Country Living Spring Fair 2017 Pop-Up Market

 

As you may well have heard I recently attended the Country Living Spring Fair as part of their pop-up market section for young businesses. There was a competition to be awarded one of these stalls for free for one day of the fair so I was delighted to get chosen to attend! The event was four days long so I was only there for the first day of the event on Thursday, April 27th but the venue was buzzing with people all day and a real joy to take part in.

 

Country Living Spring Fair 2017 Pop-Up

Wish I’d managed to take a few more photos but here is one of my stand all set up. I was quite pleased with how it looked as I’m constantly trying to improve on my presentation as I bring out more and more product types. Propping up my pegboard using an easel was particularly handy. My new stone placemats proved really popular all day. Their rustic feel obviously appealed well to the Country Living magazine fans! I also sold lots of cards and coasters as I usually tend to do. It’s interesting how at each event there is always a favourite product that I’ll sell lots of that day.

 

I also took this quick hyperlapse video walking around part of the fair to try to capture a sense of the atmosphere on the day. It was so big and there was so much going on all day making it a really impressive event. They even had little lambs and hens there! I nabbed the photos below from the Country Living Fairs Instagram account just to show how many stands there were in just one of the rooms.

 

Country Living Spring Fair 2017

 

Overall I found the Spring Fair to be a really successful day and everything was very well run. It was a pleasure to get to meet some of the magazine’s editors and so flattering to hear how much they liked my work! I hadn’t realised the editors had actually been the ones on the selection panel for the pop-up market and they told me that the competition was really fierce so I felt really proud to have been picked.

Having been lucky enough to attend for free, I’m unsure whether or not to look at doing the event again with a paid stand for now. I certainly think the Christmas Fair would be more worthwhile when paying such a large sum of money so I may just look into it nearer the time! Next up I’m back at The Frome Independent market on May 7th with my suitcase up on Catherine Hill… Come say hi!

 

Spring News Update

Hello and Happy Easter! Just wanted to do a quick little Sky Siouki Spring news update on this wonderful Good Friday.

First up… I’ve recently gained a lovely new stockist in Bradford on Avon called Silver Street Studio! Looking forward to hopefully seeing some photos of my products in this gorgeous designer-maker based shop in Somerset soon. It’s looking like there may be even more Sky Siouki stockists in the pipeline for 2017 but we will have to wait and see for that… watch this space.

Silver Street Studio Shop

 

In other news, my new furnishing fabrics collection is now live online! You may have seen updates about this on it’s way on my Instagram feed but now the wait is over and you can officially order Sky Siouki design fabrics by the metre in either linen union or cotton velvet. They are very specialist luxury fabrics, digitally printed to order and aimed towards soft furnishings and upholstery. Choose linen for a subtler, rustic look and velvet for a more vibrant, decadent style! View all five designs here.

I have also been hard at work this week creating a new online shop which you should be able to see is now fully integrated into my website and blog. So you can now do a quick spot of reading in-between shopping all right here on the same page! You should be able to see a ‘cart’ link in the right of the top menu here as well as new features like creating your own Sky Siouki shop account and wishlist even! Have a little browse via the shop link above.

Alpine - Linen/Velvet Fabric

 

If you subscribe to my newsletter or follow my Instagram you may well have also heard the exciting news that I will be holding a stall at the Country Living Spring Fair pop-up market the week after next on Thursday 27th April! It’s crept up so fast and was such a surprise as I made the application a little while ago and the pop-up market is just a small specialist section especially for young businesses to try the event out for free. I’ll be there just for the one day so if you do visit make sure to come on the Thursday to see me! Not quite sure what to expect but very excited to be taking part so wish me luck! I’ll be sending out leaflets with a 35% off code for tickets with every Sky Siouki order in the run up to it.

Country Living Spring Fair

 

I am making an effort to attend more events and markets throughout the year in general as well. I did the first Frome Independent of the year at the start of the month and it was a beautiful day with thousands of people on the streets of Frome! Here’s a little photo of my suitcase sale stand up on Catherine Hill. I’m booked in to do May, June and July as well, and hopefully more as the year goes on.

I also hope to begin selling at a few Tobacco Factory Sunday markets in Bristol soon. This isn’t one I’ve tried before so I shall have to see how it goes but it’s right on my doorstep so fingers crossed I may soon become a regular there too! To start with you can find Sky Siouki at Tobacco Factory on 28th May and 25th June!

Frome Independent April 2017

That’s all of my news for now. Thank you very much for reading and continuing to support Sky Siouki and I hope to see some of you at my next event perhaps. X

 

Sky Siouki at The Bristol Artisan

Last weekend I exhibited at The Bristol Artisan at the Arnolfini. Anyone who’s been following my blog or Instagram will probably know I was very excited for it as well as a little nervous about setting up my first professional trade-show style stand. With Top Drawer booked for September it was the ideal opportunity for a practice run and I’m so grateful for the experience if only just for that. It was a lot of hard work and a pretty stressful set-up but I’m so pleased with how the stand ended up looking in the end and so pleased to have received lots of lovely comments about it too.

I made all of my shelving using reclaimed wood from Bristol Wood Recycling Project – a fantastic discovery in itself. The guys there were very helpful and you can borrow their saws and workbenches once you’ve purchased the wood which was super handy. The wood had to be sanded down and waxed so it was quite a bit of work but I felt that using recycled materials with a natural finish was only right to fit my brand’s ethical focus.

I also managed to find a gorgeous little set of vintage drawers from Rhubarb Jumble which was perfect as a place to discreetly tidy away extra stock and packaging materials. I wanted to evoke the feeling of a colourful and eclectic living space as best I could so also used a wooden chair and ladder shelving for my display and added a vase of eucalyptus leaves and a little vintage jug for pens on top of my drawers. I think this worked well to create a feeling of home without being cluttered.

