Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Shop Update: Sweet Spring Collection

The latest collection to hit www.littlemissdelicious.com is definitely one of my favourites I've made so far!

Inspired by all things Spring, the Sweet Spring Collection is full of cute daisies, bouncing bunnies and delicious Spring snack favourites. 

The Delicious Daisy Chain is one of my all time favourite designs, mostly because it's the first time I've ever attached charms together in a chain in that way, and I'm so so happy with how it turned out!

I had so much fun researching Spring favourites, and even more fun making them. Nothing beats binging on hot cross buns and being able to call it work ;) Stock is super limited, so don't miss out on all the new Spring goodies! Shop now


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

What I Learnt From Actually Being On Embarrassing Bodies

Just over a year ago I did a blog post about What I Learnt From Applying to be on Embarrassing Bodies, feeling very positive about even just being open about suffering from Interstitial Cystitis (which you can read about in more detail in my Living With An Invisible Illness post), something I've rarely talked about openly until the past few years.  

I was in town one day and was absolutely fine before I left the house, but found myself in the middle of an extremely painful flare up while by myself, leaving me unable to move, and it just so happened an Embarrassing Bodies truck was outside. I jokingly posted on Facebook about how I wish I had no shame for the chance to get free private healthcare, and surprised everyone (including myself) by going over and talking to them. 

A few days later they rang and said they didn't feel my case was strong enough to feature on the main show, but instead offered me the chance to have a Skype conversation with one of their in-house GPs instead. I was surprised that this disappointed me, realising by signing up I wanted to help raise the profile of the illness for IC sufferers everywhere, as well as people that may have it but don't realise because it's an illness that is often wrongly diagnosed or the symptoms dismissed since they can't always be proved physically. 

I was looking forward to at least getting the chance to speak to a private urologist, something I never thought I'd ever have access to - just to find out it was in fact going to be televised. I didn't expect to feel so emotional about it all - I spend most of my life with people not believing I'm in pain every day or telling me to suck it up because it's only a bit of tummy/back pain (obviously people that have never had IC or understand what it must feel like to have a constant kidney infection but 10x more painful), and only recently found a specialist that understands my condition and how debilitating chronic pain can actually be, so being able to talk to someone in private healthcare that understands just felt life changing.

I was told that after my couple of minutes on the show, I'd get an hour long private one-to-one with the specialist, then an email listing all the advice he gives. I figured even if I didn't learn anything helpful, even just getting recognition that someone actually understands the daily struggles I face and being able to help others that suffer the same was worth going on national television and talking about how I have to go to the toilet 30+ times a day (because obviously they wanted to focus on the more embarrassing side of the illness, rather than the fact my pain was my biggest daily struggle at the time).

The day came, and I was so excited to raise the profile of IC and potentially help others. I went on the show to help raise awareness about an illness that's often misdiagnosed (as discussed at length with various members of the EB team), and then ended up getting misdiagnosed by the consultant live on national TV, despite the fact he knew it was IC. And to make it worse, he suggested it was behavioural. 

It felt like my whole life came crushing down around me - weeks of nerves, just to be misdiagnosed in front of the nation, despite the fact I had told them I was already disagnosed with IC in my application form, he'd written down in my notes that I definitely had IC before the show, and had already apparently created a treatment plan for me that treats IC. But no, while live on air, IC was not mentioned once, instead he said I have an overactive bladder - something I specifically said in my notes that I have previously been diagnosed with but it was ruled out very quickly when the treatment made me worse - and the fact it is so different from IC! That I might have infections - the main way IC is diagnosed is because there are symptoms like those from reoccurring bladder/kidney infection but there are rarely actual signs of infection. And even a year later I still can't think about the fact he suggest it was behavioural.

It took so much not to sit and cry. I was still at the laptop connected to a mic with 2 members of crew around me, and even they didn't know what to say because they knew the reason I went on and knew how angry and upset I was that the complete opposite had happened. I've suffered from IC since I was 4 years old, but it took until I was in my 20s to get a diagnosis, constantly fighting with doctors to get hospital referrals/anything stronger than paracetamol because they just wouldn't listen when I was trying to explain the pain was so bad I couldn't physically get out of bed. After years of being made to believe the pain was in my head, someone saying that to me live on air was a huge slap in the face and something that will stick with me for a long time, even if he wasn't specifically relating it to my condition  (which he couldn't have done considering he didn't even mention IC). Living in pain every day is definitely not something I'd do by choice.

