Bead enthusiast Sarah Cryer makes beautiful beadwork jewellery, but by her own admission she is slightly publicity-shy. We talked to her about the story behind her Folksy shop and discovered a very talented maker who understands the importance of not undervaluing yourself or your work, and relishes being able to make the kind of work she loves…
When did you start selling your work, and what did you consider before opening your Folksy shop?
I opened the Folksy shop around three years ago when my stash of finished pieces became too huge and I ran out of people to give them to. I chose Folksy because a friend’s brother used it (James Emlyn Ward of Jimbobart) and having bought some pieces from other makers I felt ready to give it a go. I was (and still am) a bit scared of selling internationally, so a UK-based site felt right, and there seemed to be enough advice and support around to help me as well as an active marketing team and a chance to contribute through Pinterest and forums.
How do you sell your work?
I only sell online and through word of mouth at the moment. With my children to look after I don’t have the time required to focus on other avenues, but I would like to in the future.
Do you pay yourself or salary – or take into consideration how long you have spent on a piece – when working out your prices?
I keep a record of materials and time (design time as well as making time) so I can cost pieces. I then think about whether the resulting price is likely to appeal and adjust accordingly. This means that like many crafters I end up undercharging for time, so when the adjustment is significant I either don’t repeat the item, treat it as an investment by turning it into a tutorial, or don’t list it as I believe it’s unhelpful to other beaders and makers as well as yourself if you publicly undervalue your work.
Your product shots have great detailing and depth of field. Do you take your own photos?
My husband is a very good photographer and a whizz with the computer side, so he worked out the best set-up and then taught me. I use a Nikon D90 with a variety of lenses, although the majority of the shots use a macro lens because the detail needs to be perfect. I shoot against a white background for consistency and use daylight, then edit and adjust the photos in Adobe Lightroom to ensure I’m presenting an accurate as well as an attractive view to buyers. I also take a lot of photos so that I have plenty to choose from, as they can be a bit hit and miss!
How do you promote your work?
Not enough. I’m still rather shy about promotion. Writing this has been torture… (although I am very grateful!).
Which social media channel is your favourite and why?
I am hopelessly addicted to Pinterest and I have started using it more to ‘show off’ my work. I’ve also just started a blog called The Indecisive Beader.
Why did you start your blog?
I started the blog to talk to other beaders, and perhaps eventually to promote my tutorials, rather than as a way to talk to customers for my finished pieces– although I hope some of them might find it interesting. As well as writing about my original work, I keep a record on the blog of pieces I’ve done from books and tutorials, listing any variations, tips and comments in general – kind of a review of other people’s patterns.
Are you a member of any guilds or organisations?
Yes, the lovely Beadworkers Guild and a small bead group called ‘London Beadwork Meetup’.
Finally, if you could share one tip with other makers, what would that be?
If, like me, you are selling to fund a hobby, please, please, remember that you should be enjoying it! Unlike full-time makers we have the luxury of making purely for love, so make the most of that. Don’t be offended when nothing sells, and don’t spend time making pieces you don’t enjoy or wouldn’t want for yourself just because they might be ‘commercial’. Trust your own taste, make what you love and what shows you off as an artist, and one day someone will buy something, or like it, or talk about it, and you will be so proud.