Monday, 11 April 2011

A Country Living Adventure.... The Epic Blog Entry...

Imagine, if you will, a young businesswoman and her mother giggling like children at 7am on a Tuesday morning, as they strap a gigantic picture frame, an oversized suitcase, a step ladder, and several shelves to the roof of a modest estate car with 15m of illuminous green washing line.  This was the beginning of the day on Tuesday 22nd March 2011, when the intrepid adventurers of Les Sacs Magique set out for the Country Living Spring Fair 2011.
I should probably explain the need for strapping things to the roof, I suppose the reason is obvious, the car was full! Actually, I feel that full is an understatement.... 10 apple boxes of stock, assorted plastic tubs of stock, a suitcase, a holdall, and yes, a partridge in a pear tree! Mum ended up having a crate on her lap for the entire 4 hour journey, as well as no room for her feet with all the extras we crammed in.
The contents of Alf, my faithful Vauxhall Astra Estate, was the result of months of 14hr days of work - hundreds of homewares, accessories and handbags made by my own fair hands, for the biggest event in the history of Les Sacs Magique: a five day shopping bonanza at the Country Living Spring Fair.

So exhausted before we even set off, after a frantic weekend of organising, packing and labelling (by my mum and sister, as I will still at the sewing machine!), we left for the Fair. After a brief panic that something had fallen off the roof (actually it was a machine in a field we were passing) we got stuck in 2 hrs of traffic, but eventually reached the Business Design Centre in Islington, relatively unscathed!
After carting crate after crate, box after box, and owl after owl (yes, my giant owl cushions weren't exactly packed in anything) we arrived at the modest stand on the sought after mezzanine level at the fair.  It was time to build....

Les Sacs Magique - Stand M98 at Country Living Spring Fair
My sister, Victoria, had designed the stand and given us specific instructions for building, and aside from a couple of kinks in putting up the shelves, the stand materialised pretty quickly.  Then for the daunting task of organising and arranging the plethora of stock. After 16 hours of packing, travelling we crammed it in, and decided it might be better to do the majority of organising after a refreshing night's sleep.  I arrived at the hotel at 10pm and quite literally collapsed into bed....

So at 8am on Wednesday 23rd March, mum & I were at the stand organising and arranging the stock into this shabby chic, mini boutique, which was the concept for the stand.
The Apple Crate Shelves Stocked with Homewares
Notice Boards, Stuffed Hearts & Peg Bags

A Les Sacs Magique Selection
The start of the show was a slight anti-climax, no trumpet fanfare declaring 'Here Ye, Here Ye' and all that jazz... After half an hour though, the first sale was made, and the day continued to be successful.  The stand received comments and praise from customers and mum's hand-knitted bunnies were the stars of the show!  It was interesting to observe the tactical shopping by the visitors to the fair, ticking off their favoured stands on a map to return to after they'd seen everything and had a spot of lunch. And lo and behold, they returned, which was hugely encouraging. Mum and I were coping well, even with the credit card machine, which had put mum into a panic with her first unsupervised attempt!!
Speaking to visitors to the fair, I found how receptive they were to UK handmade products, particularly with the fair having a relatively high number of imported goods, and my bestsellers (homewares) were selling like hotcakes!
Whilst exhausting, (I don't think my feet have ever ached so much in my life... note to self, put a chair in the next stand!!!), the show was rewarding, successful and fun! The Gala Evening allowed us a couple of glasses of wine and a giggle, as well as catching up with old friends, family and customers who had come to support Les Sacs Magique. 
The remaining 4 days of the show saw more Les Sacs Magique supporters come for a visit, as well as a growing number of customers.  Mum & I developed a shift system as the small space was a little overwhelming when manned by two people, and it all went without a hitch.  I sold handbags, noticboards, key rings, toiletry bags and homewares galore, and was encouraged by the customers who really valued my products. (Every now and then I do have to wonder if this business is the right thing to do, being permanently broke and overworked, but then you get a customer who thinks it's wonderful, and you know they will keep coming back, and I remember why I'm doing this, why I'm passionate about it, why I work 70 hr weeks...)
Stocked Shelves...
Owls & Bunnies Galore...
The Mother of All Noticeboards ;-)

So after 6 days of hard work, minimal sleep, living on picnic snack food, (although the last couple of days we graduated to M&S sandwiches... YUM!) the show was over! Sadly, because that meant mum was going home to Florida, we packed up the stand, and slowly but surely (with the help of 2 muscly porters) we packed the car (we had sold enough that it all now fitted inside! YAHOO!). 
It certainly was an adventure, the most successful event so far for Les Sacs Magique, and I can't wait for Country Living Christmas...
A Kooky Owl Bonanza...

