Friday, 3 April 2015

A natter with Tracy Lloyd!

What a lovely occasion it was at Handmade Hartlepool to catch up with my friend and artist Tracy Lloyd. Not only did we catch up about life since CCAD but I got to ask her about her amazing new line of products that she's been making.

Tracy first started trading with me in 2012 at The Factoree Presents Handmade and at this time we were both full time students. Since completing her degree I noticed a huge difference in her table and the range of products available. She now sells products such as etched glasses, ceramic brooches, slugs and necklaces, all new and exciting. It's easy to see how much she's grown into a designer with a unique identity.

 "I've finally found a niche that's me. It's been a process of hard work and experimenting. My favourite thing that I've been making is my embroidered landscapes because it enables me to use lots of different materials and techniques in one piece."

The attention to detail is unreal and I could look at these landscapes all day. Tracy is taking commissions for these pieces of artwork too. "My landscapes are going to be promoted online and also in galleries".

We also talked about Tracy's newly renovated studio in her home. How amazing does it look? "The studio is a renovated outhouse space that was previously a toilet, can you imagine how many people who have sat in my studio using the loo? There's details that I wanted to keep such as the toilet door and it features a lovely stained glass window too"

 Images from Handmade Hartlepool. Some of my personal favourites from her table.

Tracy is also a working technician for Hey Ho Print Co putting together workshops.
"I want to make the arts more accessible and do things such as kids school programs".

Tracy is definitely a local artist worth keeping your eyes on.   

You can visit her online via Facebook or Folksy!

All images featured in this blog (minus the last two) belong to Tracy Lloyd.

Thursday, 12 March 2015


So it's been two months that KNIT CLUB Hartlepool has kicked off and what a great time I'm having hosting it. 

10 Types of Craft Fair Customers You Will Meet!

When working with direct sales at such events as craft fairs you will be faced with possibly all of the following 10 types of customers. There's the good with the bad. This list has been confirmed among a few traders and after a little chuckle, we've agreed on this list.

1. The Card Taker

Do not underestimate the importance of someone taking your card. Although on the day of a fair you want to sell your wares, the card taker might look you up later, look at your commissioned pieces, see where you're next trading and they can sit and look on your online store from the comfort of their couch.  Always thank someone for taking your card, not only because it's polite but because they've taken at least something from your table. 

2. The Bargain Hunter

This customer loves a bargain (don't we all?) but asking for discount on top of your already competitive rates can feel a little bit of an insult. These people may not understand that you're charging £40 for a cushion that took you days and days to make and therefore it's already 'on sale'. 
Don't sell yourself short to make a quick buck.

3. The Touchers 

THEY TOUCH EVERYTHING. I encourage people to pick up my products, have a good look but is it bad that I expect it to be put back? Occasionally you'll get a 'tornado' pass through your table where you need to do a big tidy up afterwards and fix your display back to it's original condition.  

4. The Talker

I love these customers! I get knitters from all walks of life talking to me. Mostly old ladies telling me about their knitting life story but it's really lovely having a total stranger share the same passion as you. I'll be like them one day. These people also seen your flyer in the local paper and come along for the day to have a natter, not to buy anything. I've learned a lot from passing conversations with knitters and I'd like to think that I've passed a little knowledge on to them. 
They ask questions about how you constructed your products and you know they're just curious. They might even have handy hints. 

5. The Fellow Crafter

These people craft as a hobby or maybe even sell online. A lot of the time you'll have things in common and may even hear the odd "I could make that" conversation. I don't mind hearing that though, we've all thought it. These people do appreciate the time, work and effort that goes into your craft though. 

6. The Big Spender

This is a rare customer but they restore your faith in what you're doing if sales are down. These people never argue with your pricing, love your quality of work and buy gifts for everyone's birthdays and then a few treats for themselves. They crop up out of nowhere so it's unexpected but appreciated. Give them your card and strike up a conversation with these people! 

