Bex's shop is called Handmade by Bex. She makes beautifully hand embroidered decorations and embroidery hoops in Canterbury, United Kingdom. Bex takes huge pride in being neat and precise and loves working with bright colours, embroidered flowers and glitter.
When did you turn your craft into a business?
6 years ago I completed a maternity contract at my previous job, when I left I was 4 months pregnant with my second child. I am not one for sitting still for long so, knowing I couldn't really find another job before having my daughter, I started making cushions, bunting and other bits and pieces for friends and family as gifts. Gradually people started paying me to make things for them and I realised that, with two young children at home, it could be a really good route for me to take for us as a family.
How did you come up with a name for your store?
Handmade by Bex is such an obvious name, I frequently thought about changing it in the early days but it stuck. For me it is personal, I like that it includes my name and shows that my work is made by hand. I worried that it did not sound professional enough so a lot of my branding is 'HbB' which I really like. I've asked for customer feedback and the response has been positive, they like that they know who is making something for them.
How did you start selling on Etsy?
I set up an Etsy shop in 2012 and did absolutely nothing with it! For the first few years I sold almost exclusively through my Facebook business page and didn't really explore Etsy as a selling platform. At the beginning of 2016 I decided to invest some more time into setting up my Etsy storefront. By that stage I had developed a far more coherent set of decorations and embroidery hoops, and many items that weren't entirely bespoke and could be replicated. I put a lot of time into increasing the number of listings, working on my SEO with my titles and tags and gradually started seeing more sales coming in.
Do you talk to your customers? Do you run your website or blog, social media?
One of the things I love most about running a handmade business is the contact I have with my customers. I have so many customers now that don't just place an order with me but, rather, send me a message to see how I am and we have a little chat about life before placing an order! The items I make are so personal, I put my heart and soul into them and knowing that I have a rapport with my customers means the world to me. I still run my Facebook page and I also have an Instagram page that I update frequently, these allow me to keep in touch with people, allow them to ask questions and lets me have discussions with potential customers. So much of my work is still bespoke so some back and forth conversation with a customer is often essential. I also work at home on my own, so I love having people to talk to, even if they do live inside my computer!
What’s your most favorite product?
My absolute favourite to make is not so much a specific product but rather a style - I absolutely love my hand embroidered flowers, they appear on so many of my hoops and on many of them you will also find a little embroidered bumble bee or two.
What are your future goals?
My future goals are to find ways to up my productivity whilst keeping my own style and high quality. The problem with hand embroidery is that is takes soooo long, so I am constantly working on ways to speed up the process but without necessarily resorting to the sole use of machines. I have a wonderful workroom but everything is a bit haphazard at present, in future I picture it being a proper production line where each stage of the process has a place and myself and my team of HbB workers can work our way along efficiently, sending out hundreds of beautifully wrapped parcels to make people smile!
What’s your process from an idea to a finished product?
I have two processes when it comes to ideas. The first is from working closely alongside my customers. So much of my work is bespoke so a large part of the idea development comes from discussion with customers, some have a very clear idea of what they want whilst some are very happy to give me the bare bones of an idea and then let me run with it. The idea development will often involve back and forth discussion followed by me doing a very rough sketch, where I apologise profusely for my terrible drawing skills and reassure them that I'm better at embroidery! I will then draw out templates if necessary, or draw out the design onto an embroidery hoop and then start cutting out and sewing and adding details until I have a finished article.
The other way ideas develop is when I'm lying in bed trying to go to sleep. I always have a notebook by my bed because you can guarantee the best ideas pop into your head just as you're drifting off and I have to write them down there and then so I don't forget. I will then gather up all of the materials I need as soon as I get the chance and try and turn whatever is in my head into a reality. Often there end up being a few prototypes until I get it exactly right!
Where and when do you find yourself most creatively inspired?
When I first started sewing I worked from my dining room table, constantly tidying up between meals and desperately trying to stop the children spilling drinks or putting sticky fingers on things. I was then lucky enough to have a beautiful desk built under our stairs just for my work. I felt my creativity explode then, just having a space which didn't have to be tidied away each time was amazing. We have moved since then and I now have an entire workroom full of glitter fabric, embroidery threads and beautiful artwork from other creative people. I find my environment has a huge impact on my productivity- sitting in my workroom with a tidy desk space is where I get my best work done. I also find that walking the dog gets my brain working, some of my best ideas come to me when I am walking through the woods or by the river and my mind is peaceful.