I also added a rail to hang all of my tea towels so the full designs could be seen. This is something I wish I could do at every market as it really helps for customers to get to see the full designs and worked really well. I had planned to get an amazing laser cut sign made but had some issues with timing and so had to give it a miss this time. Considering everything else went to plan, I think I did pretty well. I was so caught up thinking about putting it all up the night before that I barely slept!

Sky Siouki at The Bristol Artisan

Sky Siouki at The Bristol Artisan

The event itself went really well. It was so so lovely to meet a few people I’ve spoken to on Instagram in real life and incredibly flattering to hear that what I do encourages others. The show looked amazing, the quality of work was really high and every single stand was so well put together. Lots of people came along, especially on the Saturday and I hope to have made lots of new Sky Siouki fans who will be ordering online in future. For anyone thinking of attending Designer/Makers‘ next The Bristol Artisan event I would say to expect more of a consumer led event rather than trade and so it’s good idea to have a broad range of products available for sale. Unfortunately I felt that the Arnolfini didn’t do a lot to help promote it which was quite disappointing but thankfully the Designers/Makers team had worked hard to get lots of people through the door. I felt like the event had a lot of potential but whether the organisers are willing to take on feedback in order to improve for next time remains to be seen.

This Sunday I’ll be selling at The Frome Independent so catch me there for all your stone coaster and bird based tea towel requirements! I’ll be near the top of Catherine Hill.

Stone Placemats Now Available Online!

If you’ve been keeping up with Sky Siouki on Instagram you may very well have heard that I’ve been busy working on a new set of stone placemats to match my stone coasters! Well the day has come and they are now officially available to buy online in all sixteen Flight designs to match all sixteen coasters. So that’s four bird of prey illustrations and four waterbird illustrations either with coloured abstract backgrounds or larger scale with the the beautiful natural stone exposed behind them.

Barn Owl Natural Stone Placemat

Sandhill Crane Stone Placemat

The limestone tiles are absolutely beautiful with lots of incredible natural markings and imperfections making each placemat really special and unique. Due to the handmade nature of this product please be aware that each placemat does vary especially in colour. They are backed with a large square of cork to keep them from slipping or scratching surfaces as with the stone coasters. If you’re a fan of my coasters then these stone placemats are the perfect way to accompany them on your dining table. You could try mixing and matching the natural and coloured versions for an eclectic look or choose the same ones to make a complete set. They would also work really well in the kitchen as trivets for hot pans!

There is limited availability for now, but hopefully if they prove popular it will be a product line I can continue in future. Snap one up now just to be safe though! Shop here.

NOT ON THE HIGH STREET Pitch Up 2017

Last weekend I made a trip up to London for the Not On The High Street Pitch Up 2017 event where, similarly to Liberty’s Best of British Open Call, they open up their headquarters to lots of hopeful designers to pitch their products! Not On The High Street is such a popular online shopping destination these days, especially for gifts and unique design, so this was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

I signed up to NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 back in December via EventBrite which is open to anyone but there are limited slots. It crept up fast and all of a sudden February came and I realised I’d better get myself prepared and so I created a little handmade booklet to show my product photography to the panel. I knew from having done the Liberty Open Call that the 10 minute slot would fly by fast and what really matters is the quality of my products so I didn’t prepare a speech or anything. I know that over rehearsing will most likely only make me panicky and that I’m passionate enough about my brand that I can speak about it quite freely without needing to practice.

Not On The High Street HQ

NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 Preparation

I stayed with a friend in London the night before so I could get the train to Richmond the next morning without any faff. I’d signed up to be seen between 11am-12pm but I think this is just a general guideline since I arrived early but didn’t get seen until around 11:45pm. When you sign in there is a waiting room next to the reception where you are given a number and wait to be called upstairs in groups of about ten. There seemed to be quite a lot of people attending which felt competitive at first but a nice and friendly atmosphere developed thankfully.

NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 Waiting Room

Once I was upstairs I had to let them know what products I had brought with me which meant I needed to see potentially three different panels which I didn’t expect. I waited at the side of the room to be called over which didn’t take long at all and at first met two lovely ladies from the Home & Garden department. They were very complimentary and even had some great ideas for developments I could make. They were undecided however if my products were right for the very trend-led, contemporary style of NOTHS and so said they would decide together with the lady from the Art & Prints department after I’d seen her.

So I headed back to my chair at the side and waited to be called over once more, at this point preparing myself for disappointment. I was kicking myself for only bringing one A4 print with me since the email had said to only bring about 5 products and I hadn’t expected them to have time to look at a lot. Thank goodness I had my iPad with me and so I got my online shop loaded at the ready to show them my full range of prints online. The head of the department loved my work, and having unpackaged my print to examine the quality she handed over a Congratulations card without even discussing with the ladies from Home first! She asked that I’d post a couple of my A3 prints to her just to see them for real but said she’d put me through nevertheless! I was so overwhelmed at this point having expected to have to wait nervously while the two departments came to an agreement.

NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 Celebrations After

NOTHS Pitch Up 2017 Congratulations Card

After that they send you through to another room where someone takes your details and signs you up then and there which was really nice because it made the whole thing feel concrete having received an email confirming my membership already. So afterwards I went for some obligatory celebration lunch at Wahaca and then visited the new Switch House viewing terrace at Tate Modern. (Wahaca is delicious by the way and I was suitably hungry for the occasion.) What a day, I’m so overjoyed to have reached a new milestone for Sky Siouki!

