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Shop Talk… Little Birdy

by Camilla

Little Birdy










In this week’s Shop Talk interview, we chat to Little Birdy about her Folksy shop, find out how she grew her brand, learn about the advantages of pop-ups, and discover it can be a little tricky to type with your claws…

When did you start Little Birdy, and what kind of things did you consider before setting up your online shop?
I started Little Birdy in earnest in Spring 2012, though I didn’t get my online shops properly until last year. I asked other creatives who already had online shops for their pros and cons, and whether they used a selling platform like Folksy or just a shop within their own website. I also had to consider costs. In the end I opted for Folksy as it seemed to best fit my needs.

Where do you sell your work? 
Although I have done markets and also sold work wholesale in the past, I now mainly sell in shops and online. I found that because a lot of my work was hand crafted it really wasn’t feasible to sell it at wholesale prices.

Fox light pull, porcelain,
Fiona Fox Light Pull, £20

You recently ran a pop-up shop. How did that go? Do you think pop-ups shops are the future of retail?
It was good fun and had a lot of positive responses, but it was exhausting. It was great to have a mixture of emerging talent and more established artists and to choose a collection of work that gelled together so well. I’m not sure if I’d run one again any time soon, as I’m so busy with my own work, but I think they are a fantastic way for artists to showcase their work and for customers to gain access to unique and individual products that can’t be found in large high-street shops. I’ve taken part in seven pop-up shops in the past 18 months, and there’s always a buzz of excitement and interest because you know that potentially it won’t be there for very long. So it certainly is a new way for customers to shop and for artists to sell without enormous overheads/business loans etc and that can only be a good thing.

porcelain alphabet badgesPorcelain Monogram Brooches, £6.50 each

What channels do you use to promote your work?
I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BloggerPinterest and my own website. I also did a series of upcycling projects for Reloved magazine last year which was good publicity. It did take me a while to get to grip with social media as I’m not the most technically minded bird, however so many opportunities have come my way since using social media that it’s an invaluable free tool at anyone’s disposal. If it’s daunting, then ask/pay for some help because it’s well worth it in the long run.

How do you set your prices?
With difficulty! I’ve always found it hard to price my work. I think cards and prints are easier to price because you only have to look at your competitors prices to find a general average so you’re not selling yourself short or charging so much that you price yourself out of the market. However, handmade work is really hard to decide on. With some of the things I make I can’t possibly factor in the time spent making them, so I cover the cost of the materials and try to sell them directly to the customer as opposed to loosing the 30-50% commission that shops charge on the whole.

Bird plate, Little BirdyC’est La Vie plate, £35, hand painted by Little Birdy

Do you work on Little Birdy full-time?
Yes, but I think that’s pretty normal with the first few years of a business. I try to be as balanced as I can and make time for fun and other interests too.

How do you balance promoting and selling your work with being creative? How much time do you spend on each?
That’s a good question and it’s not always easy. I would prefer to just draw, sculpt and sew all the time, rather than promote and write about it, but then I wouldn’t sell anything! I try hard to spend the majority of my time creating, but it’s surprising how much time writing a blog entry takes me {I blame my claws!}.

Is there anything you’ve learned along the way that you wish you’d known when you started your shop?
To have had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do and how to achieve it in the quickest way. I spent a lot of time trying different mediums and making everything from cake bunting to fabric birds and animals to hand-printed cards and jewellery, which was enjoyable and a learning experience, but my products were so diverse that I didn’t have a recognisable brand. It’s taken a while but with my recent rebranding and my work becoming more illustration-led, I feel confident about the direction of my work now.

Little Birdy logo
The fox logo was developed as part of Little Birdy’s rebranding

Have you got any tips for other makers?
• use social media if you don’t already
• don’t be afraid to approach shops
• use friends and family to bounce ideas off
• and try not to under value your work when it comes to pricing.

Read more about Little Birdy in our Meet the Maker interview
Shop Little Birdy on Folksy

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