People do business with… (wait for it) people!

‘People do business with people‘ is one of those business cliches that although true, sounds very annoying when people say it. Well of course people do business with people. You’re hardly likely to strike up a business deal with a hamster, are you? Or trade with goldfish, or a yoghurt pot, or…you get my point. What the very annoying thing means is that you can have the best website (you can, we don’t,), best products or the best prices, but essentially people want to buy from people that they trust, and people they can relate to.  It’s why we like taking our stall to events. We get to meet people properly (‘face to face customer interaction’, as it’s called, although that always sounds a bit confrontational to me. Exactly how close should our faces be?! ) We get to chat to them about our products and to gauge what they think of them. We’ve got to know our customers as actual people, rather than account numbers, which is great. We’re really lucky to have a good relationship with the people who supply us and make for us too. One of them is a lovely and very talented lady called Pippa, who has done some sewing for us recently as well as making her own bags and bunting. And this awesome pinafore dress is her work:

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Pippa, I salute you! What a dress.

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T-shirts, mead and MPs: the Castle Quarter Festival…

The Castle Quarter Festival was our first opportunity to show off our new selection of t-shirts and we were excited, nervous (in case we had just done that thing where we had made a load of t-shirts that we really loved, but that everyone else thought were rubbish, or perhaps worse, were totally indifferent to,) and cold! The indoor craft village was based in the old Topps Tiles building, which is not renowned for its tropical climate. Excellent use of a disused building though! And it was great. Loads of people turned out, despite the rain, cold and generally awful weather (but it’s MAY!! I kept muttering to myself, to keep my teeth from chattering too hard.) Hattie, who shared a stall and tea-break duties with me, had dressed far more sensibly than I had, in a proper coat, scarf and Ugg boots:

‘But why aren’t you wearing your jumper, Alice?’

‘Ummn, because I’ve just bought this lovely top and I really wanted to wear it!! To hell with hypothermia!’

It reminded me how brilliant it is to take a stall to events like this, just in terms of getting to chat to customers, and fellow crafty people (not as in fox crafty, I don’t think.) There’s always people willing to give you feedback, suggestions, ideas and discuss them with. You don’t get that from online shopping. You don’t get hot chocolate burgers delivered (cheers Chris!) to you either, or at least that hasn’t happened yet. Neither would be wonderful to get through the post. In short, it was lovely. You can’t beat events that bring the community together like that, especially if the event includes Pepper Pig, a pirate with an animatronic monkey on his shoulder, and a medieval band, complete with heavily bearded man wearing felt leaves embroidered onto his waistcoat. With a matching hat. I kid you not.

I also, unexpectedly, met our local MP, Richard Fuller. (Hello, Richard, if you’re reading this! Please be reading this! That would be awesome. In the House of Commons!

“Order Please, the Right Honorable Mr Fuller!”

“In a minute, Mr Speaker, I’m reading this brilliant blog…”)

Anyhow, just asImage I was thinking that I recognized this guy, vaguely, in that way where you momentarily wonder whether he might be an ex member of a 90s boy band, or something, I was introduced to him. Brilliant. He was very nice, and interested, and asked me what it was that I did, and asked sensible questions, and my brain did what it always does in these situations and had a total ditherspaz. ‘And do you have a background in fashion?’ ‘Hahahaha, no! Not at all!’ I shrieked, as if that was a totally ridiculous thing to ask, given that he was looking at our childrens’ clothing collection. ‘I just, um, had children, and we thought, er, there’s a lot of pink tat around, and mumble mumble – why not!’  Eloquent. I’m better written down, Mr Fuller.

All in all, a brilliant time was had, t-shirts and dresses were sold, no one got frostbite, and there didn’t appear to be any mead-related injuries. Karen and Sam, and all the other organizers – well done. Your hard work paid off, and I look forward to another stall on Sunday in the newly snazzed-up St Cuthberts’ Hall – the first of what will hopefully be a regular indoor farmers’ and craft market! If the weather hasn’t improved, I am going to award a prize* to the first person who brings me a hot drink.

 

* At this moment in time the prize is non-specific. It may be a hug. It is unlikely to have much monetary value. Terms and conditions, people!

Shirt tales…

We are alarmingly excited about our t-shirts this week. Really, it is quite worrying. On Thursday, having sent the finalized artwork to our t-shirt printer,  we had a very excited, shouty phone converation celebrating our mutual t-shirt obsession where we pretty much literally whooped with joy, which sort of indicates that we both might need to get out a little bit more… and I’m hoping that they turn out to be as great as we imagine they might.

I’m also hoping that this is the first time that I can put them on sale for £10 each without apologizing.  No, it’s not cheap, and yes, you can buy t-shirts elsewhere for less. But here’s some reasons that we think they’re worth paying a bit extra for:

  • They are made from 100% African cotton, which makes them soft, and means that they wash better than thinner cotton t-shirts.
  • They are made in a fair-trade factory in Africa, which means that the workers who made them were paid a decent wage and given access to proper healthcare.
  • The baby t-shirts are made from organic cotton, which means they were produced without the use of  harmful chemicals.
  • The designs are all original. You won’t find them in the likes of Tescos or Next. We know our designers, and supporting them, even in a tiny way, is supporting small creative industry.
  • They are printed  locally. We’re really pleased to be able to support a small, family-run local printing business – and they do a great job, it’s not like it’s just a charitable gesture!
  • We are not a supermarket. Enough said.

This latest trio (I could say ‘latest collection’, but then I would have to slap myself in the face for pretentiousness. There’s three designs. I guess I could say ‘capsule collection’, but that always makes me think of the Blue Peter time capsule, which is not the right direction…) of t-shirts is aimed mostly at boys, due to the fairly dull and unimaginative range of boy-wear available.

Girls get all matter of pretty things designed for them (not just by us, either!) and boys need cool, too. The baby t-shirts are unisex, and we are sure they will look as cute on the little chaps as they will on the girls. Some girly t-shirts will follow, but we thought it was the Time of the Boys right now.

So come and find us at the Castle Quarter Festival on Monday, in the Topps Tiles building. I’ll be the one boring the pants off  (not literally, one hopes,) passers-by with t-shirt tales.