Today I’ve got a great spotlight on Heather, the creative genius behind Keep Calm and Crochet On UK.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m a happily married, full time working mum with a toddler and a dog. With a hectic lifestyle the one thing that keeps me calm and sane is crocheting.
Tell us a bit about your business:
I started my business page on Facebook in April 2012 but didn’t really start the business going properly until 6th June 2012. I am certain of the date as that’s the day I finished my degree (after 6 years!). Now that the studying was over I had the time to concentrate on putting my efforts into something new. A year on and I have 4000 fans on Facebook! I am working hard designing original crochet patterns whilst working on custom orders. The patterns I design are varied but I specialize in blankets and individual afghan square patterns.
I re-caught the crochet bug when I was pregnant with my daughter who was born in 2011. I was overwhelmed by an urge to make something so I started with a filet crochet bunny blanket (that unfortunately was lost at some point). My Nana and Mum had taught me the basic’s when I was young so I quickly fell back into a crochet rhythm and once the blanket was finished I was well and truly re-hooked on crochet!
What is a typical day in you life like?
Typical day for me starts at 6 am when my two year old daughter shouts down the baby monitor to wake me and my husband up. I’m at work for 7 am for 9.5 hours (as I work a condensed week) so it’s a quick turnaround in a morning. When I come home after picking up my daughter from nursery I make our tea, do a bit of house work before putting her to bed around 7 pm – it’s then when I get my time to crochet! I can usually get in 2-3 hours each evening whether that be working on a pattern or making something up. I usually get more time to crochet at the weekend (which starts for me on Friday) if we don’t have anything planned and will often crochet on and off throughout the whole of Friday, Saturday and Sunday – I think I crochet fairly quickly which helps.
It is hard to fit in everything that you want to do but for me the time spent working on designs or actually crocheting is my down time. One of the best things about having this sort of business is that I can do it at home whilst spending time with my family.
The busiest times for me are definitely Christmas as I also like to make gifts for my family – this year I plan to start in September! I think more and more people want to buy something special, unique and handmade these days so this year I will be working on some stock for some ready to ship items rather than try to make everything to order in December.
I usually crochet in my living room in a comfy chair surrounded by cushions and yarn. I have been known to crochet anywhere though even the motorway (whilst my husband drives). Since I started my business I feel antsy if I am sitting without a crochet hook in my hand these days.
What is your favorite thing about running your own business?
I love the challenge and creativity that is involved in creating something new out of crochet. I love trying to put it down on paper in a way that others will understand. For others to understand the vision that I had and be able to make it to – well I get a real kick out of it!
I would say that I mainly make baby blankets (though I do make other things) and I love the idea that something I have made is going to be used to wrap up a baby or child either for bed or for their pushchair or just for them to snuggle.
Also as someone who eats, sleeps and dreams crochet I love all the interaction I get on Facebook with other like-minded crafty people.
What is the hardest thing for you in running your business?
The hardest thing for me is that there is never ever EVER enough time in the day to do everything I want to do as well as the things I have to do. It’s hard going at times trying to run a business, work a full time job, be a mother and a wife but I wouldn’t change it for the world!
What surprised you the most when you started your business?
Strangely I was surprised that people seemed to like what I was doing, wanted to interact with me and to actually buy my patterns and what I had made. It has certainly given me a confidence boost knowing that people actually do want to do all those things.
What advice would you give to other business owners out there?
Perseverance is key I would say, just keep on going and you will get there eventually. It took time for me to build up my business and I am still building it now. It’s important to remember that everyone starts at the bottom and works their way up but you have to be prepared to put in time and effort in.
If you could choose anyone as your mentor, who would you choose?
I’m blessed that my mentor is also my mum; she is more experienced and knowledgeable about crochet than me and is always there to guide me when I need help to figure something out or just to gauge an opinion about something. There are times now though where I am showing her new tricks and techniques which is such fun for both of us.
I would say I get my inspiration from everywhere, I often see things and think; would that work crocheted? Or I want something specific that I can’t find so play around with some yarn until it develops into what I want. Or I see some colours and I think I want to make something that colour. Or I see some yarn and think I’ve just got to make something out of that.
There are also hundreds of other talented craft and crochet people out there on Facebook , Ravelry, Craftsy and Pinterest that inspire me as well.
What do you do when you’re NOT working?
When I am not at my full time job or crocheting I like to read. Although my degree was in English Literature I think you can’t beat a good crime thriller; Karin Slaughter, Tess Gerritsen and Val McDermid are my kind of reads.
If you won the lottery today what is the first thing you would do?
Quit my day job! Then with my family go travelling and spend the time carefully plotting how I can take over the world one crochet goody at a time!
What did you want to be when you were little and do you think you ever will be?
I wanted to be a teacher, it’s something I might still pursue in the future but when my daughter is older.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have a great memory for things that happened awhile ago but my short term memory sucks – I often walk into a room and forget what I was doing!
If you could live anywhere in the world where would you live?
If I could take my family and friends with me it would be Italy as my husband and I love it there. But I couldn’t just emigrate I would miss everyone too much.
Thank you Heather for sharing your insight! It’s been great learning so much about all the crocheters out there!
Do you know a business I should consider interviewing for an upcoming Small Business Spotlight? Leave a comment or email me with a link to their information and let me know! Wish I would have asked a different question? I will be changing up some of the questions in the future, so if you have something in particular you would like to know be sure to let me know!
Thanks Everyone! Happy Tuesday!