 

For anyone thinking of attending the next NOTHS Pitch Up event I would say absolutely go for it! There is nothing to lose really bar a few travel expenses, plus the joining fee is half price if you do get through. It was very well run, dare I say better than Liberty’s Open Call since the allotted time slots mean everyone arrives at a staggered pace and I really wasn’t waiting very long at all. It felt like they had time for you, even bothering to ask where I was from and what I had planned for the afternoon to make me feel more at ease rather than rushing through it.

My biggest regret is of course not taking more prints with me, but thankfully I still got through! I would advise having a good look at the website and thinking about how or if your work will stand out as there is a lot of choice on there already and they did mention how mugs and cards in particular are a very saturated market where it can be hard to stand out. The reason they liked my prints so much was because of my unique contrast of painting against detailed sketches and exciting colour use. They mentioned trends quite a lot and whether products were gift-able so there are a few points so to bear in mind to anyone who goes to the next Pitch Up! Now I’m off to get adding my products to the website!

SKY SIOUKI 2017 EVENTS

I’ve got a few new 2017 events in place now so here is a little update of where you can find me and buy from Sky Siouki in the coming months. I’m making an effort to try to push myself to do more events so I can meet more customers, learn what you like and of course keep Sky Siouki thriving so hopefully all of the events will bring lots of good things!

 

The Frome Independent 2017 Events

THE FROME INDEPENDENT

When: Sunday 5th March, Sunday 2nd April, Sunday 7th May

Where: Frome, Somerset

What: If you haven’t been to the Frome Independent before then I’d highly recommend a visit! On the first Sunday of every month, as they put it – something wonderful will happen! The whole town is taken over with an amazing array of handmade wares, artisan food, vintage treasures and family friendly entertainment. I’m excited to be selling at the market again with my new Flight collection this time having missed out last year.

All being well, I’ll be back in Frome in April and May throughout Spring with my mini-stall on Catherine Hill. Waiting for confirmation on the Summer markets for June, July and August still but hoping this one may just become a regular thing each month.

 

The Bristol Artisan 2017 Events

THE BRISTOL ARTISAN

When: Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th March

Where: The Arnolfini, Bristol

What: Brought to you by Designers / Makers, you may have already seen my previous post announcing that I would be selling at this exciting new event in Bristol where you can read more about it. With 50 designer makers taking part and taking place across Mother’s Day weekend it’ll be the perfect thing to do in Bristol with your mum!

 

 

Top Drawer 2017 Events

TOP DRAWER

When: Sunday 10th – Tuesday 12th September

Where: Olympia, London

What: This one is just for looking I’m afraid as it’s a big London trade show for those who aren’t familiar with it. It really is huge though and it’s been a long time goal of mine to attend so I am SO ecstatic to reveal that I’m going to be there with my very own stand in the Spotted section this September! So nervous and excited at the same time, still doesn’t quite seem real!

 

That’s all of my 2017 events for now but there may well be even more things to come. Although I’m trying my best not to overdo it or you may find me without any hair left by Christmas! Keep following the blog and join the mailing list to stay updated with what Sky Siouki has planned next!

 

New Notecard Sets

New Notecard Sets

I’m very excited to announce that I have two new products now available in my online shop! Following the popularity of my first two sets of notecards I decided to make all eight of my Flight collection designs available in sets of notecards. Initially I just produced two different sets of these A6 cards, each pack containing 6 blank-inside cards with recycled envelopes, but since they’ve proven such a popular product I thought it only fair to include the full range. So you can now find a set of the Jackal Buzzard and Red-Footed Falcon designs in a pack and the Sandhill Crane and Northern Lapwing designs in a pack via my online shop!

Buzzard & Falcon Notecards

Crane & Lapwing Notecards

They’re beautifully printed onto high quality smooth white card and each card has the name of the bird that’s illustrated written on the back so everyone can gain a little further knowledge of bird species! The cards are really versatile for any occasion so if you could do with some emergency birthday cards on hand or have a few thank yous or invitations to give out then they are ideal. Find them all in my online shop here.

HOW TO… Use Apps to Help Business – PART 2

It’s what you’ve all been waiting for, the second instalment of my useful apps post!  This time I’m going to focus more on websites rather than apps in fact, as people often ask me about what I use to manage my website, online shop etc. Again, there are lots of options out there and I’m only sharing my personal experience. All of these tips are probably most useful to other creatives looking to set up similar businesses to mine.

1. Tictail

Tictail

I use Tictail to run my own online shop independently of more marketplace style sites like Etsy and Folksy, etc. I like that you can choose how the storefront looks and how simple and streamlined it is. It’s a Swedish company which I think shows in the stylish minimalist templates available and it’s also completely free to set up and list items. There are optional app plug-ins some of which do have monthly costs but never a lot, and you will of course have to pay transaction fees on sales but that goes without saying for all online sales. If you’re looking for something with lots of complex options it perhaps isn’t quite right for you but I’ve always found I can do everything I need with it with very little trouble and they constantly seem to be making added improvements.

2. Squarespace

Squarespace

I used to use Squarespace to run my main website but don’t anymore. This one isn’t free but the most basic package is only $12 a month (roughly £9) so if you’re looking for something with a nice readymade appearance and minimal hassle then I’d certainly recommend it. The templates are stunning and it is very easy to use so when I was just starting out it worked brilliantly for me. You can also integrate an online shop and it does look like they may have developed this feature a lot since I used it but as I seem to remember I think I found it very limited in terms of options. Since then I started to crave a bit more control over my website and wanted to better integrate my blog into my website so I switched to WordPress which I still use now.

3. WordPress

Wordpress

I guess that naturally takes me on to WordPress. This one used to confuse me a lot. There’s WordPress.com and WordPress.org. So, Dot-Com is free but limited, you can’t add plug-ins or much customisation, you have to pay extra to remove ‘wordpress’ from the website address and I basically found it only good for basic blogging. Admittedly Dot-Org is a little more complicated but I chose to make this move so that I could turn my blog into a fully functioning website set up as I wanted it with additional pages and the like.

