There is a certain pride in being able to declare that your products are made in Britain, but are they really?
With possible changes afoot from the EU the current rules state that the ‘products’ country of origin is defined as the place where they “underwent their last, substantial, economically justified process or working”’ (Daily Express 12/08/2013). So if your wool was made in Thailand but you knitted a blanket with it you can say that it was made in Britain.
The EU want to change it so that the the content with the highest value is where it has to be stated it is made from – so now your blanket with have to be ‘made in Thailand’ although it has been construct by you in Britain – sounds rubbish really!! Just because the raw ingredients are from another country does this really mean that it is MADE there??? The export of ‘made in Britain’ goods is really high at the moment and once again the EU want to wipe the smile off our faces.
For now, under the current rules you still need to make sure that you are complying with the ‘Made in Britain’ standards. If pottery or fabric is made abroad but the final production is done in Britain should it really bear the label of being made in Britain? Does it make it fair for the businesses whose products are 100% British? It is quite a fine line that Katie Hills at Make It British has come up against. One of the businesses she approached decided not to sign a petition for a standardised MIB logo as her products were truly 100% MIB unlike other businesses who had foreign elements in their products which were assembled in Britain.
What do you think? It is quite a topic for debate as some will say that it is impossible to get the ingredients for their products cheap enough in Britain and so are forced to go abroad, but is this not the reason for the lack of potteries, mills etc?? Others who have managed to source everything over here will tell you to look and work harder for it – Emma Bridgewater can do it
I spotted Jemimas work on Facebook just when it began to surge in popularity with the emergence of the Max’s. By the power of Facebook, word has spread and has really proved that social media can work, so much so that Jemima has been flooded with requests – I’m sure that even if you are not familiar with Where The Wild Things Are you will be enchanted by Max and his facial expressions!
Here is her story…..
I’m Jemima Fisher of ‘Socktacular‘, living near Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire.
I’ve been a full-time mother to two lively, entertaining and beautiful little girls for nearly 6 years; but my eldest started school last year and my youngest starts this September, so my full-time days are coming to an end. My partner is a freelance maker, ranging from street theatre and vintage car accessories to commissioned art pieces – but he would like to develop his own creative ventures.
Having loved drawing and making from an early age, it seemed natural to study a degree in fine art (sculpture). This I did, and had a fantastic time at Falmouth in Cornwall. I learnt a lot during my time there; developing ideas, expression and learning techniques, but fought against the theory aspect. I just loved making and didn’t feel the need to analyse why. In retrospect, perhaps an applied arts course might have suited me better.
After I’d had my second daughter, a friend asked if I’d like to share a stall with her at the local school Christmas fair. I spent ages wondering what to make, and trawled the internet for inspiration. I came across sock monkeys, had a go at making one and was instantly hooked!
I was addicted to the challenge of making a pair of socks into an animal, so I developed my techniques and got more adventurous. I worked hard to create my own style and patterns, so as not to copy other people’s work. Steadily they improved and became more complex as I became more familiar with the fabric and what it was capable of. I started the Facebook page on advice, as a way of getting some exposure and selling them. Although I’d had offers from craft shops to stock them, I didn’t have the time to keep up with a potential high demand of sales. Facebook enabled me to work at my own pace.
Last year came the discovery of the new EU law about toy safety. This came into fruition after I had begun selling my sock animals, and only heard about it by accident. I’d always been very responsible about selling my work; stating if things were unsuitable for under 3′s and ensuring they were made to a high standard.
However the law states no toys, handmade or otherwise, can be sold within the EU without CE certificates. I looked into testing my work and sought advice from others, but decided against it. Although I enjoyed making sock animals, I didn’t want to go down the commercial route and produce identical pieces within the constraints of this law.
I nearly gave up making altogether at that point.
After a short and frustrated break I decided to continue with socks; I felt I’d found my medium and had a lot more to discover with it. This meant diversifying into the collectors market and it gave me an exciting opportunity to re-explore my art roots; a yearning which had already started to niggle.
I’d had the idea for making a version of Max from Where the Wild Things Are, about 2 years previously. I didn’t want to make a copy of Max, just a figure inspired by him and a tribute to the great artist Maurice Sendak (who wrote the book). Following the first Max, I decided to make a series studying the facial expressions from the book; I’d successfully manipulated the sock fabric into a reasonable 3-d face, and wanted to develop it further.
The Max series has been the launch of my new Socktacular phase – the photograph of all 12 figures standing together went viral, so it has been a success!
Currently I’m developing new work; having fun with socks again! I’m also incorporating wire both for support and as a feature. They take a long time to make, so progress is slow.
My inspiration are just people, mostly. I have always enjoyed people watching…you can learn so much from observing. The artist I most admire is Julie Arkell – I keep coming back to her time and time again. She is described as a folk artist, and her material is predominantly paper machè. She has a lot of humour in her work. Other influences are loves from my college days, like Giacometti, Chagall and Sally Matthews.
