Monday, 29 April 2013

Mentoring Series - Rachael Chambers of Ferrers Gallery

Having decided to write a blog series on Mentoring and the benefits I have reaped from having a Mentor I thought I would share mine and others experiences of being a mentee/mentor in the hope that this may inspire others to go and seek this kind of service to help boost their creative business.

In 2012 when I was preparing for my first trade fair I had heard about the Marketing for Makers Training Day run by Rachael Chambers of Ferrers Gallery and decided to give it a try. Having then realised I had missed the dates I scanned through the rest of the web page and discovered that Rachael ran a one-to-one Mentoring for Makers session. I thought I would really benefit from this and booked a session with a view to gaining as much information about Trade Fairs as possible. This session was invaluable (see my feedback below) and really helped me to focus on what I needed to do.

As Rachael has a lot of experience of being a mentor I thought I would ask her a few questions about it. This is what she had to say....

How long have you been mentoring?

I have been mentoring for over 5 years, although informally I could say I have been mentoring for over 10 years.

What made you decide to become a business mentor?

When I first had Ferrers Gallery over 10 years ago artists and designer-makers would approach me about selling their work in the gallery, I would often spend a long time explaining about pricing and labelling, mark ups, target markets and promotional ideas. My knowledge and experience in design, marketing and PR gained prior to owning the gallery along with my position as owner of Ferrers Gallery meant I was well placed to answer the questions posed.
After noticing a niche in the market it wasn't long before I started my 'Marketing for Makers' course; a one day course that looked at finding unique selling points, target markets and unique ways of promoting work to the trade and public. Then about five years ago I started an off shoot of this by introducing 1-1 mentoring sessions for those that wanted to discuss things individually.
I now mentor through my own 'Creative Directions' 1-1 sessions as well as delivering mentoring for Creative Leicestershire, Creative PIE and to colleges and universities through my work with craft&design magazine where I am Contemporary Craft Editor.

What kind of people do you usually work with and what kind of topics and issues do you cover in your mentoring sessions?

I work with creative individuals from jewellers and artists, to ceramicists and photographers and I tailor the session to the individual’s needs; which might be preparing for a trade show, looking at new markets, approaching galleries or devising a trade/retail pricing structure. I mentor people just about to finish a degree and individuals who want to turn a hobby into a full time business, as well as those that have been in the business a while but need a business boost.

How do you structure your mentoring sessions?

The sessions are structured around the individual and what they want to gain out of the session, most have specific subject matters they wish to discuss. The sessions are informal and often done at Ferrers Gallery so that I can show examples of good practice.

What kind of benefits could someone gain from having a mentor?

Mentoring is an opportunity to discuss ideas and options with someone who is impartial, someone who can question and encourage thinking in new ways. I find that most people leave with a boost in confidence and lots of fresh ideas.

What are the benefits/rewards of being a mentor?

I love being a mentor, I love to watch each individual leave the session with renewed vigour for their work and to see them a few months later having put their ideas into practise and reaping the rewards.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering working with a mentor?

Consider what you want to gain out of the session and look for a mentor that matches those needs. There are numerous mentors out there, all with different levels of skills, knowledge and understanding, so it’s important to find a reputable one that matches your requirements. Perhaps talk to a fellow creative who has been mentored themselves to see who they would recommend.

Rachael has also written the article ‘Mentoring – What is it and why would it help me?’ in the latest Issue of craft&design magazine – Issue 226 - March/April 2013.

Rachael offers a 2 hour mentoring session for £50+VAT and this is the package that I got last year. For more information on this please take a look here and here   You can also find Rachael Chambers on Linked In where you can view recommendations from some of those she has mentored.

'I found the Creative Direction session with Rachael Chambers to be absolutely invaluable, it was great to be able to get some constructive feedback on my work and products, and I found the advice I gained from the day priceless. It really helped me focus on what I needed to do for my upcoming first trade fair, how to present my work and I got some great ideas for displaying it too. I think if I hadn’t had this session my trade fair wouldn’t have been such a success, it helped me to be well prepared and also to gain a valuable insight into what my buyers would be looking for.' Sue Bulmer, artist & illustrator

Friday, 26 April 2013

My BCTF Favourites - Samantha Robinson

I'm featuring another of my Design Factory in my pick of BCTF favourites this week and this time it's Samantha Robinson, maker of delicate porcelain ceramics. I got to meet Sam last year when I took part in the Creative Twinning Event at Nottingham Contemporary in October...

