Tiddler and Fox News
Yesterday my sister in law asked me how the last two Christmas markets have gone and I had to be honest and tell her that one had not been so great and the other had been pretty good and totally worth getting out of bed for!
It occurred to me that I haven't talked about my experiences at fairs lately, and, lets face it, there's been a few. This year has been a steep learning curve for me and a lot of that has been around doing fairs and markets. I've been happily testing the water here, there and everywhere to find out what works for me and just as importantly, what doesn't and the Christmas fairs have been no exception.
The atmosphere at most have been brilliant, especially the two day market in Sherborne the weekend before last when the town was super festive and shoppers were out looking for lovely gifts. I love that type of fair, you meet such happy people and you know that the products of yours that they are buying will go as gifts to loved ones, which makes it very special when you sell a piece of handmade jewellery or a hand painted trinket box. I almost do that happy dance that creators and makers do when someone buys their stuff!
But I'm still learning too, so each time I take away some experience, sometimes, it's that I won't be doing that fair again in the future, or that each place has its own type of customer with their own expectations, or a piece of advice from a fellow trader, or even that simply, I'm getting bored of cheese sandwiches and must make myself something else to take to fairs!
I've also learnt to stay positive, no matter what happens on the day, I always come away with something, maybe not as much money as I had hoped but knowledge too, which has been invaluable.
So, there have been 29 fairs so far this year and by the time I finish my last fair of the year on the 20th December, I will have done 32 markets and fairs. Phew!
Some have taken me by surprise, some have been hilarious and one in particular was the catalyst to making me focus my mind on what I'm doing and the direction I'm taking in a way that I haven't considered before. So much more on that to come in 2017....
Not only have I learnt a huge amount, I've also made some amazing friends and been surprised and delighted at how supportive the traders all are to each other. It's great being able to say bye to each other at the end of the day and end with a 'see you next week', it's a little bit like having colleagues again...ones that you actually like..!
So, three Christmas Markets to go, and I'm now starting to feel festive and I'm tempted to get some Christmas films on the go and buy some stollen, to go with my litres of coffee daily. But I'm holding off...just until the 21st December when I can stop....and relax.
If you would like to know where I'll be this week and next, click here.
Until next time x
Last week I talked about simple but effective ways to wrap Christmas presents and mentioned that I usually end up doing the same thing each year, well its true of my decorations too! I've had the same ones for a long time, which is no bad thing as they have become my traditions and I add to the collection each year.
I am very traditional in going for gold and red but I thought I would explore ideas for how to create a vintage style Christmas with different styles of decorations.
1. Vintage ornaments
I think this style can be described as quite kitsch now but back in the 1970's and 80's when we all had these sort of decorations - my mum still uses some from when we were kids - everyone's decorations and trees looked the same. I love the colours and fun of this style, it's very eclectic and would work in both modern and more traditional homes, this is the sort of thing I mean:
2. White Christmas
I love this style of Christmas decoration, all those lovely mercury glass baubles and it's one of those styles that again, can look great with modern or traditional style homes and if, like me, you are a fan of shabby chic then its a perfect look.
Very simple but lovely looking with candlelight, you can pile up the ornaments, candle holders, jars etc and it will not look over the top. I think this image sums up what I mean perfectly:
If I had the courage I would go the whole hog this year and go back in time to the Victorian age! Each year I buy an advent calendar and it has to be in this style and I love it.
Something about the traditional images just speaks to my soul, not sure what that means but this might be the way to go next year when I'm more organised!
There is a wealth of images on Pinterest that you can use and print off for gift tags, menu backgrounds, hand made cards etc but here's a few other ideas of the sort of things you can make:
I just adore these old fashioned Christmas Greetings cards which could be used in all sorts of creative ways:
4. Country Rustic Style
If there's more of one style on Pinterest when it comes to Christmas ideas, then it's this one! So many ideas but they are all simple and effective, easy to make and cheap too.
Going for this style means you can use things you already have around the house, baskets, jars, bottles, jugs etc plus a pile of greenery from the garden or hedgerows, pine cones, some red ribbon and you're done!
5. Traditional Style
And we are back to my favourite and long standing way of Christmas decorating! You can't go wrong with the traditional colours of red and gold on a green tree. These type of decorations are so popular and you can collect them pretty much anywhere and they won't cost you much, they all go together and look fabulous piled on the tree. Just how inviting does this room look?!
