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Handmade Haven – this Sunday!

January 29th, 2010 by Asking For Trouble

We’re delighted to be back, hosting a handmade haven at Mono this weekend. We’ll be there from 1 until 6 so do call in and pay us a visit. It’s definitely the place to be if you’re in need of a little something to cheer you up at the end of this long, skint, snowy month. There are some fantastic little treasures to be had if you’re looking to treat your sweetheart this Valentines Day, too. We have jewellery to suit every taste, plenty of fancy things to wear in your hair, handmade homewares, keepsake journals and notebooks and greetings cards galore.

In attendance will be Mafia members and some new friends of the mafia, too. The full line up:
- T-Boo
- Stella My Star
- Lucy Jackson
- Glittery Sah
- Asking for Trouble
- Much too Fun
- Camille Huser
- Kullakita Cards
- I heart toast

So come on down to sample some of the freshest crafts around, and maybe a cheeky organic cider and a plate of the yummiest spicy chips in town! You’ll find us in the raised area of the bar/restaurant, just keep your eyes peeled for our feltidermied horse’s head.

January flyer

Happy New Handmade Havens

January 17th, 2010 by Girl Industries

Bookings are now officially open for the first Glasgow Craft Mafia handmade havens of 2010. These will be taking place on the last Sunday of January and March (that’s the 31st and 28th, respectively). We’re back at our old haunt, Mono, and would love to welcome along vendors known and new to take a stall and help us showcase the best crafts and art that Glasgow (and further afield) has to offer.

How do you get involved? Drop us a line to events AT glasgowcraftmafia.com and have quick swatch at our market terms and conditions so you know what to expect.

Markets will take place from 1pm to 6pm, and if you’re interested in coming along to shop, check back here for details of participating crafters. We look forward to seeing you there.

The Nutcracker

December 18th, 2009 by Dazed Dorothy

The Nutcracker

Ashley Page’s adaptation of The Nutcracker is the essence of Christmas dreams and nightmares.

As the curtain rises we are perhaps surprised by the initial scene of a glimpse into a young girl’s brain, surely not what one would expect from the opening scenes of a Christmas ballet. However, the following scene delights us with a visual display of glittering costumes & festive excitement so much so that it is difficult to know where to look. Stunning costumes set against a mix of unusual scenery, quirky props and sometimes downright frightening masks continues to be a theme which runs throughout the production.

Although the fundamentals of ‘The Nutcracker’ remain; a soldier doll springing to life sets the scene for a young girl’s coming of age, it is at times disconcerting with its underlying Freudian content, which may be above the heads of a younger audience who are perhaps experiencing their first trip to the ballet as a Christmas treat. Although not a thing the audience need dwell on as they are enraptured by the expertise of the dancers in a flurry of twenties style beaded ensembles & striking floor length feather coats. Exquisite point work was delivered by an array of divine scarlet poppies and dazzling mischievous snowflakes.

The Nutcracker

In Act 2 Eve Mutso led the Arabian group in a scintillating & complex piece keeping the audience mesmerized with its intricacy. The Choreography was breathtaking in parts, perfectly executed by Erik Cavallari & Claire Robertson in the grand pas de duex with enchanting classicism.

The Scottish Ballet have created an unusual albeit fantastical version of this Christmassy tale, which is a must for your festive calendar.

The Nutcracker is touring Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen and Newcastle until February 2010.

(Photos from the Scottish Ballet website)

Notes from the Enterprise Nation conference

December 17th, 2009 by Asking For Trouble

Enterprise Nation

You might remember, back in September, that some of the Glasgow Craft Mafia were interviewed for the Enterprise Nation Home Business Road Trip documentary. That’s still being edited but I was lucky enough to attend the recent Enterprise Nation conference in London on behalf of the Glasgow Craft Mafia. Here’s my report back.

20th November was the very first Home Enterprise Day with an aim of raising awareness about the huge number of home businesses in the UK. Home businesses are largely ignored by the government, despite their contribution to the economy.

These issues were raised in the 2009 Home Business Report published by Enterprise Nation, which includes the following key points:

  • 2.8 million home businesses contributing £284bn to the annual UK economy
  • Over 60% of small businesses started in the UK are started at home
  • 89% of home businesses expect to increase turnover in the next 12 months
  • The majority of businesses will grow by outsourcing and sub-contracting, as opposed to taking on staff
  • ‘Working 5 to 9′ is on the rise as people hold down a day job and build a business at nights and weekends
  • Home business is bringing families together and contributing to the local economy and environment

You can download the full report here, which includes a little interview with our own Miso Funky!

