Our Tenement Flat

My boyfriend and I are very lucky live in a pretty huge old tenement flat, just off Byres Road in Dalcross Street (formally Buchanan Street. It’s in Glasgow’s West End if you’re an estate agent, or Partick if you’re not. At the end of our road is the pub Sparkle Horse which used to be the Dowanhill Bar (Billy Connolly’s favourite apparently and some of my more seasoned neighbours have told me you could sometimes you could see him collapsed in the close after a few too many juices).

Our flat is an ex housing association flat, in a half private, half Partick Housing Association block, which is the only way we could afford such a property, sadly all the original features have been ripped out years ago. The kitchen, carpets and fittings are the cheapest possible and it’s covered in wood chip (it’s everywhere, even on the ceilings). Everything needs addressing, there are no sockets in some rooms due to the weird way it has been made up from 2 flats, literally everything has to be rethought! Despite all this I love this place, it’s beautifully light, has huge cupboards and rooms and the location is amazing. It’s so exciting to think about restoring it to it’s former glory by putting the things back in that were probably ripped out in the 1960’s when it’s purpose was changed.

We’ve done some of the boring things like new fuse boxes, a new boiler and had some lovely new windows put in a few weeks ago that are sympathetic to the style and look like old sash windows. So we’re on our way but I thought I’d write a series of posts to share our journey as we slowly restore the “tenementness” back to our flat. You could say this is the before post – one of many, because to be honest, due to time and finances it’s going to be quite a lengthy project.

The first thing to do is very simple, it’s a new front door. Our door as it stands is a council fire door, painted bright blue, as is the close, (I’m guessing a job lot was acquired by the housing association), and it’s not very attractive. After a crappy and scary interaction with our eternally drunk neighbour last week (most of our neighbours are amazing, a real mixture of people from all backgrounds, this man however, although thankfully hardly there, is an absolute liability!), we decided a new solid door would be a good start to the restoration. We went to Glasgow Salvage Yard and picked out a new (but old) wooden door. The Glasgow Salvage Yard is stacked full of old fixtures and fittings and also some very weird stuff. It’s amazing and they will definitely have what you’re looking for hiding away somewhere.

Anyway back to the door, it’s just an old door, nothing fancy about it but I like it, with some new fittings it’s going to be perfect. Our flat wouldn’t have been grand back in the day, just a normal workers house, Partick was boomtown for mills, shipyards and engineering works, so there is no need for some of the grand fittings you would maybe see in some tenements further west. We’re thinking of maybe some stained glass at some point for the window above the door, but that is years down the list in priority. For now it’s going to feel like a major milestone to have this new door and start making this sad, unloved old flat our happy home.

 

Organising Etsy Made Local

This is the third year of our Etsy Made Local event at the Briggait which brings together two sets of sellers of 70 for a weekend market in December. This year I thought I’d write a post about how we do it (and how much it takes out of us).

WHAT IS ETSY MADE LOCAL

Etsy Made Locals are organised all over the UK on the same weekend in December to bring together the wider Etsy community and encourage people to shop small and locally. I am part of a team of volunteers who have organised the Glasgow event for the past 3 years , the others being Lynne from Squinty Stuff, Mairi from Maram Jewellery and Katherine from The Canny Squirrel (and also thanks to Lynsey from Stitchcraftblog for her help with the first 2 years). We volunteer our time to not only running the Glasgow Etsy Team day to day, but also to arranging the market. It’s a huge amount of work and a mammoth commitment on top of our own shops, full time jobs, children, washing mountains and pets.

