A Visit to The Print Fair at The Hepworth, Wakefield

Friday is our new adventure day and today we headed to The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield as I wanted to check out The Print Fair which was happening this weekend (23-25th March).

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Photo credit: @andrew_marshall88

The best way to convince me to leave the house is food so of course we had to start our adventure with lunch in the gallery cafe which is filled with greenery and beautiful planters courtesy of Geo Fleur; the food didn’t disappoint either. Once refreshed we took a stroll around the gallery itself, admiring the work of local artists Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore as well as light installation exhibition by Anthony Mcall.

After spending a relaxing hour wandering around the gallery, we headed across the grounds, passing the street food vendors to The Print Fair. It was quite busy even though it was a Friday but I got the opportunity to chat to a few stall holders and thought I would share a few of my favourites with you.

The first thing to catch my eye were these lovely mixed media works by Lucy Freeman. I especially loved the embroidery hoops as they were plant themed which is my absolute favourite.

Then I spoke to a lovely guy called Iain from Print Garage. His pieces were the kind that you could look at forever and keep seeing new things. I also loved his print display on wooden coat hangers.

This gorgeous stand was Ali Appleby. I could happily fill my house with those gorgeous printed cushions and I was so tempted by a windowsill print, maybe I will treat myself to something.

My final highlight was the fun and colourful work of Anna + Kate of The Smallish House. I loved the eclectic mix of homewares but how everything worked so well together as a collection. I couldn’t pick one specific thing that I liked as I think I would have to have it all.

There were so many other fantastic artists and printmakers but I don’t want to spoil it for you if you are planning a visit. The Print Fair is on for the rest of this weekend so is worth stopping by especially if you are local to Wakefield. You can find out more about the gallery here

 

How I Dealt With It When I Had A Wobble With My Business

If you follow me on social media you will probably have already seen this post but I wanted to give a little more context and have a more permanent record of my experience.

About a month ago I had a major wobble with my business. After an unexpectedly slow start to the year I was starting to doubt myself and what I was doing. Clarise Crafts has grown very consistently since I started in 2013 and I’ve been fortunate enough to not have any major setbacks. So when I was geared up for a crazy busy January; usually one of my busiest months of the year and the sales just fizzled out I started to panic.

Etsy is my primary income source, when I set it up I considered it just a bonus but when Facebook made some changes to their algorithm, my direct sales rapidly decreased as my Etsy sales rapidly increased. I’m fully aware that having all my eggs in one basket is not a good business structure so I am still building up my website traffic, mailing list and everything else that goes with it.

I have no idea why my Etsy sales experienced such a massive slump, I spent hours scouring forums and groups to see if there was anything going on. I came to the conclusion that there was not one reason but it was possibly a whole host of reasons.

  1. A large chunk of my orders are now wedding and baby related from individuals so I am at the mercy of the retail calendar which naturally slumps post Christmas.
  2. There was a drop in the exchange rates for USD and as nearly half my customers are outside of the UK, my products did not seem as good a value.
  3. Etsy have been working on lots of updates to the interface and the search functions. Products have started clumping again so this is a sign that things are going on behind the scenes we don’t fully understand.
  4. Probably lots of other things I haven’t considered yet.

I had a few days of comfort eating and Netflix binging (I watched all 10 seasons of Friends in 2 weeks, seriously!) and then I decided to do something about it. My head was still in such a negative space and I didn’t feel like staring a computer screen with my sparse order list so I went back to basics and took out my pens, notebooks and sketchbooks and just started doing. ⠀

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In those quiet times over the past few weeks I’ve amazed myself with what I have achieved, I’ve created so many new designs, in fact I have redesigned and updated most of my major product ranges. I also had time to work and practise with my DSLR and feel I’ve made massive strides with my photography. I even honed my workflow for better productivity when hopefully the busier times return.

Being completely honest, at the time it felt like it had just dropped off a cliff when in reality I went from crazy busy to just steady and things have already started to pick back up. I’d like to think it was down to my persistence but in reality it is likely just down to the natural ebb and flow of business. I’m now longer as scared of having a quiet time because it means I get to work on those things on the more fun things on the to do list and get to have a bit more creativity.

I would like to thank each and every person who supports my small business as it really does make a huge impact on me. When I initially posted this on Instagram, it attracted over 300 likes and so many encouraging comments which means the world to me as I have feel so disconnected on social media recently. My hopes are to stay connected, be honest and authentic and keep on trucking.

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Goal Setting for 2018

I know it’s late but happy 2018! I haven’t done a blog post since just before Christmas mainly because I haven’t really felt the inspiration to write, I’ll blame it on Winter! I don’t really like the idea of setting new year resolutions as you are almost setting yourself up for a failure but there are a number of things I would like to achieve this year so if I write them down it might stop me from giving in too quickly.

1. Sticking to a simple diary and not giving up half way through the year because it doesn’t look as pretty as I think it should (and to stop looking on Pinterest for journal inspiration!)

2. Putting pen to paper. I want to flex those drawing muscles a bit but again, I have held back in the past because I would start and give up when it wasn’t as pretty/ perfect as I wanted. I’ve splashed out on a few nice plain sketchbooks and have been using black pen only to do quick botanical doodles, so far it has been working out and I’m about 2/3rds through my first sketchbook and have only pulled out 3 pages so far.

