Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Events: Miss Manda's Vintage Fair, July 2014


At the start of the month my trusty cow print suitcase and I ventured to Sunderland to trade at Miss Manda's Vintage Fair and Craft Fair (and managed to get lost even though it's only an hour away from where I live - but let's just pretend that part didn't happen!)





It was such a fun day, and I was really impressed with the variety of stalls, and the venue was beautiful.

Vintageous Rags

Dark Secrets


Sew'd Up and Little Rockabilly Rebel

Ivy Apples Designs

Laura Parkin Handwoven Designs

Let it Reign

It's the first time in a while I've done a local event, but I had such a good time that I'll also have a stall at Miss Manda's August event in Newcastle too - hopefully see some of you there!


Monday, 23 June 2014

Delicious Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe

 

Considering I would have been a primate candidate for Can't Cook, Won't Cook a few years ago it feels very strange to be writing my first recipe related post! I've always been a big lover of food (which is probably quite obvious from Little Miss Delicious), but it wasn't until I turned vegetarian last year and began following the IC Diet more strictly that I started actually thinking about what I was eating. By restricting what I can have, I've become a lot more aware of getting the right vitamins and general goodness from foods. Instead of eating less, I'm now just eating more of the right things and eating a much more varied diet than before - which means I'm enjoying eating a lot more, and surprisingly developing quite the love of cooking!


One of the favourite things I've made so far are stuffed bell peppers - not just because they're so quick and unbelievably simple to prepare, but they also taste amazing!


You can mix it up by easily changing the filling each time to suit whatever mood you're in, and different bell peppers have different (but equally as yummy) tastes. You can also use dairy free cheese, pesto and cream cheese to make it into a delicious vegan treat.


INGREDIENTS

To serve two:
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp pesto
  • Golden vegetable rice
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese 
  • Olive oil
  • Optional extra fillings of choice (I use one tsp of chilli and spring onion)

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to a medium heat with a rack placed in the middle, and line a baking tray with tin foil.
  2. Cut the tops of the peppers - approximately 1" down, then remove the white inner part and seeds.
  3. Cook the golden vegetable rice (or plain rice and add your own veggies), and mix in a bowl with the cream cheese, pesto and any extra fillings you'd like.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the empty bell peppers until they're full, pressing down occassionally to make sure they're as stuffed as possible!
  5. Brush the outsides of the peppers with olive oil, then place the stuffed peppers as well as the tops on the baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. After 20 minutes grate cheese on top of the stuffed peppers, then place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately.



Friday, 20 June 2014

Home Sweet Home

I promised myself I wouldn't start any more blog posts with an apology for not posting in a while, but moving home definitely merits extenuating circumstances. I had no idea moving was so time consuming - how people can do that every year is beyond me! But nearly a month later and we're finally all unpacked, settled and back to normal.


Moving in together didn't feel like a huge step in our relationship - it more felt inconvenient not to, so as soon as Ash's contract was up on his old place we decided to take the plunge and find our own place, and I can honestly say I've never been happier! These past 3 weeks have easily been the best of my life.


Not only is it amazing to be able to have everything in one place after a year of chaos, but I get to spend every day with my best friend - what could be better than that? 

Getting my new studio room sorted was the main priority, mostly because I'd already had to take a week off just to get everything packed and ready to move, so I was itching to get back to work. 






It's still a bit of a work in progress at the moment and everything has already been moved at least twice since these pictures were taken, but I'm so happy with how much space I have to work from - having separate tables for painting and fabric work again is not a novelty that will wear off any time soon!

It feels amazing to have my own space and finally have everything sorted so I'm free to spend my days working again (and there's definitely been lots of catching up to do!). Let's just ignore the fact that the TV still isn't on the wall though...




Monday, 5 May 2014

What I Learnt From Applying to be on Embarrassing Bodies

via Tumblr
I was just happily sitting in a coffee shop in town last week, and with absolutely no warning at all it felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing me in the tummy, back and sides. All I wanted to do was curl into a ball and cry - for the first time in 5 years I'm actually having regular pain free days, but it means when interstitial cystitis flare ups do occur, especially as quickly as that, it's just so much harder to deal with.