WHEN DO WE START WORKING ON IT

We start the process in June, when we open the applications window. This year we had over 6 times the applicants to places available, so we extended the event by a day to meet demand. It is very tricky whittling down the list, You are forced to turn down some good people in order to make the lineup balanced. It’s difficult to objectively curate the fair as you really have to forget your personal tastes and look at everything with fresh eyes. It’s a huge amount of shuffling around sellers on paper, moving from list to list and making very hard decisions to get it right. We then have to split the sellers into potential Saturday and Sunday lineups and then make them balance, which adds an extra trickiness to the process. We then start a final discussion between the four of us, a bit like the X Factor judges where we argue our final cases for moving people in and out the lineup. This year the process was really hard, I can reassure you that none of the decisions are taken lightly, there were so many great applicants and some really tough resolutions were taken, I really hope that everyone who applied understands it’s not a personal attack on their talents and products if they don’t get a space. It’s just how you successfully curate a fair that people of all ages, tastes and backgrounds will want to come to, and more importantly will want to buy things. We are starting after a couple of years to understand what products will sell and what may potentially struggle, and we have to take this into account. These items however may well be perfect for future ventures. We hope that one day we will have the opportunity to work and include everyone in the team in one of our events. All in all this selection process takes about 2 weeks of hard work.

After the selection is made comes my most hated job of the process, the admin. Extracting all the emails, making up millions of lists with various details, double checking the lists, crapping yourself when you send out the emails to the people on the list in case sent it to the wrong list, the lists really do go on, This is truly the worst bit of the WHOLE process and by the time we have collected the table fees, finalised the lineup and paid all the bills it’s around the third week in August, then it’s time to take a week to calm down before the next phase.

 

SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER

It’s September and we’re now in the hard sell period when we have to get our event out there and let people know about it. We strive to get our stall holders sales before and after the event, so we share their work daily, make up a huge monster reference blog post with links to all their shops, publicity pics get sent out to all kinds of organisations, flyering is done and endless rounds of copy are written for various publications and purposes. We work really hard during this period and I hope that shows. By now we are all starting to panic about our own Christmas strategies for our shops. For the past 2 years I have really failed with my own Christmas stock due to Etsy Made Local and the self imposed torture I put through, worrying that no buyers will turn up, vendors won’t sell anything and people will be angry with me. This year I’m determined not to miss out on my own sales, so have started planning ridiculously early to make sure that I indeed can make a good show at the fair for once.

 

 NOVEMBER

November last year was, I think we would all agree a bit too much. On top of everything, we held a Press and PR night, with very tasty signature Tunnocks cocktails, goodie bags full of vendors stuff, a photo booth and workshops which took a huge amount of organising and put so much pressure on us.

On top of that we also decorated two huge windows of our venue with displays. Come the close of the event, all of us pretty much felt like we were dying and consequently we took a huge several month long break at the beginning of the year which seemed in hindsight to be relatively counterproductive.

 

This year we have decided not to do so many things that are specific to EML and rather concentrate on a more longterm strategy. We have set up a committee of volunteers to help us with our tasks, we are so lucky that 40 amazing team members are willing to give up some of their free time to help us out . I’m really hoping that without the energy drain of last years Etsy Made Local lead up and with our new amazing helpers alongside us, we will have time in November to be able to forward plan for 2018, but of course still have the most successful EML to date.

 

DECEMBER

It’s Etsy Made Local, and it’s time to put up the tables and let the people in. Last year we extended our event to 2 days, opening times extended by several hours and also our amount of sellers grew by 10 per day from the previous year. It really helped even out the frenzy of the first year which was quite frankly terrifying and make for a much nicer shopping experience. In the first year I had gone from having sleepless nights about no-one turning up to realising there was a queue of people right round the block who desperately wanted to get in. It was a very strange experience to stand on the Briggait balcony and realise everything was alright after months of winding yourself up. I will always remember this feeling and although I will try to not have quite so many nightmares this year, I can reassure there will never be complacency. The hard work always has to be put in to make it a success, people have to know where it is, when it is and also very importantly why they want to be there, that is always going to be our job.

All in all in 2016, we had around the same amount of customers on each of the 2 days as we had had on the first year, but obviously having 2 more hours open time it was a lot calmer and better for everyone. This year despite us starting off with planning a one day event (mainly because we were all spent), we are to follow the same formula and run a 2 day event with the same amount of sellers, hopefully everyone will enjoy it as much as the previous years. It’s amazing to see all your hard work pay off and result in happy people all round, both buyers and sellers alike coming together to make small businesses prosper.

 

We really hope to see you all there. Here are the event details .If you are a Etsy seller based in Scotland and would like to keep up with our plans for 2018 please join our team here and also make sure to follow our facebook page for updates here.