7. The Blackmailer 

"But I really love it mum" "Come and look at this I love it" "But I still have pocket money left" "But Melissa got something from that stall over there" .... I could go on forever. This is the point where I sit politely and patiently and smile at the awkward situation. It's not my fault that your children love what I make and are shamelessly trying to blackmail you. 

8.The Ceiling Glancers

Aka the bored people. Most likely to be seen following their significant other around the tables. They never came here for the crafts, they're not even sure why they did. The amount of ceiling glancers goes up depending on the venue location. I find that they're more common in city centres and marquees, venues that their other half says "Oooh lets have a mooch in here". 

9. The Fellow Trader.

Taking part in a craft fair is taking part in an age old tradition of local trading. It's a great way to network and to meet new people, discuss your craft and even exchange goods. I always try to talk to the stalls around me and have a look at their stalls. Chances are that if you start to trade regularly then these people will become familiar faces that make the day even better. Craft Sisters 4lfy!

10. The Gem.

Not that all of your customers aren't all stars for shopping with you but the gem is someone quite special. You might not even recognise this person until they mention to you that they already follow you online and seen that you'd be taking part. Then you slowly notice the badge that you made pinned to their coat and they buy something else just because. This is a really nice feeling and from speaking to other traders also, we agree that these people should be called The Gem. The rare species but it gives you a really great feeling that your work is reaching people, even if it's just one.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Entry Fees- To Charge or Not to Charge?...that is the question.

So it's that time of year where I fill my diary with dates and times for my events. It's my favourite time, it's where I'm at my most productive and hopeful that the year will be a really good one. I also take this time to research events already taking place around the North East. I do this for a number of reasons; I make sure that I don't book dates in that clash with others nearby, to check what venues are being used and I also check to see who's charging entry for their event.

I've considered charging entry to my events a couple of times and whilst organising my diary for the next couple of months it's something that I've once again thought about.

So what would be the 'Pros' to charging entry fees?

Events cost money to run. The craft fair business can be a really fun way of making money but unless you're selling 50 tables at a time then you're just earning basic money. Don't get me wrong its profitable but it's basic.
Entry fees would help towards the overall cost of the event and would therefore be more profitable.

What do I consider to be the 'Cons' to charging?

I worry that charging entry fees at a small event will put people off. Whilst working the craft fair circuit for a few years now (at other peoples events selling my crochet goodies) I've worked some events that have flopped due to entry fees. Even if the fee has been a mere pound. I personally wouldn't like to take the risk. I think it's all about knowing the customer. When I create a new event I have an audience in mind that I want to cater towards but I think keeping it free opens it up to everyone. This is also great for a venue with good footfall from the street.

It's something that I may just have to try out sometime. Although I really don't believe in charging for entry for a craft fair it may be worth trying for a social/financial experiment.

Of course I'll keep you all posted but for now, What do you think?

Thursday, 22 January 2015

6 Knitting Artists You Need to Know NOW!

Here's a list of knitting artists that any self respecting knitting fan NEED to know:

(In order of my favourite)

#6 Ivano Vitali

Creates Zero-Waste Garments From Recycled Newspaper Yarn


#5 Dave Cole

Known for knitting in strange materials (recycled fibreglass) and large scale knitting.


#4 Magda Sayeg

A very famous yarn bomber and knit artist, Magda has worked with clients such as 7up and Absolut. 
There were way too any photos to chose from as to my favourite examples to show off.


#3 Kaffe Fassett

Okay, so no hating. Kaffe Fassett is a knitting and needlepoint legend but sadly hasn't made it to my own personal #1. 
Definitely a must for any uni student into knitting. Just amazing.


#2 Kate Jenkins

A girl after my own heart and so close to being my number one (I took it pretty seriously). 
I am in love with the mixture of knit and crochet skill by Kate.


#1 Agata Oleksiak 

I'm sorry but holy shit. Not only does Olek make me want to like in a crochet cave but I find her so inspiring.
Her use of colour and quirk is simply unreal.
Yarn porn.