The start of March means the promise of Spring, St David’s Day and…March Meet the Maker.
This lovely Instagram challenge was created by Joanne Hawker for Makers and Artists to show off their small businesses and give a snapshot of life as a maker/artist including prompts such as: how they work, the materials they use, inspirations and what are the challenges.
I always enjoy joining in with March Meet the Maker and seeing everyone’s posts, you can also see all the posts by searching for the hashtag #marchmeetthemaker on Instagram.
I didn't want the posts I create for this challenge to just be transient or not accessible by non-Instagram users so I'll post each post on here too as I create them.
Day 1 - Brand origin
Day 1 of #marchmeetthemaker - brand origin.
Daffodowndilly actually came about by accident when I created a few cards to add to another stall to make a mini gift set.
I'd always loved drawing and making things and it was really nice to do something creative again.
Those cards were joined next by craft and jewellery kits I'd designed but I really found where I was happiest when I started making and designing stationery such as notebooks and writing paper as well as the pin brooches. I love using stationery and always have pins on my jacket so it was amazing and empowering to be able to create my own designs for both.
The name Daffodowndilly is an old English word for Daffodils and you can still hear some people using it today in a few places including Shropshire. Daffodils are one of my favourite flowers so I decided to settle on that as the name.
Day 2 - All about you
Day 2 of #marchmeetthemaker - All About You
💛 I'm Becky and I make/design all the things in Daffodowndilly. This includes stationery, notebooks, enamel and wooden brooch pins, bag charms and prints.
💛 I'm from Shropshire, sandwiched between Wales and the West Midlands and the beautiful landscapes, nature and history around this area always inspires what I create.
💛 I Love all the arts - if it's to do with music, theatre, art or the written word - I'm in! I'm also a lifelong Shakespeare fan.
💛 I also love fossils, the natural world and geology - my degree subject was natural science and I love popping little fossils in my designs whenever I can.
💛 I'm happiest outdoors, especially if there is a festival or outdoors theatre there too.
I'd love to hear a bit about you as well.
Day 3 - Snippet
Day 3 of #marchmeetthemaker - Snippet
So here's a little snippet of something new ⭐
Day 4 - Weekend
Day 5 - Weekend
Day 6 - Start the day
Day 6 of #marchmeetthemaker - Start the day - Always with a big cup of coffee, I love drinking tea later on but the morning has to involve coffee.
Do you start the day with coffee?
Day 7 - Learn
Day 8 - Finishing Touches
Catching up on #marchmeetthemaker and the prompt for day 8 is finishing touches.
When I'm packaging up your orders I wrap them in a wonderfully thick blue tissue made from recycled paper and hold it together with a sticker and striped yellow cotton twine. As a final finishing touch I write a little thank you note before finishing packing and sealing the order.
Day 9 - Trial and Error
Day 9's prompt for #marchmeetthemaker is Trial and Error.
If I'm making a new pin or charm then I always make a paper sample up with various measurements to see what the size looks like, how much of the detail can you clearly see and does it feel too small or too big.
There is so much trial and error involved when you're making things and actually those mistakes I've made in the past with size, colour or clarity really help me make better decisions now. They also indicate to me what is going to work in a design and what might be tricky.
Day 10 - Recharge
Happy Saturday ♥️ I'm catching up with #marchmeetthemaker and yesterday's prompt was how do you recharge.
I think I recharge in lots of different ways, some of them regularly, some only occasionally:
- Going outside - for a walk, to watch the sparrows or just to drink my tea for 5 minutes.
- Spending time with family and friends.
- Seeing a beautiful view and just sitting and enjoying it for a while.
- Doing a completely different task for a bit if I'm having trouble with the task I'm currently working on.
- Occasionally having a delicious lunch or coffee from one of our wonderful local coffee shops. It is not just the deliciousness of the coffee but also just sitting being surrounded by the hum of people chatting and enjoying themselves.
- Going for a day trip to the sea to watch the waves, look for interesting pebbles and try to spot dolphins.
- Going to see community art projects and things like light installations.
- Changing Seasons, Spring arriving always feels like a recharge for my brain.
I do most of my planning using my notebook and pen, I also use To Do lists, calendar sheets and programs like spreadsheets.
I find that writing things down manually is more helpful for me as well as suiting my stationery loving soul.
I also definitely lean towards a winging it approach which I should probably try to work into a more long term approach!
The envelope stickers are the smallest thing I make, they are around postage stamp sized. The largest things I create are the A4 prints and T-Shirts.
A design usually starts as a note, idea or sketch in my notebook, then I move to the Ipad and start sketching.
A design will go through lots of different stages and lots of erasing before I'm happy enough with it. Sometimes this takes days, sometimes months with lots of time in between working on something different.
The next stage is that I prepare the design to be printed for stationery or made into wooden/enamel pins or charms. Most of the time I will try to make a design into multiple products, for example: one design might turn into a wooden pin, a gift note, notebook and sticker.