I'm lucky I was carrying my little bag of pain killers with me otherwise I don't know what I would have done. While I was waiting for them to kick in so I could try and move, I happened to notice the Embarrassing Bodies truck was right outside. I posted on Facebook jokingly saying I wish I had no shame so I could go sign up to be on it and get free private healthcare that'd fix everything (every chronic illness sufferer's dream). To my surprise, everyone told me to go for it. Then I started thinking what do I have to lose? A few years ago I never mentioned my IC, but after writing a blog post about it 2 years ago I've been a lot more public and vocal about it and all the symptoms and fun little problems that come with it - even if there are some things I still don't mention.

So I applied.

I was shaking so much explaining what IC is and what kind of daily symptoms I have as well as those during a flare up, and how I really need help with pain management and urgency issues - having to go to the toilet 30 times a day and getting about 2 minutes warning on a good day might be something I joke about, but I think if I didn't I'd just cry. I also think this might be linked with bad anxiety issues I've been having lately. They told me the thing they'd like to focus on most would be the symptoms I don't talk about often, like how I'm struggling with finding a form of contraception that doesn't make my pain worse and how sex also makes it worse. Not things I even feel comfortable mentioning now, never mind on national tv! But I reluctantly agreed, knowing at least it'd still be raising the profile of an illness most people have never heard of. Even if it didn't help me, there's a chance someone that's been told they have bladder/kidney infections that don't show up on tests and given antibiotics and told to drink cranberry juice (both of which make IC a hell of a lot worse) might be watching, and realise there's a chance they've been misdiagnosed like I was for most of my life.

I waited for a phone call that night and when it didn't come I assumed I hadn't been chosen, and was surprised that I was disappointed. While it had been a very spur of the moment decision, it was actually a huge step for me. Being more open about my condition is one thing, but being prepared to talk about it on television is just a whole other ball game. Even feeling confident enough to discuss something so personal with strangers while signing up was something completely new for me, and something that I'm really proud of myself for doing.

A few days later I'd mostly put it out of my mind, then I received a phone call. They felt my case wasn't strong enough to feature on the main show (the phrasing was a little kick in the teeth of IC sufferers that get chronic pain, but nevermind!), but that they sympathised with my problems and wanted to help in any way they could, so they offered me the chance to have a Skype conversation with one of their in-house GPs instead. This would take place tomorrow, and I have to confirm today.

I haven't seen the show in years, but from what friends tell me this means my picture would be in the background and the conversation would be private, and again I was surprised that this disappointed me. I thought I'd signed up to try and get help with dealing with my IC, but I think what I hadn't realised was that I also wanted to help raise the profile of the illness for IC sufferers everywhere. So when we have to explain our condition, people don't just assume it's cystitis or a made up condition. And in all honesty, I don't see a short conversation with a GP helping any more than my new specialist does (who has actually been fantastic this past year).

I've said yes and I'm now waiting to hear back from them, but even if I don't go on what I've taken from even just applying is more significant than what I'd probably learn from being on it. I might not be my illness, but after a very long time of being embarrassed about talking about it, I'm also not ashamed of my illness anymore neither.




Friday, 25 April 2014

Feature Friday: Rebelicious Magazine


This week's Feature Friday post is all about the newest sponsor on the Little Miss Delicious blog, as well as one of my personal favourite magazines! I first heard about Rebelicious Magazine back in 2011, and it's been amazing watching it grow ever since. Ran by one of the loveliest people I've had the pleasure of knowing, Dominique Marshall, Rebelicious is a UK based fashion and exposure magazine featuring all the best alternative brands and creatives.

Available online and in print, it provides a platform for alternative fashion companies, independent designers, models, photographers, makeup artists and illustrators to show just how diverse and engaging the alternative world is! I spoke to Dominique to find out more about where the idea behind Rebelicious came from and what her plans are for the future as well as some brilliant advice for those looking to get published.

