How I Started a Business Selling Craft
and Crochet Pattern Kits and Accessories
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey my name is Emma Bassey and I started Stitching Me Softly around 3 years ago. I design and manufacture a range of craft kits, accessories and crochet patterns. My aim is to share my passion for creative crafting with others. This initially began with me teaching workshops locally and then kits came afterwards as a way to reach more people and encourage to take up this wonderful hobby! At present, I am the only me who works for SMS, but I outsource my website development to a professional company.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I have always been creative and have enjoyed lots of crafty hobbies over the years. I had been running a childminding business when I had the idea for the company so I was used to being self-employed and all the admininstrative work that comes along with it! The majority of craft kits in the market are either aimed at an older or (much) younger audience. I target my kits to beginner crafters in the 25-45 age bracket. They are simple items with a modern classic style.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
I had to learn on my feet about cash flow, wholesale accounts and marketing. It’s been a steep learning curve but a fun one. I’m lucky enough to live in a city (Bristol, UK) that is teeming with small creative business who are all very willing to help newcomers! I quickly got involved with my local Etsy team and found all the information I needed through the wonderful business owners I met at their networking events.
Who is your target market?
My target audience is women between the ages of 25-45. Those who are new to crafting and craft kits or who haven’t done any in a while. They are people who would consider themselves fashionable and fun and with a creative interest that they haven’t quite satisfied yet! In terms of the shops I target for wholesale orders, it’s usually the small independent boutique gift shops and craft shops. The places that sell high-end yarn in bright neon colours and gorgeous modern sewing patterns. I also like to support shops like these as they are the backbone of the creative industries.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
I use a lot of social media marketing and I have worked hard to build a loyal and engaged following on both Instagram and Facebook. Occasionally I may use the paid for advertising service on Facebook but generally only for workshop events. I also send out regular marketing emails to my subscribers which is what gives me the best conversion rate.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
I have lots of new ideas for craft kits swimming around in my head and tend to float ideas on Instagram to see what my audience’s view of them is. That has often helped me to decide which ones to turn into products and which ones to put aside for a later date. I have worked hard to create an interesting and unique brand style that I hope my potential customers can distinguish from my competitors. All of my kits contain information about my website and mailing list and encourage customers to tag me in their images on social media.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
Since it’s only me at the moment I have a pretty relaxed culture and I structure my working day around family life and other commitments.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
I currently use Adobe Lightroom for photo editing and Canva for pretty much all of my graphic design work. My website is powered by WordPress and I regularly check Google Analytics to monitor traffic to my website.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
To be honest, there isn’t much I would change as it has worked well for my life balance. I have been quite relaxed and taken the business in my stride. I believed that this is what has helped my business to grow organically. Of course, It would obviously have been easier and possibly quicker if I had some financial backing in the beginning to sustain my cashflow, but I think I’ve done pretty well without it.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
That I am my own boss. I can decide how and when and where I work. My current work space is a small office/studio, but I could just as easily answer emails from a local cafe or sitting in the park! I also love the fact that It’s completely up to me how many new products I want to work on and bring to market. My motivation levels tend to dictate this. Ultimately, working this way and selling items that I have designed and manufactured makes me really proud and happy.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Tidying up after myself! 🙂
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
Pretty much every blog on the Studio Cotton website has helped me learn something new about running an independent brand. I would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to start their own creative business. Whether wanting to learn how to make the most of search engine optimisation (SEO) on my website or figuring out how to set up a robust template on Mailchimp – I have worked through all of their free content.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I’d love for my craft kits and other products to be stocked in some of the bigger high street retailers. Regular large wholesale orders would really help cement the foundations of this businesses. I will be pursuing both of these things moving forwards.