Turning your hobby into cash – Part 8

We hope you’ve been enjoying our weekly series on ‘Turning your hobby into cash’.  Today is part 8 and is provided by Fiona Lewis who turned her creative hobbies into businesses.

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1) What is your hobby?
Making jewellery, using sterling silver and semi-precious stones, pearls and glass beads. I also knit, sew, and crochet, but not to sell!
2) Was this a hobby you started when you became a mother or something you have always done?
I’ve always liked to make things, but the jewellery is something I started when I became a mother. I found the loss of identity that came with giving up work to be a full-time parent very difficult, and learning a new skill gave me a focus that was nothing to do with the baby.
3) What motivated you into monetising your hobby?
Partly the encouragement of friends and family, who said lovely things along the lines of “Wow, that’s beautiful, you should sell it!”. Also partly the desire to earn a little money: although we have a joint bank account and my husband unfailingly reassures me that it is “our” money, I found the loss of my own independent income another tricky part of being a full-time mum. Morgan & Pink brings in a little extra that I can use just for me, or to treat my family.
4) How did you develop your hobby into something more?
At first I relied on word of mouth, and my first sales were to family and friends. Then I did a few Christmas drinks parties with the jewellery on display; and now I sell on Etsy – recently I’ve sold things to people as far away as the US and Australia, but much of my business is through repeat commissions and from friends.
5) Do you consider what you are doing now to be a business or a self-funding hobby?
That’s an interesting one. I think the word “hobby” has connotations of something homely and not necessarily professional, so I prefer to call it a business – I have a business bank account, and I dutifully fill in my tax return, and so on. But in some ways it is more like a hobby, in that I can pretty much ignore it for days at a time if one of my children is ill for example. Does that answer the question?!
6) What do you gain from this venture?
Enormous satisfaction from creating beautiful things. I still love that it’s something for me to do that isn’t about domestic life, and I also love the positive feedback I receive from customers – it’s always a confidence boost when someone writes to say how much they like something!
7) Who is your target audience/customer?
I used to say “the kind of woman who buys Red magazine” but that now seems rather narrow! My customers seem split fairly evenly between those who buy for themselves, and those who buy jewellery as gifts, but essentially I’m aiming at people who are interested in something a little bit special, and who value the unique quality of something handmade.
8) What advice would you give to another Mum who was thinking about turning a hobby into something more?
Take it seriously, and make sure you get the paperwork right. HMRC can be very helpful advising you about registering as self-employed, and making sure you know which forms to fill in, and when to submit your tax return. Keep scrupulous accounts as you go along – it’s much harder to do it all in a rush at the end of the year (I have learnt this the hard way!). If you’re selling online, check the up-to-date Distance Selling Regulations, and if you’re planning to do craft fairs, find out about liability insurance.When presenting your work, don’t undersell yourself. I have found pricing and marketing are the most difficult aspects, in particular putting a value on my own time, but it’s something you need to do, just as other professionals do. There is plenty of advice on offer out there, so do spend time talking to other people who do similar things. Also, be clear in your own mind how much time you can commit to it, and have a plan for fitting it into your life regularly.
9) How do people contact you/find out more about your businesses?
My shop-front on Etsy is www.morganandpink.etsy.com and I’m always happy to discuss commissions – my email is fiona@morganandpink.co.uk
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