At claireabellemakes you will find Handmade accessories and gifts including Bicycle accessories and Scrabble Inspired gifts and jewellery. This blog filled with DIYs, my favourite finds, crafts and recipes. Lastly, Claireabellemakes also includes my adult workshops under the name of Cambridge Craft Parties.
Firstly, thank you so much for all your sale orders! It’s been lovely to have flurries of alerts and lots of love for all the goodies on offer. What’s up next?The popular phrase necklaces will be available at just £10 for one day only, Monday 19 February. UK customers will also get free shipping. So far the most popular one has been the SEW necklace, but I’d love to know what yours is! You can grab a necklace in the shop here.
If you want to know what the rest of the deals will be, my mailing list subscribers will be receiving a message each Sunday with news of the next sale. You can sign up here to be the first to know.
Maybe you’d like a custom necklace? I can make them on Monday to be included in the offer too. Just message me with your 3 or 4 letter word and I will set up a custom listing for you.
It’s almost week 2 for the February Flash Sales! Monday’s offer is an amazing chance to stock up if you’re like us and have a ‘card box’. All greetings cards have been reduced to just £1 for one day, Monday 12 February. They are usually £2.50 each so it’s less than half price! Find the full range of cards in the shop here.If you want to know what the rest of the deals will be, my mailing list subscribers will be receiving a message each Sunday with news of the next sale. You can sign up here to be the first to know.
Is it just us that has a card box or do you keep stocked up too?!
I’ve been wondering whether to write this post for a while but as I see the blog as my creative place and business diary, it seemed like the best place to share some thoughts on overcoming a creative/business funk. It might seem like a pretty negative post, but I think it’s important to discuss the harder parts of running a small creative business sometimes.
Let me update you on January. Now I am a person who likes new starts. I like the chance to set new goals and learn new things. I love Mondays and I’m a pretty positive person. However, January didn’t seem to bring me that feeling of renewal or excitement this year. It was really tough, a bit dark and kind of confusing really.
There were a number of reasons it felt like a difficult month. I’m going to share my experience with you because it might help others and to be honest it will probably be cathartic for me. One of the first reasons was pretty personal. I felt very very low for most of the winter season. I struggled with SAD, had anxiety pretty much every day and ended up with a 12 day stomach flu that wiped me out. Funnily enough, my migraine condition was pretty good through January and I tried to visit the gym twice a week, but it just felt like I was battling my mental health each day. SAD is a weird one because it hits me each year and I’ve somehow forgotten it exists. It takes me a good week or two to realise why I feel unmotivated, down and just really really sad.
In business, January is the month I work on my accounts a lot; usually submitting my tax return, analysing income and expenditure, and generating sales reports. I had been putting in some extra hours in my part-time job and most of that was to cover a job that used a spreadsheet all day. When it came to looking at my accounts at the end of each day, I had spreadsheet and number fatigue and it really didn’t help. I pushed through (because tax return deadline!) and have to admit that not seeing the growth I’d planned for was kind of demotivating. Yes, my sales increased a little and my conversion rate was healthy, but I did feel disappointed that I had worked so hard to see lower results than I wanted for the shop.
People don’t talk much about money and that’s OK. I run my business because I want to make money. Being able to do something creative and earn a living from that is what drives me. In 2017-18 I made a conscious decision to let go of all my freelance work to focus more on the shop and product development. It was a scary moment because HALF of my income in 2016-17 was through freelance work. I’m pleased to say that even though I felt a bit disappointed with sales, I’ve built my income up to almost what it was when I was taking on monthly freelance work. I’m working on approaching new stockists to replace that freelance income with larger and more regular orders. It feels like a better way to control my income than relying on other companies and chasing unpaid invoices all the time. I reckon the amount of time I spent chasing payments could be much better spent on developing new product collections.
Another big factor in feeling ‘stuck’ in my business, was social media and the general vibe I was feeling from Instagram and other platforms. I wrote a post about this here but to summarise, I had a feeling that everything had become rather judgmental and bossy – possibly as a result of people sharing their opinions on new year’s resolutions and new starts. I decided to take a step back from all business activity in January including social media. I can’t say my sales didn’t suffer (because I had a terrible month for the shop), but I definitely felt better for accepting it was time to post and engage less. I had considered taking a complete break for 1 or 2 weeks with no online interaction and to completely switch off from the business. However, I kept going and engaged when I felt like it without any kind of schedule.