Sam works with a subtle combination of ceramics, metals and textiles to produce an exciting and creative take on commonplace objects. Inspired by clothing labels, tags and packaging, the collection represents part of a contemporary culture, which appears to be obsessed with women’s body size and image.
This challenges the orthodox view of ‘everyday’ things.

The processes involved are slip casting, hand building, soldering, piercing, stitch and embossing.
This blend of techniques and materials provide a quirky, desirable range that appeals to a wide audience of people.

Sam has recently collaborated with two other Design Factory members, Phiona Richards and Sharyn Dunn, who I featured earlier on the blog, when they took part in the 'Synchronise' Exhibition at NCCD in Sleaford. I just love how delicate this work is, it has a real translucent quality which you can see in the image above as it is lit from inside.

If you want to find out more Sam and her work you can check out her website here

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Working with a Creative Business Mentor - Part 4 - reviewing

Debbie, my mentor, taking part in my Nottingham Festival of Words Live Art Work
So, with the mentoring hours nearly all used up, I ask myself 'Has working with a mentor been beneficial to me and my creative practice?'

The answer has to be a resounding YES!!

Looking back over what I wanted to achieve through the mentoring scheme I think I have ticked a lot of the boxes of my initial goal list, which makes me feel that it has definitely been time well spent, from the Artist in Residence at The Nottingham Festival of Words, to creating new collections of work, to research and evaluation, to exploring new product ranges, expanding my skills, collaboration, and inreasing my profile it has been the really enjoyable and rewarding. I've learned a lot about myself and what makes me tick and also about the things I want to achieve in the future.

I think the fact that I knew Debbie beforehand made it easy to work with her. I knew what kind of person she was and knew that we would be on the same wave-length, which I do feel is really important when choosing someone to mentor you. You do need to click! I respect what she has achieved with her business and think this helped to inspire me on my journey. I just hope that she has enjoyed it as much as me!

So, if you are feeling as though you need a bit of direction, help or support with your creative business I would highly recommend seeking out the services of a Mentor. Take my word for it, it has been a great experience, and a lot of what I have learned on the journey will stay with me a long time!

Monday, 22 April 2013

My BCTF Favourites - Phiona Richards

This is another of my BCTf favourites from the 2013 show at Harrogate, the lovely Phiona Richards, aka Rare Notions, paper sculptress extraordinaire and generally very nice person. I first got to meet Phiona at one of the CPD days at NCCD where we attended a session on Creative Business Planning by Pete Mosley, if you missed it, you can read the blog post here. I had heard of Phiona and seen her work in a variety of outlets and it was great to finally put a face to the name. She shared a stand with Samantha Robinson, who's work I will be featuring next week.

Phiona Richards creates interactive book sculptures and intriguing jewellery using traditional needlework techniques. "Having been brought up with a ‘make do and mend’ mentality I tend to collect and gather materials including books near the end of their existence and regenerate them into pleasing tactile structures using a variety of needlework techniques. Although they appear to be fragile and delicate they are quite robust and interaction becomes a therapeutic experience on many sensory levels."

Phiona says of her work 'I am intrigued by paper and it's versatility. It is a total misnomer and full of contradictions. I am continually exploring the possibilities this material unfolds for me'

If you would like to find out more about Phiona and her stunning paper creations you can visit her website here which will take you to all her online links. You can follow her on twitter here.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Working with a Creative Business Mentor - Part 3 - making your own opportunities

So we have covered aspirations and goal setting as well as research and gaining perspective in my mentoring sessions with my Design Factory Business Mentor Debbie Bryan. Other areas we covered as our allocated hours ticked by, were Collaboration and Making Your Own Opportunities, two separate entities in themselves, but in my case, something which seemed to cross over and become the same on several occasions.

Debbie talked about how we should look for opportunities all of the time, instead of waiting for things to happen and this conversation has really stayed with me. I think having the ability to make your own opportunities and to make things happen for yourself can really make you stand out from the crowd and be seen. I don't want to be one of those people who sit around waiting for things to happen to them, (I did this a few years ago and became despondent when things didn't happen on their own, and I nearly gave up!) I want to have a stake in making good things happen for my business. Along with the theory I also have the proof that making your own opportunities can make the difference between failure and success, Debbie practices what she preaches, as demonstrated in her own business success. As a result of the actions I have taken myself over the past 9 months, I have gained more exposure, got my work in front of new audiences and have seen my turnover increase.

