Customer Spotlight- No Ditto0
Posted on 1st May 2018 by Emily
Filed under Customer Spotlight
Hi I’m Lisa, designer and maker at No Ditto. I run an online store and an etsy shop for my jewellery and card making. No Ditto Design from my home in Abbots Bromley, a little village in Stafforshire.
1. When did you start crafting and what inspired you to start? What was your first project?
I have always made things, from dolls clothes to cards for family, I was always crafty but a chronic spinal condition encouraged me to train as a silversmith, I was 24, somewhat naively thinking I could run a business despite this.
I realised whist still training that it was going to be physically demanding to silversmith, and market my business, my final show was a sell-out and I had high hopes that my spine problems could be resolved enough to allow me to make a living, but it was simply impossible. I turned back to art after graduating and ran a small business called Property Portraits, doing commissions for housing developers and private clients. Even that required too much of me.
My style of art is detailed and time-consuming, so I decided to print my smaller designs on cards and started a mail order card company. However, just after launch day as I returned from collecting a massive order of envelopes (before online ordering was even a thing) I lost all sensation in my legs (on the motorway! Scary? Much!) so underwent yet another major spinal operation which took me two years to recover from, and still I wasn’t out of pain.
Then I discovered I could still make jewellery lying down, just using a different skill set and I found etsy. So, here I am today. I make beaded jewellery and layered card designs and can make my card toppers lying down too. Even though I am not able to work in a conventional sense, I can be productive every day.
2. What is your favourite design to make out of your collection?
Definitely custom cards. It’s such a lovely thing to receive, knowing someone has gone to the trouble of having a card personalised just for you, shows how much they care.
3. Tell us about your creative process…
When I’m ok upright, I work on running my online shops, answering emails and packaging sales. For the rest of the day, I am either lying surrounded by beads and findings, my trusty pliers close at hand, knotting macramé bracelets or pinging bits of metal around the place, or I’m designing cards with stamps, ink pads, punches, flatback pearls or beads, which I later add to my card blanks. Using my favourite linen and hammered cards from papermilldirect of course.
4. What have you found most difficult about making your cards so far?
I think the challenge for me is most certainly marketing. I have sold my cards in retail shops, but unless I can come up with a method of production that drastically reduces the time I spend on each card, wholesaling is not too profitable for me.
5. Do you have any crafting techniques that you want to try or improve this year?
Ooh I have a long list… I’m a self-confessed craft ‘ho! In terms of paper craft, I’d like to do more embossing and to get my own pen drawings and watercolours in use more too.
6. You also make handmade jewellery, how did you first get into jewellery making and what inspired you?
I have always been involved in the jewellery scene, right from a teenager I worked in retail and when it came time to choose a career path, I studied retail jewellery and Gemmology. But making things, in miniature, with tools and fire really appeals to me. First day at college on the silversmithing course, I was like “I can do this, and for the rest of my life.” I would love to get back to that and when I find myself with a studio space and a bit of spare cash, I’m sure there are some mechanised tools I could use to cut down the time working ‘at the bench’ to get my designs out of my head and sketchbooks and actually produced.
As far as now goes, I’m a self-taught beader. I’ve just started loom beading and have some new designs coming up to add to my range. Ideas flow constantly but if I’m ever stuck, the beads themselves inspire me, I have a vast collection so I just pull out some coordinating beads and start.
7. What is your favourite papermilldirect product and why?
By far my favourite thing is ivory or white hammered card, it’s just divine and so versatile. But I also love papermilldirect envelopes. Not only are they fabulous quality, but great value too. I recently bought some slate grey C6 envelopes, so thick and luxurious with a pearly finish. Love them!
8. Do you have any advice for people wanting to start up their own business?
Just start. If you have a marketable skill, make a plan, loosely, research, try and find a niche (that’s the hard part for me personally) and if you are going the etsy route, read the seller handbook, price for profit (cheaper doesn’t mean better) and watch webinars on product photography. Good photos are key when selling online and you don’t need expensive kit to achieve them. I use a compact camera and two watercolour pads next to a net curtain. Never stop learning as you have to wear lots of different hats. There are still so many things I need to improve even after nearly 7 years on etsy. Oh and keep your bookkeeping up to date – a few minutes a day is way easier than a year’s worth in one go with a box of crumpled receipts!
9. What does the future hold for No Ditto?
I’m planning to carry on honing my skills and growing my website, blogging more, streamlining my etsy shop and producing ranges of cards rather than the one of a kind design process I currently have. It’s more cost effective to list variations on a theme on one etsy listing (for one fee) than to market each idea separately. Plus I’d really like to get into a retail space or gallery so I’m working on a line sheet and I need to get to grips with growing an email list as I discovered, too late, that my website doesn’t easily support my email service.
I have a fairly long to-do list so take each day as it comes, thank goodness for the internet! It’s been my saviour, along with my exceptional soulmate who literally gives me ‘good’ time each day to do what I love.