Today’s featured crafter is Wendy, read on to hear what she does, where it all started and what she hopes to achieve in the future.
If you hover over each company name, it is ‘clickable’ which will take you directly to their website.
1. Who are you and what is the name of your business?
I’m Wendy Massey, I’m a mum of four and grandma of two and my business is called 1st Unique Gifts.
2. What is your craft and how did you first become involved/interested in crafting?
For my business, 1st Unique Gifts, I paint everything and also hand letter items to personalise them for customers. I do love working with textiles and have done since I was very little – my Grandma used to sit and show me how to make things for my dolls and teddies. I also made some rather ugly gonks (anyone remember them?) as a child! I love making something out of nothing so I’m very interested in recycled/upcycled crafts. I was upcycling things as a teenager in the 1970s, long before it became a popular thing to do. At school, my pencil case had been a pair of jeans, my school skirt had been my brother’s old pants and back then I made a lot of patchwork things too.
3. Where do you find your inspiration for your work?
Absolutely everywhere! Nature, home life, holidays, people’s passions, customers’ ideas – I like to work with ideas that people identify with, which sparks off some of the humourous sayings I use on my plaques and also explains my excessive use of my campervan image, not to mention my fairies sprinkling stardust everywhere! I have far too many ideas to ever use. I like things that are a bit funky and different and am inspired by the ideas and the passion behind the images. I love people and connecting with them and that’s the bit of my work that I love the best.
4. What made/inspired you to start your crafts business? What did you do before?
Like many people at the moment, redundancy was the kick up the backside which started me off. I had been brewing the idea for this business for some time, partly because increasing levels of severe migraines were making me realise a standard job was not a good fit for me. I worked for nearly 12 years as a teacher in a Young Offenders’ Institution and, while I loved the job and was passionate about it, there is no doubt it contributed to my worsening migraines. Before that, I used to design projects for craft/sewing magazines, I painted murals and I designed/made children’s clothing.
5. Can your customers have something personal created by you? Or are your items “stock only”?
Yes, they most definitely can have something created especially for them – and they often do. I have a form on the website which they can complete to request a custom design. I can even show them the design online before they commit to buying it.
6. Do you have a favourite item/range out of all your crafted items?
The things I love the most are the fun items. I love doing the little plaques with humourous sayings on because they make people laugh. People do definitely identify with them and that’s the bit I love the most.
7. Where/how do you sell your items? Do you have a website/blog where we can see your work?
I sell my work online and at markets and craft fairs.
My website: 1st Unique Gifts.
I also have a blog at 1st Unique Gifts Blog which is usually updated every day as I am a bit of a blog addict. New ranges usually make it to the blog before they make it onto the website.
8. If you could change one thing about your crafts business, what would it be?
Probably just that my studio is too cold in winter and I’d love it to be more welcoming and toasty warm. I’d love to install a wood burning stove but can’t justify the cost at the moment.
9. What are your plans for your future within the crafting world?
I plan to sell more through the internet and less through fairs and markets. I do love selling at markets but I definitely overdid it in 2009. I’ve realised I’m only human and need a day off occasionally! I’d love to add some textile products to my range but need to find the time to design and make them up and I’m not certain that’s going to happen any time soon. I’m also very interested in eco crafting – I teach a few evening classes and always concentrate on recycled and cheap crafts where possible. I’d love to do a bit more along those lines.
Thank you Wendy for taking the time to share your story with us… wishing you a very successful 2010 and future, we’ll definitely be along soon to purchase one of your loking craft room plaques 🙂