Sunday, 28 February 2016

Meet The Maker - Rock The Bump

We interviewed Zoe Keeping from Rock The Bump - Pregnant Belly and Body Casting. 

Introduce yourself and your business:
My name is ZoŃ‘, I am a work at home mum to two young children and Owner/Artist of Bournemouth based business - ‘Rock the Bump – pregnant belly and body casting’. Rock the Bump works with mums-to-be to create a bespoke, artistic, keepsake of their pregnancy.

When did you start your small business and why?
I found out about belly casting when I was pregnant with my second baby in 2013. I wasn't aware of anyone offering pregnant belly casting locally so got all the kit together so hubby and I could create one ourselves. As is often the case with DIY casting kits we just never got around to doing the casting before baby arrived. A year later I started to explore the idea of creating belly casts for other expectant mums and Rock the Bump was born!

Is your business a full time, part time or spare time operation?
As a work at home with two under 5s (and number 3 on the way!) every day is different as I juggle to fit in my "bump work" (as my two little ones call it!) alongside everything else. Weekends are when I get the most time to focus on Rock the Bump, often seeing clients for casting sessions on Saturdays and spending time in the studio on Sundays getting messy - strengthening and smoothing casts, painting, finishing and preparing casts ready for clients to hang/display in their homes.

What was your most memorable keepsake made?
Last year I had the pleasure of casting Rebecca’s pregnant belly with her husband’s and 4-year-old son’s hands cradling her beautiful bump. This was really special as Rebecca’s husband works abroad so was only home for a very short time to see the birth of his baby and we were lucky to be able to create the cast just in time! I relish the opportunity to work with women and their partners to create custom design, artistic pregnant belly casts that are personal to them, often incorporating artwork that evokes memories not just of their pregnancy but of the life and love they shared before the arrival of their precious newborn baby.

What is your most affordable item?
Prices start from as little as £35 for a basic belly only cast. Customers can then opt for plain, classic, deluxe or custom options to include strengthening of the cast with high grade casting plaster, smoothing and painting/artwork and varnishing. Price is very much dependent on individual requirements based on time and materials involved.

What short term goals do you have your your business?
My focus at the moment is improving my Social Media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, interacting more with my followers, starting a blog and increasing the visibility of my posts to help spread the word and reach more customers.

What is your long term goal for your business?
So far, I've had the pleasure of casting beautiful baby bumps from Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch to Salisbury, Basingstoke, and Wiltshire with bookings already confirmed for April for two lovely mums-to-be from Surrey and London! Ultimately I would like to see the Rock the Bump brand grow and become the go-to pregnant belly casting studio for all expectant mums.

And now for some fun questions...

City or Countryside? Bit of both. I grew up in the countryside but love Bournemouth as it offers the best of both worlds.

Custard or Cream? Custard.

Cats or Dogs? Both.

Tea or Coffee? Black coffee all the way - needs must…

Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Facebook – I still struggle to keep it brief on Twitter and Instagram but am getting there…slowly!

Reading a book or watching a film? Neither – I used to love both but have the attention span of a gnat since having children, plus there’s never any time!

Obsessively Tidy or Organised Chaos? Organised chaos…

If you want to see more from Zoe, visit the website or Facebook Page

Friday, 12 February 2016

Packaging your Keepsakes

Hello! It's time for a new blog post, I'm sorry I missed last week but I had so much to do before a long weekend away at the seaside that I didn't get chance. Anyway, I'm back now and have been having a think about packaging. I know a lot of artist's and crafter's struggle with making their products look pretty, especially without spending too much money but in my opinion the packaging makes the whole purchasing of handmade keepsakes an experience. 

Let's start with the basics, I recommend getting a big sheet of paper and a pen and drawing up a brainstorm with your notes to refer back to:


Have a think for a moment about your keepsake business. Is your brand conveying luxury? Is it heavily influenced by environmental issues? Your packaging should reflect your ethos as it is the first thing people see when they receive your product and first impressions matter! Consider the cost implications of 'luxury' packaging and remember that 'eco' packaging might not always be the cheaper option either.