What inspired you to start Rebelicious Magazine?

I didn’t actually come up with the initial idea of Rebelicious. That accolade needs to go to Amy Phillips, who was the original writer that I produced the very first issue with! She wanted to create a new magazine for alternative women for her final degree project at university about 4 years ago now, and she had advertised on a student job board about needing a graphic designer to help her create it. I was studying a graphic design degree and was looking for some experience, so I applied and luckily she ended up picking me, as I loved the alternative culture as much as she did.

It was a great experience working with her, and I ended up creating the second issue for my own final degree project at uni (with her help on the writing side of things.) After my degree finished, I asked her if she would be okay with me continuing the magazine, so with her blessing I kept Rebelicious going bi-monthly until the end of last year when I made the crazy decision to make it a monthly! I’m also a full-time graphic designer at Rock Sound Magazine, so as you can imagine I am one busy lady!

Rebelicious is very much focused on alternative culture - what is it about that world that you love?

That it is so accepting of anything and anyone, the vast range of clothing available, the music, the people…there isn’t much that I don’t love about alternative culture! There are just so many different aspects of it that I’m always stumbling across and learning about that it’s like one massive journey into the unknown.



I love all the products you feature! How do you choose your editor picks/pick of the day, and what are some of your personal favourite brands?

I treat editor’s picks and pick of the day as my own personal shopping list to be honest. The list of brands that I follow online and shop from is endless, and if any products catch my eye I’ll make a note of it and more often than not it will end up in editors picks or as a pick of the day on the website. I also pay attention to the brands that models are wearing, whoever photographers and other designers mention online, as well as those that contact me for features.

To narrow down my list of favourite brands is bloody difficult, but right now some that I really love are… Bloody Mary Metal, Alice Takes A Trip, Reptilia Art Movement, Pendulous Threads, Killstar, Miss Fortune, Sanctus Clothing, Torture Couture, Hysteria Machine, VelvetVolcano, The Rogue + The Wolf, Atomic Lace and of course Little Miss Delicious ;)

Where does your inspiration come from?

My day job, other magazines (both alternative and mainstream), people I meet and come into contact with, music videos, films…Loads of places really. I think it’s important to have more than one source of inspiration, especially with me being a graphic designer first and foremost; it’s crazy how quickly something can look old if you don’t keep up to date with styles and trends.



What advice would you give to aspiring writers, models and designers looking for press work?

Oh god, I really could be here all day writing advice but I think the most important ones are:

1) Before you apply for press work anywhere, do your research and MAKE SURE YOU READ THE MAGAZINE FIRST! I can’t stress how important it is to know exactly where/what you’re applying to before you actually click ‘send’ on an email. As it’s just me that goes through all the submissions sent to Rebelicious, I can tell easily when someone has applied because they’ve read the magazine; they want to be a part of it and have taken the time to understand the style of the magazine and submit accordingly.

2) Pay attention to any submission guidelines that a magazine posts online; they are there for a reason, so don’t ignore them! I’m running Rebelicious single-handedly around a full-time job, so I use the submissions guidelines as a checklist when I’m looking through submissions. The emails I get that follow the guidelines are the ones that get a priority response from me.

3) Models - please AVOID sending mass submission emails to a bunch of magazines with one set of photos. AVOID IT! It appears as if your goal is to get your face plastered in/on anything. Wouldn’t you rather have different photos published in different magazines to show how diverse you are, instead of having the exact same set of photos in every single magazine? 100% of the time, if I see a submission that has been sent to say, ten magazines including Rebelicious, I’ll automatically reject/ignore it.

4) No camera phone selfies. Nope. Seriously. Never. I didn’t think I’d ever need to say that in an interview but you’d be surprised about how many people do it! Behind the scenes photos don’t count, those are fine.

