Thursday, 28 August 2014

thoughts and ramblings


Today's thoughts and ramblings post is on the fine line between copying and inspiration. It's a subject that not a lot of people talk about, but one that I think affects a lot of creative people. Now I know lots of people have already spoken on the topic of copying other people's work. I'm not going to talk about that, as I think there are already lots of awesome articles out there on what to do when someone steals your design. I want to talk about the side of copying that often goes undiscussed.

When I started Ladybird Likes I had a few brands/companies that I really looked up to. They made products I loved, had social networking accounts I enjoyed following, had beautiful websites and product photography - they basically were the kind of company I wanted Ladybird Likes to one day become. And I spent so much time analysing their business that somewhere along the line, without even meaning to or actually realising for a while, I started to copy some aspects of their business. Not their products - that is something I don't condone at all. But more the way they ran their businesses - from their blog designs, to the special offers they ran at different points. It was never done with any bad intention - I genuinely just loved and admired what they had done, and wanted my business to be like that, and I guess the only way I could see to do that was to try and make my business the SAME as theirs.

This lasted for a few months, until one day I caught myself making a choice for my business, based purely on what someone else had done with their business. What happened was someone had posted on Instagram about using an order fulfillment company, and I immediately started thinking I needed to do that for Ladybird Likes, and actually began emailing companies! I realised how ridiculous this was - my business was totally different from theirs, because I am totally different from them! How could I expect what worked/didn't work for them to be the same for me? Just because something worked for them didn't mean it was the only way to do it, or that it would even work for me and my business. Since that day I have made decisions based on what I think and feel is best for me and for my customers. No-one knows your business, your products, and your customers as well as you do - so trust your own judgement!

Personally I struggle constantly with how I do things, and have almost daily mental battles with myself. I'm very much a 'jump in head first and think later' kind of girl which in business can be a bit of a problem! I often find myself wishing I'd taken more time to think through a new range, had samples made before ordering a job lot, read descriptions of components more carefully.... I want to constantly be creating new stuff - I get bored easily and my favourite part of the job is creating and turning ideas into real products, often without taking time to think things through first! But it's just the way I am, and on the plus side it means is that I am always making new stuff, which I think my customers like. My way of working works for me, even if I might wish I could be more considered with developing new collections and products. I do still admire companies that bring out one or two collections each year, each with a huge professional photoshoot, with a big blogger campaign, custom packaging. But that's not me and that's not how I work, so it would be silly of me to change the way I work for no reason.

I still look at other businesses and companies to see how they do things, but I do this in a healthy way now though. It's a great way to get ideas, to see how other people work, to set yourself goals to aim for. It's important to have people and companies you look up to and aspire to be like. What isn't okay though is to measure your own success by someone else's standards, or to assume that the way someone else does something is the only way to do it. I'm sure we have all done it in the past - someone posts online about a huge wholesale order/celebrity endorsement/amazing work opportunity and you immediately start to worry that you aren't in the same position as them. Just because your jewellery isn't on the front cover of Vogue does NOT mean you aren't successful. Just because you're not being interviewed daily for newspaper coverage does NOT mean you have failed in any way.

Ladybird Likes is never going to be a multi-million pound corporation. I'm never going to be a jet-setting businesswoman. But that's okay because that's not what I set out to do with my business. As long as I get to be creative, work for myself, and make enough money to live on, then I am happy and I feel like I have been successful. Although I wouldn't turn down having a reason to travel to America for business!

My advice to anyone starting up, or even to people already running, a small creative business is to set your own goals and standards, and find a way of running things that works for YOU. Okay, your goals might be different to other people's. Okay, you might run your business differently to your friend or your craft idol. But if it works for you and makes you happy then that is always enough.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

GOODIE BOXES

 Following on from the enormous popularity of our previous goodie boxes (the last batch sold out in just 45 minutes!) I'm delighted to announce that tonight we have not one, but TWO different goodie boxes up for grabs! Each goodie box is just £20, but contains goodies worth approx £50, and we have 25 of each style available. Available to buy right now in our Etsy shop!

