Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Emma, a 26 year old mama to one living at home with her fiancé and running her handmade card business alongside working at Guide Dogs for the blind.
I’m Emma, I’m 26 years old and I live with my fiancé Jamie, our 5-year-old daughter Ella and a few furry friends (more on them later). We live in a very old house (built in the 1800s!) in a town called Leigh which is in between Manchester and Liverpool. I actually grew up in Reading, but my mum is from Leigh and my dad is from Liverpool, so I have always felt a very strong connection to the North and always knew that one day I would live here. We have two pet rabbits called Barnaby (for my love of Midsomer Murders) and Peanut (the nickname we had for Ella when I was pregnant).
I recently started a new job working for Guide Dogs for the Blind which I absolutely love! I have volunteered for them as a dog boarder for nearly 4 years, so working for them feels like something I was meant to do. As boarders, we basically look after dogs in training during evenings and weekends for a few months at a time. We are currently on dog number 16! And because I must be barking mad, we are also looking after a working Guide Dog whose owner is recovering from illness.
So that’s us – 2 permanent rabbits, 2 temporary dogs, a 5-year-old and a man child 😉
I have always enjoyed being creative and found my love of paper craft and making cards when I was a teenager. I began to make them for friends and family, but despite people suggesting I should try to sell them, I never seriously considered it. However, 3 years ago I decided to take the plunge and start a Facebook page. Having a small business on Facebook has been a massive learning curve! It certainly isn’t as easy as many people think. It takes a lot of time, effort and experimenting. I think the hardest thing is finding a good balance between managing a page, networking and then actually being creative and making products to sell! I think this is what I struggle most with – if I had it my way I would spend all my time locked in my craft room, listing to Agatha Christie audio books and making cards! But obviously it all pays off, and seeing people recommend my business fills me with joy.
I like to use all different techniques for making cards and love to experiment and try new things. My craft room is absolutely fit to burst with card making supplies (much to my fiancé’s despair) – but I swear one day I will use them all! I quite often will have more than one project on the go, if I get an idea in my head I have to try it out. I read papercraft magazines, use Pinterest and watch Craft shopping channels (don’t judge me!) for inspiration. Sometimes though, the ideas just come from nowhere and these are the ones I like the best.
One of my favourite techniques is stamping, I love to experiment with different stamps, inks and colours to make all kinds of designs for all occasions. I find stamping very therapeutic and once I get into a rhythm I can get lots made in one sitting. I love that no two stamped cards are ever completely identical. I also think it’s great that a stamped card can remain quite simple or be embellished to turn it into something quite different – the possibilities are endless!
Another technique I have used for a long time is decoupage, which involves layering an image to make it 3D. I have also now started to offer the option of designs like this as framed pictures, after receiving feedback that this is what some of my customers had done with their cards.
Recently I have been making a lot of designs using iris folding, which is something else I find quite therapeutic and which gives me endless possibilities. Last year I asked the likers on my Facebook page to challenge me to make designs out of iris folding and it was great fun! Suggestions ranged from dragons to parrots to unicorns among many others and I managed to complete them all. For some I had to work freehand, without a pattern which was a challenge but definitely an achievement! At the end of the challenge I asked people to vote for their favourite design and the unicorn came out on top! I plan on asking my likers to set me more challenges as this was something which I really enjoyed and which my likers really got involved with.
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I will try my hand at any kind of papercraft, I love to be able to create unique cards and cards with a difference. I love it when a customer comes to me with an idea, and when I manage to fit the brief!
Another part of my business which I am currently working on is party packages. This includes invitations, filled party bags or favours, ready-made pass the parcels, thank you cards and sourcing party products such as plates and cups. I can provide this for absolutely any occasion and party planning is something I very much enjoy. This is something I hope to be able to expand over the next year or so.
I have made some amazing friends since starting my business and become part of a fantastic and supportive online community of like-minded people who all understand each other. This is what keeps me going, even on the days when I feel like giving up.
Running The Card Bunny will certainly never make me a millionaire but I will always enjoy being able to do something I love and earn a little bit of money while doing it.