Via the mentoring and my contact with Debbie I discovered the Nottingham Festival of Words and also Creative Twinning, two great collaborative opportunities which I applied for and joined forces with. As well as taking part in these two events I've also made a conscious effort to take part in other collaborative projects (52 artists for Bulwell and The Snowflake Ball being a couple of examples). I've become a member of Antenna in Nottingham as well as forming links with other creative agencies. I've guest-blogged on several blogs and have been interviewed for others as well as gaining a recent feature in Craft and Design Magazine.

My comfort zone has been left far behind on occasion - speaking at the closing ceremony for the Festival of Words was a 'biggie' as far as personal achievements go for me, as well as Live Drawing in front of an audience at the Launch event!

Mentoring has taught me to stretch myself, volunteer and join in with more, and how to treat each new experience as a learning curve and look at what can be gained from each new experience.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Comfort zones and beyond....

Ok, so you might be wondering why on earth I have posted a picture of a cup of tea in my bed?? Well I wanted to try to demonstrate 'the comfort zone'... For me, a lazy Sunday morning in bed, listening to the radio, drinking a cup of tea with possibly a bacon sarnie or two to nibble! Cosy, comfortable but unfortuntely not a place you can stay forever. I could leave it for the comfort of my sofa, on a rainy day with a book and a roaring fire, maybe another cuppa and my dog lying by my feet. But wouldn't life get a bit boring and predictable if we stayed in our comfort zones ALL of the time?

Today I left my comfort zone far behind me when I agreed to do a talk in front of about 8 designer-makers on the Enterprising Ashfield Business Scheme. I took part in a scheme quite similar to this a few years ago and it was one of the things that helped me to decide on my direction and goals, and I was invited to share my own story with the group.

I admit that the thought of public speaking has made me break out in a cold sweat and look for the nearest exit since the early of my teens and all through university and my working life I have avoided it like the plague.... Recently I came to the conclusion that I was actually going to have to start telling my story verbally as well as here on the blog and I knew I was going to have to tackle my phobia head-on especailly if I wanted to increase my exposure and get my name out there more. So I agreed to do this talk...

I read a great article last night on the Creative Boom website which made me feel a bit better about it, whilst I was busy doing my preparations. I went along today and strangely didn't feel nervous, I was well-prepared and I knew what I was going to say and I think it went well. It was a smallish group and was quite informal, with people asking questions and interacting, all in all a really enjoyable experience - Who's have thought??

So I can safely say I'll be looking to venture out of my comfort zone again. I think it's the place where things happen and, take my word for it, not as scary as I thought!!

If you want a few tips from the experts, read this article by Katy from Creative Boom. it's a good one, full of top tips for public speaking.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

My BCTF Favourites - Katherine Lees

This is the second in my series of blog posts about some of my favourite stands and designers-makers I came across at this years BCTF. After day 1 of the show I stole a glance or two around the newcomers section and one of the stands which stood out for me was that of Katherine Lees. I, unfortunately didn't get to meet Katherine at the show but since getting home I've been in touch and asked whether I could feature her beautiful ceramics...

I asked Katherine to tell me a little about herself and how she found the whole BCTf experience as a newcomer. This is what she had to say....

I am a designer-maker primarily working in ceramics which I combine with textiles and precious metals to produce unique objects including vessels and jewellery. After graduating with BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Design from Manchester Metropolitan University in June 2012, I set up a studio in Lincolnshire and supply work to galleries and craft shops across England. Inspired by Victorian antique objects; my work celebrates charms, amulets and the symbolism and beliefs we hold which surround these types of objects. I am interested in exploring the meaning behind certain items as I think the connection between people and objects is really fascinating.

This was my first year at the BCTF, being the first major trade show I have exhibited at; preparing for the fair seemed a daunting task. Speaking to other more experienced artists at Design Factory meetings, reading blogs about previous BCTF shows and articles on tips for trade fairs like on the Design Trust all helped me prepare. I found it useful to lay my stand out at home in the weeks running up to the fair to test out different a few different layout ideas.

