Can you believe JillyJilly will be three next month?? We certainly can't but I suppose when you look back over the years it does make sense... more on that in a future post! A rebrand has been on the cards for some while now, it was just a case of finding the time which isn't always easy, especially as a DIY job! To make it even more of a challenge it wasn't just a new logo I had in mind, a new website too! Of course that meant new packaging and some photography too.
I started this work alongside running the shops, back in January, and to say I underestimated the time it would take would be an understatement and a half. Here we are, 3 months later and ready to share with the world!
Our new logo kept the same colours but has a much simpler finish which I've used across the website and packaging. The scattered dots just felt really fun and fresh for me and I'm so excited about your new polkadot mug boxes!! These will be finished with hand tied bows in our lovely brand colours. As for the earrings they are now backed on square cards with a quirky polkadot reverse.
Our new website was a huge job, the product listings alone took weeks, and I insisted on transferring over our old blog posts much to David's dismay (his job, of course). I hope that it's easier for you all to navigate, especially as we grow our product ranges. We have shop features like refine by price and colour now! Fancy!
Please do have a wee look around, I'd love to hear what you think.
Just before Christmas I found out my application to be an Etsy Mentor was successful. I couldn't believe it! Along with two others, the lovely Alyssa of Clarise Crafts and Monica of Handmade by Monica, I would be mentoring for the Etsy Resolution 2017 programme. When I applied I never thought I'd be chosen, and I probably wouldn't have done had I known. That sound sounds daft, but this year I'm really trying to push myself to do more things that scare me. Going to Etsy HQ in London and helping new Etsy shops was definitely one of them.
Last month was the mentor training day so off I went, with my Mum who used to live in London and wasn't going to miss out on an excuse for a visit, it was such a great experience. Look out for a wee vlog about it soon!
The mentoring itself was a little scary to start with, it really made me question my abilities and feel a bit like an imposter, but I had to remind myself that I'd been selected because they believed in me so I should too!
My week was photography and I put together lots of tips on things like using a phone, editing apps, prop boxes and figuring out a photo style. We each had to do a video session which was definitely the most nerve-wracking part but I did it and the feedback was lovely. Now it's over I miss being able to help everyone! Maybe it's something I could add to our blog or Youtube in future? Let me know if that's something you'd like to see!
I've had so may of you asking to see our wedding photos, if you were one of them it's the post you've been waiting for!
We are super lucky to have a fantastic photographer in the family, my sister-in-law (it's so weird typing that!) Emma of Fairytale Asylum Photography. If you read my previous wedding planning post you'll know that our day was actually two days and a total mish-mash of our friends and families skills coming together for a really fun, informal occasion!
Emma took our wedding party photos, the ones where my lovely sister Amy did my make up and treated me to some pampering (she's a beauty therapist). We got ready at my parents house after a busy day of friends and family decorating the hall which was at Ferryhill Parish Church. We had some photos taken at Duthie Park in the Winter Gardens before guests arrived then our wee party began! We won our amazing wedding cake from Cake in a design competition, but also had invited our guests to take part in a bake off (the prize was a JillyJilly apron!), we had a vegan buffet from Castleton Farm Shop which was delicious and surprised all the meat eaters. My dress was from Chotronette and accessorised with lovely bits and pieces from Etsy sellers, and of course my Mum made our beautiful wedding rings!
I should really let the photos do the talking as they totally capture our day, bake off, pinata and all! Thanks so much Emma!
I was delighted when Wayfair got in touch about a collaboration on home office spaces. They'd seen my previous studio tour post and asked if I'd like to write some tips on creating an inspirational work space.
I was to choose some items from their website and style them in the JillyJilly studio - choosing was the hard part! In the end I went for a wee teapot in a lovely aqua colour, some warm white berry lights and, my favourite, this gorgeous pink quote wall decal.
Head over to the Wayfair blog to read the post which also features the offices of Lady Like Len and The Guilty Girl Blog.
