Jo Boxall is the face behind Folksy shop Dolly Knits. She set up her business in 2008 and has since found stockists across Europe and been featured in publications worldwide. We asked Jo to tell us a little bit more about her business and share her tips…
When and how did you start your business, and how has it developed since then?
I started Dolly Knits in 2008 after graduating from Central Saint Martins with a degree in textile design, where I specialised in Knit. I learned how to design knitted fabrics for fashion and interiors using industrial machines, however I always preferred the tactility of hand knitting. The first product I made under the Dolly Knits label was a knitted hair bow on a crochet string, which I sold to a customer from New York. It was so exciting to think someone wanted to part with their money for something I had made. Since then Dolly Knits has grown to include accessories for women, men and children and is stocked in shops across the UK and Europe. It has attracted press attention from The Washington Post, Metro, Evening Standard, Mollie Makes and more.
Mittens on String, £24.50
How and where do you sell your work?
Dolly Knits accessories are mainly sold online and through shops. I have attended a couple of markets in the past and really enjoy meeting other designers and makers, but I find it takes such a long time to build up enough stock to make an attractive, full market stall and to make it worthwhile. I prefer selling online and making to order, so I keep on top of stock levels and costs. It also allows me to gather information about what sells and what doesn’t, so I can keep that in mind for future product designs without being left with armfuls of stock.
How do you promote your work?
I’m good at the making part but not so good at the promotion. I use Facebook and Twitter but I have to confess that I’m not particularly active on either of those. I tend to update them when I have a new product or promotion, but by tracking my shop progress using Google Analytics, I’ve found that most of my customers come to my shop from searching key words within Folksy or in search engines. I also wrap up my knits using Dolly Knits stickers and use a business card as a gift tag, which is a good little promotion tool too.
A Dolly Knits label on the Knitted John Tie
Have you got a method for working out your pricing?
Having an awareness of the market you are selling in is extremely important when pricing work. I don’t believe there is a set method for working prices out for handmade pieces as it’s almost impossible to charge the real cost of time taken to design, source materials and make the items. I try to do it as accurately as possible, taking into account the costs and time taken, however you have to have your customer in mind and keep prices affordable while understanding an item’s worth.
Your product shots work really well. Do you take them yourself?
Thank you! My then boyfriend (and now husband) John helps me take the photographs. We both model the knits, so we take it in turns to photograph each other.
Have you got any tips for taking good product photos?
Use natural light, but avoid direct sunlight. Use a simple background so it doesn’t distract from the product. This also creates continuity with the overall look of your Folksy shop. We use a digital SLR camera and have always photographed products outside. Don’t be afraid to edit photos afterwards by cropping and adjusting colour and contrast.
What’s the hardest part about being a maker?
Knitting is very time consuming, so if there has been a large rush of orders, particularly at Christmas, it can be quite tricky to juggle orders at the same time as updating listings, buying yarns and remembering to do all other business admin.
Have you got any advice for other Folksy sellers?
Keep your shop looking fresh! I try to change my banner and rearrange my shop every so often to give it a nice clean feel – it might be more for me than my customers, but it gives me a burst of inspiration every time! The brilliant new Folksy layout has also really helped.