 

 

 

 

2017 Etsy Shop Ramp Up

I’ve had an Etsy shop since 2010, I set it up when I was on maternity leave, but I had to go back to work when Marnie was only a few months old so never really did anything much with it. I’d get sales and occasionally add more stuff, it was a nice surprise to sell something but I never really considered that it could make a huge difference financially, as I didn’t have the time to dedicate to it properly.

This year I was threatened with potential redundancy (which btw never happened) and decided that I had to start really making my small business work, just incase. It’s been such a hard task and all consuming but I think I can say I’ve managed to turn things around, so I thought I’d just write a quick blog post on what I’ve ramped up in my store in 2017.

(Fingers crossed) next week, I shall hopefully reach in my Etsy shop, double the TOTAL amount of sales that I made in the whole of 2016, which is very exciting.

Obviously I don’t sell on Etsy full time, I don’t rely on the money, I have a monthly wage, so I know this makes my Etsy experience different from others who’s shops as their only source of income. With a full time job, child, house to keep (kind of) in order, Glasgow Etsy Team and then actually packing and sending the things I sell, there isn’t too much spare time left to work on the shop, so I’ve had to be clever and very organised with my time. Due to the unpredictability of my job, all of my work on my shop is done early in the morning or when I get back home, which is hard, it’s really difficult not to just give up when you’re tired and just watch telly instead. I have to be clear with myself about what I’m trying to achieve and setting a financial goal is the easiest way for me to keep focussed.I set myself a target of paying off a loan by the end of the year (which I have already done, hurrah).

So now the Etsy part…

To kickstart the makeover process in January I assessed all the things already in my shop. I retook some pictures, rejigged my shop sections to make more sense and completely started from scratch with my SEO, using Marmalead to help generate keywords, which when you’re selling one off vintage items can sometimes be a bit of a struggle to think of. If you haven’t used Marmalead before I would recommend it, I don’t have a lot of time to research search terms, so the £15 a month Marmalead costs, for me is a total no-brainer. I also removed items I didn’t feel were a good fit for my brand anymore in order to streamline my shop and make it make sense. This whole part of the process took about a month.

In February I set myself a goal of how many items I wanted to have in the shop, it needed to be manageable but enough to get myself noticed. I decided to increase from 200 to 600 items, meaning that I will tend to sell at least a couple of things a day. In the grand scale of things that isn’t a lot of sales, but is the right amount for me to be able to cope with and also continue to make a financial difference. I’ve been closely noting down my goals and “to do’s” and have had to be very organised. I have been working most nights until quite late, either to get parcels wrapped or to replenish the shop stock on Etsy, and by the end of February I had an inventory of 600 items.

I’ve been tracking my accounts this tax year in Quickbooks to make sure that tax return time is quick and painless, and have been fairly good at updating it every day. It’s really user friendly and although it does cost a monthly fee, it was by far the simplest app I stumbled upon and it is easy to update instantly using my phone.

Come March my sales had increased and were becoming quite regular, at least one sale a day and sometimes much more, that was one major goal achieved – being able to count on regular sales.

April, May June and July, my real work was very busy so I just carried on topping up the shop, keeping my items around the 600 mark and my sales remained steady and dependable. This is when I achieved goal one – paying off my loan. A new bigger goal was introduced – saving up for a new kitchen.

August I decided it was time to start thinking about the big Christmas push. I had to plan not only how to make the most of the holiday season but also how I was going to cope with a possible rush of orders on top of everything else. I have been furiously photographing, photoshopping and writing descriptions for items to add for the festive period and they are all sitting in my drafts ready to go, I’ve set myself a target of releasing 10 listings a day, and with any luck that will mean that not only do I surpass last years sales by a mile but that I will have by far my most successful period by a long shot since I joined Etsy. I have tried to be as organised as possible and have made sure all my packaging is bought and logically organised in the studio for Xmas, hopefully I won’t have to worry about stocktaking until well into the new year.