One positive thing was that I was feeling creative outside of the business. Throughout the month I worked on a lot of personal projects such as quilting, knitting and journaling. G and I smashed through The Office boxset (US version) which help to lift my mood too. Accepting that I was feeling stuck was helpful and I chose to focus on activities that felt enjoyable.
One of things that really helped me to work through the lack of inspiration, was to talk to other people. I told G I felt like giving up and just having a ‘normal’ life and he reminded me of all the things I enjoyed and what I would miss. I had definitely lost sight of why I started the business and G said I would miss the creative community a lot if I didn’t do what I do. I knew he was right.
I also talked to people who had felt this way before – from that creative community G reminded me of. Friends and fellow creators were so understanding and just listened rather than trying to force me to find solutions. A few people said they thought I was burnt out, but I really felt rested and not exhausted physically or mentally. I found that letting the feelings run their course was the best thing to do. I accepted how I felt, spent my time doing things I wanted to and slowly let my creative business brain wake up again.
At the end of the month my inbox was starting to look exciting again, with a couple of stockists interested in my work and some sponsored content on the horizon for brand collaborations. I had already taken some time out to Bullet Journal my goals for the first 2 quarters of 2018, ready for when I had the motivation to work again. Thankfully, the start of February has felt more inspired and I have started the month with ideas, sales forecasts and strategies in place.
In April I will celebrate 6 years since I started Claireabellemakes. I do feel lucky that in all that time I hadn’t ever felt like giving up and that I’ve been motivated and excited about the business the whole time. So I will accept my January funk as a blip and be thankful that I’m paying the biggest tax bill I have had since it all started back in 2012 (thanks freelance work!).
Thank you for reading if you got this far! I’m definitely feeling much more positive about everything now and ready to tackle what 2018 has in store.
It’s Flash Sale February here! I’ve been busy working away in the studio to bring you a different deal every Monday throughout February. Each offer will last one day only and some items will be less than half price. Ready to hear about the first sale?
It’s the Glitter Heart Pins that are first up! These sparkly beauties have been a best seller since their relaunch – especially at markets. I think the glitter is even more sparkly in real life you guys….
On Monday 5 February they will be just £5 all day (usual price £8). They also always have free shipping in the UK so it’s a mega bargain! Snap one up in the shop here.If you want to know what the rest of the deals will be, my mailing list subscribers will be receiving a message each Sunday with news of the next sale. You can sign up here to be the first to know.
I’m also working on some new stationery items and brainstorming cards for new collections. Shout if there is anything you’d like to see!
This year I’m working on completing all my unfinished craft projects. It’s a huge pile of half knitted jumpers, an almost completed quilt, some endless cross stitch projects and loads of crochet goodies. And don’t even get me started on how behind I am with scrapbooking and journaling! Plus I definitely want to start sewing more clothes….have you seen the new Mila Dungarees Pattern from Tilly and the Buttons?! My pal Zeena looks so great in the launch photos!
This craft determination for 2018 is one of the reasons I am planning to attend the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in London next month, to give me a burst of inspiration and motivation. I’ll be taking my Mum along too for a nice crafty day out!
Keep reading for giveaway details and a discount code if you can’t wait to snap up a ticket!I am definitely counting on you guys for tips on how not to spend all my money. I mean, look at all that yarn!The show has 190 textile workshops to take part in and a whole heap of galleries and stands to shop from.I love these kind of events for catching up with the creative community and soaking up new ideas. I have 5 pairs of tickets to give away for the show! They will be redeemable any day except Saturday 3rd March. All you have to do to enter is follow my Instagram and leave a comment here on this blog post. I will draw the winners on Monday 12 February.
If you just can’t wait, you can use the code CLAIRE18here to receive £2 off advance adult/£1 off advance concessions. This makes tickets £11.50 instead of £13.50/£12.50, plus a £1.50 fulfillment fee per transaction. I think that’s a pretty affordable day out for some crafty inspiration don’t you?!