Overall I was really pleased with my finished stand, next year I would like to incorporate more flat surface areas to display a larger variety of vessels as I develop my range. The best thing about the BCTF was meeting so many wonderful makers and friendly people involved in the craft world. I have been really overwhelmed by the camaraderie and support available from more experienced makers and organisations for emerging makers like myself. For further information please see:

Thanks for taking part in the blog Katherine and best wishes for your future ventures!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Working with a Creative Business Mentor - Part 2 - Research and Perspective

During my initial meeting with my mentor we examined current issues I was struggling with as well as looking at my goals and aspirations and how I would use the process to help me achieve them. We had a very long chat about the kind of things Debbie thought she could help me with which gave us a loose outline of the kind of things we could realistically achieve within the time frame.

One of the first things she got me to do was examine my purpose and motivation for the goals I had identified and as a result I realised that some of them didn't really belong on my list. The simple act of asking myself some questions had given me time to think about why those goals were really there. As a result I realised that they weren't as important as other goals and I prioritised them to the bottom of my list!

We also thought about medium and long term goals which made me think about what I would like to be achieving in my business 5 years from now. I hadn't ever done this before as I was always thinking about more immediate, short-term, here-and-now issues which was stopping me from looking further into the future. Actually taking the time and allowing yourself to look ahead, and dream about where you would like to be, is exciting and quite liberating.

To help with this Debbie encouraged me to look at other businesses in my field and to write a small case study on the ones I had chosen. Each one was in a different stages of business, from start-ups, mid-term business and well established ones. This made me look at where I fit in to the pecking order and gave me something to aspire to. It helped give me perspective and also to pick up tips on good practice, what works well for other businesses in the creative sector, and it also helped me to realise the things I didn't want to do as well.

I started to research other events I would like to visit, with a view to seeing whether they would be a good 'fit' for my work. I visited several, making notes on how they were organised, what kind of facilities they offered and which section would work well for me. I gained useful knowledge and insight from talking to others who had exhibited at some of the shows which help me make informed decisions about whether or not they were right for me.

This research was really useful and it's a really good principle to utilise when you are thinking about changing direction or thinking of breaking into new markets.

We reviewed my portfolio and discussed options for expanding product lines and talked about opportunities I could put myself forward for, again looking at otherh As a result of this the initial list of goals did change but this is one of the really good things about having a mentor, you don't have to stick rigidly to your goals, you are your own boss and you can change to rules to suit.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

New book - BlogInc by Joy Deangdeelert Cho

Look what arrived this morning courtesy of Mr Postie... It's my new copy of BlogInc which I discovered via Twitter this week. It covers everything from the basics up to developing your community, monetizing your blog and making your blog into a business.

All of the positive feedback and comments I received about my blog at BCTF has made me want to take it all a step further - to make it better and more useful to my dear readers!!

I'm hoping this book is going to be the first step in that direction so watch this space for developments. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

My BCTF Favourites - Sharyn Dunn

After seeing all of the talented designer-makers and their work on show at BCTF this year I have decided, over the next few weeks, to show you some of my favourites old and new....

So here is a quick look at the stunning work of Sharyn Dunn -Designer and maker of bespoke lighting and paper sculptures for the home and commercial environment.  A fellow Design Factory member Sharyn works predominantly in a variety of papers and parchments and the media is truly brought to life with discreet illumination which gives a stunning array of shades, light and shadows. her BCTF stand was simply beautiful.

Sharyn’s work explores the interaction of light and shadow within geometric forms. Using a variety of materials predominantly papers, simulated parchments, tyvek and metals, she folds and manipulates them to create geometric and organic structures that develop their own unique light and shadow effects.

Taking inspiration from repetition found in the natural world, the designs are pierced into the structures either by hand or laser cutting and with the addition of creative lighting the resulting structures provide the observer with a unique, dynamic and though provoking experience.

Her range of work comprises of wall mounted or freestanding sculptures, lighting and bodywear.

You can find out more about Sharyn on her website here and follow her on Twitter here

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

BCTF and how it went....

So I'm safely home from BCTF 2013, after a rather scarily eventful journey back from Harrogate on my own, towing the caravan and one of the tyres blowing out!! Luckily for me I wasn't on the motorway but less than a mile from home. It could have been so much worse, but thank goodness for the RAC, saviours, all of them!!

I now find myself with a big space in my diary for the next six months, having had a very busy start to the year, with Festival of Words, SOCK and BCTF, and I must admit I'm rather glad, enjoyable as it has all been, that these events are over and I now have a bit of time. I'm looking forward to a week in the Outer Hebrides with my man and my dog, and then a big holiday later in the year to Canada with the folks. All very exciting on the personal front.