The first is a mix of some items I absolutely love - a happy toast brooch (produced in collaboration with Charlotte Mei), a notebook featuring one of my custom vinyl decals, a tassel necklace, a heart shaped acrylic sign, and a set of flat notecards!


 The second goodie box is themed around our new 'kitsch' collection - containing DIY kits to make your own garland and paper doll, retro pins, a print, one of our new kitsch necklaces (which aren't available to purchase yet), a pocket mirror, and a keyring!


Lots of the items in our goodie boxes are exclusive, so you won't be able to buy them separately! Grab one quickly before they sell out!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

MOON COLLAR CLIPS ON DOCTOR WHO


 It's no secret that I'm a bit of a nerd, especially when it comes to sci-fi stuff, so when, many many months ago, I received an order from the Dr Who costume department at the BBC for my moon collar clips, I got a little bit over excited! But time passed and I almost forgot about it, until the new series launch date was announced. Since then I've had nervous butterflies in my tummy waiting to see if they used my collar clips at all. My boyfriend has been tirelessly scouting online for images from the new series to see if he can spot my collar clips, but we hadn't had any luck until TODAY!

The BBC Doctor Who official website released some promotional stills from the first episode of the new series (called Deep Breath which airs on Saturday!) and there is Clara Oswald (the Doctor's companion for the new series) wearing my blue moon collar clips!


Thank you to everyone who has already congratulated me over on Instagram and Facebook - this is a very, very proud moment for me! The images have already been used in the Radio Times (I'm off out to track down a copy) and lots of Doctor Who fans have already purchased their collar clips! A very exciting day in a very crazy week!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Fujifilm Instax Instant Printer


 One of my birthday gifts from Jonathan was a Fujifilm Instax Instant Photo Printer! I have been seriously ogling it for months now, since first seeing one pop up on some blog or another. But I already had an Instax Mini AND an Instax Wide camera, so thought it was probably not really a 'necessary' purchase (especially as I'm saving to go on holiday in like five weeks!) But JJ is such a good present buyer, and remembered me telling him once (or every single day) how much I wanted one, and lo and behold it's now MINE!

I figured I'd post a little review/side by side comparison with the Fujifilm Instax Mini so y'all can see what it's all about..... First up, the way the printer works is it creates its own wireless 'network' which you log on to like you would a WiFi connection. Then you have an Instax Share app on your phone (which is free to download, and your friends can download it too and use it to print photos from their phone too!) - you simply open the app up and choose your photo, edit it if necessary, then click print! SIMPLES! (you can also take photos directly, rather than using photos you've already taken. You simply click a different button and it uses your phone camera as the camera. So flippin clever!)


 Okay so the printer has two BIG advantages over the camera, which are;

- you don't have to carry the printer round with you (although you can do as it's about the same size/weight as the camera.) What this means is you can snap photos whilst you're out on your phone, then when you get home you can print them out as instant photos! Sometimes even when I have my instant camera with me I don't bother taking it out for photos (or just forget I have it with me) so this is absolutely ideal.
- you can select which pictures you like and see how they will look before you print. Although the newer Instax cameras have really good photo quality, and the close up lens allows for correction, I still get more photos than I'd like which are off centre, or aren't exposed quite right. The printer avoids all these problems so no more wasted images!


However I won't be abandoning my Instax camera just yet.... I do still think there is a place in my heart for such a cute camera. Although the printer does the same thing, there is something so novel about not knowing quite how the photos will turn out when you've taken them, ending up slightly less than perfect but being all the more charming for it. I absolutely LOVE my printer though - I especially like that I can print out multiple copies of one photo to give to friends or family. If you don't have an Instax camera yet and are debating getting one, I'd seriously suggest thinking about getting the printer purely for its versatility. It's a bit more pricey than the camera (only about £30 more than the newest Instax camera though) but definitely worth it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

CNBC Interview

 Yesterday morning I was interviewed LIVE on CNBC news channel! It was all very surreal and extremely scary, but also such an awesome experience. I spoke about how Etsy has helped my business grow, and about the new Etsy Wholesale program.


