Guest Post: Helen Rogers from MisHelenEous
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My name is Helen Rogers and I make Handmade, Made In Britain gifts for you, your home and your dog. I am a multi-crafter with special interest in hand sewn felt, hand knitting and machine sewn products. I make a wide range of products and its that fact that gave me the idea for my business name, MisHelenEous (miscellaneous). I’m a Punny Business but not everyone gets it first time! I also undertake custom orders and have also completed several small trade orders to the pet product industry in this country. Mainly an online business I do attend Craft Fairs and Events in the Manchester area and am a member of the Manchester Craft Mafia I am also a proud member of the Made In Britain campaign 2014 which means I was approved to use the logo on my products and advertising.
Although I don’t just make gifts for dogs or dog lovers I have to say that my main inspiration for my business is my own dog, Border Terrier Whiskey. She was born on St. Georges day and this was the perfect creative excuse for the Patriotic range of dog bandanas I make. She is also my part time model and work day companion as I work from home in Manchester. I became a self employed Designer Maker in June 2013 after years of serious long term illness meant holding down a conventional job was impossible. I graduated with a BA Hons Degree in Fine Art in 1995 but have always had crafty genes!
Getting Stuck In!
The most challenging aspects for me so far have included, finding out the legal basics of becoming self employed and setting up an online business, learning many social media and IT skills that I didn’t have, to basic accounting and book keeping, time and energy management due to the on-going nature of my health problems, and discovering if you make a wide variety of different sized, shaped and weighted goods then the worldwide shipping rates will vary just as much! This is something everyone should do their homework on. But, the most rewarding aspects are the customers themselves. So far I’ve sent gifts to 18 different countries and talked to people from all over the world, which I’ve been marking on a map with pins! Often customers become friends as well, and I’ve even met some of them now and chat regularly to many others on social media. There are lovely supportive Crafty and Doggy Communities online which makes the isolation of working on your own from home non-existent.
I get ideas from my surroundings and nature but a lot of my designs come about through customer requests. Many of my Dog Breed keyrings and the other accessories I’ve designed come about after someone has sent me a photograph of their dog. I can’t do every breed but the ones I’ve successfully completed get named after the dog they were created after and the owner gets a little mention in my Etsy Shop Listing for that item too. At the last count I think there are 23 breeds in my ‘Kennel’ now!
I also take custom orders from anywhere including Twitter and Instagram but mainly through my Etsy Store where people can click Request Custom Item and I build the order through Etsy Convos with the customer. Some of my favourite custom orders have been 40ft of Terrier Bunting for a Narrow Boat, Brazil Dog Bandanas for the Brazil World Cup, a sweet little heart cushion for a Yorkshire Terrier owner, a Welsh Terrier Duffle Bag and Christmas Stocking, and even a knitted Pug! Carrier bag holders are the latest thing now after one customer’s request has resulted in more orders for different breeds of dog. I love that I never know what I’ll get asked to make next!
I’ve only been doing it a year but in my case I had to set up quickly to get some income in. If you have more time consider your business theme, name, shop logo, style of photographs for product photography and postage rates, business stationery, gift wrapping etc – my own shop is undergoing photographic improvement at the moment as my family bought me a camera for my birthday, but I’ve had to use my phone till now. Despite that I was thrilled to be chosen to be one of the shops in the recent EtsyUK TV Advert but I couldn’t attend the filming day. Use social media, but don’t spread yourself too thin. I love Twitter and Instagram and they work for me, join Etsy teams, check the forums, learn from others and just do it, and have fun!
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With all those cute puppy designs it is no surprise that I’m a huge fan of Helen’s makes – be sure to go and check out her store to see the entire range or to request your own custom make!
Do you run an Etsy Store? Do you want to share your story? Be sure to get in touch, leave a comment with the details of your store below I’d love to showcase your unique handmade goodies too!