I'm so excited about this festive DIY post, especially since I took the photos for it almost a year ago! So last year myself and David decided we weren't going to do proper Christmas presents, instead we'd make each other an advent calendar filled with tiny goodies so we'd have something little and fun to open each morning on the run up to Christmas.
Advent calendars are getting quite elaborate; speciality food ones, luxury candles and beauty products. They're also quite expensive and there's a chance you'll end up with a lot of random items that aren't to your taste. Creating an advent calendar means you can make it super personal. I really loved gathering all the bits for David's one and it was a lot of fun to wrap! There's so many ways of creating advent calendars like this, just take a look on Pinterest. I thought I'd share how I made my hanging one along with a free printable of the numbers I designed for it.
You will need:
There's not really any instructions for this one! All you need to do is decide what order you want the gifts in, mix it up so the sweets aren't all in a row etc, then wrap them up and make sure to stick the numbers on. Alternating colours of tissue paper with cute patterned tapes makes it look really effective. Next you just need to hang them up, depending on the size and shape of each parcel you might want to use twine and tie them up, a small piece of ribbon or just a peg - take a closer look at the photographs and you'll see what I mean. I had a couple of larger items which were too heavy to suspend so instead hid them and put a 'find me here' note in with the rest of the calendar! The overall effect is fun and mismatching so don't worry about anything being too perfect.
I've seen the hanging ones done with a branch to hold it all together which is really pretty and something I might try this year. Last time I used a thick tartan ribbon with fairy lights to finish off.
If you don't have space to put a hanging advent calendar like this then something like the one David made for me is a lovely alternative. He made his much simpler by filling a pretty basket with the parcels which did add a fun lucky dip element plus the basket was a nice bonus gift!
Have you ever made an alternative advent calendar? I'd love to see pictures!
It seems like ages ago since we were sharing the first part of our Kickstarter journey, so much has been going on since then. Here we are, 8 weeks later, with our new products finished, photographed and ready to launch!
First of all we would like to say a huge thank you to all of our lovely supporters:
Jo Gale, Lisa Stephen, Laura Forsyth, Marie McLean, Emma Simmonds, Natasha Newman, Mike Ebbage, Liz Burton, Jen Costine, Daisy Hollingsworth, Sarah Douglas, Kris Davidson, Gillian Liston, Beth Speed, Kim Newell, Janet Renfrew, Francesca Lobban, Pamela Borland, Debbie Leslie, Nyk Strong, Katherine Thornton, Clair Griffin, Suzi Nicol, Fiona Donald, Maureen Wright, Jan O'Brien, Heather Hodge, Nylah Ali, Susan Dunbar, Amber Griffin, Sally McAdam, Kirsty MacKay, Cecilie Osnes, Jade Anderson, Emma Williamson, Mafalda Johnson, Roni Lithgow, David Edwards, Alex Penter, Aileen Duncan, Shannon Laing, Sam Henry, Kath Noble, Alice Bye and also everyone who helped spread the word!
Most of you will have received your rewards in the post and we've been getting some lovely feedback and photos sent our way. We really hope you all love the new goodies!
We're really pleased with how everything turned out, even if not everything went according to plan. Our first card collection along with the new notebooks and improved earrings all came with us to our first trade fair last month (which we'll share more on soon) and received a very positive response. We're so excited to share news of where our new products will be stocked!
We'll be launching the new products on jillyjilly.co.uk on 12th October - sorry it can't be sooner but we're away on a family break just now. If you'd like to be first to hear you can sign up to our mailing list here if you haven't already done so: http://eepurl.com/Vsxxr. Keep an eye out for sneaky peeks across our social media over the next few days!
Only 1 week to go, we can't wait!
This post is a little different to usual, an insight into why and how we've used Kickstarter to help take JillyJilly to the next level. It's a bit more businessy than our usual blog topics but we thought it might be helpful to share our experience.
This year we have had so many ideas for what we wanted next for our wee business, so recently we made ourselves do some serious decision making. We realised that while we love making all of our products in the studio, it has been holding us back as we can only manage so many orders. It gives me less time to design and I've been ending up with lots of half finished collections which have to be pushed back to allow us to keep on top of making orders. We started looking at ways of changing what we make in the studio and found a few suppliers who offer the products at a quality we'd be proud to sell.