5) Models ask for the cover all the time, and quite a few of them forget that when it comes to asking for one, you’re in a massive boat with others that want one too. Just because you had the cover of one magazine, doesn’t automatically mean you should be entitled to the cover of the next one you submit to. When submitting for a Rebelicious cover, submit how you would for a normal feature; send images that you feel fit in with the magazine, follow the guidelines and if your work and personality stand out and there is a slot open, you may very well see yourself on the cover. Models are chosen for a variety of reasons:
  • They are someone that I’ve personally wanted to feature and I think they would work perfectly as the cover model
  • They’ve submitted photos that are absolutely mind-blowing and deserve nothing less than a cover
  • They have something memorable to bring to the magazine
  • They’re adventurous with their style – chameleons are great.

If you’re thinking of submitting for a Rebelicious cover in the future, get creative and take risks with your makeup, clothing, location, poses, hairstyles etc! I can’t get everyone on the cover unfortunately, so make your work count and don’t be afraid of rejection…learn from it and you’ll get there eventually!

6) For aspiring writers, don’t stop writing! Whether you’re looking to become a fashion writer, music reviewer, ect the more you practice the better you’ll get! You’ll also be able to keep up with current trends and styles relevant to whomever you wish to write for. Be prepared to bring ideas to the table (if you think a magazine may benefit from starting a particular type of article, or if something already existing could be changed somehow, say so, ideas are always welcome). And one final word: Research.

7) Get the spelling of the magazine name right! ;)



What do you have planned for the future of Rebelicious?

I’ve always wanted to get Rebelicious in print and sold independently through me rather than use the print-on-demand service that I use now. They make the magazine more expensive than I would like it to be, and I hate not being able to send complementary issues out to those that have featured… I don’t get any free print copies whatsoever! The main problem is that getting magazines printed from a local printer and distributed is not cheap at all, but I am looking into how feasible it would be for me to do that in the future. I also want to get some Rebelicious merchandise made, I would love to get some sort of street team going to help promote the magazine more, among other things as well but I’ll keep those under wraps for now!

You can find Rebelicious here:
Website: www.rebeliciousmagazine.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rebeliciousmagazine
Twitter: www.twitter.com/RebeliciousMag
Instagram: www.instagram.com/rebeliciousmagazine
Google+: www.google.com/+rebeliciousmagazine1

Feature Friday is about celebrating all things creative and inspiring. Want to see your favourite brand featured on the Little Miss Delicious blog? Please email details to info[at]littlemissdelicious.com!



Monday, 14 April 2014

FAQs Series: Pricing Handmade Goods

Most designers don't start small businesses with a view of making as much money as possible. They're started because people are passionate about what they make/design, and because they want to share their creations with others, so every decision is made with their customers in mind, rather than lining their own pockets. If you think of your favourite indie designers, I can guarantee most of them will just be taking just enough money to get by from their business, and putting as much as possible straight back into it.

However, we still need to be financially viable to keep providing you with the products you love at the quality you love. One of the most difficult aspects of running a business based on products you've made yourself is pricing, and is usually what separates a business with long term prospects and one that will usually remain a hobby. Your price tells a story and gives value to your creations - so make sure you're telling the right one!


A lower price does not necessarily mean more sales - instead it may have a negative effect on how others value your work, and so it's important not to price your items too low that you devalue their worth, but it's also equally as important not to price them too high for your market. Most creatives have difficult with pricing, because they struggle to match what is offered on the high street manufactured on a mass produced scale in China or by craft hobbyists.

It is so important to understand your market and your competitors - especially whether they're hobbyists who just want a little extra cash on the side, or whether the work full time and need the money make from their business to live - there will be a HUGE difference in pricing between these two groups. The pricing of your items will depend on your target market as well as the demand for the product, and what similar products there are out there, but this does not necessarily mean you have to compete with the prices offered by others. When I started Little Miss Delicious, one of the things that really surprised me was how much polymer clay artists undervalue their creations because they just want to sell a few pieces a month, and that is still something I'm constantly battling with since it effectively makes it seem like I'm charging a great deal more, when the reality is just that I work very hard to maintain a full time business, while the average clay enthusiast just does it for fun, and their livelihood isn't relying on the money made.