What’s different is that you have to download the software and find a host for your website that you pay for and then link up with your WordPress site. I basically take the attitude with these things that there’s nothing a Google search won’t find a helpful tutorial for and so far that’s carried me pretty far! I believe I used this very link to help me back then. I chose to go with TSO Host‘s cPanel to host my website as they are UK based and when I did have a little trouble their support was great. Their website provides you with all the details of how to set things up and it costs £15 a year to use which compared with Squarespace does make me a big saving in the grand scheme of things. If you’re really really technophobic then perhaps this option may be a little overwhelming but once it’s all set up Wordpress itself is very easy to use with loads of clever free plug-ins available.

4. Google DriveGoogle Drive

This is something mighty useful for sharing documents with others or if you’re on the go a lot and perhaps use different computers depending where you are. I was introduced to it when I started stocking my products in a couple of Bristol based shops that work on more of an artist co-operative style basis. (This basically means your stock is available as sale or return, you provide codes for each item and then take responsibility for replenishing your own stock levels.) So there is a shared inventory saved to Google Drive which the owner of the document allows private access to for each seller meaning you can check back regularly to see what you have sold and add new items to it when you deliver more stock.

This of course is only one potential use of many for Google Drive. If you perhaps work with a partner in your business then it could be very useful if you don’t always work side by side. Or if you often use different computers perhaps in a hot-desking space it means you can still always access your important documents without having to worry about constantly updating them to a usb drive. It works much like iCloud meaning that every change you make is automatically saved online. You can create basic word documents, spreadsheets, presentations and even more with it. Again it’s free to use and very easy. For me this is one I have yet to create my own documents with but certainly reckon I’ll be thankful for when it comes to taking on employees.

5. DropboxDropbox

One last little helper that has a similar use to Google Drive which I thought I’d add in in case you haven’t heard of it. I find Dropbox really useful if ever I need to share a large volume of photos, for example to a stockist who needs to list my products onto their website. It’s basically just a file sharing service, which is free for up to 2GB of space. Whereas Google Drive is just for documents, Dropbox for me works well for photos because they are often too big to email and this way you can keep files available to whoever you share them with for whenever they may need to access them. It is also a very good security measure as the files you upload to Dropbox will all be backed up online too so this also means you can access your photos from any computer as with Drive.

That’s it for now. I hope I haven’t bored the pants off you! Please comment if anything is unclear or you’d like to know more about anything in particular. I’m hoping to do a How To post purely on Instagram soon. If you missed Part 1 of HOW TO Use Apps to Help Business click here.

HOW TO… Use apps to help business – PART 1

Time for the next instalment of my new business savvy ‘How To’ posts for 2017! Something that has helped me so much in keeping up my habits and staying productive the majority of the time is helpful apps and websites. There are so so many out there and I know it can be incredibly daunting when you google what you want and it seems like there are a bazillion options out there. So I thought I would just share with you the ones that I use. I haven’t tried them all so I wouldn’t like to tell you that these are 100% the absolute best options out there but they are all free at least and very user friendly. They’ve helped me a lot so with any luck they might help a few of you out too. As I’ve wrote this I’ve realised just how much there is to say so I’m going to break it down into two parts, so stay tuned for Part 2!

1. 30/30 App

My latest discovery and currently my favourite thing! This app is a task manager you can use on your phone or tablet. I just got an iPad mini and so I’ve been using it on that always propped up beside me on my desk. If you read my recent post How To… Be A Go-Getter you will have read how I’ve found timing my tasks a really great way to stay productive. Well I decided to take that to the next level this month and discovered the perfect app for the job. It’s very simple and straight forward which is what I love. You basically create a list of tasks which you can re-order, colour code, and most importantly assign a time limit to complete each task within. Tasks can be auto-looped, so say it’s a task you need to do everyday such as ‘Post on Instagram’ it will always be pushed back to the end of the list unless you choose to delete it. There is always a ‘break task’ which cannot be removed as the idea is if you are working solidly on each task you should take short breaks too to remain focused. I use it for my food and drink breaks and just move it around throughout the day. I love the colours and large scale interface too. Try it out, I can’t recommend it enough!

 

2. Tweetdeck

This one is for scheduling tweets on Twitter. I’ve been using it for some time now and it’s yet to let me down. There are loads of platforms out there for scheduling tweets on and although some have more complex features, I prefer the simplicity of Tweetdeck. I often find when something’s more complex it takes longer to use and isn’t always efficient. For example, I think another platform I trialled first would never actually post my images properly when I scheduled a post, but would rather post a link to it which for me makes a big impact as my business is obviously very visually based.

What I like to do is schedule every morning straight after my breakfast break on 30/30 to go to Tweetdeck and plan a few posts for that day. It means that I can make sure to post regularly, at optimum times and post during certain Twitter hashtag hours too which are usually in the evening when I know I’ll be too busy to be posting live. You can also choose which of these vertical menus shown above appear in your homepage so retweeting and replying is made easy all from one page.

 

3. IFTTT

AKA If This Then That. Following on from what I said about it being important that my images are posted visibly on Twitter in order to gain attention I used to find it so frustrating that sharing my Instagram posts to Twitter would only share a link and not the actual image! I don’t know about you, but if a post doesn’t have a picture attached to it, it’s unlikely I’ll bother reading it. I’m very visually minded, that’s why I love the colours and little symbols that come attached to the tasks on 30/30. (Sorry I’ll try to stop confessing my undying love for 30/30.)

If This Then That has ‘Applets’ which are basically little formulas that automatically integrate different social media platforms for you in simple ways so you don’t even have to think about it. So I love that with the middle Applet shown below, now every Instagram post will automatically be posted as a photo to my Twitter! I love IFTTT so much purely just for the fact it can do this and think that EVERYONE should be implementing this feature because it just makes so much sense.