Throughout September I have been checking and organising my physical shop items, lugging heavy Ikea bags of stuff to the studio every day and putting them safely away in my storage boxes. This part of the process alone is very time consuming, making sure you have correctly noted which box an item is in so you can find it easily when it sells. I’ve failed at this a couple of times this year and had to search through 15 huge boxes for a tiny miniature china cat that looks pretty much the same as all the others in my shop, obviously I get quite angry with myself when this happens. I am very nearly done with this sorting part and my spare room is almost now back to normal and not an Etsy hellhole, I have an estimated few more days on this and then that’s the back broken on the truly hard work. I can’t wait, it’s been a slog and now it’s time to wait for the orders to come in and to move onto the next massive challenge (which will be the subject of my next blog post) – Etsy Made Local . It’s been a truly busy year but a satisfying one, and one where I can really feel proud of myself.

Have a good month and see you in the next post!

 

My REAL Job

Many of you will know me through Glasgow Etsy or you may be a studio buddy from The Hidden Lane, but yesterday during a conversation on Twitter with another Etsian, I realised that not many people in that part of my life know much about the other big part of my life. It’s why I always look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards with big bags under my eyes, am ALWAYS late for everything and am just generally quite aaargh A LOT of the time.

I thought I’d write a blog post to try and explain my job, I work full time as a broadcast designer for the BBC. I have worked here for 17 years and it is truly the best job ever, and although it is very stressful, unpredictable and seemingly never-ending, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had such an amazing career, and also blessed to have worked on so many brilliant things, in a department of the best people ( and friends) in the world.

I’m a trained broadcast graphic designer and animator and I work on title sequences, trails, sometimes make props and also now we also do a lot of coding of graphics, as well as print work in large and small format. I mostly work on a computer these days using Adobe After Effects and Maxon Cinema 4d for 3D animation, but occasionally will go back to stop frame, hand drawn or cell animation. Unfortunately budget cuts and time constraints in the industry rarely allow for that approach to television graphics these days.

 I have mostly worked on arts programmes for my time at the BBC including the Culture Show, The Review Show, What Do Artists Do All Day and Artsnight, but also work on network daytime shows like the One Show, CountrySide 999 and Take Me Out, and (just to mix it up) Panorama.

I also worked on Cbeebies show Nina and the Neurons. The dark pink neuron Ollie is based on me (when I was younger and bothered to wear make up) which I did used to as you can see from the picture of us and the Bafta we won for the series.

I have been lucky enough in my career to make some records for Mark Ronson, an animation for Radiohead ( which was pretty tricky to get signed off by the record company) and a poster for Russell Brand’s bedroom (which must have seen some siights!) I have also worked on a Jamie Hewlett drama Phoo Action where I worked under Jamie to make the graphics for the programme, and keyed and tracked them into the live footage, this is also a very important part of my job.

We do a lot of special effects and fixes on programmes like River City, Still Game and Waterloo Road, things you would never know were ever or never there until we had spent hours painstakingly painting out frame by frame or tracking things into the footage like explosions, locusts or a giant shark.

I also do a lot of print work and large format graphics from Subway posters and moving info screens, to brochures and billboard posters. Here is a 20 meter sticker that I photoshopped for the side of the BBC building for the Commonwealth Games, it was was probably one of the most nerve wracking things ever, your photoshopping has to be pretty spot on if it’s going to be that big. I was pretty much wetting myself as they painstakingly put it up sheet by sheet and I stood looking up checking my work for some airbrushing abnormality, luckily there were none!!

BBC Scotland
Branding at the BBC during the Commonwealth Games 2014
photographed by Alan Peebles

And finally I’m going to finish with my favourite piece of work, a hand drawn title sequence that I have scanned in and animated back using Photoshop and After Effects. The yellow paper is from Peter Capaldi’s sketchbook which he very kindly lent me (and more importantly trusted me with). It has such a special place in my heart because It was my last title sequence before I went on maternity leave. On my first night sitting up with my new baby, settling into my new full time role, as I was attempting to feed her, there it was on BBC Four at 3am. I’ve never felt prouder (and more emotional) in my life to see a piece of my work on television.

