Pre Signpost – finding my feet!
My last blog told you how I started Signpost. But if you have ever contemplated making things to sell, one of the problems you will face is what to call yourself. I started out calling myself “Something Special” I was making things using wool and felt, and got a leg up from the lovely people at “Gorgeous Gertie”s in Dorking,near where I live, who took some of my knitted and felted stuff, which was a really great way to start. I was knitting bobble hats and snoods and really enjoyed all the wonderful colours and textures of the wool – but as we all know, knitting your own stuff isn’t cheap anymore, so I was struggling to sell things and barely making any money at all – although it was really fun making things! Here are some of my efforts from those days.
However, I soon discover that far from being something special I was one of millions, so I had to think again. By this time I was putting most of my efforts into making gifts using the vintage maps and at that point, the cufflinks were just taking off.
In pure frustration I then chose “Strathcona Designs” as that’s the name of the road where I live, but I was really trying to find something that reflected the fact that I was using old maps. Finally, I was looking through some very old black and white photos of my childhood and came across the one with me in the back of the car, but showing an old fashioned fingerpost in the background. Ah Ha!, I thought, that’s the answer! I did contemplate “Fingerpost” for about a millisecond but since few people know what a fingerpost is these days and anyway, it sounded faintly surgical, I plumped for “Signpost” but promptly found there were plenty of companies using that name although not in the craft world, so that was a plus. So I had to have something that didn’t sound like everybody else so finally I decided on “Signpost Original Gifts” and that just about covered it. After all, all my maps are originals and it got away from having “Designs” as part of my name which seems to appear in most people's company name when you are a crafts person.
The next hurdle was doing a craft fair – how do you chose which fair, how far to travel, what do you pay, do you need insurance, what do the stall holders have to provide n the way of equipment? All these things I had to just find out by trial and error, like so many other before me. If only I had Natalie Armstrong’s book, “The Serious Business of Craft”, I could have saved myself a lot of worry and failures. If only I had Natalie Armstrong’s book, “The Serious Business of Craft”, I could have saved myself a lot of the worry and failures. She has run a very successful business of her own and with a degree in Business Studies, she really knows what she is talking about.
If you have read this far and are thinking of entering the craft fair arena, then I urge you to buy her book – it’s inexpensive and packed with really good tips and lots of sound advice.
Well, I was finally off and running but I soon found the map gifts were much more in demand than my knitted goods which was just as well really, as the knitted goods, as I’ve said, really don’t pay for themselves if you want to use good quality wools. I still sell some at parties I do, but for the most part it’s the map stuff that has taken off; and that’s fine with me, ‘cause as you know, I love maps!!
Doing the craft fairs was more fun than I can tell you. I met some wonderful people – Natalie was on the next stall to me and has been a tower of strength ever since. I soon leaned that to get chatting to the other stall holders was the key to finding out what was happening and how other people dealt with issues and what were the good craft fairs and which ones to avoid! But more about that, next time.