?Running a hobby/craft-based business sounds like fun, the cost of supplies or ingredients leaves you laughing all the way to the bank…right?
But is it really that easy – married mum Anna Wreford, 33, talks about running Big Bird Boutique and and how she makes sure she doesn’t get left out of pocket – even when doing favours for her friends.
What work did you do before you set up your company?
I was the design director at a furniture consultancy company that specialised in the education sector.
?How did you fund the business?
I’m funding the business with my personal savings, and using my hoard of fabrics I have been collecting for years.
I already had most of the equipment I needed, but I decided to get a new overlocker (special sewing machine) to be more time efficient with the actual making. I sell my items through Etsy and advertise on social network sites such as Facebook, so the set up costs for these are minimal. ??
How do you work out what to charge customers for your creations?
I start by looking at how long it takes me to make the item, and aim to pay myself a realistic hourly rate. After adding on the expenses I hope that the total is in line with the market. If it isn’t then I adjust my hourly rate to the lowest I would go. This varies per item as each item is different. ??Do you think you can lose money in this type of business?
Yes – as I am addicted to buying fabric! But on a serious note, yes, I do think that you can easily lose money as a designer maker. Some items take a long time to make and if you charge accordingly you just won’t get any buyers. Sadly, I don’t think the average person realises what is involved in making beautiful handmade products.??How do you help out friends and family without being out of pocket?
I am a bit of a sucker when it comes to friends and family; I don’t like making money out of them. However, as I am trying to run a small business I charge cost plus a little bit more so I at least make something.??
What are your running costs?
As I work from home my day to day running costs are minimal. There is a cost involved with running the Etsy shop, but this is peanuts really. There are more costs when I go to craft markets but these are not day to day costs that I get hit with.
??Do you employ anyone or use any form of help?
The only help I have is from my mum who looks after my little girl one day a week. One day I will employ someone to do all the monotonous sewing bits!?
?What was the motivating factor for staring your own business?
Being at home with my baby girl and watching her grow.
??What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
The flexibility it allows me so I can work around my daughter and her needs.
?Running a business can be a mixed bag sometimes. What have been you highs and lows so far?
It is early days, but I am worried about how I will juggle my time between working and looking after my daughter as I get busier. It is OK at the moment, but she has just started to crawl so my life is not as easy as it used to be! My highs have been Etsy featuring my floor cushion on their daily news letter â€“ I had over 16,000 views of my shop in one day!
??How have you managed to stay on top of running your business along with the demands of motherhood while running a business?
I have to structure my week and make sure that I am doing enough with my daughter and not neglecting her! We go to a few activities each week, which is great fun. When she goes down for her nap, which thankfully still happens twice a day, I have to get into work mode and do as much as I can in that little window. It’s a question of doing what you can when you can and not getting stressed out if the day isn’t going the way it should.
?How has running your business impacted on your relationship with your partner and children?
I am lucky enough to have a husband who works from home, too, when he is not out with a client. He is a photographer. Although I am the main carer of our daughter I know that if I have a big deadline he can help me out by juggling his commitments – it’s team work! I absolutely love that we both work at home and think that it has made our relationship stronger. But as our home is also our place of work it is sometimes hard to switch off so we do have to remind ourselves to take some time out occasionally!
?Any tips for expectant mums, or mothers who feel that you can’t have a successful career and a happy family life at the same time?
If you can get friends or family to look after your child on a regular basis then do! Make use of those offers. It is a godsend that I can rely on having at least one full day a week to concentrate on my business without the interruptions of my baby. Start small, in bite-sized chunks. If you can handle more then take a bigger bite.