During our investigations into co-creativity Lunar21 have come across a wide variety of creative activities and we are delighted to host a blog by Samantha Schofield, the Crafternoon Tea Hostess!
When I was asked by Lunar 21 to write about how I started my creative business, Crafternoon Tea Hostess I started to think how my experiences could help other creatives start out in Derbyshire.
This month I am celebrating two years of my pop-up vintage craft tea parlour based just outside of Derby city centre. My journey has been rewarding, hard work, scary and very exciting all at the same time and I love it. Looking back I am amazed how much high quality support and opportunity there is on my door step. Today, I’m sharing my path and a few tips I’ve learnt on the way.
In August 2013 I was accepted into the Banks Mill Incubation Programme for creative businesses in Derby. A year before I had started to think about making the jump from my corporate role to a work pattern that fitted around my family life. I joined Twitter, Pinterest and started writing a blog to connect with other similar people locally and around the world to understand the potential for my business idea. The insights were brilliant and I made some fantastic connections in the local area. I took a day course at the Fabulous Places Creative Business Workshop days (www.fabulousplaces.co.ukand met other people just like me. I wasn’t alone!
Banks Mill, supported by Derby University develops and supports young businesses through the early years. In September 2013 Derby University set up the Let’s Do Business programme, an 18 month programme to coach young business with mentors, courses and lectures in key skills to guide micro businesses onto a successful path. I joined and immediately had access to a pathway which ended up being invaluable. I learnt about basic business acumen such as tax returns, PR, IP, book keeping.
In many major cities there are similar schemes out there. I found mine through Twitter and it was free to join and I would advise any start up to check this out before signing up to expensive courses. I took every opportunity that was put my way including local craft fayres, exhibitions and partnerships. My most successful include the Inspiring Derby Week 2014 which resulted in a double page spread and photo shoot in the Derby Evening Telegraph and a partnership with Derby Museums.
I now host a monthly drop in craft class at Pickford’s House. In September we launched Crafternoon Cafe in the cafe; educating crafters about vintage craft in a fun and relaxed learning environment. Some opportunities worked and some led to others things. I think having a unique selling point is great but sometimes you do feel on your own, but stick with your niche as this is great for your brand! A local product photographer said the same thing to me recently and I completely agree. In January 2014 I held my first Creative And Crafty Blog Meet, bringing local bloggers together in venues around the East Midlands supported by local craft brands. I have now hosted three events and met over thirty creative bloggers, plus I have so many ideas for new projects by chatting ideas through in our #ccbloggers community.
Back in March this year I was invited to the Spring Market hosted by Fabulous Places, just under two years from having been at their new business workshop. Seeing the wealth of talent on display from local business was inspiring, from handmade chocolate makers to dressmakers and everything in between. The buzz of being part of an event of such a scale based in one of Derby’s iconic building was fantastic.
I’m now at the point where I can see a very clear development of my brand ‘Crafternoon Tea Hostess’, for the short, medium and long term goals. I like to write everything down, write a to do list daily, stick to it and keep my focus on slow growth, no comprising on quality and ensuring customer recommendations. I think I have found my work / life balance; craft is my passion and baking cakes in my Crafternoon kitchen is more than a happy hobby. Thank-you for reading my creative journey.
Samantha hosts vintage craft parties around Derbyshire and beyond all served up with a vintage tea. For more information please visit www.crafternoonteahostess.co.uk