 

4. Mailchimp

You may have heard of this one, they’re pretty well known but they have good reason to be. As they put it, Mailchimp helps you “Send better email. Sell more stuff.” It’s a platform for sending out email campaigns with multiple features all the while remaining very straight forward to use. I send out a monthly newsletter and occasionally the odd special offer or festive greetings email which I honestly have no idea how I would go about doing without Mailchimp.

You can save different mailing lists on it and create limitless html email campaigns without really needing to have any technical knowledge. The email builder lets you add images, text and buttons and rearrange them all just by dragging and dropping. You can schedule when your email will be sent out and send yourself a test version first to check it looks right. Once sent you can then see reports of how many people have opened and clicked your email and all the rest of it. There is an option for a paid account but the free version gives you a great deal of capabilities that you really don’t need the paid features if you’re just starting out.

That’s it for Part 1! Follow my blog or join my mailing list via the links on the right-hand side of the page to keep updated with future posts and of course, Part 2 of this feature! Next time I’m going to delve a bit more into how I’ve built my websites as this is something people often ask me about.

The Bristol Artisan

Some exciting news I’ve been waiting to announce for 2017! Designers/Makers who organise The London Artisan have chosen Bristol as their second city to branch out into which I couldn’t be happier about. Following a successful Christmas market in Bristol at the end of last year they are going to be holding a larger event this year in March at the Arnolfini and I am going to be taking part!

The Bristol Artisan

So on March 25th & 26th The Bristol Artisan will be taking place at the Arnolfini, with 40 designer makers exhibiting including Sky Siouki! The event will be free to visit and open to the public as well as trade. See who else is taking part here.

I’m going to have my own little white walled shell stand to fill so I’m super excited about planning this out. Think it’s about time I purchased a power drill! The event is also ideally timed for me as a stepping stone towards potentially exhibiting at Top Drawer this September. The January edition of Top Drawer opened yesterday and it’s been really exciting to see lots of photos of everyone’s beautiful stands popping up on Instagram and so I feel really motivated to apply now.

In other news this January, I recently did a Meet The Maker interview for my digital fabric printers BeFab Be Creative giving you a little insight into my business and how I work. Have a read here if you’re interested. I’ve had some lovely responses about it which is of course always really nice to hear!

I’m expecting to be taking part in The Frome Independent market again this year too but can’t announce which dates yet so keep your eyes peeled for that!

HOW TO… be a go-getter!

After sharing my best year planner for 2017 on Instagram last week and getting a wonderful response I suddenly realised perhaps I have a lot more tips and advice to give then I thought. I’ve learnt an awful lot since starting up Sky Siouki and, although I’m most definitely still learning all the time, I guess it might be helpful to some of you out there to hear what I’ve learnt in case you can learn from it too. I’ve definitely learnt a lot of things the hard way so if I can prevent anyone from having to learn it the hard way too then that in itself would be achieving something! So I’m going to be trying to do a few ‘How To…’ posts like this now and then this year and we’ll see how it goes down. Please go ahead and comment if you have any questions or a suggestion for my next topic even!

So in this post I just wanted to highlight some of the best practices and tips that I’ve learnt through workbook and business planner ‘Your Best Year’ by Lisa Jacobs which I bought half way through 2016 and am now starting a whole year afresh with for 2017. It’s a really brilliant book that I can’t recommend enough.Your Best Year 2017 BookTime Your Tasks!

Running your own business is challenging and one the biggest challenges is being your own boss and motivating yourself. Everyone has jobs they like doing and jobs they don’t. When you’re your own boss it’s all too easy to just avoid the ones you dislike or to let yourself get ever-so sidetracked when before you know it the whole day is gone and the only one suffering from your lack of productivity is yourself. So something Lisa suggests in order to stay on task and get things done is to time each task. Estimate how long something ought to take, set a timer and then do nothing but that task during that time – no emails, no Instagram, no snacking, just a solid 20 minutes filing loose paperwork or scheduling social media posts for example. I’ve taken this a stage further by making a to do list at the start of each day, allocating a time limit per task, putting them in order and then setting to it! This way I know if my day’s tasks realistically fill the amount of time I have available and feel the need to complete each task within the limit so that the later tasks don’t have to get dropped.

Timed Tasks

Measure Your Goals

I must have set myself so many vague intangible goals in the past such as ‘By June next year I need to be doing substantially better in my business if I want to continue on this path.’ That’s just crazy. For one thing, WRITE IT DOWN! But secondly, how the hell was I going to compare if I was doing ‘better’ if I didn’t even know exactly where I was at the time of setting the goal… whenever that even was, I couldn’t tell you! I actually feel like a full-blown moron even admitting to the nonsense of a goal I just wrote above, but that’s the truth, I honestly said that to myself. Now with Lisa Jacob’s planner I have a place to write my goals and track them. I can look back at how many Instagram followers I had last month for example and see that I’ve gained 100 since. In the new book she has included a monthly ‘abundance tracker’ where you set yourself a monthly income target and ideas to attain it which is so great because it is so undeniably measurable!

Create New Habits

Something from the 2016 planner which doesn’t seem to be in the 2017 book but I plan to add in to mine. Each month give yourself a new habit to adopt. Maybe the first month you won’t manage to keep it up very well, in which case when you come to review the month work out why you didn’t and revise your method for adopting it instead of starting a new one. Then once you’ve got it down you can move on to a new habit. Making something habitual is super useful for me. I’ve used this to become consistent with my Instagram posts and it’s really worked. I seldom miss a day now. The key is that when you decide on the habit to also decide on a strategy to implement it into your routine. So for my Instagram posts I decided I would always post at lunchtime, but sometimes I forgot so I changed it to mornings first things when I have my tea and that worked! I then got an app to make adding my hashtags quicker, and started keeping up a good stock of photos available so I’d rarely be short of material to post.