 On Monday I received an Etsy conversation asking if I'd like to be on CNBC for a news piece the following day. One of the best parts of being self-employed is being able to adapt when exciting things like this come up - so I of course accepted the invitation. The following morning I was so nervous. I didn't really know what to expect, and was even more worried as it was live! I sat in the green room for about half an hour, which was exciting in itself as it was right in the studio and I could see everything that was going on behind the scenes. Then all of a sudden I was being ushered into a seat, had a microphone clipped to my collar, and someone was counting down till we were live! Very surreal!


If you'd like to watch the (very short) clip of me speaking you can see it right here. Please ignore my ummms and ahhhhhs - I tried so hard not to do it, but found it almost impossible! Also ignore my weird cockney accent - I'm not from East London! Thanks to everyone who watched live and for all your super sweet comments on Facebook and Instagram - knowing you guys were watching and supporting made me less worried!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

NEW PRINTS!



 I've been busy working away behind the scenes here at Ladybird Likes HQ getting my newest product range ready to show you all! I am an absolute stationery ADDICT (as well as being obsessed with jewellery obvs) so it seemed natural to try designing and making a range of stationery items.


 My first stationery items are a selection of prints - there are three different ranges which are, kitschy kitties, retro animals, and pastel colour quotes. I taught myself to create graphics digitally using Photoshop, and I'm really pleased with how they turned out!


 I will be using some of these designs (plus some new ones too!) to also make a range of greeting cards, pocket mirrors and notebooks (plus a few jewellery items too of course) in time for Christmas. The design process has been very different to creating jewellery pieces, but I've really loved it, and am looking forward to doing a lot more non-jewellery products in the future.


All of these are available right now in my Etsy shop - the other items will be coming soon too. I'd love to know which designs are your favourite!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

thoughts and ramblings


Today is my birthday. Not just any birthday, but my 28th birthday. To most people this isn't an important birthday at all, but for me it is. Not because it's my birthday, but because it marks an important stage of my life.

Ten years ago on this exact day I turned 18, and I met a boy who became my boyfriend. He was my first real boyfriend, and I thought we would be together forever. Ten years ago today I sat and thought about where my life would be in ten years time. I was off to university to study Psychology and Criminal Justice Studies, with the aim of becoming a Criminal Psychologist. I was in a long-term relationship with a guy I thought I would one day marry. I thought I had everything figured out, and knew exactly what my life would look like aged 28. But I was so wrong.

I've spoken on this blog a few times about my break up with my ex. Not because I think you're all so interested in my past relationships (because they are very few and very boring) but because it marked a real turning point in my life. Aged 23 I split with my boyfriend after almost five years together. It was a messy break up, which left me living back with my parents, struggling to complete my degree in Creative Writing whilst coping with having my world turned upside down. It was hands down one of the hardest times in my life.

At the time I resented the years of my life I'd spent in the relationship, all the sacrifices I'd made for someone who ultimately did not love me. Sometimes I still do have moments of resentment, but ultimately I have come to accept it. Without that negative time I wouldn't be where I am now. Having everything in my life turned round gave me the opportunity to start over, and to do what I wanted, rather than what I thought I needed to do to be the person I thought I had to be. After five years of being someone's girlfriend, I finally had time to be who I wanted to be. I got a job I loved, started this blog, made new friends, started crafting, and ultimately began Ladybird Likes. And a year and a half ago I met Jonathan, who is everything I could ever want and so much more. Having such an awful relationship history has only made me appreciate him that much more. Without going on (because you know how I get carried away!) he has given me the confidence to follow my dreams, and to be the person I really am. He encourages me, supports me, tells me I look nice, and fuels my Starbucks addiction. He is everything I could ever ask for and so much more too.

Ten years ago today I thought I had my life planned out, but I'm so glad that it didn't turn out like that. Sure I wish I didn't live at home with my parents. I'd like to have more money and work a bit less. But I'm happy. Happier than I was ten years ago. Happier than I've ever been before.  I've done things, and been places, and had experiences I'd never even dared to dream of for myself. I am grateful every day for the life I have, and I wouldn't change a second of it.

