Rachel Craig makes extraordinary needle-felted animals which she sells in her Folksy shop Madame Craig. We wanted to know more about her business and how it has developed…
When did you start Madame Craig, and what kind of things did you consider before setting up your online shop?
To be honest I didn’t put too much thought into my shop. I had been doing commissions for friends and family and also selling at the Christmas Market at the school. It was nice to be able to have some extra income doing something that I enjoyed and opening a shop seemed to be the next step.
How does Madame Craig fit in with your job as a teacher?
I really enjoy the balance that teaching gives me as I am able to be able at school during the day and the craft in the evenings. I consider myself very lucky in this respect.
How do you sell your work – online, wholesale, markets?
I sell online, some commissions come through word of mouth locally, and I also take the opportunity to take stalls at craft fairs and markets locally, although I do prefer to work on a commission basis as I am able to give each character that little bit of extra attention to make it special.
What channels do you use to promote your work? And which do you think work best?
I promote my work through social media. I personally find that Facebook work best for me. I must admit that I haven’t had much success with Twitter. I found it a bit tricky to use compared with Facebook.
How do you calculate your prices?
I find pricing difficult. I’m fortunate that at the moment it’s a second income for me, so I like to make creations affordable while receiving a reasonable return for my work. As I am now quite well established I am able to buy my materials in quantities that allow me to keeps my costs down.
We love your photos and the settings you create for your characters. How do you decide what props and settings to use?
I am always looking for opportune settings for my characters: camping holidays in France and the wonderful beaches of St Andrews have provided some of my back drops so far. I think it’s an important part of marketing, so I do put some thought into it and I like to my characters look at home!
Do you take your own product shots? Have you got any tips for other Folksy sellers?
I take all my own photos. I started with a small homemade studio, but Father Christmas kindly brought me a light box which I now use. I also have some experience of Photoshop software package which helps to enhance my images. I would also recommend a book called The Crafters Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum, which is a great source of information.
How do you manage your time?
As a wife and mother my time is shared between my housework, teaching and my little business. I do all my teaching work at school during the day, both preparing and teaching lessons, and all the paper work that is also needed when arranging trips and activities and also liaising with parents. This allows me the rest of my time to look after my family, cooking meals everyday, keeping the house beautiful and to be with my daughters. In the evenings and weekends I craft and spend time developing my business.
How would you like your shop to develop and grow?
I’m really pleased with the progress I’ve made in the last couple of years with my shop. I think I have now found a little niche with my animals and there is plenty of inspiration in the animal kingdom for me still to explore!
Have you got any tips for other makers?
I think that ultimately you have to enjoy what you do and be inspired by it, and not to worry about making mistakes along the way because it’s all part of the learning process.