 

I’ve started to put some of my work on VIMEO and will be adding to it, you can find me on LinkedIn here .This post has served to remind me of how proud I am to work for the BBC and although I have sacrificed a lot of things in my life like partys and dates, brushing my hair and lived on a diet of mostly Real McCoys for much of my 20’s  (and quite a bit in my 30’s). I have truly enjoyed (mostly) every minute and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come!

Viva La Vida

It’s been pretty busy so far this year and although I started with good intentions to update my blog regularly, unfortunately due to me SEO’ing my Etsy shop into an uncontrollable monster, alongside mass redundancies and the General Election at my Real Work, 2017 has kind of run away with me once again. Blogging regularily, can be very difficult for me, I have no real control over my workload and to be honest there is no guaranteed routine in my life. I’ve decided to try not to beat myself up about it and in the future post whenever I can. Sometimes it will a brief review and other times a longer news catch up. I’m sure this irregularity goes against the golden rules of successful blogging, but it’s just the way my life is, and therefore the way it’s gotta be.

and now after that… THE WEEKS REAL NEWS

Last week I was a very lucky girl, as my best friend J took me to TRNSMT festival in Glasgow. I got to experience something truly worthy of being on anyone’s bucket list – being backstage and looking out on the crowd (whilst hiding behind a speaker so no-one could see me),

It must be truly humbling (and maybe a bit terrifying) to see such a huge sea of people gathered together to enjoy music that you are responsible for creating, and I was very proud of my friend R as he played the drums to thousands of fans, It was a great night and a well needed reminder to myself of how fun and exciting life can be, (if you let it).

We’re all so caught up in running around, being stressed up to the eyeballs, and making things as impossibly difficult for ourselves as we can. To add to this, I also like to regularly beat myself up about the fate of the environment, politics, the actions of others, the size of my washing mountain and the state of the hall carpet (but strangely, very rarely the state of my hair).

I need to fill my life with experiences, something i quite often forget when caught up in the general melee for existence. Life is worth so much more than worrying constantly about work, chores and inanimate objects and I really hope I can try and remember this in the future. This was a truly remarkable once in a lifetime experience, and something I will never forget. It’s inspired me to start making sure I create more memorable moments, (inbetween all the washing loads and the neverending cleaning of the bathroom).

Being at the festival and feeling so excited and moved by some outstanding band performances has been the kick up the butt I needed to remember myself and to try and reclaim some of the old me. I used to live for the record shop Monday treasure hunt, going to gigs and discovering the newest (or rather the obscurest ) bands I could . Thank goodness last Friday reminded me of who I was, and who I still am (somewhere in there).

Lets hope something in me has changed for the good and I start living my life with some real (or at least half) purpose.

Big thanks to J&R for having me in your entourage.

Labour DAZE

Last night I went to my first ever political gathering. I’ve been a dormant member of the Labour Party for about a year. I joined after brexit, when enough was enough and some action had to be taken. As far as I could see people don’t feel listened to, no-one has any time or space fir anyone else and we are in danger soon of overlooking humanity so badly, that society will surely implode.

The Labour Party are in my mind the closest spokesmen for how I want the world to be, which is simply kinder to the planet and also to each other.

The rally was in the Old Fruit Market in Glasgow, the main draw being a election speech by leader Jeremy Corbyn. I turned up on my own, knowing no one there and after nearly chickening out I forced myself in and bought myself a pint. In the main hall I found a seat on the end of a row and first up were some mini speeches by various Scottish candidates standing in the election, all were inspiring in their own way and met with great whoops and cheers from the crowd, which left me wondering if I would ever be that passionate about someone merely speaking on a stage, but then enter Mr Corbyn.The most eloquent, passionate, caring and endearing person in the room by far. He is an inspiration.And quite frankly come June 6th in my mind our only hope. I will now continue to campaign as much as I can in his name and keep my fingers crossed that miracles can happen, please, please people!