My plans for the future are to just keep making. It would be great to have my work sold through a gallery/craft outlet, set up a website and to be able to make a living through my work – eventually. I am aware that I have taken sewing with socks to a different level, which is relatively unexplored – so perhaps I could produce a book? I don’t know…I’m not really one for making big plans as I tend to be rather more spontaneous…or maybe just chaotic!
To view more of Jemimas creations follow Socktacular on Facebook.
With flowers in abundance and all your vases filled why not try out some other containers filled with floral beauties….
There is nothing more ego boosting than someone letting you know how great your work is, and there is nothing more upsetting than getting stung!
Just recently I have heard of a few designer-makers being contacted by a so-called agent claiming to get peoples work into the big stores, and so this has prompted me to post a warning to anyone wishing to consider this ‘service’.
The number one mantra to remember when doing business ‘if it sounds too good to be true it usually is!”, trust your instincts and do some research. If someone is offering to get you into places then what is stopping you from doing it yourself. The ways to get your products in front of the big stores buying teams is to put them there yourself in the form of trade shows, gifts/samples, press releases etc. Sure you have to find out who the key people are before just making contact with just anyone in the buying department but thats where networking comes into play – talk to other people, exchange information, get on LinkedIn and search for the people in the relevant departments.
Do a bit of research on the person who is offering you this service if you are not too sure – Google their address and even use StreetView to find out if it is the type of premises they say it is and not just a scruffy semi on a main road (I know you can run a business from home but when the address claims to be office/unit/suite etc and you find out it isn’t then something is a bit suss). Google their name inside quote marks and find out a bit more about them – if they are worth anything then people will be talking about them. Make sure you talk to each other – ask around on Facebook/Twitter if they have heard of them.
Above all do NOT give anyone any money with the promise that they will do something for you. If they provide a service which sounds reasonable and above board then there should be a contract and/or agreement in place before any money is exchanged – some will work on commission only, or something similar to a finders fee – once you are in a particular store then you pay them a fee.
If you are considering hiring a sales representative you will more than likely be able to find a recommendation or even hire someone you know who knows you and your business and all the finer details, but no one can sell your product better than you can
Neon clothes, this time around, have been popular for the last year or so but now the bright pop colours have made their way into our homes. So often what we see on the catwalk finds a way of making it into the interiors world soon after (trend tip!).
Neons work well as accents in a room which can be traded in for the next latest trend but can also look quite funky filling up a whole room – as long as you’re prepared to change it when you’ve had enough of people saying “wow! that’s bright!”.
Fathers Day is soon so I’ve found a few ideas for you and the kids to make which are a little bit different from the average Fathers Day card….
We all know and love washi tapes but how about duct tape? Duck Tape, the brand, has just opened a store in New York dedicated to its well known product – its not just filled with silver rolls of tape but lots of lovely colours and patterns that would make any girl go ‘ooooo’!
Here’s some duct tape ideas…..
I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 and as with most new phones I bought a case to go with it. The trouble with the case is that it is white plastic and where i put the phone in my pocket or handbag, over time it has become quite discoloured and almost grubby looking. I have tried cleaning it with soap, bleach, alcohol, jif but nothing brings it back to the white that it was, and on a white phone it doesnt look good!
It was only now that I got the idea to finally use the Plastikote spray I got in my goodie bag from Selina Lakes book launch and bring my case back to life. I had pink or green and thought I would go for a nice girlie pink.
I’m really pleased with it, it has left a lovely matt finish. I might give it another coat as I can still see some dark marks on the corners, otherwise it looks great on my phone
TIP: make sure the wind isn’t blowing in your direction whilst spraying!!
It’s great when you have been following someone on Facebook for a while and you find their business is growing and doing really well. I enjoy seeing peoples stories evolve from a small hobby into a full on business requiring a new premises to work from as it has taken over their house and their lives!
It’s great to encourage each other by ‘liking’ posts and photos, chatting and sharing ideas but what is not great is asking ‘how they have done so well’, ‘where do they get their products made’, ‘where do you find your suppliers’, and even copying someone elses work, stockists lists, websites etc.
We all have people we admire and aspire to but we also need to find our own way just like all of those people who are doing well with their own business. Just because their business is flourishing it doesn’t mean they got there over night. A small hobby takes a long, long time to turn into a money making business – often the person running it is not even aware that they are in the beginnings of a business!
There are lots of elements that take time to perfect from suppliers to stockists – lots of research needs to go into finding the right people and business for your own business. The number one place to start is online, by making searches and not at the the local craft market asking the stallholders where they have sourced things from or where they get stuff made – it really is not respectful of their work.
Unfortunately there is no one stop shop, business package or right way of doing things it is just pure hard work with lots of trial and error and mistakes to learn from along the way. I’m all for helping each other and pointing people in the right direction but it soon gets annoying being asked such direct questions and one day you just might be the person they take it out on
Image courtesy of [vinegar & brown paper]
Click on the image below for a great tutorial on how to build your own pallet wall…