Friday, 8 April 2011

Folksy Friday - Needle in a Haystack

To continue my theme of sewing box essentials, I present these darling needle books by talented Folksy Folk.  It's another item I couldn't do without, I have a handmade one a friend created for me stuffed with needles and bits & bobs I don't want to lose. I think the selection I have chosen has charm and originality, I hope you think so too!
Enjoy the sunshine!!


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Online Shop Launch - Thursday 7th April 2011 12pm

Okay, so I can barely feel my fingers, and I'm looking out of the window at a beautiful blue sky, a beautiful spring day which is almost over, and I haven't yet been outside!  But it's all worth it, I think....
My online shop is almost full to busting with my handmade products, from tea towels and noticebords, to handbags, and owls, owls and yes, more owls!
I've never had so much stock and therefore never had so much to load onto my shop.  The old me would have re-prioritised and procrastinated and avoided at all costs the long, labourious and soul-destroying task that is documenting and listing products for an online shop, but instead I have knuckled down and gotten on with it. With minimal complaining I might add! (Except for now, of course!)
Obviously there have been tea breaks, snack breaks, washing up breaks (warms my hands up!) and the occasional visit to Facebook (I just spent 10mins documenting how many of the 500 best ever movies I've seen. (252 if you're interested!) but overall I've been rather diligent!
So pop on over, check out all the goodies, and treat yourself!


Friday, 1 April 2011

Folksy Friday - Stick a PIN in it....

Well, as my first ever Folksy Friday - I'm choosing sewing accessories! In particular, pin cushions!
I have a bit of an obsession with quirky sewing accessories that are both functional and beautiful - using them 8 hours a day, 6 days a week (minimum;-) ) makes them a rather vital part of my work.
So to begin my Folksy Friday frolics, I present the unsung hero........ THE PIN CUSHION!

This is a selection of beautifully made pin cushions that I think will appeal to crafters & stitchers alike!
Have a nice day!!

Thursday, 31 March 2011

The third year of Les Sacs Magique - A Preview of Spring/Summer 2011

Well, it's only been a year since my last blog post. I'm cringing slightly at my lack of commitment to blogging but when you are running a business on your own, designing, making, doing the admin, selling at events and maintaining your website (and most of the time your sanity), writing a blog gets lost in the thick of it.
However discouraging my lack of followers, I intend to persevere and share what I hope are interesting and inspiring thoughts, and probably some mundane ones for good measure!!

So, Spring/Summer 2011 - well it's already upon us! I just got back from exhibiting at the Country Living Magazine Spring Fair which was absolutely the most exhausting week of my life, but by far the most successful event in Les Sacs Magique's history.
I met fantastic people, sold my stuff and spread the word about this little UK Handmade company called Les Sacs Magique ;-)
With cushions, pegs bags, tea towels, tea cosies, aprons, bunting, bunnies and owls galore there was something for everyone. Of course the owls and bunnies were unbelievably popular...

Which brings me to the collection for 2011. Featured heavily will be 'Tweets & Twoos', a selection of birds and owls appliqued on cushions and in various forms.
Also, just in time for Easter a selection of gorgeous hand-knitted bunnies.
In addition, the homewares products will come in a wider selection of prints and colours, ready to be bought individually or mixed into a lovely gift hamper. Most popular are tea cosies, peg bags and tea towels, as well as the noticeboards, which I've done in some really quirky prints!
Other than that bunting is featuring heavily.
I have party bunting, happy birthday bunting and most recently added is the rather luxurious wedding bunting available in white or ivory/gold, made with sumptuous brocades, prints, lace and generally stunning fabrics!
Well, that was just a taster....