Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Branding the cattle

I've been taking a little time off from crafting to concentrate on the actual business building.

What makes one person's stall be a winner and another person struggle? I ask this currently as a struggler.

I think my items are great, I work hard on perfecting what I make and think I ask a reasonable price and looking at the work of other crafters I think I'm as good and sometimes better than what is already on offer. What worries me is that I often hear other crafters commenting on their own sales, worrying for me is that while I can scrape by others are telling me they earn £100+ profit for a day. There is always the possibility that all crafters are like fishermen in that the fish was so big and our sales are so much (a wee bit more than the actual fact). One Crafter mentioned she made over £200, when she didn't have £200 worth of stock to start with.

No one really wants to discuss the finances of their business and when they do, they don't want to admit they are not earning a lot. I certainly don't admit that I just get by, opps, I just did. Well today is the day for honesty.

Some people though, are making money. Some are getting their name out there and making a living from doing what they love and I'd like to be amongst them. What do they have or do that I don't?

Arty and crafty people are very visually minded, we like to make things, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty we would rather switch off. This is slowly being realised and there are books out there on how to write a business plan from an arty view point. I have my moments when I can actually sit and concentrate on the business building and the last few days have been like this. But then I also think running a business is a craft in itself.

My first venture into the craft of business running was a few years ago when I qualified as a Reflexologist and a Nail Technician. I spent so much time worrying about a business name and felt rather silly with some of the suggestions. I desperately needed a name other than my own, Y'see, my own name is a bit, well... funny. I was once asked my name, then asked again, then asked to spell it. I remember smiling and saying "Pocock, as in perverted telly tubby!". Growing up in the pre-internet world my name wasn't that funny or odd, I never really thought about it. When I started training as a Reflexologist I also considered studying massage but we no longer live in the innocent world where pot is something you cook in and a joint is a piece of meat.

Massage often has negative undertones of sleazy 1st floor flats offering a massage or O levels and the internet is a hive of minds that could do with a dose of the old carbolic soap. My name and massage just wouldn't go together.

As a crafter I didn't think it would matter as much, but after one week on Twitter using my 'real' name I got fed up of people wanting to offer me services and requests on how large it was! I thought of changing my name and looked along the family tree for an alternative. I found a nice combination of using my Nana's maiden name and my mum's middle name, Amy Evison. It sounded like a very elegant name and maybe one day... But elegant doesn't really describe a woollen Sculpted Dragon or Crochet Roller Skates.

Pixie came into my life two years ago. I've wanted a cat since my last one disappeared when I was a teenager and I finally moved to a place where it was possible. What I really wanted was a ragdoll cat and wanted to save long and hard to buy one. In the meantime I met someone who had got a cat from a charity but couldn't have it at the moment because she was moving house. She asked if I would foster the cat for a month while she moved and I agreed. Pixie was as miserable a cat as I have ever seen, she was about 4 and spent a long time in the kennels of the charity, mainly because it was a dog charity and people only came there for a dog. In the end a volunteer for the charity took pity and adopted her but was in the process of moving, and that's how she ended up for a month's stay with me.

I spent the first month thinking how glad I'd be when she finally left. She hated cats, dogs, people... She bit one visitor, scratched another and spent the whole month sitting on the window sill as far away from me as possible. One month turned into two (Y'know how house moves can go) then after three months the charity called to say the house had fallen through and Pixie was going to be returned to the kennels. I really REALLY wanted a ragdoll cat, at least a pedigree of some sort, and I wanted a kitten, not an adult moggy. I wanted one that liked people and sat on my knee and curled up on the bed.

Sadly life doesn't always go our way. I couldn't face sending Pixie back to the dog kennel, so she stayed. Slowly she mellowed, very slowly. After 6 months she sat on the same settee as me, and then I woke up one morning to find her sleeping on my back, finally after two years she climbed onto my lap... I'd waited so long that I cried.

When I realised she was staying – the charity said she had a forever home – I was about to get little cards with my phone number and address printed, and decided to put Pixie on the cards too. The name Pixie and Joy was born. The cat that I once couldn't wait to get rid of is now my most treasured possession (although no one really owns a cat, they own you!).

Using that as a name came much later, in fact it's been a few weeks. I've been through many suggestions... In Stitches (because I crochet funny things)... Clay Babies (because I make clay babies)... Precious memories (because...) In the end I gave up on finding a name that describes what I do. I crochet, make silver things, make chain maille... It didn't matter, I mean ASDA (ASsociated DAiry & Farm Stores) does more than sell milk and cheese. Marks & Sparks name doesn't describe what they do and both started out in Leeds. It's kind of cool thinking M&S started out in the same market as I did, who knows where I could end up?

The most important thing, in my unqualified opinion, is that I like the name, it has a history, it matches my style (well, to me it does) and most importantly I don't feel I'm being rude using it.

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