Outsourcing some of our products will be totally new for us. This is our chance to create new ranges of designs and refresh some of the existing collections... meaning we had even more decisions to make! It's also a little daunting that we'll be passing some control onto other small businesses which will mean a new improved stock system which we'll need to get used to pretty quick. Studio clear out happening soon!
Once we made the decision to out source production of 3 of our product types (notebooks, cards and earrings) we became determined to get it done as soon as possible. We realised it will allow us to reach more customers and give us the opportunity to work with new stockists. As it's less than 5 weeks until our first trade fair, this became the most obvious deadline for us! It also means we should be in a much more organised studio in time for Christmas.
This is where Kickstarter came in: we need to order a minimum number of each design from our new suppliers to go ahead, and the minimum is quite high. Given the deadline we'd set ourselves we didn't quite have enough funds to go ahead and place the initial orders. Initially we were looking at business grants, but after a little research we found we didn't qualify for many or the funding wasn't until next year - too late! A few friends had used Kickstarter or other crowd funding platforms before, it wasn't really something which had crossed my mind until this point. It felt strange that we would be 'asking people for money' but in reality it's more of a preorder system and such a great way to connect to customers who have supported us over the years. Kickstarter allows you to offer rewards to those who want to pledge towards your goal. It meant we could offer goody bags, new products and discounted bundles as incentives. I spent some time filling in the project details and figuring out the rewards, then doing some final calculations. Kickstarter takes a small commission as does the credit card processor, plus we can't forget about all the postage costs for sending out the rewards! Finally, after some security verification, we had to wait for the project to be approved (up to 3 working days) and then we were good to go.
It was a little nerve wracking at first, what if nobody pledged? What if we only made it halfway to the target? (You have to reach the full goal or the project won't be funded). After sending out a newsletter to our mailing list and sharing across our social media pages, as well as telling friends and family and asking everyone to help spread the word, the pledges started to come in and we realised that this might actually work. We were getting closer to our dream for the next stage of JillyJilly!
Reaching our Goal
We only ran the Kickstarter project for a week because of our own short deadline. When it reached the end on Friday we found we had actually exceeded our target. We are absolutely over the moon that our first Kickstarter project has been funded! So... what's next? This is only the beginning so lots more work! Right now I'm finalising the illustrations for the new products, all of which will be ordered by the end of this week. It has been a wonderful motivator to see how much support we have out there and I really feel it's brought us closer to our customers. It's allowed us to share our journey and give an insight into the work that goes into running our business.
If you're a small business owner and thinking of starting a Kickstarter project I would say go for it! You might be surprised by how many people want to see you succeed. It definitely helped having already been established for a while as well as having a social media following but I do believe it's an opportunity to really think about what you want from your business. (If you do decide to go for it, be prepared for lots of spam emails relating to crowd funding.)
The next chapter of our story should be us sharing some lovely new products! I can't wait :)
This time last week we were in the middle of a family holiday down in the Lake District. We stayed in a cottage which my parents rented for the week in Bowness-on-Windermere, a place we've stayed before although last time I had just finished school and was waiting on my exam results! We had a really relaxing week mostly enjoying time wandering around Bowness, Windermere and Ambleside, feeding the ducks and feeding ourselves. We found some lovely wee shops including Agnes + Cat and Daisy Chain Studio, and our favourite foodie place, Homeground Cafe which we ended up visiting 3 times! If you're in the Lake District you should definitely make time to grab some delicious brunch at Homeground, not forgetting to take away some freshly baked doughnuts for after. On the Wednesday my Dad hired a little boat, which David took a turn driving, and we had a picnic out on the Lake! We ended our week away with an evening at Windermere Rocks where Them Beatles played, a fab night!
Now it's just over 8 weeks until Scotland's Trade Fair so we're back to business as usual and trying to finalise some festive designs. So glad we had that break to recharge us!
It's been a while since we last visited York, over two years in fact. You can read about our last trip here, it was a lot different since it was icy January then and the city had a sleepy feel to it. This time we had some sunshine and lots of fellow tourists since it's April! I'd like to say a big thank you to my Mum and Dad who let us tag along on their holiday and treated us to yummy food and a night at the Theatre (12 Angry Men was brilliant!).
At the start of the week I went with my Mum to the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate where we were looking for new designers for Pebble. There was such a huge selection of businesses there, really quite overwhelming but a great insight for JillyJilly as we'll be attending our first trade fair in September (more on that later!). We spent most of the rest of the week wandering around, including another walk around the Snickelways, a walk around the walls and we also visited the Castle Museum which had a really interesting World War 1 exhibition on. It was so nice just to get some proper time off for a week! Look out for a post about the super cute ice cream shop we came across in York on the blog in the next few weeks.
