While I’m not sure of the exact date, it was February last year that I took a bundle of 20 cards down Brick Lane inked with the name Moll and Mostin, got them stocked in a shop and started this whole shabang off.
Over the last year, I have trodden many a pavement slab, set up and packed up market stalls, sent hundreds of cards into London town and developed what I do in many different ways. I have also moved house, moved into a studio, moved out of a studio and into a new one. I have been working elsewhere full time, part time and not at all. Interesting times and educating ones.
It’s also a good excuse to reflect, and think about what I’ve learnt over the past year. So here goes –
- The most exciting things come from other people.
You can plan all the events and products you like, but often the most exciting projects come out of the blue and from ideas that other people have. This year, I made fifty bookmarks for the launch of a brilliant new book; I made several 4ft tall bunches of roses and peonies and carried them through busy central Islington and confused looks to The Make Lounge; I have done a workshop as a lunchtime activity at a national newspaper. All these started with emails from lovely people I’ve met along the way to see if I would be interested in getting involved. Ideas and collaboration lead to brilliant things. I am really excited about starting to really develop this side of my wedding range – making bespoke crafty items.
- One decision is not enough
I think there is the idea that you decide to set something like this up, you continue working away while it unfurls naturally and organically. Not the case; decisions need to be made constantly about to how to move on, how to make things work, and the gutsy decisions needed to stop things that aren’t working at all. It took me until December to truly realise that craft markets weren’t going to be a mainstay of the business. I knew it was the case several months beforehand, but I found it difficult to finally decide to stop booking them. I always had positive reactions at the markets and thought that the next market would be a tearaway success and make all the work that goes into each one worth it. But the work/success ratio never quite worked, plus in reality, as said above, I’m much more interested in working to make things for people in mind, rather than producing a lot of the same things speculatively.
- It’s not a hobby any more
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a range of different jobs, good and bad, and I’m currently working for someone else part time; making, writing, emailing and planning on behalf of Moll and Mostin is great. However, it’s very different from doing something as a hobby. Your finances are thrown into quick relief when you know that everything you spend in a week needs to be made by you, and you alone, by your sales alone – hence my current part time position elsewhere.
It also means that, while I am no longer working in admin, I still spend a lot of time with spreadsheets and creating documents. This is fine and jubbly – I’ve always liked putting documents together, and even spreadsheets; not having someone else in the office come along and change the fonts and colours on my spreadsheets to florescent Comic Sans is a joy and relief. But, having cried with exhaustion more than once over the last twelve months, it can be a little galling when people assume you’re spending your days happily with glue and glitter, indulging your inner play-schooller.
The best thing about the different jobs I’ve done have been the people I’ve worked with, and this is one thing you lose if you work by yourself. Talking to other people doing similar things is important. Talk to people you know about what you’re doing, because it’s important, and it can help to work around things. But give yourself a break; talk about other things, long and often. You’ll be fresher for it.