With Christmas just around the corner I thought it would be great to interview a number of creative crafters that can offer something unique at this time of year. This week I am delighted to feature Cathryn from Cathryn and Chloe's Couture Creations.
Hi for those who don't know you could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello my name is Cathryn Banks, I'm 36 years old happily married and have 3 beautiful children who are 17, 13 and 4 years old. My job and work life of 10 years as a nursery practitioner ground to a halt after having my youngest back in 2012 a few months after her birth I was suffering greatly with back pain and one morning I collapsed and couldn't feel my lower half of my body. After 2 emergency operations I had 2 discs removed from my spine as apparently they were pressing down on nerves, although I regained the feeling in my legs, I was still left with nerve damage and I'm now a chronic pain sufferer and rely on crutches and a wheelchair to aid my mobility. Due to all of this and the extensive medication I require I knew I would not be able to carry out any other form of teaching or indeed a normal job. So after months of boredom I began to experiments with crafts in order to occupy my mind etc.
I initially designed phones cases and when friends and family were asking me to make more for them I decided to take the plunge and become my own boss and set up a craft business from home. I began in January 21st 2014 and trialled my designs using advertising on social media then the popularity grew and I then began to extend. My range and open up an Etsy shop. Originally my eldest daughter helped me to make various items and we called the business Cathryn and Chloe's Couture Creations.
As I have good and bad days health wise I'm able to work around my own illness and still earn some money and be my own boss. For many months I felt quite upset and felt lonely as I couldn't return to a normal job where you get to spend time with other people, I really missed that interaction but it's amazing what a therapy it can be by creating and making new things. I also felt guilty about just my husband bringing in the main wage etc so the business has given me a purpose again.
What sort of creative business do you run?
My business sells many different hand made products..Initially it was just Bespoke Phone cases, and tablet covers etc but over the past 3 years the range has evolved into products such as... Compact mirrors, Stationery, diary/planners, Wedding gifts and hair accessories plus home decor items such as frames and trinket boxes. All of my designs are one of a kind and never repeated, I like to describe my style as being a vintage style with a modern twist, I like to use lace, material and jewellery and brooches that can be up cycled and used as embellishments...I also love to used pearl beading and diamanté rhinestones. My mission statement is ‘designed by me and inspired by you’ because unlike a lot of other similar businesses I actually work with the customer from start to finish and they get full input with colour and style choices right down to layout and what kind of embellishments they like, very often I have a lot of brides who request me to match and tie in with their theme, style and colours schemes.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a go themselves?
My advice would be to believe in yourself and dreams. whole heartedly...dedicate a lot of time researching your product ideas and seek out who you are aiming to sell your product too...always be positive and don't expect overnight success, with any business do everything by the book, get yourself registered with HMRC from day 1....ensure you have sound payment methods that are safe and easy for your customers to use..Also write out policies for your customers to read. Eg...shipping cost and times, returns and exchange policies plus things like insurance etc....and the last piece of advice I would give is spend time getting your business and products seen....make sure your photographs of your products are clean and visually appealing with clear pricing, and always use a logo and watermark to prevent people from claiming your design and photo as their own...I've seen this happen so much recently on Facebook etc. Never be afraid to ring trading standards for advice on what you can and can't sell and always ensure you NEVER breech copyright on other company brands. With business you always get back what you put in so it's worth the hard work! Keep clear accounts again the HMRC have a fantastic website to help people with how and what they need to do...many people think they only need to register with them once they have sold a few products.....wrong! If you’re actively setting up a page or website with products you intend to sell and make a profit on then you MUST be registered with them as self employed so many people get this wrong and end up being fined or closed down.
Where can we find you?