Shop Talk with Hook and Loop Knits

mistletoe mug cosy, hook and loop, shop talk

Shop Talk: Hook and Loop

Hook and Loop is a collection of knitted and crocheted accessories and home decor handmade in Cheshire by Claire Woodhead. Claire started her Folksy shop in February 2014 and has since created a distinctive style by adding details and embellishments to her knits – there are tea cosies with Christmas trees, hot water bottle covers with oak leaf details and mug cosies with mistletoe. We asked Claire to tell us more about her business, how she has grown it and why selling online works best for her…

How did you start your business and do you work on it full time?
A couple of years ago, after a break from knitting, I took up my knitting needles again and started to make tea cosies and other household items. My friends and family started to order some for themselves and said I should start selling them. I looked into it and found a lovely website called Folksy aimed at British-made crafts :) I tested the water with a couple of items and was amazed when I actually sold something! This inspired me to continue to expand my shop. After I was made redundant for the second time in two years, I decided to try working full-time at crafting.

green fingerless gloves

I only sell online. I love selling on Folksy as it represents British-made crafts, crafters and designers.

How and where do you sell your work? 
I only sell online. I do have a shop on another site, but I love selling on Folksy as it represents British-made crafts, crafters and designers. It has a lovely, friendly community and it’s very easy to open a shop. I don’t do craft fairs at the moment as I often hear reports that they are hard work and very time consuming, with sometimes few sales. I also suffer from Fibromyalgia and would find it difficult to sit or stand in one place for a long time.

How has Folksy helped your business?
Folksy was the first website that I opened a shop on. It was a very easy process and after getting my first sale I felt encouraged to continue, so I upgraded to a Plus account. Folksy write very good blog posts that give you lots of advice on photography and promoting your shop. I’ve had several items included in their gift guides and they also used my Pinterest board ‘Folksy Pastels’ in their gift guides, which was lovely. The Folksy forums also have a lovely, friendly community.

If you’re only selling online, social media is a lifeline as no-one would know about your shop otherwise. Promoting yourself if the key.

Have you tried selling your work wholesale? 
No, I wouldn’t be able to make enough quality stock to do that at the moment.

How much time do you spend actually making and how much on admin, social media, promotion etc?
I tend to spend about 80% of my time making, 15% on social media and 5% on admin. I probably should spend more time on social media but I don’t really enjoy this part as much as crafting.

oak leaf hot water bottle

Autumn and winter are my busiest times of the year, so I prepare for those during the summer months.

Have you got any brilliant time-management tips?
As Autumn and winter are my busiest times of the year, I prepare for those during the summer months. I try to make as many tea cosy bases, embellishments and other pieces in my quieter months, so that during the busier times I can make up the tea cosies to order from the stock I’ve already prepared.

How do you calculate your prices?
I calculate the cost of yarn and accessories and the time it takes me to make the item. I also make sure I’m priced appropriately compared with other similar products in the market.

Christmas Tree tea cosy, hook and loop

I wouldn’t be able to make enough quality stock to sell my work wholesale that at the moment.

How do you promote your work?
I promote mainly on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and on the Folksy forums. My favourite social media channels are the image-based ones, so Instagram and Pinterest. Facebook charges you to promote yourself, which doesn’t feel so natural. I also include business cards in my posted parcels to encourage repeat orders.

Is there anyone you think does social media really well?
I follow @burlingsbears @flowers_and_frolics and @wool.paper.scissors on Instagram.

How important do you think it is to use social media if you’re a maker today?
If you’re only selling online, social media is a lifeline as no-one would know about your shop otherwise. Promoting yourself if the key.

green yarn, knitting,

I make sure I’m priced appropriately compared with other similar products in the market.

Do you think it’s possible to earn a living from being a maker alone?
For me, it’s really just a hobby. Hand knitting is too time consuming to make a profit. The business pays for my yarn.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Promote, promote, promote and most of all enjoy what you do.

Visit the Hook and Loop shop on Folksy >

Click here to read our Meet the Maker interview with Claire from Hook and Loop

 

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