Posted 3rd Jul 2015
Building a business from scratch can be a daunting experience, however needle-felt newbie, Bridgette Jones, explains how she has found the transition from hobby to a fully fledged business
How did you find setting up Etsy?
It was a chance conversation that led to me being recommended to try Etsy. This turned out to be an easy and manageable way to reach a wider audience. I listed the half a dozen or so pieces I had made and within an hour I had my first response and they kept coming. The positive feedback and appreciation for something you have created yourself far outweighs any monetary value.
Where does your inspiration come from for each design?
If you have a passion for something it will show in the end result. I have always been a collector of vintage and with a partner trading in this field it was inevitable this would creep into my finished designs. Make sure you love your subject – my own inspiration comes from childhood and nature, which I find limitless. A woodland walk is my favourite indulgence.
How long does it take to make one of your pieces?
I take between one and two weeks to complete a design. I work entirely from imagination using no photos or reference material. It's quite an unusual way to work but I love the spontaneity and I find that way the piece naturally evolves.
How have you found the journey?
I believe everyone has a gift, a natural aptitude to create - it's what makes us human. Sometimes we just need to slow down a little to find it! I've only been felting for just over a year and am amazed as to how natural the whole process of hobby to small business has been.
As you are only just starting out, is there anything you found difficult or unexpected that you weren't anticipating?
Originally I found it very hard to place a value on my work. I had to work out costs of materials and time spent on each piece. I didn't start felting to make money and was amazed when the pieces were appreciated. I get the same pleasure from a small sale as I do for large commissions.
What advice would you give someone who was also just starting out?
If anyone is thinking of making their hobby into something more, I would say do it! There are so many options and paths you can take, find the one that's right for you, it's never too late to start. The sky really is the limit, just believe in yourself. Enthusiasm and imagination are your best assets, you never know what you might achieve.
Has starting a business changed your outlook on felting and craft?
I have met so many lovely, and like-minded people. It's such a diverse world and as with any craft you won't appeal to everyone's tastes so don't expect to! I have sold and shipped pieces halfway across the world and back – it's such an incredible honour to think someone hundreds of miles away is putting one of my little sculptures in their own home. If I have learnt anything it would be, work at your own pace, enjoy your craft and above all else have fun.
You can buy Bridgette's pieces from her online Etsy shop, WhatBigEyesYouHave. Each piece is unique and made using entirely British materials. Commissions are completed in a one to two week period depending on size and complexity of the design.
By Lauren Morton