This style also influenced my designs for my Tiddler & Fox heart decorations too with deep red and gold:
If you would like more inspiration try my Pinterest Board Vintage Christmas. You'll also find other boards dedicated to Christmas wrapping, food and drink and handmade gifts too.
So what's your favourite style of Christmas decoration? Let me know in the comments and I won't be offended if it's not red and gold!
Until next time x
Each year I have weird and wonderful ideas on how to wrap my Christmas presents, thinking how the recipient would like to see their gift under the tree, what could I add to the wrapping to make it extra special and add to the sense of anticipation on opening....and every year I end up buying nice wrapping paper and tying a simple ribbon on it!
Despite all my best intentions, they seem to look the same each year. I always re-use last years Christmas cards as tags, doing my bit for recycling, I only use the best cards as labels but this year I have vowed to do something different.
So, still not quite able to go as far as some (see my Pinterest Board for some simple ideas and some amazing ones too!), I will probably wrap presents something like this:
I love the simplicity of brown paper and the fact you can then add anything you like to the parcel to make it special. Here I've used different ribbons and twine to add texture and colour, fake flowers and of course, my hand painted Christmas hearts. Lovely wooden hearts that have a gorgeous rose image on one side and is blank on the other, perfect for writing messages.
I've sold quite a few already and all my lovely customers have said what a great idea it is to use such pretty tags, which then serve as an extra gift as they can be used afterwards. I love that idea...that you can add a special something cheaply and easily but one that can be treasured.
You can use anything you like to embellish gifts, I simply used ribbon I already had that isn't necessarily festive but can still look lovely, plus the fake flowers and pale rose heart aren't immediately Christmassy but I hope you agree that it makes the present look very special indeed and perfect for a vintage look to your gifts.
Tying baubles, greenery, berries or pine cones onto a gift is also a simple but effective idea and you can raid your decorations box for old decorations to use in a creative way or simply cut evergreen branches from your garden, nothing needs to cost a fortune. I also love the idea of adding sweets or candy canes to the wrapping, an edible present wrapping?! Yes please!
Doilies, lace, scraps of fabric, ribbon, twine, buttons, feathers, glitter, mini bells, photos; they can all be used to dramatic effect but are cheap and easy to source and brings back the idea of making do with what we already have and re-using and re-purposing.
Sometimes too, all you need is a colour theme, say grey and gold or red and green to bring a sense of coordination to your tree once all the gifts are under it. It could be the paper or simply a huge bow or thick ribbon that adds the colour, like this simple but stunning idea:
As mentioned above, I have put together a Pinterest board for more ideas, like the idea of simple ribbons but also colour combos and much more.
I also love the ritual of sitting down to wrap the presents. I usually wait until I have everything and then make a very special afternoon of it.
On goes the film; Muppet Christmas Carol, the fire is lit and there will probably be plenty of Christmas cake or stollen and Baileys coffee, it all helps me get in the festive mood and makes something that could be a bit tedious, a really enjoyable time and I think more love and attention goes into the wrapping which will be obvious to the recipient.
Let me know how you get on this year and how you make the occasion of wrapping that tiny bit more special and enjoyable.
Christmas is coming! I know, I know...it's only the 4th October, but I've been planning and making for Christmas since July so this doesn't feel weird for me, but I do appreciate that it may be a tad early for some. Now that my Christmas collection is on the website for all to enjoy, with further products to follow over the next couple of months, I thought I would briefly share with you how I have gone about planning for the festive period.
As this is my first year as a fully fledged retail business owner, the thought of starting my planning for Christmas in July seemed a bit daft, especially as I was sat here in shorts and t shirt whilst doing it (very difficult to get into the right mindset of snowflakes and silly jumpers when its over 24 degrees!) but I was so glad I did. The retail world really does start to think about the festive season in January, and in a way I wish I had too and I will be doing just that for 2017.
However, having said that, the past year or so has been a massive learning curve and my ideas, goals and plans have evolved and changed constantly over that time, so any Christmas ideas would most likely have changed too.
So, not having the faintest idea where to start I stumbled upon a course run by the lovely Jenny Hyde, called Christmas Support (www.thejennyhyde.com). Run over the month of August with five live webinars, a Facebook group and the chance to ask daft questions to Jenny too, it was money well spent. Not only was I able to have my questions answered by someone who didn't think I was an idiot, it was great to know that I was not alone in needing the support for this coming festive time, that Jenny was able to give clear guidance on all the different aspects; financial, social media planning, designing, making and creating that I should be thinking about. We were encouraged to visualise what our ideal Christmas would look like and how our products would be used and what feelings they would provoke.