Do your products vary widely in size and construction? If so, you might have to source a range of packaging solutions and this could be tricky. It is much simpler if all your products are similar in size. If you sell something small such as jewellery you will have a wide range of packaging options but if you need to present larger or awkwardly shaped items then this is where it becomes an issue.


Is the product you sell delicate or breakable? Does it need reinforced packaging? Will it be going in the post and potentially be knocked around/stood on/thrown over fences (oops!)? Sometimes you may need to compromise on the beauty of the packaging if it is to withstand transportation but try not to let it worry you as your customer's will prefer their order to arrive in one piece. Delicate products may include fine jewellery, glass items but also fabric items that may snag or catch.


Finally, your brand plays a vital role in deciding your packaging. It's not just about picking a colour box or whacking a logo sticker on the parcel, you have to think carefully. If you already have a clearly defined brand then that is great, however if you don't you will most likely end up frittering money buying 'this and that' as you are undecided on the look you want to achieve. As I mentioned in a previous blog post; branding is about more than just a logo.

So now you have your sections written out clearly you will be able to see the kind of items you need to hunt down. It will involve lots of trawling the internet, craft catalogues and maybe phoning up companies for the best prices but I promise it will be worth it in the long run. Here are some possible suggestions for things to look out for:


These can be very versatile as you can have stickers stickers of your logo, fancy labels for your customer's addresses or your return address or maybe even Thank You stickers. You might even find you can print them yourself on your home printer although it is worth checking prices as it is possibly cheaper to buy in bulk from a professional printing company, they may also be able to offer different types of sticker including removable, transparent, metallic or glossy that suit your brand better.

Stickers for Tiny Treasures keepsakes


Stamps work in a very similar way to stickers in that you can use them for so many items. A handstamped tag looks handmade and rustic and may very well suit your brand but if you require a large amount of information it might be better to go down the printed route at least for some of it. If you use the correct ink you can even stamp directly onto products such as wooden plaques or care labels on fabric. It works out very cost effective as stamps can last many years.

Stamps for Wirelife - Art by Cerysanne


Swing tags can get expensive if you need only small quantities, the price often comes down when buying in bulk. They look very professional though and are especially good if you have a complex logo or need to include a large amount of text information with your item. Don't forget the string/twine or ribbon you may need to tie on the tags. This final touch can really bring a look together.


Your product may only require being wrapped in tissue or it might need a more substantial box. Either way you need to think about the material used. Tissue paper is great as it comes in a wide variety of colours and you can even get patterns but it can tear and crinkle easily, you may also need to ensure it is acid free as you don't want it to cause damage to your products. Dark coloured tissue can also bleed colour onto fabrics if it gets damp. Boxes vary greatly in price and quality, if you decide to go with boxes, it is worth investing in the best quality you can afford. As you item is a keepsake, the customer may choose to store it safely in the original box at certain times. A nice touch is having your logo professionally printed onto boxes but this can be a costly set up. A sticker/ stamp or swing tag might be a better alternative.


Finally, one of the most important aspects of packaging is including your business card. A good quality professional looking card is more likely to be kept and passed on. You might even wish to include a flyer or loyalty card if you think your customer may want to come back. A handwritten note on branded paper is a nice touch but try not to go too overboard!

I hope you have enjoyed our little rundown of important packaging suggestions and it has helped you to focus. Remember you are always welcome to send us your photos or questions regarding your packaging and we may include you in a future blog post.