My prices are based on the fact each item is completely made by hand, and clay items especially are a very time consuming process, as they are individually hand sculpted as well as hand painted. On average, one piece can take up to 2 weeks to finish - which is why I tend to make things in big batches!


There is no simple calculation when it comes to prices, especially when it comes to evaluating the worth of something you've created. However, there are handy guidelines and formulas to take into account when it comes to pricing your items to ensure you're giving them the correct value rather than underselling yourself - which seems to be a huge problem in the handmade community! Instead of stressing over cheaper competitors, the price for handmade items should be based on the cost materials used and how much work goes into producing them. One of the most helpful formulas I've found for calculating the price of handmade goods is:

Materials + Labour + Profit = Wholesale Price
Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

This ensures all expenses and profit are accounted for in your pricing, although this can sometimes be a difficult way of looking, especially when you're competing with people who sell similar designs at a much lower price than the true costs involved, but it's important not to let this affect your pricing.


Materials

This includes all your material fees that should be incorporated into the final price of the item, from the cost of buying your materials to the lesser thought of expenses such as PayPal fees and website maintenance costs (or transportation costs for events). I tend to divide the cost of each item I purchase by how many pieces I can get from it to work out how much each piece costs to make. Another way of calculating the material cost of your products is to write down your total monthly expenses then divide that by the number of items you'd like to sell a month. Items you buy once and use over and over to produce your products are better absorbed into the overall cost of your business rather than individual product costs.

Labour

The main difference between mass produced items and handmade products is the time invested into each item. It's important to calculate how long it takes on average to make each item, and adjust your price accordingly. There is no set hourly price, so make sure you do your research! Ideally you want to be earning no less than minimum wage, but due to the time involved in producing  LMD items I tend to price this lower as otherwise the items would be priced well out of my market, but this will be different for everyone depending on your methods and how you value your time - keeping in mind a crafters most valuable resource is usually their time!

Profit

Possibly the most challenging part of pricing your items (and something many people forget to include) is allowing yourself to profit from each item sold. While at start of running your business you may only break even, this is because of the initial large investments made, and so once past this stage you should be making something on top of the costs of each item. Again, there is no set price for this, but it should be within reason and largely dependant on what you're selling and what you want out of your business; whether it is something you're looking to do full time etc. This is also where branding plays a huge part - the stronger your brand, the more consumers will be willing to pay the extra to own something from it.


Retail Price

Once you add the above 3 together, this becomes your retail price. However, that is not the price you sell to the general public - it may be tempting to do, but not only does it massively undervalue others that do price their items at the correct retail price, but it also rules out any possibility of selling your goods at wholesale should you choose to do so later down the line.

If after this you feel your price is too high for your target audience, it might be beneficial to consider the way you produce your work and try and see if you can adjust the design or your methods to reduce costs. I do this by buying supplies in bulk and creating big batches of items at once rather than just working on one piece, and it's made a huge difference.


But no matter what you price your items, they'll always be seen as being too high for someone, so it's important to focus on your target market when it comes to pricing rather than a more general audience - especially if that more general audience don't understand the value of handmade items! When I first started, I never expected to run LMD full time so massively under-priced my designs, but it wasn't until I raised the prices a few years ago that things really took off - the higher prices made people appreciate their purchases more, and realise the value and worth of handmade. So Don't by shy and undervalue yourself, but instead use any price criticisms as opportunities to explain the worth of what you produce, the time and effort that goes into them, and the specialist nature of their value. The more makers stop under-pricing their items, the more valuable the general public will start to see them and realise why handmade pieces cost more than mass produced items from China! Then maybe next time a stranger asks what I do and I say I'm a jewellery designer, they won't be so surprised when I tell them I don't sell on eBay and I actually do it full time ;)

This post is just my view on the topic and I'm sure there are lots more out there, but I hope this has provided a helpful insight into the process behind pricing handmade goods! What's your best pricing tip?

Read more FAQs Series posts here.


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