Fun Mini Filing Cabinet Makeover
Lots of you have been asking about the filing cabinet featured in our last blog post and I promised a DIY tutorial so here it is! This is such an easy way of making a plain filing cabinet look fun which is perfect for studios and craft rooms where you want something less officey but still have documents to keep organised.
When I originally thought of giving our mini filing cabinet a makeover I'd thought about using decoupage but while browsing The Works the other day I came across these cute adhesive fabric packs which happened to be the perfect size and cheap too. I bought some hoping they would do the job with less mess and time than decoupage and they did!
You Will Need:
Super Easy DIY Instructions:
This post is a lot later than planned which isn't very organised of us but we've been spending a lot of time on behind the scenes work which hasn't left much time for blogging and social media. Better late than never though! Today we're sharing our top 6 tips for a cute and organised studio. I could have written a lot more than 6 tips and I know that these could be equally useful for a home office, craft room, study or whatever you like to call it - we call ours a studio so that's what it'll be in this blog post.
1. Start A 'Focus Board'
At the end of last year I found Leonie Dawson and her wonderful Life + Biz workbook. After completing this we went on to make our dream board and wanted a place to keep all of our plans and goals to remind us to stay focussed each day. We started with a giant noticeboard and painted it white so it was a lovely big blank canvas then got pinning! The top left is where a monthly focus goes, at the moment this is a big mind map of ideas for 2015 but it's soon to be a mood board for our next collection launch. Beneath we have a top 3 tasks of the day post-it space, business cards from our favourite fellow indie businesses, then our weekly planner (which you can download here). In the middle we have our social media planner, customer information and monthly goals. Finally on the right we have our dream board of what we want 2015 to look like for JillyJilly to keep us inspired. We finished this space in the studio with fun fairy lights and cute JillyJilly patterned bunting (made by Barbara from RockingStitch, fabric from Spoonflower). This space is really important for keeping our goals organised plus it's super motivational to walk into the studio and see this first thing in the morning!
2. Choose Cute Storage
This might seem a bit obvious to be a tip but what I mean is, there are lots of cute storage options that might not be meant for the office and sometimes they can be cheaper too! One of the items I get asked about most often is this trolley which we use for our stationery and craft supplies, it's from Ikea and actually meant for the kitchen. I also love using this basket cake stand for packaging extras; we keep business cards in the top, chocolates in the middle and deco tapes in the bottom - perfect! Most of the furniture in our studio is second hand but with new pastel paint, the lilac desk was my Dad's old office desk and the pink shelves on the right used to be a CD shelf in my parent's living room.
3. Make A Desktop Organiser
This makes such a huge difference when you spend a lot of time on the computer, files are much easier to find and it can help keep personal and work stuff separate too. We split ours into business sections on the left and personal on the right, finished with a motivational quote and some JillyJilly pattern!
4.Labels Are Your Friend
Last month I went a bit label mad after having our big New Year clear out. We kept losing things and bickering over where stuff belonged but now thanks to the magic of labels, everything has a place and there's no doubt over what goes where... apart from Misc. which is just another word for mess really. We got new folders too for keeping documents separate and easy to find, they fit perfectly along with our ready made stock tubs into this pastel pink Ikea Kallax unit.
5. Filing Cabinets Can Be Fun
Well, they can look fun at least! You can see the DIY tutorial here because who doesn't want a pink floral filing cabinet? Although a traditionally boring but necessary office accessory I find it much easier to stay motivated to keep our accounts organised when the storage is this cute. Plain filing cabinet from Ikea. Biscuit cushion from Nikki McWilliams.
6. Keep A Daily Desk Planner
I don't know about you but I find myself easily distracted when I'm in the middle of working on one task then remember about something else which I then worry I'll forget so stop what I'm doing and so on. Keeping a daily desk planner means I can add last minute 'to dos' to the list, with sections for things to buy (whether it's envelopes for orders or milk for tea!), emails, social media and personal. I fill this out at the start of the day with my most important tasks then add other bits I might forget later on. You can download our planner here if you think it might be useful!
So there you have it, 6 of our tips for a cute and organised studio! I hope they've been some help. What are your top tips for getting organised?
Behind the scenes, DIY projects, news and more from JillyJilly.