CornerCraft is just over a year old and Alison is still enjoying every minute! We asked her why she decided to set up the business and she told us; “Whilst my daughter was pregnant we went to every pram shop within the vicinity. I noticed a pram with a rosette attached but it was dull and really poorly made.”
“Like most pregnant ladies, my daughter wanted a rosette to match her pram. But she didn’t like any and asked me to make some. Once I started I couldn’t stop.”
“I put one up for sale on my husband’s eBay account and by the end of the second month, I had created my own account and that’s where it all started.”
Having more space in her home has inspired her to spend more time crafting. “Since one of my daughters moved out I’ve commandeered her room and it’s become my haven as a stress reliever. I’m set up with my radio, make shift desk, which doubles as a bed again at Christmas, and every colour of ribbon I can get my hands on.”
There are lots of cute and unique products on the Etsy store and we wanted to find out where inspiration for each one comes from. Alison told us; “I blame my crafting madness on a very cute girlie granddaughter.”
“I wanted to produce a quality product from quality materials. It’s surprising how long it has taken to create something that I’m happy with and is fit for purpose but still retains it decorative beauty. I suppose I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist.”
When it comes to the colours she uses, Alison looks for inspiration in pram brochures, as well as visiting local stores. “The product range has been developed around the ‘in’ colours of new prams, however, most of the successful ranges have been when colours have been used to show the gender of the baby. If a customer has a neural coloured pram, then a pink or blue rosette has staved off any embarrassing questions of whether it’s a boy or girl.”
“I always enjoy making up custom orders as they extend the styles and colours that I have created. It’s always good to take on new ideas.”
But there is much more to it than just thinking about the design and appearance of each product. “An important aspect of the rosette is safety as it is used around babies. I met with Trading Standards to check this out and query CE labelling. They have reassured me that my products don’t need this and were happy after investigating my product. From their advice I’ve developed my packaging including the necessary warnings about the magnets.”
Each order can take around an hour to make, depending on whether her “sewing machine decides to co-operate!”
“I’m convinced it knows when I’m tired and plays up! I’ve invested in a new machine to replace my 30 something year old New Home machine, which is built like a tank. It’s been a revelation to have a self-threading needle.”
From speaking to Alison, it was clear that she really loves what she does and the reason behind this, she says, is her customers. “Some customers send me photos of their prams and rosettes which is really satisfying. Recently, I shipped 3 to America and had a lovely review from over the pond. I’ve had a pocket of customers in Northern Ireland too, which seems to be because of mums ‘spreading the word’ as the post codes are close to each other.”
CornerCraft products are available on Etsy, as well as through the Twitter and Facebook page. These online platforms work well for the business and Alison told us that she has “attended some craft fairs” and “although my items have been well received my customer base too specific for craft events. My clients are pregnant ladies who love a bit of sparkle. That’s why social media has been so good for sales.”
If you are struggling for a gift for a baby shower, we think that these accessories are perfect. Alison told us that it’s actually the mums-to-be that tend to order from CornerCraft. “Choosing a new pram is an exciting step when you’re pregnant. It’s something to deliberate over and mums tend to know what they want when it comes to deciding on covers and colours.”
We also found out that every sale raises funds for a charity which advises and supports people who get into debt. The charity is important to her because it provides “a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”
Recently, Alison has been trying to get retailers stocking her products. Her hard work has paid off as she recently managed to get a deal with a local pram retailer who has 3 outlets across South Wales.
If all goes to plan, we can expect to see the accessories in even more stores, as well as a website for the business, where customers will be able to browse products and place orders.
When she isn’t making products for customers, Alison still enjoys crafting. “I’ve been making hair accessories out of ribbon and recently made a rose headband to match a baby bridesmaid who was the bride’s daughter.” She is also involved with her local church and helps to run a weekly youth club, so is a very busy lady!
As our interview came to our end, we asked why insurance, like the policy CraftCover offers, is so beneficial for crafters that sell on Etsy, Folksy and other online marketplaces. Alison said that “in the world of litigation, protecting the customer and the supplier is paramount.”
“Recognising the need for being fully covered by insurance should be one of the first things that any crafter does.”