What craft projects are you working on this year? Are you interested in seeing how many I manage to complete? Good luck in the giveaway!
*Photos in this post were provided by the Knitting and Stitching Show.
If I’m being honest with you, January hasn’t been the one. I’ve lacked inspiration, have felt completely unmotivated and the weather and lack of light has been tough for my wellbeing. Self-care has been a priority and I have been going to the gym and trying to take time for personal projects. I’ve still been creating, but I took a little step back from products and social media to regroup for a while.
I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things, so thought I would share another Life Lately post to document the positive things from the past couple of weeks. I hung the new rainbow lamp in the studio – a great gift from G for Christmas.
I’ve been immersing myself in planners for the start of the year and have decorated my Bullet Journal with stickers from Nikki McWilliams. I’ve also been filming review videos for the Momentum Planner and the beautiful Hello Day Chic Planner. They are both up on my YouTube channel this week which just hit 3000 subscribers too!
In product news, I have been brainstorming and thinking about new cards for the shop. I definitely want to keep the colourful, positive themes of my existing collections for new designs! This has also got me thinking about my tagline for the shop and blog, but I’m struggling a bit with what to say. If you have any ideas, give me a shout!
Brainstorming for new cards means I get to play with the Scrabble tile box – definitely one of my favourite tasks in the studio!Here’s a sneak peek at a new print idea in progress…….
One of my personal goals this year is to read more. I just finished this book which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who enjoys snail mail and postal curios. We are visiting the Postal Museum next month – definitely a topic I geek out about and always have done. I used to collect stamps as a kid. Aside from getting back into the studio, I have been enjoying both London and Cambridge seeking out the rare days of winter sun. Jo and I spent this particular day drinking hot spiced apple outside and putting the world to rights. And of course there is always time for a little bike spotting.
I’ll be back again soon with a ticket offer for the Knitting and Stitching Show. It’s a great event to visit if you’re into crafts!
In 2017 I decided to record a one second clip of my life every day. The goal was to capture a memory and create a video at the end of the year with all the clips together. At first it was a fun task, trying to find the best part of each day to film and by the end of the year it became a chore and I was starting to feel strange about how repetitive my life appeared to be through this project.
It wasn’t until 31 December 2017 when I created the year long video that I realised how great it was to look back on the year. There were sick days, bike rides, moments that scared me and far too many clips of the cat. Watching the video back gave me a sense of achievement and I realised that no matter how repetitive or ‘boring’ some days seemed, no one else would have a video like it and that it was completely individual.
Memory Keeping With 1 Second Every Day 2017 | Claireabellemakes - YouTube
Since 2018 began, I’ve been reflecting on the previous year (you can read my highlights post here) and thinking about what I’d like to achieve going forward. Naturally we are goal setters in our house and we really enjoy being productive. At least once a week we will have a ‘get shit done’ day where our productive mindsets spur each other on and we chat about personal projects and crack on with all the things we want to achieve.
Not everyone starts the year this way and that’s OK. Lots of people have the January blues and find it hard to get going. It is tax return month after all and like many I leave it til the last minute and procrastinate a bit! Some people like to leave their Christmas decorations up and keep the relaxed festive vibe going for as long as possible. And some people don’t enjoy the ‘new year, new you’ vibe and prefer to celebrate who they already are and focus on that instead.
What is great about life is that we can all chose our own mindset and approach to the new year. Individuality is what makes people interesting. I shared on Instagram stories recently that I had experienced a rather judgy week on social media with lots of people vocalising their opinions on how one should start the new year. My posts received so many responses that many of you felt the same frustrations as me and that you want to do your own thing.
My hope is that social media doesn’t become the place where we are told how to begin our year or live our best life. Not everyone has the confidence or self esteem to brush these kinds of things off. One person responded that they were worried about sharing their 2018 goals blog post for fear of judgement about goal setting or ‘resolutions’. (For the record they are planning to publish the post as it feels right for them). Another said she was leaving her Christmas decorations up for a while despite judgement and my response was ‘good for you’.
So the first week of January has been a strange one on social media. My plan is to be kind and to celebrate individuality. I have set goals for 2018 and I am pleased about that. If you haven’t and you are not going to – so be it! We are all different. However you choose to start the year, I hope it is happy and you make some good memories along the way.