Instagram Posts

Plan Week by Week

I’m all about lists and I know I’m not alone in that as a small business owner. This is something Lisa’s book is really great for. Each month there are sections to fill in with what the key goals for the month are and then sections to break down tasks for each week in order to reach those main goals. Sometimes I have so much I know I need to do that it’s really overwhelming so by putting it into a timescale I feel so much better for having worked out what needs doing now and what can wait. I then refer to this page most days when creating my daily task list so I can tick off the week’s tasks as I go and see if there’s any little jobs I’d forgotten about which can often happen.

Treat Yourself!

This is obviously the best one! Lisa’s idea, not mine I promise! As part of the monthly abundance tracker page she suggests that when you set yourself your monetary target that you also set yourself a treat that you can have IF you reach the target. So simple but I just love this because having written down my treat and seeing it there whenever I turn back to this page really does make me want to get the target all the more. It makes achieving it feel more real and without it I think it’d seem less significant. So if I reach my goal this month I’m going to apply for Top Drawer September AND get a big fruity flapjack from my favourite bakery… because my tummy needs treat just as much as my business does.

I think I’ve blabbed on enough for now. I really hope some of these tips are handy to some of you! A lot of things I’ve touched on are expanded on much more in the book. I’m not an affiliate or anything just to be clear, I genuinely just think it’s a brilliant planner. Comment below if you’d like to ask anything!

JANUARY SALE TIME!

30% OFF EVERYTHING

Yes you heard me! We all know January can be tough. It’s cold out and all the festivities, bright lights and excuses for eating your weight in mince pies and practically dousing yourself in mulled wine are gone. Boo! I swear getting up in the morning has never felt as hard as it did this week, am I right?! So… because I love you all so much and I just hate the thought of any of my fans struggling with the January blues, I’m treating you all to 30% off everything in my online shop this month!

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling down something beautiful and new arriving in the post always perks me up. How about a barn owl mug or perhaps a jackal buzzard cushion? My new mugs are nice and big so you can be sure you’ll have plenty of hot tea to warm you up, and my linen cushions feel luxuriously soft and are filled with duck feather pads so you’ll feel ultra cosy snuggling up on the sofa with one.

Whatever your heart desires, the choice is all yours. Simply use the code BLUEJAN at the checkout to get your discount. Minimum spend of £10 applies. Make the most of the deal now as it’ll expire at midnight on January 31st!

Crafty Fox Peckham, Dec 2016

Last Sunday was my final Christmas market of the year in London at the Crafty Fox Market Peckham. I have to admit it feels pretty relieving to have finished up my markets for the year as I am well and truly knackered now but it’s been a lot of fun and a lot of success which is wonderful!

Crafty Fox Stall

As it turned out Crafty Fox was actually my least successful market this year which I was quite surprised by since it was very busy all day. I perhaps a little naively expected London customers to have a little more spending money in their pockets. The event was really well run with upbeat music playing and a real buzz throughout the venue from start to finish. I was only just about set up before customers were already coming through the doors when it opened. It was lovely to meet new fans as always and learn from other traders at the event so there was certainly still a lot to take away from the day. The crowd seemed significantly younger on average than I would usually see at the Made In Bristol Gift Fair which I think was down to the area of London and I feel may have had some effect on my sales. I also couldn’t help wonder if the wildlife based theme of my work may appeal more to people who choose to live in an area with such a large amount of surrounding countryside like Bristol has.

Crafty Fox Peckham

I had always wondered if I’d been holding myself back by fearing driving in London and missing out on events like Crafty Fox so the purpose of going had always been intended as a bit of a test. It’s very interesting to now know, and a little comforting even, that I don’t need to feel I’m missing out on too much through living outside of the capital and it also reminded me of just what an amazing thriving creative community there is in Bristol. For now I’m undecided if I may revisit Crafty Fox as a trader but I’m certainly feeling more ready to conquer a London trade show now I’ve managed driving around in the city a little.

Crafty Fox

Like a lot of the traders at the market, I only had a small square table to work with so this was another challenge I conquered through doing the market. I’ve felt like my stall displays perhaps could have done with an upgrade since launching a lot more products this year so this gave me a good reason to invest in some new display props. I was pretty pleased that I managed to put everything on display using height to my advantage. This is another aspect that’s got me excited about exhibiting at a trade show as good presentation will be everything and I’m excited to start planning how I could lay out my stand.

That’s nearly it for me this Christmas but you can of course still order from Sky Siouki online! My final order date to get gifts in time for Christmas is Dec 19th. Shop here!

NOVEMBER NEWS

Wow, what a busy month November has been! It’s flown by so fast that I’m only just getting the chance to post an update on the latest developments from last month here at Sky Siouki.

One of the most exciting things being that Sky Siouki has a new stockist in the Cotswolds! The Falcon’s Nest in Painswick. It’s a beautiful little gift shop supporting British designers run by Kerry Jane, an artist herself. She was so excited to receive the delivery of my work which is always such a rewarding feeling that often comes with partnering up with other small businesses.

The Falcon's Nest

I have also now listed my latest coaster designs in my online shop featuring each of the Flight collection bird illustrations on top of natural stone. The organic texture of the limestone exposed behind the designs compliments the wildlife subjects really well and these ones have already proved very popular at my Christmas markets. With 16 different coaster designs available from Sky Siouki now you can mix and match the coloured and natural background designs to create the perfect combo for your home’s decor. The customers at my fairs have been having real trouble choosing their favourites! Shop coasters here!

