During the lockdown and Covid-19 pandemic, I have seen some of my friends set up their own small business! I have received a few questions from people, so I have decided to do a mini-series on YouTube, with the goal of giving advice to those of you in the creative business industry!
Well before I get into the advice portion of the whole thing, I thought it would be right to give some context. If you're new to the party that is The Corner of Craft, you may think I'm a new business that sprung to success overnight. This certainly isn't the case.
In 2009, I went to university with no clue as to what I wanted to do when I left. I decided to study German and French, because at least I'd get a language out of it if nothing else. Having not spoken French since 2013, it's safe to say I have forgotten a lot of it! I'm sure I could get by in a pinch, but conversation certainly isn't going to happen!
In 2011/2012, I got back into the friendship bracelet scene. I found some gorgeous bracelets on Tumblr, that were far fancier than any I'd made at school! Before I knew it, I had more bracelets than friends, so decided to open my first online shop. Cue Banana Bracelets. I was known as HananaTheBanana across various social medias back in the day, so Banana Bracelets just seemed to make sense.
I opened my first shop on Storenvy as they had low fees, so it seemed perfect. I sold my first bracelet to a stranger in July of 2012. Before that, I'd sold some to uni friends etc, and I'd even managed to sell one to a stranger on the train who saw me making and wanted to buy one!
As friendship bracelets were so time consuming, it was impossible for me to charge enough for them. This lead to a very unsustainable business, and it definitely wasn't something I would be looking to do long-term. My hands couldn't hack it, for starters!
This is when The Corner of Craft stepped in! In October of 2013, I opened up my Etsy Shop and called it The Corner of Craft. I'd moved in with my now-husband and one of our friends, and had a designated corner in the living room, which was fondly called "Craft Corner." Obviously that name was already taken on Etsy, so The Corner of Craft was born. Honestly, I always had the idea that I could change the name once I thought of a better one, but that just didn't happen.
I started to sell hats and gloves that I had crocheted, as I was big into crochet then! Once I started to work at The Bead Shop, I learnt how to make jewellery and how to bead weave, so my stock got some variety. As a way of marketing my online shop, I set up my YouTube channel in May of 2014. I started to post craft tutorials, with the first videos I uploaded being basics of crochet. I had actually started my first YouTube channel in January of 2008, but that's a story for another time...
My Etsy shop really struggled, and the crafting scene on YouTube was pretty huge. I decided to focus my attention more on YouTube and making tutorials than I actually did on my Etsy shop as I was making more money. I mean, not much money, but more than none.
In the summer of 2015, we moved to Germany. There was an incident in the family back in England, and while I didn't know it at the time, but my mental health took a huge hit. I experienced anxiety for the first time, and looking back, I was quite depressed. I had very few friends, wasn't able to get a job, and just felt quite alone. I threw myself into the online crafting community as a way to make friends, have social interactions and just a way to fill my days, really.
After a wake-up call in the summer of 2016 (I don't feel comfortable going into that here, sorry!), I decided that enough was enough. I went to the local knit-night and met Becky (@SopranoKnits on Instagram) who became my best friend and introduced me to the online knitting community. She happened to mention that the beaded charms I made would be good stitch markers, and after so much googling and searching on Etsy, I found that there was a hole in the market for something like that! I took it as a sign.
I started to add a knitting and crochet podcast into the regular uploads I was doing to my channel, as a way to get involved with the community. I started to make and sell my stitch markers, and they did so well! I couldn't believe that something I was making actually was selling, after struggling for so long.
Of course, binge-watching a ton of knitting podcasts got me interested in indie-dyed yarn, and I had the idea to set up The Yarn Cakery - a yarn label with colours inspired by baked goods and cake. This is hilarious looking back, because my husband has now become a baker...!! I came up with lots of potential colour combos and colourway ideas. During my last few months in Germany, I bought a few skeins of undyed yarn and some small pots of dye, and decided to give yarn dyeing a go. I loved it.
By the time we moved back to the UK in the summer of 2017, I had changed my mind about the yarn I wanted to dye, and decided to combine my love of the game, Dungeons & Dragons, with my love of knitting and yarn. Behold! Chromatic Yarns was born!
I got a part-time job in a coffee shop to help subsidise my business, and also to make some friends back in Nottingham! Little by little, the job started to cut into the time I had on my business, so I decided to leave. I had another job that I was waiting to hear back on, thinking it was a guarantee (stupid, naive me...) but I didn't get it.
In July of 2018, I went full-time at The Corner of Craft. I honestly don't think I would have been able to grow my business to the point it is currently at, if I hadn't taken the plunge with it. I was very fortunate that I had some savings to fall back on (not that I ever had to dip into them!) and there was always the option of just getting another job, if necessary.
I am so fortunate to do a job that I truly love. Most of the other jobs I have had would see me coming home and complaining about my day to Mario. Now, I so rarely complain about what I do! I thought that no one ever enjoyed their job, but I can honestly sit here and say that I do.
Thank you all so much for making this possible. I know that I wouldn't be able to do this without your support.