Today is my 28th birthday. I guess I should say how old I feel, and how I don't want to turn 30, and all the usual stuff. Sure, sometimes when people ask me how old I am I have to stop and think because my automatic answer is 23. I don't feel like I am 28 years old, and people often tell me I don't look my age. But if this is what it's like being 28, then it can't be all bad.


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

i heart iphone photos

Wowzers, July has been an incredible month! I can't actually believe it's August already, and it's my birthday in just a few days. It feels like a month or two ago that I was in the midst of Christmas craziness, and now I'm preparing to do it all again. July was wonderful but busy, and I have a feeling August is going to be even more of both.... But first, here is a little recap of what I got up to in July (all descriptions are clockwise from top left.)

selling my wares at the Selina Lake summer fete I was lucky enough to be next to Hello Sketchy selling amazing hand illustrated plates - snagged this one for my bedroom // a new product that has sparked ideas for a whole new range of engraved natural wood pieces // my lucky Ladybird stone from my sister lives on my desk // working on products for the July goodie box - these little packs of awesomeness will be up in my Etsy shop very soon too...


 working on custom pieces for some awesome clients, including these cat face necklaces for Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium // taking more selfies in an effort to be more confident about my appearance, and as a way of keeping track of the outfits I wear // shiny new products in the form of vintage paint by number cat and dog jewels were launched this month // making more time to blog as part of my weekly routine


 the highlight of July for me was attending Blogcademy - I wore these amazing (and so so painful) holographic platform sandals // the decorations were incredible and I definitely want giant paper flowers as part of my home decor now // there was a photobooth and I loved it // selfies in gold glittery ears are my new favourite thing


 discovering awesome Edward Scissorhands graffiti in East London // working on new designs for a range of Ladybird Likes stationery and gift items - as much as I adore jewellery it is so fun to be working on something a bit different! // paper doll prototype for a kit that will be in an upcoming goodie box // coffee and cake date with some of my favourite creative people at Drink, Shop, Do


 having a much needed day off with my mister, and spending it picking strawberries in the sunshine // wearing my ceramic lobster necklace on a Post Office run // new ceramic jewels which flew out in one evening but will be restocked very soon // DIY garland kits which will be on sale nearer to Christmas


Phew! I feel tired just looking at all the stuff I did in July! August is already pretty fully booked - I am doing lots more business mentoring, attending a photography and styling course, launching over sixty new items including stationery and gifts, seeing my best friend get married, going to Frightfest 2014, launching my new website and online shop, and preparing for my first ever trade shop in September. CRAZY TIMES! Happy August though everyone - I hope it's amazing for you all xoxo

Monday, 4 August 2014

DIY vintage map letter writing set


 I love making stuff just for fun, but don't get to do it as much as I'd like. I feel so guilty making stuff for no reason, when I could be making stuff for the business. But lately I've been trying to squeeze in small one or two hour blocks of crafting time here and there, doing very small DIY projects. Today I made these little upcycled letter writing sets. Without meaning to they ended up being very travel themed - I think my longing for a holiday has drifted into my crafting!


All the components were gathered from car boot sales and charity shops - the only thing that wasn't was the envelope template I used (which I purchased on Etsy but you could just unfold an old envelope that's the right size and draw around that.) I bought a few notepads filled with this lovely old manilla paper that's all age-stained round the edges.  Whenever I visit my local Oxfam bookshop I ask if they have any old atlases - most charity shops won't sell the older ones as they are no longer geographically correct, so they give me them in exchange for a small donation!


 You can never have too much stationery right? I always find that I never have a notecard when I need one, so by making my own I always have a little stash on hand for emergencies. You could make these using any old papers - pretty wrapping paper, magazine pages, vintage annuals, sheet music, graph paper... the possibilities are endless!


 I made a bunch of these sets but wanted to give some away to you lovely lot (trying to declutter my studio and use up some craft supplies so I have an excuse to buy more!) Leave a comment below with your favourite holiday, or somewhere you'd love to visit, plus your email address, and I'll pick six people at random tomorrow to get a pack of six envelopes and six sheets of writing paper :)