The report was launched at the Enterprise Nation conference. All the panels were really interesting and though-provoking but I’ve picked out some of the most relevant parts for crafters like us.

Enterprise Nation

==

Doug Richard (former Dragon & CEO, School for Startups)

A great way to start the day as Doug was extremely entertaining and a natural speaker – he had no notes or slides and constantly interacted with the audience. As a web designer, I spend a lot of time trying to break down myths about Search Engine Optimisation, social networking etc. and was completely delighted to discover Doug talking 100% total sense about these subjects. I couldn’t have agreed with him more. Here are a few of his main points:

Get rid of costs to make more profit

So simple but so easy to forget. If you quit your day job you learn this very fast – if you can’t make money, then spending less money is almost as good. Do you need an office/studio? If you need extra staff, can they work at their own homes etc.

Don’t be shy

If there’s one thing about entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s that we love taking about our businesses. So talk about what you love on your blog, Twitter etc. and that enthusiasm will help promote you and your business, honestly. Customers love a peek into how the magic happens.

Target your potential customers

Figure out what the target group is for your products, find them on blogs, forums, Twitter etc, and talk to them. They may not buy now but they might remember you in future,

SEO

Use SEO to intercept your potential customers’ desires. Find out how your target audience or strangers would describe your products and build your SEO around that, not around what YOU think your products are. The majority of Google users click on the 1st-3rd organic result, not sponsored links or ads, so make sure you’re there when they decide they want a wool scarf or a bunny necklace (as opposed to a hand-knitted cowl or a rabbit pendant).

Use word of mouth

Word of mouth is the most trusted recommendation but don’t fake it. Try things like video testimonials from happy customers. Keep them honest and real for trust – don’t worry about being professional or hi-tech. The less professional it is, the most trustworthy it will seem.

Be shameless

Get the best deal any way you can. Doug actually suggested pretending your husband just died in order to get a cheaper stand at trade shows!

Know what you do

Make sure you’re able to describe what you do and what the benefits are in a single sentence and use that at all times, whether in person or online.

Doug’s SEO tips were fantastic but, as I say, they match mine exactly, so I’m going to write another post on SEO soon.

==

Enterprise Nation

Sites that changed the home business world

A panel discussion chaired by Dan Wagner (Venda.com) with eBay UK (Mark Lewis), MyEhive.com (Louise Campbell) and BT Tradespace (Ivan Croxford)

This would probably have been the most relevant panel for crafters, except that the speakers were very much talking from a business perspective. I couldn’t help wondering how much more interesting this could have been if someone from Folksy had been invited, to talk more about the community aspects.

Product photography

Both Louise and Mark picked good product photography as the most important thing to get right with online marketplaces. It’s a vital link to sales, features and opportunities. Second most important is product descriptions, which need to be well written but also include keywords for SEO.

Feedback builds trust

A lot of discussion was about the feedback system pioneered by sites like eBay and which is now such an important way for buyers to find trustworthy sellers. If you have your own shop, can you incorporate a feedback system or testimonials page? eBay are even planning to highlight and promote sellers by their feedback ratings and good service record rather than the number of sales.

Stand out through customer service

With thousands of other sellers on marketplace sites, you need to use customer service to get yourself noticed. Good service leads to good feedback and repeat buyers.

Use Video

Apparently video is the next big thing – can you use video to show how your products work, or to showcase happy customers?

Use your individuality

People buy from a person not a company. Use your unique voice and a personal service to set you apart and build trust and word of mouth recommendations.

Build your network

Recommend other small businesses outside your scope, especially on business networking sites. Are there products or services that compliment your own? Can you refer your customers or collaborate? Help build a sense of community outside of big business.

==

Building a global business from my home

Christian Arno (Founder, lingo24.com) and Mike Hollands (Founder, Toniks)

A short discussion, as the previous panel ran over. Translation is something I’ve only recently given any thought to, having set up on DaWanda so I did find this very interesting.

Expansion through translation

Expand your customer base by translating your site into multiple languages,  but be prepared for enquiries in those languages. Translated sites also do well on foreign search engines as there’s not as much competition.

Take advantage of free technology

Similar to Doug Richard’s point – Mike talked about how they use Skype for global language classes – since Skype is free, they remove costs and instead can market a value for money premium service.

==

Make Me Famous!

A panel discussion on the media with Daryl Willcox (DW Publishing), Jenny Culshaw (Working Lunch) Lisa Sykes (Features Editor, Country Living) and Jimmy Leach (Head of Digital, Independent)

Another great panel for crafters – most of the advice here is common sense but so easy to get wrong. Also, the room was asked who did want to be famous and only 1 person raised their hand!

