When you buy handmade, you're telling the maker you appreciate ALL of their hard work and creativity

And suddenly my babies are no longer babies

This time last year I was just about getting my business launched; my eldest son was about to turn 3, my youngest was just 6 months and I was both overwhelmed and invigorated by the idea of turning my creativity into my career. One year on and my eldest will be 4 in just 4 days time, my youngest is 1 1/2 years going on 5 (his monkey like climbing skills, ability to subtly wrap everyone around his little finger, and his magnetism to danger are things we are gradually learning to wise up to and live with). And then there’s my other baby; Stitch Me Happy. I am truly astounded by how many lovely customers have supported me, recommended me, supported me and inspired me with ideas for my business, read my blog and asked me how everything is going; I really appreciate every kind word and every pound people have spent with me.

In just 4 weeks I have a stall at Bluebirds Handmade Market; the first handmade Christmas market of the season (woop woop! - so glad of an excuse to start getting in the Christmas mood!!), and a big milestone for me as this time last year I was absolutely clueless about craft markets and made some disastrous decisions!! (Oh well - we live and learn!) It is a fantastic market in Norfolk (England) and is organised by creative mum Zoe Lawn. Their upcoming Christmas market is on Sunday 4th November 10am-3pm at the Royal Assembly Rooms in Norfolk (the Masonic Rooms, opposite Wellington Pier in Great Yarmouth, NR30 3JH). There will be almost 50 totally and utterly amazingly talented artists, makers, designers and craftspeople selling a huge variety of gorgeous handcrafted gifts. All stall holders are listed on the Bluebirds Handmade Market Facebook page and on their Instagram account. 

To celebrate these awesome events happening in beautiful Norfolk, I have interviewed the lovely and inspiring mum behind them. Join me to find out how this crafty lady has shined a light on small businesses and independent makers in Norfolk to celebrate all things handcrafted and creative.

Conversations with Creative Mums #8 - Zoe Lawn from Bluebirds Handmade Market

1. Describe what you do? I’m Zoe! I organise Bluebirds Handmade Markets which is a fabulous (relatively new) market where incredibly talented local artists, makers, designers and craftspeople come together to sell their amazing work. I love everything about the whole process of organising the markets.

2. How long have you been doing it? I’ve always loved ‘making things’... but I was always made to feel it was a bit ‘geeky’! When I met my husband; he encouraged me because he loves being creative too! We used to have tables at craft fairs but were always disappointed with various aspects of them so decided to try and organise one ourselves. Then I got totally hooked...!

3. How do you balance your work and your children/family life? Ooh tricky! I work as a nurse 4 days a week, have 2 children and do my crafting and organising too. I try to be very organised and do things like preparing social media posts and sending emails either on my lunch break or in the evenings when the boys are in bed so that I’m not constantly on my phone! I leave my phone in another room so I can focus on getting a good bit of Lego building or colouring in done! Saturday is usually set aside as our ‘family day’; we go out for an adventure somewhere.

4. How did becoming a mother help or hinder your creative journey? I don’t get as much time as I’d like for being creative these days but I love that my children see things that my husband and I have made and want to make something too. 

5. What do you do when you have a million things to do and about an hour to do it?! I’m very lucky to have a husband who is very willing and happy to help me out. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed, I just have a talk with him and he’ll find something he can help me with. Or he’ll tell me to stop over thinking! 

6. What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt since starting your business? Be organised! And show people that you genuinely care and love what they do. There’s a fantastic supportive community out there and it’s lovely to be part of it.

7. If you could go back to when you first set up your business and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? Again, be organised! Your family need to know that you’re still interested in them, so set aside time for them and time for all your projects. I ask for feedback at all my markets and try and take it all on board to make improvements for the next one. 

8. Top tips for keeping children entertained this Autumn? There are SO MANY organised activities for children if you keep a look out! We always love a good walk; if my boys can get their wellies on and find a stick and preferably some mud then they’re happy! If the weather is horrible then we get the ‘making box’ out or snuggle up with a movie.

9. Your best advice for Christmas shopping? Shop small! Shop local! Shop handmade! There are so many amazing people out there making incredible things! When you buy something handmade then you’re not only buying someone you love something unique and beautifully handcrafted; you’re telling the maker that you appreciate all their hard work and creativity. The happy dance is real! 

Wild card question: If you were a superhero, what would your power be? Definitely flying! I’m a Bluebird! 

Book, blog or podcast recommendations: Pre children I was an avid reader... don’t have much time anymore but I would highly recommend anything by Ian McEwan or Iris Murdoch. 

Think big - shop small

Thank you very much Zoe for answering my questions in between being a nurse, a mum, a wife, a creative business owner, a bluebird superhero (!!) and all of the other roles you manage to pull off!

If you feel inspired by Zoe to shop small from independents, small businesses, artists and crafters, and you live in or around Norfolk/Suffolk, why not pop along on Sunday 4th November to the Christmas Bluebirds Handmade Market. If you don’t live close enough to check this event out, have a look for craft markets in your own local area; there is probably one happening just around the corner from you very soon!

I’ll only be doing a few more Conversations with Creative Mums blog posts as I have an idea for a new series of blog posts for next year, so if you’d like to be included before they come to an end, get in touch: stitchmehappy@hotmail.co.uk

Emma xx

P.S. I’ll be wearing my @Justacard pin badge at Bluebirds handmade market to show my support for their campaign; to encourage and help independent creatives and businesses to thrive. To find out more about Just A Card, take a look at their website and social media pages.

Emma CruickshankComment