My day with the lovely people at Coats Crafts UK

May 15, 2015

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If you have been following the Studio’s Facebook page, you will know that recently, I have been doing a fair amount of speaking. My husband would say that me speaking a lot isn’t a bit deal (ahem..) but this is different. This is speaking to those in the crafting industry about something I am passionate about – flexing your social media muscle to help your small business.

About six weeks ago, the folks at Coats Crafts contacted me to ask if would be a guest speaker at their retailer events scheduled to take place around the UK from April to June. I have been a big fan of Coats for years – they distribute some of my favourite fabrics (Amy Butler, Joel Dewberry, Kaffe Fassett) and we love their wools and use them exclusively in our crochet workshops here at the Studio. So to be asked to work with a brand you already know and love is a no brainer.

Their specific request was that I speak about the importance of using social media in the changing face of retail for small independent shops.  And when they told me I would be sharing the stage with Stuart Hillard, from the Great British Sewing Bee first series, even better!

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An assortment of new fabric lines in beautiful Spring colours.

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And in my favourite colours – orange and grey!

This type of event is new for Coats Crafts UK and they were keen not to just promote the upcoming lines of fabric and wool, they wanted to identify where they could help the retailers with information that they will be able to use in, hopefully, raising their profile and gaining more business.

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The new line of wools made into an assortment of sweaters for both children and adults.

My role was to speak about the use of social media and how it can be one of the best tools that small businesses have available to them to enable them to grow. I love to talk about this incredibly important aspect of small business stewardship – it really is so important.  I got a chance to chat to quite a few of the retailers during the lunch and found that they agreed wholeheartedly that they needed to use social media (some were doing great things) but that there was more that they could learn in terms of how to use it in a continued and focussed way.

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If only my daughter was a bit younger….this is gorgeous.

Stuart spoke about the importance of displaying merchandise in a way that will invite the customer in to be part of the creative experience the shop has to offer.  They say people eat with their eyes but I also believe they craft that way too – they see a sample of how to make something and they instantly want to try themselves.

I did have to laugh as Stuart was obviously the big draw as he is so well known – I felt like a really unknown warm up band to Ed Sheeran!  But we had had some lovely chats in downtime, talked about Quilt Market in America (he’s been and I am desperate to go!), had more than a few laughs and said we would pick up where we left off when we met again for the next date in May (we are doing this again for the retailers located in the South of the UK at Newbury Racecourse).

Stuart Hillard showing how to make a no-sew cover for a cushion.

Stuart Hillard showing how to make a no-sew cover for a cushion.

A quilt doesn't have to have loads of patterns to make an impact - this one is gorgeous!

A quilt doesn’t have to have loads of patterns to make an impact – this one is gorgeous!

My next post about the Newbury session and my aim is to speak to some of the retailers about their own experiences. They are the backbone of the crafting industry and it will be interesting to hear what they have to say about what it is really like from the shop floor.

And it won’t take me so long to get that post done – promise!

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