Hi Everyone! Welcome to my first ever blog post! Since I'm always up to something weird and wonderful in my work I have decided to write about my journey. I first opened FEATHEROAK just over a year ago and since then my small business has developed so fast I can barely believe how far I've come in such a short space of time. It all started in the winter of 2016 when I started experimenting (literally with chemicals) in our kitchen, then after a LOT of research and trial and error, I opened my Etsy shop in March that year.
Following that, I went on to win a gold Etsy award and appeared in various magazines, online features and blogs and I even national TV!
Me and the Country file presenters filming for the 2016 Christmas special!
I'm often asked how I started up or where I got the Idea to make jewellery in the first place. The answer is not what anyone would ever expect and I've defiantly shocked everyone I've ever told so far haha. OK, so, I built my business form bones.
I left school after 6th Form and I decided not to go to university straight away because I was sick of the education system. But that’s all very well if there I something I could do in that time, most people who take a gap year go travelling or get a job. But I live in the middle of nowhere with no money, which isn’t a good start. No public transport, no people, and defiantly nowhere to find work. Looking back I really should have made some kind of plan! But at the same time that Is just who I am, I wanted to find another way.
To begin with me and my mum would visit local auction rooms (I say local but I'm talking about 20 miles away) where we would buy and resell bits n' bobs for a profit. I was mostly interested in the job lots of jewellery, I had an eye like a hawk when it came to spotting gold and silver and I could even taste gold and silver from other metals! I'd bid on these big lots and spend hours sorting out the valuable jewellery the auctioneer had missed.
While selling these online I happened to see someone selling a dirty old sheep skull for around £50 ($75USD)! I live in an area surrounded in archers of mainly sheep farms for miles around and I knew of several skulls I'd passes while I've been out exploring. I quickly learned that only the skulls with horns sold for the best price and so I set out to find them.
I must have spent hours wandering around the countryside looking for these bones, walking father and father away from home each time. I would bring them home and soak, scrub and bleach them on the kitchen floor, even going as far as picking out the odd maggot with a pair of old tweezers or washing out the remains of decaying brains! Then I would leave them stacked up on the log burner to dry (my mum was never too happy about all of this you should know Haha!).
This is a rare selfie of I took when I was about 17. I remember walking back home in the freezing cold twilight after a day searching for skulls. I'm wearing my granddad's old shirt too haha! I put to camera on a fence post and I didn’t realize it was zoomed in either, I took it because I suddenly realized how ridiculous I must have looked - I would have never shared this photo back then, but this is who I am and it’s my story :)
I've lost count of how many I found and sold but I did make the money to buy my camera! I am such a huge photography lover and I had always wanted a good camera! For those out there who are handmade sellers or those who are looking to start up a business, I can’t stress how important your product photography is! I honestly believe it is one of the main reasons my shop took off so fast, professional looking photographs are an instant benefit for lots of reasons. Anyway, I taught myself all about photography and all the technical stuff that goes with it.
One of my own photos I awkwardly took of myself up on the heather covered fell near my home.
I continued selling skulls to buy the materials I needed to start and It took a lot much patience, research and trial and error to get things right, but soon after I opened my shop I have never since looked back. It’s not been easy so far and I have had some difficult times, I still have a lot to learn about business itself and it all seems a little daunting at the moment but I'm certain it will eventually pay off :)
Thanks for reading so far x