Natural Coasters

Lastly, a couple of Sky Siouki products have been featured in some gorgeous online gift guides recently. The lovely Lisa Dawson featured my Barn Owl Tea Towel in her 30 For £30 and Under Gift Guide a couple of weeks ago amongst some other stunning items all from independent designers and shops sourced via Instagram.

Plus my fabric printers, BeFab Be Creative, featured me and my Barn Owl Linen Cushion in their incredibly lovely 2016 Christmas Gift Guide last week. Solii’s words about my brand are just so kind – I felt all fuzzy inside reading it. Once again, working with other UK independent businesses feels so fulfilling when you know there are real people behind them that support what you do and even buy gifts from you too! BeFab are an amazing company and I wouldn’t think twice about recommending their service to anybody.

30 For £30 And Under Feature

I’ve just got one Christmas market left for the year now which is the Crafty Fox Market Peckham in the CLF Art Cafe, Bussey Building, on Sunday 11th Dec! Open 11am-5pm – The market is on Saturday and Sunday but the traders are different each day so make sure to catch me on the Sunday. So excited for it but also can’t believe almost all of my markets are done for Christmas. If you’re in London this weekend come see me at Crafty Fox! Hopefully I’ll be doing lots more markets next year!Crafty Fox Peckham

 

Made In Bristol Gift Fair 2016

Last Saturday was my second Christmas fair of the year where I’ve become a bit of a regular. The Made In Bristol Gift Fair at Colston Hall! There will in fact be three more gift fairs held by Made In Bristol at the same venue but this year I only managed to book the one. Here’s me looking awkwardly jolly behind my stand!

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Having produced so many new products this year it was a little challenging fitting it all in this year but I just about managed to make my stand presentable! My table will be even smaller at Crafty Fox Peckham in a couple of weeks time so I think I’m going to be hunting for a nifty shelving unit in the meantime.

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The fair lived up to it’s usual standard with lots of people about and a lovely variety of handmade gifts available. It’s always enjoyable being able to look across at all the different platforms throughout the venue seeing people coming up and down the stairs. I have to admit the fair wasn’t the busiest I’ve seen it and given a second chance I would have chosen to book a December date instead as I think perhaps not everyone is ready to Christmas shop just yet in November. The clash with Black Friday weekend may have also stolen away some trade, who knows?!

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It was really nice to see some repeat customers who had found me last year and wanted to come back to buy from me again! That alone makes doing the Made In Bristol fair each year seem worthwhile. One thing I regrettably have to admit is that the melancholy music just really let down the festive atmosphere. Hopefully it might be better next time!

Next up I’m selling at the Crafty Fox Market in Peckham‘s CLF Art Cafe in the Bussey Building on Sunday Dec 11th! I’m so excited to meet some new customers in London for the first time. If it goes well I may well be selling again in London next year! It will also be my last Christmas event for the year but don’t forget you can always shop online of course!

Totterdown Arts Trail 2016

57 Windsor Terrace

Last weekend was Totterdown’s Front Room Arts Trail and what a weekend! I joined forces with printmaker Abi Coombs who runs the artist collective Free Wifi Make Art and bravely opened her house up to the public for the weekend. Also showing their work with us was ceramicist Rosy Pearson, painter Jusefa Charlamow, jewellery maker Judith Pearson and fine artist Ian Barnes. We filled every space on the walls with artwork from the living room, all the way through the hallway and up the stairs onto the landing too!

Front Room Arts Trail

Abi Coombs - Free Wifi

Abi also made an amazing selection of cakes and jams and her partner Paul made some delicious bollos prenaos and sausage rolls. We had lots of mulled wine on offer and the fire lit to keep everyone toasty. The house felt really homely and inviting and we were all amazed at how busy the weekend was with barely a single moment without any visitors looking around.

Cakes & mulled wine

On the Sunday we had Bristol graffiti artist Mr. Draws come join us to paint a wall mural in the back garden. He created this cute storybook inspired design of an elephant and a dog. It was great to see how the mural progressed throughout the day.

Mr Draws Graffiti Artist

Mr Draws Mural

I’m so glad I took part in the trail as it turned out to be a major success for everyone involved. To anyone considering taking part in one of Bristol’s many art trails I would certainly recommend trying to get together a few people to make the house feel full of lots to see and so that you’re able to share the load as there is a lot of work involved in setting up and talking to people all day. Playing some music and having food and drink on offer certainly seemed to help people feel a little more welcome as it can sometimes feel intimidating wondering into a stranger’s home.

I’m absolutely knackered now but getting myself prepared for next Saturday when I’ll be selling at the Made In Bristol Gift Fair at Colston Hall this time. It’s the only other Christmas event I’ll be selling at in Bristol this year so make sure to catch me there! The fair will be on 10am – 4pm.

NEW PRODUCTS NOW ONLINE

It’s official! My new product selection has now launched and is all available to buy via my online shop! So excited to get everything launched, it’s been a lot of work getting it all together so it gives me a lovely warm glow to scroll through my online shop and see everything all together there. You can now buy mugs, notebooks, pencil pouches, notecard sets, gift wrap and gift wrap sets and waterbird design tea towels all from the Sky Siouki shop right here!New Product Collection

The mugs are delicate bone china so they feel wonderfully light and each have a little gold flick on the handle to add a bit of vintage-style elegance. They come in a recycled card box making them nice and gift-ready too!

The notebooks are digitally printed onto a textured matte cover using FSC accredited card giving them a lovely tactility.

The pencil pouches are currently handmade by myself and could be used for any number of things besides pencils. I’ve recycled spare fabric offcuts for the linings and they feel good and sturdy with their metal zips and leather pulls.

The notecard sets include 2 of each of 3 different designs digitally printed onto FSC accredited card and come with recycled envelopes.