REVIEW – The 40 bags in 40 days Challenge

Every year I take part in White House Black Shutters  40 bags in 40 days challenge. It runs for the duration of Lent ( this year March 1st – April 15th) and it is a decluttering process with goals that are set on a daily basis by yourself using a worksheet you download from the site. The plan is to get a bag of stuff out your house each day whether to charity, the dump or by selling it on. This is the 7th year of the challenge and it’s well worth taking part (only as much as you can feasilbly manage though), I never do amazingly well, but what I do achieve is totally worthwhile and good for the soul. There is a suggested list of areas in your house to address on the website, which is really helpful, you can also sign up for a newsletter and there is a private Facebook group to join if you wish for extra tips and encouragement. Today I have started the challenge early early due to having to clear out a cupboard for plumbing work this week. I’ve recycled and taken stuff to the dump and the charity shop, it feels good and the house is happier for it.

If you would like to take part in the #40bagsin40days challenge, sign up here >>

 

 

PODCAST- Serial and Missing Richard Simmons

Earlier this year I made a film with my friend Ryan in Cambridge, on the long drive down we listened to my first ever podcast – Serial. We played  through the whole of Series 2 on the journey. It was all about Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and held for 5 years, he is charged with desertion by the US army. The documentary is presented by Sarah Koenig, an American journalist, along with Mark Boal the screenwriter of The Hurt Locker who has already conducted a series
of interviews with Bergdahl, which are sometimes astounding, sometimes unbelievable and also sometimes so believable, how can he possibly be lying?.

 

Listening to a podcast instead of music was a first for me and I totally enjoyed learning something new whilst we embarked on our very long journey. I listened to the first series of Serial about the murder of Have Min Lee when I got back to Glasgow, which I found equally gripping. I have started today on my first ever “on demand” podcast “Missing Richard Simmons”, yes I have to wait until next week for the next episode!!!  Here is the write up of the podcast from the Finding Richard Simmons website ”

On February 15, 2014, fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared. He stopped teaching his regular exercise class at Slimmons, cut off his closest friends, and removed himself from the public eye after decades as one of the most accessible celebrities in the world. Nobody has heard from him – and no one knows why he left. Filmmaker Dan Taberski was a Slimmons regular and a friend of Richard’s. Missing Richard Simmons is Dan’s search for Richard – and the deeper he digs, the stranger it gets.”

I have listened to the first 2 episodes and it is so far brilliant, the crafting of both of these documentary podcast series is superb, the descriptions, your personal connections with the people and generally the sifting through all the info and carefully constructing a real life mystery with twists and turns and shocks along the way is so impressive. I can’t wait for part 3 next week. This is a man whose catch phrase was “sweat is just fat crying”, how can I not want to know what happened to him?

You can listen to Serial Series 1 and 2 here >> and find Missing Richard Simmons here>>

 

MUSIC – The Sound

A few years ago my New Years Resolution was to listen my way through the Rolling Stone Top 500 albums of all time. (I went 500-1 over the course of the year listening to 2 records a day). I discovered a whole host of different music, and it reignited my desire to find new (to me), exciting bands.  Every Monday when I was younger, I used to head to the record shop and flip through the weeks single releases in the indie bin. I would pick out as many bands I’d never heard of before, in the hope of finding something interesting. This year I have decided once again to seek out new music and one of the first bands I have discovered in 2017 are called  “The Sound”. They were an 80s band from South London, described as post punk and championed by music publications like NME and Melody Maker and also John Peel. I can honestly say I love their music. My favourite album is “From the Lions Mouth which came out to critical acclaim on release, but as a band they never received the recognition they deserved. The Sound’s lead singer Adrian Borland, went on to a solo career for about 10 years, sadly he killed himself under a train at Wimbledon station on 26th April 1999.

If you want to give The Sound a listen find their albums on Apple itunes here >>

MAKE – Pom pom trimmed vintage coat

A couple of years ago I bought a vintage coat from the US on Etsy. It said it had a faux fur trim, but when it turned up it was real fur. Instead of sending it all the way back to the US, I put it in a cupboard thinking one day I would do something to fix it up. This year I decided I had to finally, start doing all the things on my project mountain, so I set out to make the coat wearable again.

I’ve taken off the fur trimmings on the end of the scarf and replaced with neon yellow poms poms from Twilley’s, and finished off with some David Bowie badges from my vintage badge collection. I’m pretty pleased with it and it glad to give it a new lease of life.