Well after my last long and honest blog post back in May, I had hoped for a little feedback or even just one comment. I had been really struggling with the way things were going at Strawberry Annie's and sometimes a girl just needs a small boost.
So I don't like to beg, but if you do read my blog please do feel free to leave a comment, even if it's just a hello. I want to get back into blogging reguarly but to do that it helps to know someones reading it.
Ok back to Strawberry news...as you all know Strawberry Annie's specialise in handmade children's tutus, so this is where I'm focusing my efforts this month. I am having a rejig of the website and dropping the 'plain' fabric waist tutus. I love them but as there is such a small increase in price over the handtied, and they take much longer to make it makes sense to rethink.
Instead I will be launching a new 'English Rose' range of tutus, these will feature our very own special design fabric waist band, making them comfortable and durable but will also have a co-ordinating ribbon and rose. The rose will be removeable and can also be worn in as a hair flower or brooch. Each rose will feature either a polka dot or striped button in it's centre.
So if you want a fabric waisted tutu get on our site www.strawberryannies.co.uk, now as when they're gone, they're gone!
Did you also know we are over on facebook, so please do pop over and give us a like and say hello, you'd be made very welcome.
Wow...I can't belive it's May and I haven't blogged since Christmas. It's been a really busy year so far although things have moved in new directions.
As some of you will remember at the tail end of last year I bought the very lovely Delia the campervan with a view to launching a new enterprise....
Delia was the starting point of Custard Campers
Since our launch it been go go go with our first hire occuring before the website even went online...New Year was seen in with Delia out on hire. It's been an interesting ride so far, with plenty to keep me busy marketing, cleaning the campervan, planning, doing the accounts, cleaning the campervan, promotion, cleaning the campervan....you get the idea. Lots of lessons I've learnt from Strawberry Annie's over the last couple of years have been put to good use. Since then two more campervan's have been added to our fleet, so the custard side of things has taken alot of my attention.
All very intersting I hear you say but where does this leave Strawberry Annie's? Well I have still been busy sewing tutus and more, completing both wholesale and retail orders alongside launching/working on Custard Campers. However there is only so many hours in the day so what has taken a back seat is the marketing/promotion side of being a Strawberry. I have also deceided to not bother with the festivals this year. Normally Apr-Jul is flat out getting enough stock ready for these, so this has freed up the time I have needed for the campervans. The reason for not going is not purely time but more financial, I work exceptionally hard to prepare for the festivals, where I then arrive, set my stock out beautifully and try to sell as much as I can. Sadly though each year sales have gone down, but stall costs haven't! Add in travel costs (petrol being ridiculously high) staff costs as I can't set up a whole market stall completely on my own (well I can and have done but it is tough) and then it is long long hours at a festival and it always rains!
I have spent the last few months trying to deceide what to do with Strawberry Annie's. I poured so much time and emotion into trying to grow the brand into a viable business. I have done everything I can and have taken the risk on costly trade fairs to grow the wholesale side of the business. Sadly despite all of that, it ticks over but it's never going to grow to the point where I can take a reasonable wage from it, move into somesort of premises as trying to create in a confined space is hard and it would be lovely to have someone else to work alongside.
I think the turning point was last summer when I was turned down for an artists studio at Hylands House full story here. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement but normally I'm quite good at picking myself up and carrying on. This time that didn't really happen so well, not just because of the studio but more because it drove home the point that if somewhere subsidised aimed at small creatives felt I was too 'commercial' and I was way too small an enterprise to afford commercial rent than my dreams of getting out of my home working scenario would never happen.
I really needed to make the move, so I could get that work/home balance and refire my passion for the business.
Having said all that I am still running Strawberry Annie's....this week has been really good for orders. I have restocked my Folksy shop with loads more to come..... I am going to be taking a good hard look at my website and making the changes/improvements that I think before I was too close to be able to see.
So lets end on a more upbeat note....the jubilee is round the corner so if anyone needs any jubilee bunting I'm your girl
oh dear, I had so many plans for what I wanted to blog about in the run up to Christmas, but between lots of tutu orders and family things, time ran out.
So heres a quick round up of how the Strawberries spent Christmas Day...
The kids were under strict instructions not to get up before 7am, always a problem for my son who is a very early riser. After a fairly late night, I really struggled to get up despite them jumping on our bed repeatedly.
They put their Christmas sacks in the lounge as I don't trust them not to wake up in the night and open them all without us! So before they could go and see, eldest daughter had to be awoken which when your a grumpy teenager is no easy task but did give us a chance to make a cup of tea before the present frenzy.
Father Christmas had come up trumps once more, filling the sacks with some lovely gifts, and surprisingly managing to get the right gifts in the right sacks.