The gift wrap is limited edition this Christmas as I’m stamping it by hand! I’ve also included some nice little stamped tags, notecards and striped purple cotton twine in the sets to fulfil all your gift wrapping needs!

Finally, the new tea towels are also digitally printed onto 100% cotton and made entirely in the UK. I always favour digital printing over screen printing because there is far less water and wastage involved so it keeps things more ethical which is a strong value for Sky Siouki.

 

Plain Limestone Coasters

There is one cheeky little bonus product I’ve yet to add as it wasn’t originally planned which is these plain stone background bird tiles. I’ll be adding them next week so keep your eyes peeled for that!

I’ll have all of my new products along with my ever popular coasters, giclee prints, cushions and greetings cards with me at my Christmas events this month and next month. First up is the Totterdown Arts Trail, where I’ll be joining forces with Abi Coombs and a selection of other artists from the Bristol based Free Wifi Make Art collective at 57 Windsor Terrace. See more details of all my Christmas events here.

New Products Coming Soon

So I honestly have no idea where October has gone! Christmas is approaching super fast and I’m working hard trying to get an exciting range of new Sky Siouki products produced and ready to sell just in time so you can give them to your loved ones this festive season.

I’ve been giving away lots of little snippets and teasers on my Instagram and across social media as you may have seen but I think it’s about time I make an official post saying exactly what and when all these exciting new things from Sky Siouki are coming. So here goes… big breath…

On November 11th Sky Siouki will be launching a new selection of A5 notebooks, A6 notecard sets, hand-stamped gift wrap sets, zip pouches, bone china mugs and new tea towel designs!

New NotebooksEach range is shaping up to look really stunning and I have to admit I feel very proud of the efforts I’ve put in to make all of these ranges happen. I don’t believe in doing things by halves and so I’ve been doing all I can to ensure everything is made to the highest quality with beautiful materials, and of course made ethically in the UK as well.

If you’ve missed my progress updates on social media, give me a follow on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to keep up with them. Here a few snippets from the past couple of weeks giving you a bit of a behind the scenes insight into the decision making and process that goes on when launching new products.

Metal Zip

With each product there are always so many little decisions to carefully consider such as all the extra components that make it a whole. I’ve decided on gold metal zips with leather pulls for my zip pouches to make them feel sturdy and add a bit of textural contrast to the printed cotton. Even just choosing which shade of leather for the ties was tough though!

Barn Owl Stamp

I’ve just had my own Sky Siouki barn owl stamp made especially to make hand-printed gift wrap and tags for my Christmas markets this year. The barn owl is so well loved by my fans so it’s great to have a stamp of it now. It’s quite likely the gift wrap sets will be limited edition for the season due to the handmade nature so I’d advise you to snap a couple of packs up quick once they’re out!

Notecard Set Packaging

Notecard sets were something a lot of people seemed to have interest in in my feedback survey last month so it’s one of the first new ranges I set to work on. Even just devising the best packaging options takes a lot of experimentation and time, especially since I’m always keen to keep things minimal and ethical whilst remaining well presented and protected.

I hope this post has wetted your appetite to see the full collection of new products in it’s entirety and ready for gifting action! I myself am extremely excited by it all. It’s incredibly fulfilling to see my designs come to life in a whole host of new ways. Come along to one of my Christmas events to see the products in the flesh or watch this space to buy online from Nov 11th onwards!

CHRISTMAS EVENTS 2016

Christmas is fast approaching already and I’m getting myself prepped with lots of new products on the horizon for Sky Siouki. Hopefully all will be available just in time for the gift buying season as well as for my Christmas events this year. I’ll be posting lots of reminders closer to the time but here’s my first official announcement of the events I’ll be selling at this Christmas!

TOTTERDOWN FRONT ROOMS ARTS TRAIL

NOV 19th & 20th, 12-6pm  – 57 Windsor Terrace, Bristol BS3 4UGTotterdown Arts Trail

I’ll be collaborating with Abi Coombs for the 2016 arts trail with an Into The Woods inspired venue showcasing Abi’s gorgeous woodland based etchings and screenprints and a selection of my bird based prints and products from the Flight collection. Local artist, Nathanael Draws, will be live painting a mural in the back garden on the Sunday and there’ll be some delicious homemade nibbles and mulled beverages on offer too to really kick off the Christmas spirit!

MADE IN BRISTOL GIFT FAIR 

NOV 26th, 10am – 4pm – Colston Hall, Bristol BS1 5AR

Made In Bristol

I always love selling at the Made In Bristol Gift Fairs at Colston Hall and getting to meet all the lovely Bristol dwellers who admire my work. I’ll be there once again this year, sadly just for one date though so make sure you come to this one on Nov 26th so as not to miss me!

 

CRAFTY FOX CHRISTMAS MARKET PECKHAM

DEC 11th, 11am – 5pm – CLF Art Cafe, The Bussey Building, Peckham, London SE15 4ST

Crafty Fox

Very excited about this one! My first market in London in fact and it looks set to be a great one. In the fantastic Bussey Building the venue has lots of space and light and the Crafty Fox markets are always incredibly well curated so I feel very lucky to have been picked to take part! There’ll be different designers on the Saturday and the Sunday so come on Sunday if you want to see Sky Siouki!

Win a Silk Cushion

This month I’m gathering research from fans and customers about my brand so if you haven’t already I’d love it if you can fill in my survey here. As a thank you you’ll be entered into my prize draw to win a luxury silk cushion in one of the three designs below of your choice!

Silk Cushions

It’s very quick and simple and should take less than five minutes. I’m very keen to hear what new products you’d like to see from Sky Siouki so even if you just want to leave me a comment that would be much appreciated too. Thanks so much and look out for the announcement of the winner soon! Sky x