Recently I've been struggling to feel motivated with social media. Between Facebook ads becoming even more unaffordable and Instagram announcing it's no longer going to have a chronological feed it feels like fighting a losing battle. Trying to develop content with the thought that nobody will actually see it definitely makes it difficult to find time to dedicate every day.
We decided this needed to stop as it meant our marketing was becoming a stress and a chore. I wanted to work on a strategy which meant there's not as much last minute pressure, especially on days where I have no clue what to share then end up posting nothing and feeling guilty. Consistency and content are the keywords that popped up in all of the research I did on strategy. Next up, most of the advice on 'what to post' is to try and stick to one third selling to two thirds behind the scenes (story telling, design process, personality etc). If you've been taking part in Joanne Hawker's #marchmeetthemaker on Instagram then these are the type of non selling posts you might want to share. Do try to consider your own target customers and what they'd like to see most.
Thinking about what you want to post is one thing but actually finding the time to do it is another. Thankfully, having a planner means you can be more consistent and schedule posts ahead of time, then add more daily updates when it feels natural!
I've created two versions of our planner which you can download for free. If you do use either I'd love to see so please do tag us in any pics! The first is a blank canvas for you to develop your strategy from scratch (download here), perfect if you're already posting regularly but want to keep it organised. The second is what I've worked on for myself, it's also available as a Photoshop doc here so you can break it down to suit you but I'll explain how I'm using it first.
- Plan for week ahead on a Sunday
- Schedule archive blog posts for Twitter each day
- Share motivational quotes on Monday (like one at the top of this blog)
- Create themed Treasury for Tuesday (tag other businesses)
- Write blog for Wednesday (keep blog calendar/ideas in notebook)
- Share past images for Throwback Thursday
- Make collage of week highlights for Friday catch up
- Schedule a product each day
- Add additional daily updates/product launches if working on something shareable
If all goes to plan then on Sundays I'll make myself a big cuppa and sit down with my planner and a notebook to prepare for the week ahead. With the help of scheduled posts (I'm using Hootsuite for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) I can create most of my content in a couple of hours. This means I can get on with designing and making during the week and only post extras when I have something I want to share rather than the usual feeling of need to share. There's no pressure as if I don't have time to post then my scheduled items will still pop up themselves, yay!
This has turned out to be a rather chunky blog post, I hope you find it useful anyway. If you'd like to download our other free planners check them out here. Let me know if you'd like to see any other downloads and printables on the blog by leaving me a comment.
Last year we wrote a series of Getting Organised posts in January (which included free planner downloads). These were some of our most popular posts of all time and I've been meaning to add more to the series but not had a chance until now!
This year we've felt a bit underprepared as starting the year with a trade show meant our initial focus was short term. Now we're taking the time to reflect and plan for the future as we usually would in January. To keep us inspired we've been using Leonie Dawson's fabulous workbook and wall planner, reading How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott and learning from the very informative Girls Mean Business.
We've also been working through the tasks we all avoid such as inbox and computer clear outs. It's so tempting to forget about these and just deal with physical mess. It's far too easy to unintentionally create a maze of folders filled with badly named files until one day you can't find something important which you're 100% certain you saved... somewhere.
If this sounds like you then we've got a handy desktop organiser download. This is a slightly simplified version of the one I created for us, I hope you find it helpful! You can download the desktop planner here. If you'd like to see more free downloads leave us a comment to let us know!
We're back with another festive DIY idea! This time we've got the perfect stocking filler; a hot chocolate gift set. My favourite recipe for homemade hot chocolate has to be from Jamie Oliver's Drinks Tube (watch here). It's so thick and chocolatey and you can even make it with different flavoured chocolate - we've tried chocolate orange, peppermint and even chilli! Yum yum. This makes enough to fill a jar like this one here which makes lots of hot chocolate. You're best to watch the video to see how amazing it looks but here's a summary of the recipe.
You will need:
I hope you like this gift idea! Do you make a lot of gifts at Christmas?
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 :)
Behind the scenes, DIY projects, news and more from JillyJilly.