When I was little and often went to Cornwall in the Easter holidays, I would always look forward to going to a particular shop in Padstow that sold crystals and semi-precious stones (now a bag and shoe shop) and I still have the three that I bought with my pocket money! I can completely understand why Catherine Wilson of Blackbird Beauties describes herself as “crystal nuts”. I asked her more about this, her handcrafted items and how her business came about….
Please tell me an overview of your business – what do you do?
I’m a artist, crafter and intuitive reader. I am crystal nuts, and craft crystal wands, smudge fans, jewellery, dreamcatchers, headwear and crystal gridboards. I also stock a range of high quality crystals. My business could be best described as a hippy/new age handcrafted boutique where we always have something different. Everything I stock is handcrafted, my best friend and partner in crime hand pours the candles for the shop. I do online readings and soon soul portraiture.
I sell my beauties on facebook and on our website www.blackbirdbeauties.com
How did you start?
I actually owned a couple of businesses before Blackbird Beauties. Blackbird Beauties is a combination of my skills and interests. I started out with a massage business (I am qualified in holistic massage, indian head and deep tissue trigger point therapy) I have been reading tarot cards since I was 19 for friends family and when I fell pregnant and lugging around a heavy couch was no longer viable I fell back on my readings – conducting tarot parties and readings both online and in person for people. While on maternity leave I rediscovered my passion for art and crystals and combined them on my return and Blackbird Beauties was born.
How has your business grown and what are your plans for the future?
Our customer base has grown as a result of exhibiting at festivals and events as well as on social media. Our website is in the process of being stocked and then that will be open for immediate purchases.
I have expanded from wirework to pyrography, sculptural work and painting. I plan to open an aura/soul portraiture service in the next few months and also some textile work. I plan to blog more and provide more reading services over the next year as well.
My ultimate dream for blackbird beauties is to be bricks and mortar, with space for arts, crafts, education, healing and a booksy cafe.
What is your favourite thing about your work?
The time I get to spend in my workshop drifting away. When I am working on something that ignites my passion for art, and I step into the ‘flow’.
What inspires you?
Nature, people, light bouncing off matter.
Do you have a favourite artist or crafter you admire, and why?
I love Patrick Gamble‘s work. He has the ability to convey energy through his paintings and I find them beautiful, I admire artists that can convey messages that challenge our perspective, using a picture to convey a message that a thousand words could not capture. I also love Louis Royo‘s women book – he’s amazing with an airbrush.
Have you had any challenges to overcome?
I have had the challenges that come with any small business. I am a work at home mother, so juggling the business and family commitments can be quite tiring at times. The social media platforms continuously change so it can be a struggle to stay out there in the eye of the public. Being self employed comes with uncertainty so you have to work doubly hard and long to try and build security.
I am a artist so I’ve had to build up my business muscles !
Any stories to tell? Funny moments?
We weren’t very well prepared for a recent festival, the weather was very very windy and wet and our gazebo came apart at the edges…..sewing it up with wire beside hobbit huts was quite funny! Needless to say we will be bringing a needle and thread to the New Forest Fairy Festival!
There are lots of wonderful free resources out there to help you learn how to make jewellery of any type. Take advantage of the information age and learn from everyone and everything. Try to use up your stash of materials every once in a while and don’t be afraid to try different styles.
Practice. A lot !
Any advice for anyone wanting to start a hand-crafted business generally?
Build your business know how as well as your handcrafting skills. It’s getting harder and harder to get free promotion so now you need to be a jack of all trades. Work out your prices properly, remember that you may have packaging and overheads to pay for and generally keep learning. Only compete with yourself.
Where can we find you in person? Future craft fairs or markets?
We’ll be at the new forest fairy festival in August and then the Art of Heritage festival in st denys, southampton on the 10th and 11th of September.