All these need me to alter my original design to make the new product. So I might need to simplify or shorten a design to fit into being a pin or add a writing area and make the focus of the design smaller to make a gift note for example.
Once I've sent designs to be printed or cut then I just have to wait, which isn't usually too long as everything is printed/cut in England. Then I check each sheet or piece individually and set aside any seconds.
Some products like the stickers are ready at this point. However others need me to assemble them into packs (gift notes, writing paper sets etc) or assemble and bind them, like the notebooks.
The final stages in the process are to photograph the new products, write descriptions and decide on tags and categories and list them on my website.
It is a bit of a rollercoaster running a small business, you constantly have to adapt to challenges and worries but there are lots of upsides too, so here are some of my highs and lows.
- meeting customers at a market
- when someone loves your work or leaves a lovely review.
- meeting up or chatting virtually with fellow makers and artists.
- when you have good sales
- when everything works smoothly.
- when a vital piece of equipment or software breaks.
- when a customer's order gets lost in the post.
- when you open the box from the printer and find everything is damaged.
- huge amounts of self doubt
- times when sales are quiet.
So here's my creative space for Daffodowndilly. Stickers are stored in the desktop organisers and the notebook front sheets, gift notes, writing paper and calendar sheets are stored in colourful drawers. I'm still working on the space and adding decoration and better storage but I love it and really enjoy working there.
I also have a sit/stand desk which has been a real act of kindness to my back as I really like to work standing up too, it also makes for easy packing and assembling as I don't have to keep on getting up.
There are so many decisions involved with Daffodowndilly, some are easy and some are definitely not.
- How many of this design should I order, if I don't order enough I risk losing out on potential sales but if I order too many I will have loads left and have money tied up in leftover stock.
- Should I try this new product type? Is it going to be something people will want to buy?
- Should I just come back to this design at a later date and stop wasting time on something I'm not going to be happy with.
- How can I make my website easier to navigate?
Reality is the prompt for today's #marchmeetthemaker . It's scary to share the behind the scenes sometimes so we all mostly post the highlights.
So here are are some of the things/events that I didn't take photos of:
Opening boxes from the printers to find that almost every sheet or card is wrongly printed or creased. (My printers are brilliant and always reprint for me but it adds a lot of time both in individually checking each sheet and it waiting to another set to arrive to check).
My workspace is very messy with stock at the moment but also really bare as I haven't decorated or moved the rest of the things across. I have a big wardrobe I'm going to convert into storage to keep the finished stationery in but I haven't got around to getting long enough screws to finish the shelves so all the stock is still sitting on my desk. So basically it just sits there empty while I'm surrounded by boxes.
I ordered the wrong size of grey board initially and now have 5 massive sheets of extra thick greyboard which I'm going to have to re-purpose for something else.
When I first started making notebooks I used a hand punch binding version. Not only was this a bad idea for my desk (it vibrated the screws out constantly) but it also left me with a bad shoulder and neck injury that took a while to heal 😆.
My most used and important tools are the Ipad and Apple pencil I use to draw all my designs, mainly in the Adobe Fresco and Adobe Illustrator software programs.
Other tools and machines I use are:
⭐ A secondhand Renz binding machine for the notebooks along with a pair of sharp cutters to cut the binding wire to size.
⭐ A collection of pliers (flat nosed, split ring and chain nosed) for the keyrings and bag charms. As well as a thick needle and cord to make the felt ball charms.
⭐ A heavy duty single hole punch for assisting in mounting pins and keyrings on backing cards.
⭐ My trusty laptop - for admin, accounts, website work, uploading, text based work and where I need a larger screen.
⭐ Scissors - needed for everything from packing orders, cutting out samples of new designs to cutting cotton cord for the charms.
I noticed that I was increasingly being asked if I could add envelopes to go with the gift notes to make them into mini writing sets.
So I decided to adapt the gift notes into two products - the original gift notes with 4 sheets and the new mini notes which contain 6 sheets and 6 envelopes.
So here are some of my favourite parts of running Daffodowndilly:
⭐ The joy of creating something and seeing it come to life as a new product.
⭐ The freedom that it allows me to choose the direction I'd like to take Daffodowndilly.
⭐ The wonderful community of makers.
⭐ Receiving lovely feedback and chatting with customers and fellow stallholders at markets.
⭐ Packing orders and writing thank you messages.
⭐ When you finally start to see a design coming together after it has an ugly stage!
It also really helps people who are thinking about buying from Daffodowndilly feel reassured enough to order, so a huge thank you to everyone who has ever left me a review.
So here are some of the reviews Daffodowndilly has received on Folksy and by email.
So there are new A6 notebook covers, envelope stickers and gift notes coming in April which I'm really excited to receive back from the printers.
There will also hopefully be some new pins coming between Spring and Summer time 😍.
What else would you love to see coming soon from Daffodowndilly? I'll also pop some polls and a question box up in my stories later on for any ideas.
Thank you so much to @joannehawker for creating such a brilliant challenge for makers!