I’ll be taking a break from the 1 Second Everyday app this year and starting a creative memory keeping journal. If you’re interested I’ll share some of it along the way.
If you’ve been a follower for a while, you know I can’t talk about the new year without talking about planners! This year, I wanted to share some fantastic planner picks with you as well as links to more in depth reviews in case you are still searching for the one!
It’s not often you come across someone who has your nodding along like the Churchill dog because you just love what they have to say! Stationery queen Kerry Lyons created The Imperfect Life planner from a Kickstarter campaign to allow us to make mistakes and embrace them. Check out my full review of the planner on YouTube here:
The Imperfect Life Planner Review | Claireabellemakes (AD) - YouTube
I love using ring bound planners for my development and this spotty kikki.K copper zip planner is great for holding all my training notes for business courses. Ring bound gives me the opportunity to switch pages in and out and create divided sections for different topics. The kikki.K planners always come in such pretty designs and they change up their collections regularly. At the time of writing, I believe this planner was in the January sale and how can one resist metallics and stickers?!
I started working with Hello Day Planners last year to promote their beautiful collections and I’m thrilled to share the new collections for 2018. If sleek designs and dreamy monochrome is your bag – these planners are for you. Each one is spiral bound and available in a minimal layout or with more detailed pages. This year Hello Day have added stationery items to their offering including classy pencils, gold scissors and hexagonal gold pens. Luxury stationery at its finest!
Watch my detailed review of the Hello Day Planners here:
Hello Day 2018 Planners Full Review | Claireabellemakes - YouTube
4. Travelers Notebook (TN)
One of the biggest trends in the planner community right now, the Travelers Notebook allows you to hold a collection of notebooks together with elastics or ‘strings’. You can buy diary inserts, dotted pages, you name it. Even DIY your own inserts!
This fabric version was from a shop called Lilac and Dot on Etsy, but the seller isn’t making TN’s anymore. However, just a simple search for TN’s on Etsy will bring up so many beautiful fabric and leather versions.
I’ll be using a TN in 2018 for creative journalling. More on this in another post soon!
5. Bullet Journaling
And finally the wonderful Bullet Journal! I can honestly say that I found planner peace in 2017 as I stayed with Bullet Journaling all year! Previously I was something of a fickle planner, switching up my rings and pages every few months. Using my BuJo kept me on track with more realistic to do lists and I was the most productive and in control I had ever been!
You can watch my most viewed Bullet Journaling video here:
Starting a Bullet Journal for Business | January - March - YouTube
And even though I said I’d share 5 planners, I’m sneaking a 6th planner here just in case disc-bound is your thing! The Busy Days Planner is a great option for decorative planners who also enjoy space for journaling. Watch my video review here:
After finally waking from my Christmas food coma, I thought it was about time I wrote my yearly review post! I’m not sure if you guys enjoy these kind of posts, but I love writing them to look back on my productivity and positive moments. After creating a new product every month in 2016, my 2017 goals were to find more balance across my business and to focus on wholesale for the shop. Here we go!
The year often starts slowly as I spend time on my tax return and stock inventory. I also take time to review the year past and set goals. Even so, I also opened a shop with the new marketplace Look Lane and took some time out for a watercolour class with Emma Block – thanks to Jo for the great gift!
In February I launched the Glitter pins in 6 new colours and they were featured in local magazine, Cambridge Edition. I worked on some freelance Crochet commissions behind the scenes.
This was the month the blog hit 1 million views!! I also took part in the March Meet The Maker challenge on Instagram and continued work on my freelance crochet patterns. I hosted another Craft party in Cambridge for a private booking.
In March I also started a new part-time job working as a receptionist in a Cambridge technology company. I absolutely love it and really enjoy getting out of the studio to work with others each week.
In April I decided to retire Cambridge Craft Parties to focus on the shop, so hosted my final one for a fantastic group of girls. Jo and I hosted another Cambridge Creatives Photowalk and a TON of people came! I also went on an Olympus Camera photowalk and sold at Norwich Makers Market for the first time.
G and I visited Amsterdam in May and I got to see the beautiful tulips and bicycles! This was the month I finalised the planner pin designs after much sketching and designing. I continued with freelance DIY projects until this month.
