Order

I restocked some best selling cards and started to brainstorm for more card designs. Any requests?Happy-Birthday-Scrabble-Card

The second run of bike pins sold out which means over 200 of them are out there in the world now!! I sent one to Iceland recently and I love seeing people wearing them. I have restocked a whole new batch in my Etsy and Look Lane shops.

I also sent off 3 new pin designs to my manufacturer, so I hope to have these live in a few weeks. They are for the planner and stationery lovers and will be GLITTERY. I’m beyond excited about these and it’s been so fun working the designs from sketch, to digital images, to proofs. Always a bit scary to hand the final manufacturing over to someone else though!Bike Pins

And I worked on some more custom wall art frames for return customers and realised that each and every one of these has such a great story behind it.Custom Scrabble Frame

My studio plant took a turn for the worst so I found some plant people on Instagram for advice. Debee shares some brilliant videos of her succulent collections (they are AMAZING) and actually showed how to propogate a string of buttons plant just as mine needed help.String-Of-Buttons-Plant

I took some trimmings (scary moment) and hoped I would be able to save it….Succulent-Propogation

….so now I’ve repotted the cuttings with the healthy crown still attached and I hope they will re-root in the fresh soil. My Pilea (shown in the first photo above) seems to be doing OK though with new leaves appearing weekly! Maybe I can be an indoor gardener yet?!Succulent-Propogation-String-Of-Buttons

As usual, Tammy has been stealing my chair at every opportunity and jumping in all the boxes once every delivery has been unpacked.Tammy-Studio-Chair

I’m taking the next couple of months to refocus my work. Naturally, I am the kind of person who thrives on having multiple projects on the go at once. However, I have made the decision to focus my business on products and blog work as the main priority. The Cambridge Craft Parties are currently on hiatus and I am still trying to decide whether to retire them completely to really focus on my shop and working with retailers. After a couple of seasons and some private party bookings, I haven’t been able to make them as profitable as I had hoped and they take a huge amount of effort to plan, execute and promote.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that I want my business to be about quality, not quantity. My priorities are to make money to support myself and to feel 100% happy about everything I am working on. Right now, that is translating to simplifying my income streams so that I have fewer projects that I do really really well. It’s kind of scary as it has meant ending freelance work that was guaranteed monthly income, but it also means I now have time to design more products and start working with stockists.

I hope you guys enjoyed the update today! Tell me what’s new with you?

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Life Lately #11: In The Studio

How is it February already? I love to show you behind the scenes so you can see what is coming up, but it’s been a while so here’s a bumper post in the Life Lately series.

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After a busy Christmas making lots of Wheelie Festive Bikes, I started the year with lots of product development and the continued clear out (which seems to be taking FOREVER).Christmas-Bicycle-Decorations

I’ve started to plan some new enamel pin designs for the shop, but in the meantime, the rose gold bicycle has had a little refresh in terms of photos. I’d love to hear if you have any requests for new pins!

Enamel Bicycle Pin

The start of 2017 has also been about all the pencils. The motivational pencil set has been restocked in the shop and also listed in my Look Lane store.

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I had some more fun taking new photos for the pencils too.Pencils-Restock

This haul is for a custom order of pencils which I’m currently packing up. I have been watching Netflix and YouTube whilst working lately. Current favourites are Sherlock (how have I only just started it?!) and of course planner videos on YT.

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The start of the year has also been about Valentines promo and if you are signed up to the mailing list, you will have seen there was a flash sale on Glitter Heart Pins.New Glitter ColoursClaireabellemakes-Pin-order

Some colours sold out in the sale, but I am working on a restock and a launch of some new colours – the mermaid glitter is stealing my heart!New-Glitter-Pin-Colours

Valentines cards are back in the shop (after a sale on Christmas cards) and I’m thinking about some new card designs for this year too. Any suggestions?!Kiss Me Valentines Card

I also had a positive moment when I was included in the Lucky Dip Club zine to share my Happy News for 2016. It’s always so inspiring to see what is included in these wonderful boxes and to be alongside such amazing women.Lucky-Dip-Club-Happy-News

So there you have it! Lots of fun things and ideas in the works.

I’ve also been doing some planning for this blog and would love to know which series you prefer and whether I should continue with them. If you have a moment to share your opinion on what you like I would be super grateful!

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Right, back to work now!

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