Clarise Crafts - for custom stamps and branding
Unwrap Colour - for twine, tags, ribbon & washi
Awesome Merchandise - for branded goods

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Craft Business Book Review

Today, I'd like to give a little rundown of some of my books I have read recently which may be invaluable if you are running your own small craft business. You may have already read some but if not they are all worth checking out:

1. Grow Your Handmade Business by Kari Chapin

Kari Chapin is author of The Handmade Marketplace which I have heard lots of good things about, however, it was geared up to 'starting' a business so I didn't think that was very relevant. Instead I decided to give this one a go. The downside to this is that the author is American so some of the information is a bit vague, it also tried to cram a lot into one small book so it can feel a bit overwhelming. On the positive side, it is laid out fairly simply and the text is broken down into bite-sized chunks, there are no picture but a few graphics so it makes it less stuffy than some business books. The actual content is very professional and is a really good oversight into the internal workings of a successful small business. Personally, I would rate it 4/10 for inspiration but 7/10 for content and 6/10 for ease of use.

2. The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum

Most crafter's will say that getting good photos is one of the things they struggle with the most and I'll agree! I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see what tips this book had. It is a very attractive book, broken up into easy sections and with lots of great photos (of course). It runs through everything from start to finish and it doesn't assume that you have a super fancy camera or equipment set up. There are chapters for each catagory within the craft industry so you can find inspiration straight away but it is work looking at other catagories too to gain a real insight. The only negative about this book is the text is a little small in some places so if your eyesight isn;t the best, I'd dig out the reading glasses. Overall I would rate it 9/10 for content and 7/10 for ease of use. This would be a great investment for your business!

3. How to Style your Brand by Fiona Humberstone

Everyone I have spoken to about this book have fallen completely in love with it. It really is very beautiful and inspiring. Fiona Humberstone is a brand stylish, basically she makes your business look amazing. Branding is not just about a pretty logo, it is so much more and this book takes you on a process to discover exactly what your brand is. It is very interactive and you can follow the prompts throughout the book and learn so much. Obviously the photography is amazing too and the content is superb. I highly recommend this for any small business, even if you think your branding is complete.
Rated 9/10 for inspiration, 8/10 for ease of use and 8/10 for content.

4. Online Marketing for your Craft Business by Hilary Pullen

Out of the 4 books, this is probably my least favourite. Content-wise it is very good but I found it a bit stuffy to read and the red and green text was a bit offensive on the eyes. I think the information could have been laid out in a more appealing way as it does go quite in depth and gives some really vital information in the world of online marketing. The only issue I see is that is may become outdated quite soon as the online world moves so quick so I would suggest getting the most recent edition of it if possible. I rate it 8/10 for content but only 4/10 for ease of use.

I hope these reviews have been useful to you and your business, please remember they are only my opinions and everyone is different. The best thing to do is visit your local bookshop and have a browse, it is much easier to get a feel for a book as you flick through the pages. However, I will say that books are one of the best investments to your business as knowledge is invaluable. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Planning for Craft Fairs

I know it is January and Christmas seems like a lifetime away but it is never too early to start prepping for Craft Fairs. There are a great variety of fairs nowadays and some can be a great way to gain local exposure for your business. In the run up to the festive season you will see a lot of gift fairs advertised but what about the rest of the year? Have you considered Summer fairs, School fairs, monthly or local farmers markets? Do you products lend themselves to Wedding 'fayres' or other niche fairs and exhibitions to suit your small business? Here is a run down of some of our top tips:

1. PLAN YOUR YEAR IN ADVANCE - get out your yearly calendar and realistically plan how many fairs you have time to do in the year. Take a look at previous years sales to find your quieter months and then have a look for any local fairs you might be able to fit in at those times. Avoid booking too many in November if you know that online sales are going to be busy and cause more stress. Most of the popular fairs are booked up many months in advance so if there are still tables available a few days before it might not be worthwhile.

2. RESEARCH THE VENUE - Before agreeing to a table do your research. Check if there is likely to be any passing footfall such as on a busy high street or shopping centre. Has the venue done any marketing or promoting of the event? Are there any other activities going on at the same time as the craft fair that may attract people through the door. If you can visit an event at the venue beforehand to get a feel for the place it can be really helpful too.