The planner pins finally launched and I sold my glitter heart pins on the merch stall at Blogtacular. Attending Blogtacular for the 3rd year was awesome for catching up with my creative pals.
In July I worked with Axa to share a patio makeover on the blog. This marked the start of many evenings spent in our hammock! I also visited Pinterest HQ in London and launched my new card collections in the shop.
In September I visited Etsy HQ to meet the team and was selected to become an Etsy Educator. I worked on wholesale orders and sent the planner pins to my first international stockist; Washi Gang in Australia. I also sent an order to a Tea themed cafe in Dubai!
Jo and I hosted the Autumn Cambridge Creatives Photowalk where we worked with Cambridge Satchel Company again and set off confetti canons.
I was thrilled to get crafty on stage with Kirstie Allsopp at the Handmade Fair for Pinterest too – A great month for business achievements and productivity. Pretty tiring though!
I worked with Wicked The Musical to run a children’s craft workshop in October and loved every minute! Reloved magazine featured me on their Blog Watch pages and I held my Etsy Educators class in Cambridge to help new sellers get started. I worked with Crown and Glory to add my glitter heart pins to their monthly subscription boxes and took on new stockist Sew Me Sunshine for the SEW necklaces.
November was spent preparing for the Christmas market season! I also uploaded more planner videos on my YouTube channel and worked with the Sofa & Chair Co and Boots for sponsored content on the blog.
The Cambridge Creatives group visited Escape and Create for a sewing day and mostly just ate cake and chatted about our projects!
The Glitter Wheelie Festive Bikes Decorations were launched in 8 different colours in the Etsy shop (currently on sale until 7 January).
I was thrilled to see the bicycle decorations featured in stop-motion queen Xanthe’s video for Etsy and loved having this full page feature in Velvet Magazine. I took part in Etsy Made Local markets in both Cambridge and Norwich and worked with John Lewis to share decorating ideas on the blog. Jo and I hosted a Cambridge Creatives Christmas meet up at a Wintergarten and I sent out loads of sparkly orders to customers.
G also surprised me with a 2 day trip to Arras in France where we ate lots of cheese and explored the Christmas markets. It was at a crazy busy time of year, but it was great to take some forced time out and feel festive!
PHEW! What a year. I definitely feel like I had a better balance between part-time work, freelance and business work across the year and I was able to be more selective about the projects I worked on. I loved meeting people at Etsy and Pinterest and seeing all my creative pals work with Kirstie too for her Christmas TV show in December.
This week I usually sit down and figure out all my goals for 2018. I know that I want to work on getting more stockists so if you know any cool shops that my work would fit in, do let me know! I also want to finally finally finally launch a new website and of course keep creating new products and fun content here for you.
Thanks for all your support in 2017! What was your highlight of the year?
It’s been a festive few days here with lots of Christmas markets and meet ups with friends. We decorated the house last week and I added a new Christmas wreath to the door, thanks to John Lewis!
They challenged me to customise a wreath with items from their online Christmas shop so I chose this beautiful snowy eucalyptus wreath.As the wreath was so beautiful, I only wanted to add a couple of touches to customise it and kept it very simple! I picked some red berry cluster decorations and ribbon to give it a pop of colour.
Using wire, I wrapped the stems of the berry decorations around the eucalyptus branches of the wreath.Then I simply tied a ribbon on the bottom of the wreath and left long tails for a bit of a statement.
So as I said a simple change, but one that makes quite a statement. I also added some Christmas Fragrance Oil to give it a nice scent for when we come home or when the postie visits!
As well as some John Lewis decorations, we have added handmade Christmas tree decorations from Hello Sunshine, Mooglears and Stuff, Kim Haskins and Designosaur. I better crack on with my Christmas shopping this week – can’t wait to use this santa and llama gift wrap. Look at his pom pom hat!
Thanks for letting me share some of my Christmas decor today. Next year G wants to go nuts with tinsel and all the colours, so I’m looking forward to seeing his take on Christmas decor!
Are you hanging a wreath this year?
*John Lewis gifted the items from their Christmas shop for the purposes of this blog post. As always, opinions are my own.