Author: Katie Lee
Anyone who opens a shop and makes a success of it has my respect right there. Not sure it’s something I would personally ever do but so many of you have or would love to and I take my hat off to you all. Our High Streets need more independent traders, showcasing a range of work and hopefully championing local products from Small Indie Businesses. It helps to put the life and vibe back into our communities and creates a hub for locals and visitors a like.
I only came across Artful of Hexham after we set up this thing called Small Indie Business and that is what I love about being part of the feed. Coming across all these wonderful, thriving businesses that make you feel less alone as a sole trader. We’re all juggling, struggling, making ends meet or making money, have an amazing week or a not so good one, but in the end loving every hard minute of it. And that’s why we do it, either that or we’re all bloody bonkers!!
This weeks Mid Week Mention is for Kelly who runs a shop in Hexham, Northumberland called Artful of Hexham
Show your support and follow her feed, send us a message or better still go and visit her shop.
How long have you been here, what’s your story? How did your business come about?
Artful was established in October 2007 in Hexham, Northumberland. We sell handmade gifts & Art all created by North East artists. Over the past 10 years we have grown & now sell 25 artists work excluding mine.
I’ve always been creative & loved art, it was my dream to find a place where I could work & sell my work, as well as other North East artists. It’s an odd dream but it was mine – making art affordable & available to everyone. I worked as a waitress while selling through farm shops, craft fairs & a regular stall on Armstrong Bridge in Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne. It took years to be confident enough that there was a market for my work & to find a suitable location to establish Artful.
Is it difficult to run a small business?
The past 10 years have flown by, doing what you love certainly is never boring. There are still huge challenges I face as a sole trader, constantly worried about cash flow, increasing bills but decreasing footfall to the town. It’s SO easy to get negative & focus on the aspects I enjoy least (paperwork in all it’s hideous forms!) But I know how lucky I am & work constantly to keep the business strong. Most importantly keep our customers happy, we are blessed to have the most loyal & fabulous customers who truly support what we’re doing. I believe positivity & the energy you put into your work shows. If you don’t believe in what you do, why would anyone else.
What’s the best bit?
The best bit is providing a platform for other North East artists to show & sell their work. There is so much talent in the North East we’re often spoiled for choice. Many of our artists have been with us since the beginning & there are some who have never tried to sell their work before. I’m so proud that Artful’s
atmosphere is welcoming & encouraging enough for artists to take that all important first step.
What’s the future for your business?
My little boy started school in September & I now have so much more time!!! After 5 years of juggling work with full on parenting I can now focus much better. In the near future I’m planning to develop our online presence either ETSY or N.O.T.H.S. We do have a website but truthfully I don’t make the time to fully promote it. My aim is to reach a larger audience rather than relying on people finding us because once they do most come back. I’m so confident in the business, I know we have good strong products at affordable prices & fantastic artists offering a wide range of beautiful things. I’m not technical at all but we need to open our world & branch out into areas never tried before (scary!) As an artist I’m finding the time to work on new ideas focusing on my passion for the North East. As well as increasing my unique glass pieces.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out in business what would it be?
The piece of advice I would give to anyone starting out is to focus. Running a business is essentially a juggling act, you never have enough time but if you focus your attention things become much less daunting. I have a very short attention span & I’m always wanting to try new things both for the business & my art. If someone I trust hadn’t been so honest & told me to focus solely on my glass work & cards, not to do things just because I fancied giving it a go, I don’t think I’d still be in business today. The focus helped me establish Artful
& my work within Hexham. I know its a bit boring but it is the best advice I was given & I think it’s crucial as a business owner to know when to listen.
Thank you Kelly, loved reading your story.