Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Interview with Anna Burnell from Miss Beatrix

Anna's life is full of handmade.  On her blog Miss Beatrix, she shares some of her amazing vintage finds (she has great knack for finding treasures!), handmade crafts (she sells gorgeous handpainted buttons on Etsy), runs a successful Post Circle, and a craft group called Creatives Unite.

I had to interview her, knowing her answers to my questions would be interesting and lovely to read about!  And they were!

Cory: What is the attraction you have to things that are handmade?

Anna: Handmade for me means creating something unique, perfect in its flaws, made with love and often for very little money at all. A handmade item is truly a special thing in a world of mass-production, plastic and consumerism. Each is a work of art!

Cory: What crafts do you like to do?

Anna: All sorts! The first craft I ever took seriously as a hobby was making doll’s house miniatures from polymer clay and household items. I’m in love with the idea of making objects and scenes I’d never be able to have or visit in the real world. As well as making buttons, which I sell, I love embroidery, being a novice sewer, baking, knitting, smash booking… and I’m just learning to crochet!

Cory: How much time do you spend on crafting?

Anna: Because I run a crafts blog, an Etsy shop and crafting is my main method of relaxation, I’d
say a fair amount of time! Sometimes it can only be for a few minutes a day, but I tend to have several projects on the go and I further them all whenever I can. As well as going to a monthly craft club I run Creatives Unite, which is a great excuse to drop everything else for two hours a week and just create. And my favourite weekends are those with a crafty friend, a stack of dvds and a pile of crafting materials!

Cory: You have an Etsy shop selling adorable handpainted buttons, where do you find inspiration and ideas for things to sell?

Anna: I couldn’t tell you where the inspiration for making and painting buttons came from as I have
no idea, but many of my design ideas come straight from nature. I love British animals and birds and so I capture them in button-form. I like to wear my passions for all the world to see, which is why tea, biscuit and knitting-themed buttons have featured in my shop before now too! I guess I just think about what I love, and hope others will feel the same way.

Cory: Do you have any advice for someone who loves crafting and is thinking about taking the
plunge and selling them? What should be their first step? 

Anna: I think you have to have ‘two heads’. The designing and making side is lots of fun, and it’s the best feeling in the world when someone parts with their hard earned cash for something you have made, but you do need to employ some basic business sense. Selling through any medium means you are a business owner, and that means being prepared to deal with spreadsheets, tax forms and being savvy about material costs and paying yourself for your time.

I’d say your first step should be to research all the scary and dull stuff like tax and insurance from the off, be honest with yourself about how much time you can dedicate to marketing your work, and put a plan in place. If you can deal with all that then you can enjoy the fun side of selling your work guilt-free! Sometimes when you make things to sell a design can go from being something you really enjoyed making for yourself and friends, to something you begin to resent making over and over to sell. If that’s the case, stop. If I painted my buttons with anything other than passion it would show and my business would suffer. Tweak your design or stop it altogether, but don’t allow complacency or boredom to kick in.

Lastly, my blog has helped my sales enormously. I don’t really blog much about the buttons themselves, but the blog helps customers to feel they know and can trust the person they are buying from. I was so grateful to be able to launch my shop into a group of supportive readers who were as excited as me. Blogging has also helped me meet loads of fellow creative souls!

Cory: Can you tell us a little bit about Creatives Unite?

Anna: Of course! Creatives Unite is an online creative club. We meet on Twitter every Thursday
between 8 and 10pm, and basically we’re all working away on crafty and creative projects
in the comfort of our own homes (with me usually in my pyjamas!) but while supporting one
another and chatting. The aim is to stop you making excuses for not making time for your
creative side… and just do it. Everyone is welcome. You can find out more here and use
#creativesunite to track our tweets.

Cory: Finally, what is your absolute favourite place to be?

Anna: Curled up in my favourite chair, just after a long walk, working on a craft project with a snoring dog and a cup of tea at my side.

Anna's blog is a joy to read, so I recommend following it and enjoying her posts!  Thanks so much for letting me interview you, Anna!

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