I got this absolutely gorgeous Strawberry Dress from the fabulous Vivien Of Holloway shop, thanks to my husband making a last minute shopping detour after I very unsubtely hinted I wanted it!
After breakfast and general faffing about we loaded up Delia with kids, dog, and everything the kids wanted to show their Nanny. After searching for a petrol station as I'd forgot to fill her up before, we set off for my parents an hour later than planned.
At parents house yet more presents but sadly none from us, as I discovered to my horror I'd left the box with everyone's presents at home. To say I was gutted was an understatement, I had bought some really nice gifts and wrapped them beautifully, packed them all in one box so I wouldn't forget any, then forgot the whole box!
Lovely Christmas Dinner, and in case your wondering I wasn't really sat on my own, the kids had been there but they had drifted off to play with their toys.
We left around 8pm so arrived home late, with some very grumpy, exhausted kids, ready for the next round the following day, as Boxing Day is my youngest daughters birthday.
Oh dear I've been a rubbish strawberry and neglecting my blog once again. So much has been happening since my last post.
We had a long awaited for trip to Disney World Florida. The sun shone, the little strawberries smiled and it was all very laid back and relaxing.
By the time we returned to the UK it was difficult to get back in my stride with Strawberry Annie's but as we fast approached the Christmas rush, the orders started coming in and we got creative once more.
It has been steady this year but I have a full order book for the coming week so I predict some early morning and late night sewing. It is not too late though to order a custom tutu for your princess. If you need to get a present for a niece or close friends daughter than how about one of our Frou Frou tutus? These tutus are really full and fluffy and best of all they come in their very own gorgeous gift box! So all you have to do is impress your family and friends with your amazing gift choice.
I have loads more to tell you but will leave it there for today but will be blogging right the way up to Christmas now as I have lots of ideas to share with you.
Well after hiring the very lovely Belinda the Campervan from the Buttercup Buses I fell a little bit in love with her and wanted one of my very own.
After convincing Mr Strawberry that this would be a good move and something I could make money from, the search for the perfect camper began.
A friend recommended this one and it was soon clear it was the van for us. A very scrumptious Rhubarb & Custard Camper..I'm thinking of calling her Delia to tie in with the whole custard/food idea.
I am now trying to come up with a name for my new venture and its tricky! I am hoping to hire her out for weddings and self drive holidays so the name needs to work for that. My plan is for the business to grow so I want a name that can accommodate that.
Ideas so far;
Mrs Dub's Campers - need tag line Custard Campers - A taste Of retro or Mrs ________Campers - a taste of retro (fill in the blank with food related name)
What do you think good or rubbish, or do you have any ideas, I'm open to suggestions.
Following on from Guilfest, we then went to Lollibop in Regents Park London. This could of been good, but the organisers had booked far too many 'dress up' stalls so was overall disappointing, so very frustrating when you set up three stalls away from another tutu stall!
Since September we have picked up some new wholesale customers and have been busy adding new stock to all our shops.
We have put Halloween Sets online;
We have also added new tutu tiara photos to the site
The strawberries are having a holiday, as we're not great once the cold moves in but we will be back to work on Monday 7th November, to fulfill all Christmas orders.
Well Guilfest has always been my favourite of festival, loads of people, good mix, plenty of families and usually loads of money spent....NOT THIS YEAR!
We traveled to Guildford Thursday morning (late as usual) and arrived on site to gorgeous sunshine. We had the lovely Sarah from Photos by Sarah, along to help us this year. So the stall went up quickly and we were soon busy 'strawberryfing' it. My new picture frames displays looked gorgeous and quirky and we were confident that it would be a good event.
Unfortunately sleep was hard to track down Thursday night due to some very noisy neighbours (the singing nuns!) I crawled out of my tent Friday morning feeling tired and ill, and the day kind of went down hill from there. The sun did shine but the festival felt empty, I wasn't too worried at this point as Friday is always a slow day, leading into the very busy Saturday. We awoke Saturday to the unmistakable sound of rain bouncing off our tents, and it proceeded to rain sometimes torrential for most of the weekend. Both sets of lights for the stall blew out, so we were sat in the dark every evening unable for customers to see our goods.
Trade overall was exceptionally slow and on the Sunday I was keen to go home. By one o'clock in the morning we were loaded up ready to go, and then the lights packed up on my trailer. At this point it was hard to keep spirits up, we eventually got home around 5.30am, ready to get up at 8am to go to Gloucester to collect the little strawberries and then back to go to work with Sarah Monday evening when she was photographing a prom. Busy times.
Sorry for the grumpy post, normal cheerfulness will be resumed next time.
Tea loving, cake eating, crazy trike riding woman with red hair, I love creating for Strawberry Annie's, busy building my brand while juggling being a mum to three children (well two little ones and one almost adult!)