This week’s Small Business Spotlight is with the designer behind one of my FAVORITE websites on the internet! I’ve been obsessed with Carina from Polka & Bloom since I found her blog, Carina’s Craftblog. When I found out she crochets, knits and embroiders I was in awe! I am SO excited that she agreed this this interview, so let’s get to it!
Hi, my name is Carina – I’m Danish but live just outside London (in the UK) with my English husband. I’m an embroidery designer, author and craft blogger.
I design hand embroidery patterns which I sell in my shop, Polka & Bloom. I also teach online classes, write eBooks and content for printed books. This autumn my first book, Stitched Blooms, will be published by Lark Crafts.
I got started by accident, actually. The company I worked for went belly up and I was laid off along with several thousand others! It wasn’t a great job, so I wasn’t that sorry about not working there anymore. But obviously I missed the regular income! While I was looking for another job, I started selling a few patterns and I thought it might be worth pursuing. It’s not made me rich, but I’m doing something I absolutely love. And that is something I’m really grateful for. 🙂
What is a typical day in your life?
Week days usually look like this:
8 or 9am to 12pm: writing/replying to emails, doing research for pattern designs, sketching and embroidering.
12-1pm: I have lunch while reading blogs. And do a few quick chores around the house.
1-3pm: Taking photographs, embroidering, preparing pattern files.
3-6pm: More household tasks, preparing and eating dinner, spending time with the husband.
6-8pm: Writing blog posts, editing photos, writing a few more emails if necessary. Updating my website/shop etc.
I try to stop working on the computer by 8pm – But I may still be on the computer for a bit longer if I get lost in the blog-link rabbit hole! 😉
8-10pm: I’ll be doing some more embroidery or maybe playing in my sketchbook. And writing my to-do list for the following day! Very important!
I usually do some work on the weekends too, but nowhere near as much!
Where do you work?
At the moment we live in a one-bedroom flat, so my computer and desk are in the living room – it’s not ideal, but at least it means I’m in the same room as my husband when I’m working in the evening! When I’m embroidering I take a seat on the sofa. My fabric and thread usually spread onto the coffee table and the floor.
What is your favorite thing about running your own business?
My awesome customers! Every time I get a message from someone telling me they enjoyed stitching one of my patterns, I get SO happy!
And I love that I can set my own hours. I work a lot but at least I can spread my working hours throughout the day (and evening). Or I can take the day off and go check out a museum in London if I feel like it.
What is the hardest thing for you in running your business?
Doing it alone. There’s just never quite enough time for all the ideas I have or tasks that need to get done. Learning to prioritize is something I am still working on.
What surprised you the most when you started your business?
The fact that I actually did start a business. I’d never really imagined myself doing that.
What advice would you give to other business owners out there?
Always do your work to the best of your ability, continue improving and learning new things. And make sure you get paid properly. If you let others underpay you, it’s not treating yourself or your business with respect. And it will hurt your bottom line – there’s enough hobby makers devaluing the work of creatives already.
If you could choose anyone as your mentor, who would you choose?
I think Oprah would make a pretty great mentor. She’s a really savvy business woman!
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspired by so many different things. The colours of a sunset, the sleeve pattern in a 15th century painting. Buildings, a particular stitch or certain colours… Folk art from all corners of the world are a big source of inspiration for me.
What do you do when you’re NOT working?
I’m still embroidering! But I also crochet, sew, paint and draw. And recently I’ve also got a bit more ambitious with knitting.
If you won the lottery today what is the first thing you would do?
Depends on how much I won! If I won enough I’d pay off our mortgage and go visit my sister who lives in California.
What did you want to be when you were little and do you think you ever will be?
I wanted to be an astronomer – I doubt that’s going to happen now!
I’d like to thank Carina for answering my questions and sharing her awesome talent with us today!
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!