My Etsy shop now sells all my ILC jewellery and to celebrate the first 10 orders over £20 will receive a FREE set of limited Gold Kitty Collar Tips! Whoop! Grab a pair while you can! xxx

Story of a tattoo - Part 1

I'm getting a new tattoo! Whoop! I'm so excited! I have 6 so far and can't wait for number 7. Plus what makes it even more exciting and special is that me and my partner Jon are getting matching getting ones!After such a crazy year last year and since its our 5th wedding anniversary this year we figured we'd do something special. Its his first tattoo and I'm hoping he'll find it as addictive as I do! 

Now finding a tattoo that you like can be tough but finding a tattoo we both want is, how shall I put this, a challenge. I'm a "go with the flo, get it done and think about it later" kinda gal but Jon is not. He's always liked the idea of a tattoo but never found "the one" - and so the hunt begins! 

One thing we do know is that we want an anchor, I like old nautical designs such as Sailor Jerry and it symbolises strength and steadfastness.  What kind of anchor? We've not figured that out yet but heres some designs we like so far. 

We also want the numbers 9:19 - thats the date of our wedding anniversary and the time when our daughter Lux was born! Weird eh? I'm not sure if we'll have a scroll or just numbers next to the anchor but hopefully will come to us soon! 

Style My Way - Rainbow Hair

You'd have never have guessed it but... I'm a hair colour addict!

I blame it on my very early obsession with My Little PonyLady Lovely Locks and Moondreamers!
Plus when your style icons are Gwen Stefani and Vivienne Westwood what you gonna do?!

Its an addiction that started when I was 11, I went to a Backstreet Boys concert in Sheffield and I REALLY wanted pink hair. Sadly I wasn't allowed, so I got desperate and decided that colouring my hair using a pink highlighter pen a few strands at a time was a great idea! Good grief! Suffice to say, I thought I looked great (and I swear Brian looked RIGHT AT ME!) but I'm glad there is no photo evidence to squash my first colour experience memory.

I experiment with different colours and shades but I do try to always go back to blonde (not natural unfortunately) for a while to give my hair a "break" HA! I don't bleach it myself, I go to a salon for that - trust me I've got only bad experiences of bleaching my own hair, I've learnt the hard way its worth paying a professional to do it.

My preferred brands are:

  • Directions - smells great, covers well, washes out evenly and is not tested on animals. 
  • Bleach London - Amazing selection of colours, you get a lot of your money and washes out in unexpected ways! 
So whats my colour today?
 photo output_JHTRhe_zps7cefbdbd.gif

Its washed out Bruised Violet by Bleach London! It was quite a dark purple when I first put it on but now its a fab multi colured blue, purple and pink! Very mermaidy! I really like it and have had some nice compliments.

Who knows where the hair colour rainbow will take me next? Summers coming up so maybe a vibrant orange, florescent yellow or maybe I'll get my highlighter pens out again! 

Lets Talk Business - Starting your own business Part 1

I'm no business expert  - I never studied business, never read a book about success and my idea of a business strategy comes from watching episodes of The Apprentice (UK not US) but ever since I started working for myself 5 years ago I've become slightly obsessed with it (business, not The Apprentice!) I now love researching, writing spreadsheets and doing my Etsy homework like a good teachers pet but it took a while to fall in love with it. I'm a creative person, messy, emotional, generally disorganised and I tend to make decisions from the heart rather than my head, but if you want to have a creative business you need to stretch those brain cells and learn. I've found that teaching yourself to be business savvy goes a long way and although painful at times, learning from your mistakes and being honest with yourself makes your business better not worse!
So I figured, hey, why not share some things I've learnt along the way and I hope its as interesting to read as it is to write!

Are you thinking about starting your own business? Have a great idea but don't know where to start? Maybe I can help!

So lets talk business and start at the beginning.