3. REMEMBER ALL THE VITALS - Mock up your table at least a few nights before and imagine everything that might happen during the day. Make a list of all the items to remember and pack everything in an orderly way to save time on the morning. Using a trolley bag or suitcase can be really helpful for transporting, much easier than carrying boxes. The basic list of things may include; stock, display props, tablecloth (large enough to cover the front of the table too so you can hide boxes underneath) additional lighting if required, business cards, float, receipt book, card machine, carrier bags, note /log book and pen for jotting down sales and finally snacks and refreshments as you don't want to spend all your profits on cups of tea!

4. DEFINE YOUR AREA - When you practise laying out your table try various options to see what works best. When you are happy with the layout, remove 20% of the items you have put on display then see how it looks. We have a tendency to over-clutter and it can be really unsightly and off-putting to customers. It either makes the table look untidy or confused. Remember you can take additional stock with you and replenish when necessary. Your items should be displayed in zones by either theme or product depending on what you sell, there should be clear signs and prices for everything and business cards or flyers should be prominent. I've always found bargain baskets or seconds baskets are great for attracting people to your stall and having a rummage, you should still be selective about what you include in your seconds basket as those items are still reflective of your brand and your business.

5. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED - be prepared for things to go wrong, you may find you have a different size or shape of table to what you were told. Bring warm clothing as it may be draughty (if in an old hall or if you are placed near a door) Bring tools for repairing simple items or stationery for making additional signage for your table that you may have forgotten. Get to know the other stall holders as you may need to be leave your stall for a drink or a bathroom break at some point and they might be able to keep an eye on your stock for you. Don't leave anything valuable unattended.

6. CUSTOMER SERVICE IS KEY - make the right impression to passing customers. Try to dress professionally and avoid sitting down/ hiding when customers are near your table. Smile and greet everyone and if they stop to look at something, offer some insight into the item. Try to be relaxed and not too keen as that can put browsers off. Sometimes engaging in conversation can persuade people to purchase rather than walk away.

7. GO THE EXTRA MILE - leave a lasting impression on your customers by going the extra mile. It may make all the difference if that customers remembers your business and comes back in the future or recommends you to their friends. Ideas may include offering a gift wrapping service, a loyalty scheme or freebies with their purchase when they spend over a certain amount.

I hope this list will be useful to those of you starting out selling face to face, it can be a real mix of ups and downs and you will find some fairs are better than others. The best approach to have is to see it as exposure for your business and any sales you make on the day are a bonus, plus there is usually a great cake stall to take advantage of too!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Welcome to 2016

Hello and Happy New Year, I know we are already on the 17th January but it is never too late!

The Guild of Keepsake Artists took a break in the run up to Christmas, this was due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the Guild is helped to run by a number of volunteers who all run their own keepsake businesses and as you should be aware the months leading up to Christmas are generally the busiest, and I think 2015 was one of the best yet! We were underprepared for the lack of time we would have to update the blog and website but hopefully some plans we are putting into place this year will mean we can support our members in 2016 and beyond. Secondly, and really crucially you have probably noticed that organic reach through Facebook is at an all time low as they make changes to the way users see posts from pages. We have a number of tips we can share with you (in anther blog post) but it has affected us so badly that we felt it was time for a change and we would rather communicate through the tried and tested method of blog posts and the newsletters.

So, where are we now? There is a still a long way to go until we establish the blog but we have been planning away in the background. The first change you might have noticed is our new branding, we are lucky to have a graphic designer on the team and so we decided that a new year needed a fresh look, it is not too dissimilar to previous so you should still recognise us though! Our key values are still the same too, we aim to provide advice, support, networking and community and they will be playing a big part in our plans for the year.

As mentioned earlier in the post, we will be using this blog as our main communication channel to  share news, hints and tips on business and networking as well as getting to know our members. Please remember to bookmark the blog and look out on our social media channels where we will be posting links to our latest posts just for you.

We would appreciate any members contacting us at any time to tell us about their latest news or products and we are more than happy to share and promote those for you, just send us an email

Keep those eyes peeled for new and exciting content coming soon!