3. Nourishing the mind and body with good food. This has been a work in progress for the last year or so and I want to continue. I want to buy more fresh produce and cut out any processed products completely. I want to eat as naturally and healthily as possible as much of the time as possible. This year I have been practising with lots of new recipes such as homemade granola.

Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash

4. Being mindful about purchases. This was another thing I started last year but I slipped a few times and shopped at H&M only to find I hated the items after wearing them once or twice. I have updated my wardrobe with all new luxury hangers and colour coordinated it to bring the clothes I already have to life and respect them in the hope that I love them and they last for longer. No more heaps of scrunched up things in the bottom of the wardrobe.

5. Simplify my workflow to give me more free time to enjoy life. This is a tricky one as being self employed is unpredictable! However, I think I should respect the fact I have the opportunity to design my own life and taking time off is not something to feel guilty about.

I realise that my goals are mainly personal ones rather than business ones. Of course I have things planned for Clarise Crafts but I don’t want to give anything away too soon so you will just have to follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter if you want to stay in the loop. Do you have any plans for this year and beyond? How do you feel about goal setting? Would love to hear your thoughts… 

Reasons to be Grateful: Part 2

It’s been a week since my first gratitude post so I thought I would add my list for this last week:

  1. Finally managed to find a plasterer to sort out the spare room. Hopefully will have a functional room by next week.
  2. I managed to resist Black Friday/ Cyber Monday temptations. I purchased this beautiful calendar from a fellow small business (link):

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3. My parents come back from a month away this weekend so I get to see them.  I will not be jealous of their tans!

Have a great week everyone!

Homemade Protein Balls

I love cooking and baking, especially when I can experiment and create my own delicious treats. Recently I’ve seen a few recipes for protein balls but every attempt had been a little unsuccessful either in texture or flavour but I didn’t give in.

This is my take on protein snack balls that are refined sugar free, wheat free and also dairy free. I can confirm they are also really tasty and enough to satisfy a sweet craving.

My ingredient quantities are a bit vague as I wasn’t really measuring as I went along, I just did it until it was right. The ratio is 2 parts oats to 1 part dates and 1 part fat/liquid (2:1:1). I also made two flavour variations.

Cocoa Balls

 

Oats, raw cacao powder (or cocoa), pitted dates, dairy free spread, dairy free chocolate spread (or Nutella), chopped hazelnuts.

Soak the dates in boiling water for 10 minutes until soft, remove stones if they have them. Blitz in a food processor.

Melt the spread and dairy-free chocolate spread in a small pan until runny.

Put the oats in a bowl and mix in a generous amount of chopped hazelnuts. Then stir in the chocolate mixture and the dates until it binds.

As it cools you will be able to take a small amount and roll it into a ball amount the size of a £2 coin. You can powder your hands with cocoa to stop it sticking.

Place on a tray to cool then transfer to a container to store in the fridge.

Peanut Butter Balls

Oats, smooth peanut butter, pitted dates, dairy free spread, vanilla extract.

 

The method is the same as the cocoa balls, except you melt the peanut butter with the dairy free spread. Then add a couple drops of vanilla extract. This mixture will be less sticky so you shouldn’t need to powder your hands.

I can’t wait to make up more batches of these to keep in the fridge for when I’m feeling peckish. If you need any more help with the recipe or ingredient quantities just drop me a line.

 

VG, GF Autumn Crumble Recipe

Autumn is the season of abundance for fruit, in particular apples, pears and berries so it’s always good to have a few recipes on hand to make the most of it. One of my favourites is crumble because it is so quick and can be made using store-cupboard ingredients.

The traditional crumble is made using flour and sugar and butter but I have experimented with various fillings and this is by far my best creation yet so I wanted to share with you. The ratio you need is 2:1:1 for crumble so it is so simple to swap out ingredients. This version is also vegan friendly and GF if you use GF approved oats.

Ingredients:

2-3 Cooking apples

2 Pears

75g Pure (Dairy-free Vegan Spread)

75g Sugar (I use brown sugar for extra crunch)

150g Mix of Oats and Almond Flour

Powdered Cinnamon

100ml Orange Juice

Drizzle Agave Syrup (can swap out for sugar)

Handful Sliced Almonds (for topping)

Method:

Peel the fruit and slice into thin chunks and place into an open top ceramic dish.Add a glug of Orange juice (not too much but enough to keep it juicy). Drizzle on agave syrup (or some sugar) and add about a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Add the dry ingredients (sugar, oats, almond flour) to a mixing bowl and mix. Then add small chunks of Pure Spread and start ‘rubbing’ in with your hands until the mixture is crumbly. It will be more crumbly than traditional versions using wheat flour.

Pour the crumble mixture over the fruit. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top and place in a pre-heated oven.

Bake for around 30-40 minutes at about 180 degrees. I prefer to cook at lower temperature for longer to stop the almonds burning. You know it is done when the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden.

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I hope you enjoy your Autumn treat, let me know in the comments if you gave it a go or if you have your own crumble variation!