1. Find your passion!
Easier said than done especially if like me you have lots of passions and interests but these questions should help narrow it down:
  • What do you love doing or making? 
  • What gets you excited and can start you on a rant at the mention of it? 
  • What could you not stop doing? 
  • What are you good at? 
Write down everything you can think of, not just ideas that involve money making. If you love playing the piano write it down, if you love eating cheese write it down! Theres no wrong answers and all will reveal something to you. Then with a highlighter pen mark all the things that could be turned into a business - if you like eating cheese maybe you should make you own cheese and sell it to farm shops and at markets? If you like playing the piano maybe its time to start playing at weddings or parties? Have a brain storm, sit down with a cuppa and let your imagination run wild!

It can take time to find your niche and theres no shame in changing your mind a few times, its all part of figuring out what your best at. When I started I Love Crafty 5 years ago I made soaps and candles which I sold at markets, jewellery making wasn't even on my business horizon. Before that I wanted a wedding dress shop and to design my own dresses - when you start you never know where you'll end up - who knows, maybe in the future there maybe a ILC wedding shop! Its your dream, so dream big!

2. Research is a dreams best friend. 
When I was painting the walls of my little shop in Bristol, I'd sing along to Disney's Princess and the Frog soundtrack and these words stuck with me:

"I remember Daddy told me, fairy tales can come true, you gotta make 'em happen, it all depends on you" 

It's all well and good to dream but unless you make some plans to make them happen they won't become real. Some dreams and ideas seem so big and crazy that the prospect of starting gives you a headache but the best advice I can give you for this is to make some small, sensible plans and research what you want to do. All big things start small so don't get overwhelmed at the beginning. Make lists and stick to them!

For example when I started I knew nothing about soap and candle making so first on my list: Learn about soap making. The internet can be a glorious fountain of knowledge and so I googled "soap making" and off I went. It became my new obsession, I learnt all I could about different recipes and processes, the amazing psychology behind scents and fragrances, bought a few ingredients and worked like a crazy scientist in my kitchen. So you might not be an expert in what you want to do now, but with research you soon will be and when you know your stuff it really shows. You work will be better, you'll have happier customers and your business should be successful. So get out that pen and paper and research, ask yourself:

  • Am I filling a niche/gap in the market?
  • How many other businesses offer a similar product (searching Etsy is a great place to start)
  • How will my business be different?
  • What can I offer that others can't? 

3. Reality bites but I have an ointment for that. 
Working for yourself and starting your own business can be amazing/ rewarding/ fulfilling/ heart satisfying but its also HARD work and so you better like what you propose to do.

You know all that spare time you have watching films, drinking coffee with friends and playing computer games (that might just be me) well you may have to wave goodbye to that for a while. Starting a business is a BIG decision and if like me you are still working on the side to pay your rent then I'm afraid your spare time may suffer. At the beginning all my evenings and weekends were being eaten up by hours spent researching market venues, making crafty connections and making my products and I've got to admit, I loved it! I can do some of my best work in the middle of the night but be aware that you need breaks and time relaxing. Theres nothing worse than feeling burnt out at the very beginning. Its a magical balancing act between the burning fires of creativity and ambition driving you forwards and the most important time of anyones life, being with those who we love and although the balance can be hard to achieve its good to have your eye on it at the begining. Trust me, I'm still trying to get it right!

Here are some practical questions to ask yourself and be honest, it might save you some bother in the future:
  • Do you work well on your own?
  • Do you have a lot of self motivation?
  • Can you stick to a list?
  • Are you money savvy?
If your answer is no to these questions its not the end of the world or your business, it can all be learnt and achieved - you can teach an old dog new tricks!

So thats part 1, I hope you've found it useful and part 2 will be posted soon. I'll talk about taking the big step into the big bad world! (Its not all that bad.)

"Never start a business just to "make money." Start a business to make a difference" - Marie Forleo. 

Brand Spanking New Online Shop!

ILC has a brand spanking new website and I'm very happy to share it with you now! To kick off the celebrations here's 20% off all orders with the code: NEWSHOP20 and I ship all around the world! You can even shop ILC on the go as my store looks fab on your phone! Come check out my hard work and treat yourself! http://www.ilovecrafty.co.uk/