Stand out

Find a story about yourself and your business that makes you stand out. Your story should highlight your Unique Selling Point but, despite the name, you should also have more than one USP! Editors like jeopardy and life changes and want to know about the individual, not the company.

Target your promotion

Make sure you’re contacting the right person in the right way, otherwise don’t bother. Do your research to find the relevant person at a magazine or TV show that fits your target audience. Show you know what they do and why you’re a good fit.

Paper press releases are dead

Always use email – never send anything in the mail unless you have a unique idea or samples that will catch someone’s eye.

Why should someone open your email?

Journalists are busy and won’t read every email – you’ve got just the subject line to convince them it’s something worth opening.

Provide all the information they need

Once they’ve opened it, get it right. Give them all the information they need – don’t expect them to go to a website. On the other hand, don’t send attachments – send links to images and PDFs.

Make it personal

Include photos of yourself and where you work as well as your products. Quality is not that important – if they want to feature you, they’ll arrange to take their own photographs.

Are you ready?

Most importantly, are you ready for fame? Can you handle a sudden influx of orders, appearing on television or being recognised in the street? If not, approach the press at a level you’re comfortable with – try a local paper instead of an international magazine.

==

Interview with Mark Dixon (CEO, Regus) by David Parsley, Parsley Media

I admit I had never heard of Regus before this interview and spent the first half wondering what on earth his businesses actually did. While being way above most of our ambitions, being someone who has established global companies, gone public and sold off businesses, Mark Dixon was extremely interesting and I could have listened to him for a few hours more.

Not a huge amount I can pass on from this – you might not think of yourself as an entrepreneur but a few things really stuck out.

Drive to do better

Despite multiple successful global companies, Mark mentioned that he is only ever satisfied for a few minutes then wants to go on and do better.

Stay excited

Mark advised to sell a company once you’re no longer excited about it, or have nothing more you personally want to try with it. On a smaller scale, this could apply to giving up a product, range or style if it no longer gets you excited. Don’t just make things because they sell, or because no-one else does.

Most of the interview was personal experiences but he also mentioned a couple of Regus services that intrigued me. Regus own flexible use buildings throughout the globe. Coming soon they will be offering swipe cards for pay as you go office space worldwide so if you’re visiting stockists or manufacturers you can have a short term office space anywhere in the world, 24/7. Also access cards for business hubs where home workers and freelancers can meet for networking and socialising.

==

The future of business support

Panel discussion with Patrick Elliott (Business Link for London), Professor Colin Mason (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde), Dawn Whiteley (National Federation of Enterprise Agencies) and Andy Hudson (BT Local Business)

This sadly got bogged down in broadband availability issues but Colin Mason in particular raised two excellent points.

  • The majority of businesses that close did not fail, nor were financial disasters
  • Risk takers aren’t more successful

==

Mr Motivator aka Mike Finnigan

The final session was with ‘Mr Motivator’, though sadly not THE Mr Motivator. It was a little too cheesy for me but it was good to be reminded of a few motivational thoughts, e.g.

- Love what you do, so it’s never work
- Never be embarrassed about what you do – promote yourself at all times
- It takes a certain type of person to be an entrepreneur or start a business. Remember it’s you and your attitude who drives the business.

And a final word from, Scott Cain of Enterprise UK who had the sweetest point of the day, that however bad you might think you are doing, to some people, who’ve tried and failed at business, you’re a hero! Aww.

==

If you’ve found this advice helpful then make sure you check out the Enterprise Nation blog, for lots more tips and interviews. We’ll keep you posted when the documentary is available.

(All photos by Enterprise Nation – see more on Flickr)

Glisten!

December 15th, 2009 by Asking For Trouble

glisten

It’s your last chance for some handmade Christmas shopping with Glisten! in the Grassmarket taking place in Edinburgh this week. GCM member t-boo will be setting up stall from Thursday to Saturday while Miso Funky and Asking For Trouble share a stall on Saturday and Sunday. All the details are below.

From Thurs 17th December to Tues 22nd December (11am – 6pm) Edinburgh’s vibrant Grassmarket will be home this Christmas to an exciting new market for Scotland’s leading makers, artists and craftspeople.

Open for six days the market will provide the opportunity for quality makers across Scotland to showcase their work in a glistening marquee in the centre of the Grassmarket. The perfect place for that unique Christmas find.

Find out more at www.grassmarket.net