Meet Helen from Storeyshop. She made a dramatic change and moved up to rural Northumberland from living and working in London 2 years ago. She says the lifestyle change has taken some getting used, but she is loving the quieter country life. Helen is engaged to the lovely Dave, and is busy wedding planning at the moment. She lives with her elderly 18 year old chinchilla named Seb.
Helen describers herself as creative, indecisive, organized and a perfectionist. Favourite things include cups of tea, packets of crisps, egg cups and other vintage household finds. She finds herself always creating one thing or another like Storeyshop orders, new products, greeting cards or presents for friends.
Helen is a bit of a quote geek and one of her favourites is ‘Eagles may soar but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines’. From here on out, I’ll let Helen speak for herself –
I have been creating for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting watching my older sister, Caz, draw whenever I could and her getting annoyed and shouting at my Mum, ‘Tell Helen to stop watching me!’. She was definitely my first inspiration and I can remember hoping that I would be able to draw like her one day.
I started creating Storeyshop goodies 2 years ago when I left my job as a designer in London and headed up to the sticks to live with Dave and see if I could fulfill my dream of making things away from the computer for a living. Storeyshop is my full-time job now and usually includes a week or two each month of freelance design either working for clients from home or going into design studios and offices.
The first Storeyshop items were my monkeys as I had made them for for my nieces Freya and Niamh and for my nephew Harvey who all liked them. I made a hand-cut card for Dave for our first Valentine’s Day around the same time and showed a few friends who really liked it and asked me to make a similar personalized card for them. The rest is history! I do sometimes think about leaving the monkeys to concentrate on paper goods but it makes such a nice change to sew rather than scalpel sometimes, they always pop back up in my shop!
Scalpel blades, a cutting mat and some card are my key tools and materials. I love that I can do my job pretty much anywhere if I have these things on me. Even when I go away I take a little bag of supplies in case of urgent card orders! I get my card from ‘The Paper Mill shop’ where you can ‘pick and mix’ what sizes and colours you want. It is amazing, I love it! (There are various stores around the UK and it’s also online)
I get my ideas for cards from all sorts of places and I always looking out for new subjects for my ‘I love you more than…’ series. Actually, the best ideas for those come from customer orders!
I am gradually taking over the small home office and turning it into Storeyshop HQ. My fiance sometimes works from home, too, and moans that he only has two shelves for his books and folders compared to my 20-something crammed with all things craft!
My best seller is my ‘I love you more than Xbox’ card. I hand-cut over 250 for customers last Valentines Day after it was featured on a couple of well-known blogs (technobob and gizmodo). I had a hundred orders within a few hours and it was a while before one of the buyers pointed out where they were all coming from! The second best seller is ‘I love you more than cheese’!
In 5 years I hope to be loving running Storeyshop as much as I do now, working in a bigger and dedicated studio space, making a little bit more money and to have a little crafter or two toddling around the house.
My advice for people trying to start their own handcrafted business would be to have confidence in your skills and products, to keep trying to make new and better items and to stay positive. Promotion is key, too, and something I need to work on more. Promoting other people’s handmade products can work well. I often blog about nice things I find at www.storeyshop.blogspot.com. It gives great shops a bit of exposure and helps to get your business noticed with the right people, without seeming so ‘look at me’!