Home More... Shop Talk : Sarah Papworth from Beetroot Press
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Shop Talk : Sarah Papworth from Beetroot Press

by Camilla

Beetroot Press, Meet the Maker, screen print, British, shop talk, advice, craft tips

This week’s featured seller is Sarah Papworth from Beetroot Press. We asked Sarah to answer some of the questions often asked by Folksy sellers. Here are her tips on pricing, press and planning…

When and how did you start your business?
I started Beetroot Press because I needed an outlet to create my own designs and wanted to get back to screen printing which I studied at Winchester School of Art about 10 years ago. I love creating my own designs and designing for other company’s tastes and design briefs can be hard if you don’t have a way to get your own ideas out there. Beetroot Press allows me to work on my own ideas and develop them in ways I prefer.

It took quite a while to get going with Beetroot Press. I worked full-time as a textile designer, which made it very difficult to create anything in my spare time. Then in the beginning of 2012, I decided to go freelance, and now I work from home as a freelance textile designer for home and childrenswear. Once I had set up the freelance side of things, I opened my Folksy shop – that was in mid-2012. At the moment I work on Beetroot Press in my spare time, unless there is a particular event happening where I need to devote more time to it. I would love to be earning enough to work on it full time.

Your work was recently featured in Good Homes magazine. How did that come about? And have you got any tips for other makers on how to get press?
The article in Good Homes was about my home mostly, but the stylist was keen to include my Beetroot Press makes in the photos, which was really great. The opportunity came about through Twitter – a stylist noticed me on there and asked if I had an interesting home to photograph. Apparently they’re always looking for nice homes with interesting people to write about.

I know this gets said a lot, but having good photos is key. I do take my own, as I’ve always been interested in photography, but I’m thinking of getting some professional ones created because my lighting isn’t always very good. I think if you have a few social media platforms where you can be found, that’s a good way of getting noticed – so a blog, Facebook page, Pinterest and Twitter. Adding photos there of your new products, sneak peeks and making processes will generate interest and hopefully a following that will share your pictures.

How do you sell your work (online, wholesale, markets), and which works best for you?
I sell online mostly and I’ve recently had a few wholesale orders. I’m planning to try to start selling in more local shops too. I have sold at markets, but not as much as I would like – they can be hard for me because I don’t always have a car, but they’re a great way to get out and get good feedback face to face. Folksy is my best so far!

Do you set yourself goals for your shop/business?
Yes I do! I write lists of goals and things to do in the future. In fact, it’s one of my favourite things to do. I try to put a time-scale on them, but quite often they take longer than I think they will, partly due to working only part-time on Beetroot Press. I’ve tried writing a business plan as this is supposed to be good for getting your goals down on paper. It isn’t finished yet, but I use it more as a working document and that works for me personally. At the start of the year, I write down personal and business resolutions, and I’m happy to say I think I’ve managed all of them this year. I’ll have to push a bit further in January 2014!

How do you price your work?
I find this the hardest part, as I do undersell myself at times. My cost price will include material cost, time taken to make, and a small amount for overheads. I’ll add on my percentage for the wholesale price, then this total will be doubled for the retail price. So far, I’ve found almost all wholesale shops (online and boutiques) take 50%, so your prices have to be in line with that, especially if you want to go down the wholesale path. I must admit there are a few items I sell for less than I should. This is after comparing them to similar items online and in the shops. But I need to change that if I want to be able to sell everything wholesale. I always hope customers understand that my items are hand made and take time because they are unique and not mass-produced. Sometimes I see people selling items for hardly anything, and I really wonder how they manage it. Either they are super speedy at making their wares or not pricing correctly.

What have you learned since starting out?
A lot! I come from a retail background – I started out working as a shop assistant while at university studying printed textiles, then later on I became an assistant buyer, before moving into textile design (what I really wanted to do). So I was lucky enough to be exposed to a lot of areas within retail, such as press, marketing, merchandising and visual merchandising. But starting your own business and actually having to do all of these things yourself can be tricky. I learned to swot up on my marketing skills (one of my new year’s resolutions), and to put things in my shop straight away to test if they will sell or not, rather than perfecting them for months on end.

I think my top tips are to be vocal about your work on social media (but not spam-like), be yourself, take lots of pictures, don’t get stressed out, and most of all enjoy the journey.

You can take a tour of Sarah’s studio and read about what inspires her on Tumblr.
Or visit Sarah’s Folksy shop Beetroot Press to swoon over her work.

beetroot press, screen print, screen-printed tea towels, uk handmade, printed craft

 

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