Turning a hobby into a business can be an exciting but also a daunting step, one of our lovely makers Denise shares her experience with you
In 2012, after a break of a few years, I began making things again. All through my life, I had dabbled, let’s say. At 7, I’d started to knit and sew, as a student I’d knitted jumpers and cardies, done a pottery course, made jewellery, fell in love with glass painting.
Then I became a teacher and found all creative space taken up with lesson prep and marking. I was also raising my daughter and supporting my mum in her failing health. So for a few years, I was a passive admirer of other people’s work at craft fairs and the like, but produced nothing of my own.
So back to 2012. My mum had died, and there I was in deepest grief. My daughter was now a teenager, and suddenly I had some time. I began knitting scarves and small bags, in a variety of yarns and textures, with elaborate embellishments.
It was like being 7 again, only better, as yarns have really come on since then! I was also making cards and trying out water colour painting (which I didn’t really take to, being a little too heavy handed.)
As I was amassing quite a bit of stock, I decided to see if anyone was interested in my work. I write this now in a very relaxed way, but when I first walked into Hopkinson’s on Station Street with a suitcase full of work, I felt very shaky, having never shown what I made to anyone outside of my nearest and dearest zone. The person I met there was very positive ( Hopkinson’s was in its infancy then, quite bare and nothing like the treasure trove it is now.)
So I began to stock my work there, and after a few very slow weeks, got some sales. What a thrill! My dream was, and still is, to pass someone in the street wearing one of my scarves.
I then somehow found Kate and Locally Produced for You and we swapped a few emails, and I was beginning to feel encouraged and a little less scared of showing my work (thank you Kate!) There is vulnerability in creating – we expend time, money, energy, thinking, and it reflects our personal taste in colour, style and what to us looks right. We may well feel exposed and never quite good enough. Well, this is how I felt (note the past tense.)
Now I have come to a more comfortable place of quiet confidence and self-belief. I accept that some people won’t like what I make and I’m ok with this. It really doesn’t matter. Today I went on an acrylics course at Nottingham Society of Artists and sat amongst long time members with far greater experience. Guess what? I didn’t care! During the last hour, we all produced a painting from a selection of photographs. I did a canal scene, which I found quite dull and uninspiring but I couldn’t find a photo that I actually really liked. I had a go, felt relaxed and happy with the end product, and Ok with the tutor and other people having a look. And I felt comfortable asking the tutor what I could have done better.
To get to this point, I’ve had to be vulnerable, and stepping over the threshold of shops with my work has been stressful and knee-knockingly scary. But sometimes we just have to “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Like so many things, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So for anyone starting out, I would say just push yourself, go for it, nothing terrible will happen, someone out there will love what you do, and then someone else will. And someone else. Best of all, you will have an outlet for your creative self, and that’s the really priceless bit. Good luck!
Denise’s business is called Made by Denise, you can find her cards and original artwork in our gift shop.
Have you taken the step to sell ? I would love to hear your experiences 🙂