This week’s Featured Trader’s include Abby of Abby’s Art Atelier & Caroline of Miss Maisie Makes, both of which create handmade, unique and vibrant ranges of fashion and jewellery. In this Q&A we chat to them about how they started up their businesses and the journey since then; the challenges they have faced, their first selling experiences and what’s next for them both.
Pedddle: Tell us a bit about your business and how it started – e.g. where did you first become interested in producing your products/learn the skills it takes to produce them?
Abby’s Art Atelier: I started Abby’s Art Atelier after I graduated from uni, I couldn’t find a job in the industry and I was spending my time learning new crafts and art techniques, as well as making clothes. I decided to start a website to sell all of these I was making. I drifted for a bit dabbling in a few things but then I found polymer clay and everyone changed. I just loved that there were endless possibilities for different techniques, I could create so much. Since then I have been obsessed with creating and learning to see what I can make. I also loved that it was still connected to fashion my first love, with the idea that maybe my business could also include clothing in the future.
Miss Maisie Makes: I started my business after I fell in love with sewing, I realised my hobby could be a business and decided to go for it and open my Etsy shop. Over time the business has changed after I rekindled my love for working with polymer clay during the first COVID lockdown. I used to use polymer clay when I was younger and although the technique for making earrings is very different to what I used to make, it was great to get back into. I’m always crafting and trying new things, so there could be other items added – who knows!
Pedddle: Following on from the first question, we’d love to know more about your process, the materials you use and what you’re inspired by.
Abby’s Art Atelier: I love polymer clay there are so many colour clays, and special effect clays, but you can mix them and create a whole new colour or pattern completely unique to you. I also love you can add paint, and other mixed media resources, so you can get really creative with it. I have been making polymer clay jewellery for a little over a year now and still feel like I have only scratched the surface of what I can create with a head full of ideas swirling around!
Miss Maisie Makes: A product that has been with me from the start is my 100% cotton reusable face wipes, I’ve always had products that are reusable and eco friendly, including using remnant fabrics for my scrunchies and headbands. Polymer clay isn’t eco friendly but there is no waste, every inch of the clay can be used and if you look after them they can last for many years. I’m conscious of having very little waste in everything I make.
Pedddle: Do you remember your first selling experience?
Abby’s Art Atelier: When I first sold a card I had made it was a special feeling something I worked on so hard and was proud of, some loved it too and could also enjoy it. And when I sold my first piece of jewellery I was so proud it is a great feeling, someone else enjoying what you have made.
Miss Maisie Makes: I don’t remember my first sale on Etsy but what I do remember was seeing someone walking down the street wearing a pair of my earrings, this wasn’t a family member or friend, a total stranger! It made me so happy and I nearly wound my window down to shout that I made them!
Pedddle: What challenges did you face when you first launched your business?
Abby’s Art Atelier: I started my business about 4 months before the pandemic hit. I had just started and I was like I said early drifting and dabbling in different things, and so I had booked about 6 markets and fairs, to get my business out there, to see what sells etc. But they were all cancelled and my business plan went from a small website but mostly selling at local fairs to completely e-commerce and having to learn about SEO, social media, virtual markets and be trying to be found online. All that being said if I was to take a positive from all that, it would be I found polymer clay which is amazing, I’m not sure I would have if it wasn’t for the pandemic. I wouldn’t have learnt about business, e-commerce, virtual markets and social media which will help me move my business forward in the future as all learning to take more risks and put my shy awkward self out there and knowing it will be okay. I found that this was the case the handmade community is a lovely one, so supportive!
Miss Maisie Makes: One of the biggest challenges I faced was time, I work full time and have a family so finding the balance is hard. I love making though and have embraced making as a de stress from my day to day life. I’ve also involved my daughter, Maisie. She has her own polymer clay box with tools and when I make, she does too! It’s great that she gets to be creative with me and sometimes incorporate her ideas into my earrings!
Pedddle: What’s next for your business this year – anything you’re planning, looking forward to, are there any new products/ranges etc.
Abby’s Art Atelier: Next year I am really looking forward to throwing myself into real markets. Also keeping with self-improvement of being bolder and putting myself out there a little more. As well as developing my skills and range of jewellery and keep improving my craft and getting really creative!
Miss Maisie Makes: Next for my business is channel 5 on the farm over the august bank holiday , it’s the largest market I’ve done and I have a weekly plan of items I need to make in readiness! From a product perspective I do want to add some other polymer clay items such as necklaces and beads. I also want to have a go with resin and have finally got everything I need to give this a go, so watch this space!