I have time to reflect on my BCTF experience and work out what went well and what could have gone better. It was quieter for me this year, although I did get orders, I didn't meet any new stockists of my work. My new work did get some great feedback so I'm hoping that orders will trickle in over the next few weeks! It was really great to catch up with old friends, colleagues from Design Factory and also new friends too. If nothing else, BCTF has been a great place to interact and chat with other creatives and bounce ideas around. I've come home with some exciting prospects and some great possibilities for collaborations and new ideas for my work and how I'm going to develop it this year.... hint.... there may be a brief departure from paper.....!

As always the standard of work on show amazed me, there was just so much talent packed into one big room. I'll be blogging about some of my favourites over the next few weeks so watch this space for some top-class eye candy!
One thing which really stood out for me this year was the feedback about this blog and this really made me happy!! Thanks to everyone who passed on their encouraging and positive comments about my posts. It's lovely that people are finding it helpful and it is becoming better known amongst my fellow creatives. This year will be bringing exciting new developements to my web presence and I'll be introducing some new series as well as keeping up with current ones. If there is anything in particular you would like to see, please drop me a line, I'm very open to ideas.

SO that's all from me for today. I've finished unpacking and am going to spend the rest of the afternoon chilling out before I zip off to say goodbye to a very dear colleague who is leaving work today.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

BCTF day 1

So one day down, two to go! It's been a fairly quiet day for me at BCTF but it's hard to gauge only having been here once before. I'm very happy with the stand. Here's a pic of my new cards!

Do you like the new colours? I am really pleased with them, so just hoping the buyers like them too!!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

BCTF set up day

It was an early start but I managed to get up to Harrogate and set-up by 11.30-12ish this sunny cold morning! Luckily I felt do much more relaxed about it and it all went swimmingly, thanks to fab husband!!

I've popped into Harrogate, done my food shopping and I'm just chilling out in the van and waiting for backup to arrive (super duper sister Heather), just enjoying the peace and quiet before tomorrow...

It's been great to come back to BCTF after last year and see so many friendly faces. It was a great experience last year so and so great to catch up with the lovely contacts I made. Bring it on!! Wish me luck!!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Working with a Creative Business Mentor - Part 1 - Identifying Goals

One of the things I really want to achieve through this blog is to use my experiences in creative business and to share what has worked well for me, in the hope that others can benefit from what I've learned. Working with a Creative Business Mentor on the Design Factory Mentoring Scheme has been an opportunity which has been AMAZINGLY beneficial to me and my creative practice that I thought I would write a series of blog posts about the process and also interview a couple of Mentors as well.

I started working with my mentor Debbie Bryan last summer and during our first session we looked at some of the issues I was facing in my practice and what kind of things I wanted to address during the mentoring process. I really felt that I needed some help so it was great to sit down with someone impartial who could give me some really useful input. I needed help with the following:
  • I was unsure of next steps to take business forward
  • setting myself realistic goals
  • lack of marketing strategy
  • focusing and prioritising
  • developing my portfolio and skill set
We also looked at the ambitions and aspirations I had identified in my application form so we both had a firmer idea of the direction in which I wanted to head:
  • aim to earn consistent income from creative practice
  • explore other media and expand skill-set
  • expand  range of produsts
  • develop ideas, introduce colour, new themes to work
  • collaborate with other artists and exhibit more widely
  • continue and grow creatve business blog to help showcase work of other designer makers
  • work on marketing strategy
  • identify further trade fairs to take part in
  • expand audience nationally and internationally
And I had also listed ways in which I thought I would use the program to help me achieve these aspirations and goals:
  • draw on mentors experience
  • utilise mentors knowledge of the creative business sector
  • utilising an experts opinion/critical feedback on portfolio
  • forging links with other practitioners
  • being inspired by other creatives
  • help with concepts and ideas development
  • working within specified timescales would help with goal achievement and motivation
  • giving my practice more structure
Read the next instalment of How working with a Mentor has helped me next week. In the meantime, wish me luck at BCTF and if any of you are going please come and say hi and stand 151a.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Sketchbook Peeks - Claire Smillie

This week I'm very pleased to welcome Textile and Surface Pattern Designer, Claire Smillie.

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now...

