Thursday, 3 December 2009

Jumping into the deep end...

After many months of debating the best way to start up as a counted stitch designer, I've finally decided just to jump into the deep end and see where it leads me. This is a dream that I've had for several years now, and I don't intend to let it pass me by. And, I have to admit, it's all rather exciting! A little scary too, but definitely exciting.

Going into business for yourself isn't everyone's cup of tea. However, I particularly appreciate the freedom and flexibility that it gives me. I think the internet will enhance that even further thanks to all the technological developments of recent times. But most of all, I am really enjoying the opportunity it is giving me to explore my creative side.

Although it does feel as though I'm leaping off a diving board, in actual fact, I haven't left it all to chance. I've spent a great deal of time consulting with Business Link advisors and attending numerous workshops that are available to people like myself who are starting up in business. (They were all free of charge too.) So, there are plenty of people around me to keep my feet on the ground.

I've also spent some time testing my ability to design cross stitch scenes in an amateur capacity. You may have seen my Spring at Cragside and Saltwell Park designs at the Gateshead Summer Flower Show in 2007 and 2009 respectively. They both managed to win first prize, and the former also took a first in the 'Own Design Needlework' class at the Morpeth Gathering in 2008. This, coupled with lots of encouragement from friends and family, has finally pushed me into making the leap.
Decision made, the next step was to figure out what form my charted designs should take. Should I have them printed on paper? What kind of packaging should I use? Should I sell them solely on the internet? Should I skip direct sales and go through a wholesale distributor? Should I combine them all? And so I wrestled with myself for a very long time. I have to admit, that decision has been quite a challenge because there are pros and cons associated with each.

To cut a long story short, I've decided to start with printed charts, in the form of booklets, instead of launching onto the internet. Those of you who know how 'techie' I am are probably surprised by this. No fear though. This doesn't necessarily mean that I'll never try the latter. I just thought it best to start on a smaller scale and expand into the wider opportunities once I have my feet under me.

The last few months have kept me busy beyond belief, getting my first two designs ready for the Christmas rush. I'm therefore only just getting around to setting up my blog. And it has to go live now because the charts are appearing at the Christmas Craft Market at Gibside National Trust property on Saturday (5 Dec., 2009).

I had the Spring at Cragside booklet printed first. When it came back, I noticed that I'd missed a few minor, purely cosmetic details in the booklet layout, despite rigorous editing. And I was so hoping that I'd be immune from human error! However, I hasten to add that none of them affect the chart that you follow while stitching. I corrected them in my template, and the Saltwell Park design came out as I had intended. Hopefully I won't introduce others as I produce new designs... At any rate, should human error strive to humble me again, please contact me so I can immediately fix the mistake(s) and resolve any problems that may result.

I'm also interested in finding out where people in the North East of England prefer to shop for their cross stitch and blackwork supplies. This information would help me network much faster. I promise not to keep your e-mail details so you can rest assured that supplying me with such information will not result in any spam.

Over the winter, I intend to work on some blackwork designs so there should be more to come by spring time. I'll use this blog to expand upon the inspiration behind my designs, as well as the process I follow, whenever I take a break from actual designing. And I'll be looking for stockists and more markets to attend which I will list here as the news breaks. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy stitching my designs.

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