I had a vision of what I wanted my Christmas plan to look like, what images I would need and the feel I wanted to create. I've tried really hard to achieve this. Not being an expert, I'm fairly happy so far, with plenty more to do, but my skills don't quite live up to the results I wanted and neither does my budget! However, by the end of this month I hope that I will have created something festive, cosy, nostalgic and warming, evoking that feel of a traditional Christmas that I love and that I hope my customers (you!) do too!
So along with making and creating new products, ordering festive products from my suppliers (candles and candle holders) and making decisions on what to stock when, I also had what seemed like the mammoth task of deciding what my social media strategy and images would look like. Wow. I put this off for about two weeks, not really understanding how to go about it. I already plan a lot of my blog posts, newsletters and social media posts in advance but doing it for a theme like Christmas that would pretty much cover two whole months or more left me feeling a bit overwhelmed - where do you start?!
Well, the answer to that is wine...no, not really...instead I made the decision to set aside an afternoon to plan. So armed with about 20 sheets of A3 paper, notebooks and lots of lovely colour pens, I sat on the living room floor and basically didn't move until I have a plan laid out in front of me!
I had a list of images I wanted to post on each platform, for Instagram I now have a list of images for every day in November and December, which is a first for me, as it means I'm not winging it for a change! Twitter and Facebook and my website all have a plan with topics and images mapped out. Still some gaps to fill and I haven't tackled Pinterest yet (LOVE Pinterest!), but I have blog posts planned and some drafted, and now as I write this, the Christmas collection is live too.
After two days of photography and editing and a whole 8 hours of uploading and writing listings, it's there! Phew. Still more lovely gifts to come but I'm so pleased that I've managed so much this early in October. You can see it here
It does mean that the office wall is covered in wall planners and sheets of A3 but I can go into the Christmas season feeling so much more confident and hopefully, ready!
I now promise that I won't mention the C word again until next month!
Until next time...
Well, here it is, the round up of September I promised you last week when I blabbered on about pretty much nothing!
So what has Tiddler & Fox (otherwise known as me!) been up to this month and have I discovered anything new and fabulously entertaining for you?
Well...on the blog I talked about how to create a cosy home for autumn (read how you can do that here) now that the nights are drawing in, it's time to hunker down and get snuggly. We haven't yet lit the fire but it won't be far away until we do and we have a log store full in anticipation. The kittens are in a lot more now too so that means winter is on it's way. You can also find an Autumn Collection on the website highlighting beautiful buys to make your home nice and cosy this season.
13th September was Positive Thinking Day and I wrote about the power of positive thinking and how to enhance the every day here. Five simple steps that you can take to make each day a little better.
Last week I discovered Home in Castle Cary, a fab new cafe/restaurant serving vegetarian and vegan food that even my other half liked! If you fancy checking out the lovely menu on offer, you can find out more about them here.
I attended several fairs and markets, in lovely Lymington, Wells and Yeovil and also the Vintage Brocante at The Larmer Tree in Wiltshire, a stunning venue with beautiful gardens. If you would like to visit, you can find out more here.
Behind the scenes I've also been to Autumn Fair at the NEC, a twice yearly trade fair and visited my suppliers for candles, the amazing St Eval Candle Co, and you will be pleased to hear that I placed my order for Christmas candles and I'm eagerly awaiting their delivery as we speak! They will be on the website asap and you won't be disappointed, they are truly beautiful and smell incredible. If you want to create an inviting festive atmosphere in your home this Christmas, these scented candles are a must.
Also, work in progress is my planning for Christmas and there will be lots of making going on, all ready to go so far are my limited edition handmade tree decorations - watch this space, they too will appear on the site soon, along with a range of handmade and vintage inspired gifts. Gift collections will be available in October, helping you to choose that perfect gift.
I'll be adding a blog post next month about my Christmas planning as I appreciate that September might be a little too early for some to be whittering on about that!
I hope it's been a good month for you, I'm looking forward to sharing more autumn and winter ideas with you next month, with recipes, ideas to enhance your interiors and suggestions for days out and enjoying autumn weather! Until next time...