My creative journey began over twenty years ago when I was a little girl. I got an A in textiles at GCSE and continued with theatre design at college, but then reality took hold and with limited opportunities in the country and not wanting to up sticks, I went to work in a bank! I continued in creating/designing/crafting outside of work and five years later the creative world stole me back and I developed ‘Creative Moments’ a retail store specialising in Papercrafts and Jewellery Making Supplies with my mother. It was this journey that really got my Creative Juices flowing again and when our shop lease expired I was lucky enough to be accepted onto a degree course in Design. I am in the first year of my degree now and already I can see my work coming on leaps and bounds and feel I have grown substantially into a much more informed designer, who is continually pushing boundaries every step of the way.

How long have you been using sketchbooks?

Gosh, I have been using sketchbooks on and off for a good few years now but it really has only been the last eighteen months or so, that I have really started enjoying the process and using them to their fullest.

How often do you sketch?

I will usually sketch a little every day, even if it’s just quickly. When I am in the full throes of a project I will often be sketching consistently throughout each day.

How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?

I LOVE starting a new sketchbook with a passion! All those clean pages just waiting to be altered....such a good feeling!

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?

My inspiration will often collect and develop throughout my pages. The inspiration behind my previous sketchbook was a trip to London. So, my sketchbook was full of memorabilia, sketches, photos, words, mark making...all with a reference to that trip. I then developed this further by adding research such as magazine cuttings and images from my mood board to help develop additional ideas.

How would you describe your creative process?

Very full on! I throw all my energy into the project I am working on and if I am not feeling it, then I find a way to make it more exciting to me and to motivate me as my best work has almost always come spontaneously from somewhere deep inside. To help release this, I do a lot of ‘research’, which usually involves lots of sketching/mixed media mark marking. The more work I do at the beginning, been free, pushing boundaries and exploring ideas then the easier I find the final designs.

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?

I used to be very ‘afraid’ of doing something ‘wrong’ in my sketchbook and often found the white pages intimidating. I would forever be pulling pages out if I didn’t like something. Now, I would never do this as some of the parts I may previously have thrown are the bits that become the most useful in creating my design. I also use to try and keep the work in my sketchbooks organised, but I would then procrastinate and miss ideas, so now it goes into the book as soon as it comes out of my head! In a nutshell, you could say my sketchbooks now are much fuller, ‘messier’ and creative....but in a good way!

What is your favourite medium to work with?

If you’d ask me six months ago, I would have said fluid acrylics, but I get bored so easily and right now I am having a wonderful time creating with an ink pen.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?

The one I am working on right now! I am so excited, that somehow it has naturally developed from been absolutely choka full of sketches to having additional cut-outs and lots of textured layers. I am really enjoying the process of this sketchbook.

If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?

I think it would be this page... I love how this has evolved from its original sketch design. Something inside me wanted to take it further, so I have worked into it and created areas of cutout, later adding the collaged butterfly and insect images. To me this page, completely sums up where my next collection is going. Think : William Tempest for River Island.

A great big thank you to Claire for taking part in the Sketchbook Peeks Series and showing us her divine sketchbook pages. To find out more about her and her work check out her website here which will take you to her other online sites.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

BCTF preparation - the second time around

So it's that time of year again and I'm getting ready for my second BCTF at Harrogate, which starts on Sunday... in fact it's hard to believe but this time next week it will all be over, that's how fast time is flying by at the moment.  This time last year I was a bundle of nerves, and that's no exaggeration! On the day of set-up I became the living embodiment of 'headless chicken' and worked myself up into a right old state, not much use for anything except sitting in a dark room hugging my knees and rocking forward and backwards, humming quietly to myself!!

Needless to say, I survived. It was an excellent experience and I learned so much. I blogged afterwards about what had worked for me and the different things I had to do beforehand. It's great that the blog series has been so useful to others! This year it's so much less of a worry, I know what to expect and realise how it all works. I'm not dealing with the unknown and maybe I'm a bit too laid back about it all!! I just hope I don't forget anything essential or my stand doesn't fall down!

This year I'll be launching 'Love Rocks' my new range of greetings cards and prints. I'm not giving too much away but I think some of you will be surprised at how colourful it is!!

For those of you who are venturing to Harrogate, please come and say hello. I'm on stand 151a and I'll be there with my lovely sister from Sunday to Tuesday. Fingers crossed it will be a good one.

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