Then came the 'hour long' consultation with the specialist, which was more 10-15 minutes as he was 'very busy'. The first thing he said on the phone was that it's obvious I have IC. I had to laugh to stop myself from crying. I asked why he said overactive bladder on the show, and he said he had to keep it general for the public, completely defeating the point of why I went on the show in the first place. I'd told every person I spoke to I was okay being televised because I was happy to raise the profile of the illness, nobody ever once mentioned they'd be keeping it simple and not actually talking about the illness I went on about. He did then go on to suggest various treatments I haven't tried before, so I was looking forward to bringing them up with my urologist to see if he agreed with any of them.

I hadn't taken any notes while on the phone, because I was told I'd get it all in an email and I wasn't sure of the spelling for many of the longer names he'd listed for medicine recommendations. The email I got was THREE LINES long, very general and only mentioned one medication. The first thing it said was that infection may be the cause of flare ups - something that just isn't present with IC! To be completely honest, if he believes infections are the cause of my flare ups (even after specifically telling him on the phone my tests have always been negative for UTIs) he could not have researched the condition that greatly, as there are a wide range of causes for flare ups beyond infections - which is a very rare cause!) This left me with very little faith in his knowledge of the illness, and made me appreciate my specialist even more. The email also mentioned considered other types of bladder instillations, something I told him on the phone made me worse and I wouldn't try again, but didn't actually mention which types making the advice very unhelpful anyway.

They apologised about how upset I felt after my experience on the show, said they'd listened back to it and the specialist didn't imply my IC was behavioural, but instead was a general comment about the condition. Everyone I know that watched the show saw my reaction when he uttered the word behavioural, and also saw it very differently to just being a general comment. And I wasn't upset that he'd suggested my personal experience with IC was behavioural (because I know for a fact it's not), but more even just associating that with the illness at all, even though it wasn't mentioned by name until after the call when Dr Christian mentioned it at the same time as cystitis - which is a massively different condition.

Even a year later, I'm just as angry as I was at the time. An illness I wanted to highlight as it's often misdiagnosed, ended up being misdiagnosed by a professional that was well aware of my condition, and I don't think I'll ever forget how that felt. 

Luckily I've managed to get my daily pain levels under control myself, which you can read about here.
The only positive that came from it apart from knowing I can be confident enough to openly discuss my illness, is that the next night while out for cocktails someone stopped me to ask if I had been on Embarrassing Bodies the night before but I couldn't stop to talk because I was on my way running to the toilet - oh the irony!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

FAQs Series: Preparing For Your First Event

Whether a craft fair, vintage fair or something bigger, it's always very nerve racking preparing to trade at your first event! I'm still constantly learning with every event I do, but thought I'd round up some of the best tips to help with your first stall.

Pick a suitable event for your product

One of the basic starting points is picking the right event to exhibit at. Make sure you pick one where the company has a history of busy events that are well promoted and organised to give you the best chance of having a successful time - when starting out, I used to do every event that approached me but fast learned even if stall space is as low as £20, you're barely going to make that back if only 5 people come through the door the whole day!

Have an eye catching display

If you have a sloppy display or poor branding, you're less likely to gain attention for your stall. Make sure you make it as inviting to customers as possible, using props, display stands and well placed signage. Use the whole space, including back walls where possible, and have items at different heights so everything doesn't just look flat.

It's important to strike the right balance in terms of products on your stall - you don't want it to look half empty, but you also don't want it to look cluttered.This is something I'm constantly working on, especially with an ever expanding range of products, but it's easier once you've done a few in a certain area/scene so you know what works best.

Make sure everything is clearly priced and have a float

Possibly the most important part is making sure everything is priced clearly. Many people don't like asking prices, so having them clearly on display helps avoid any awkwardness. Pricing the items themselves is an extremely difficult task, as it can be hard getting the perfect balance. I did a blog post on pricing handmade goods which might be useful. Another useful tool is this crafts calculator.

Having clear offers, such as a reduced price if multiple items are bought, can really help drive sales. Make sure you know the lowest price you're willing to sell items for as people often ask for discounts.

Have a range of items at various price points so there's something to suit all budgets - every sale counts!

Take business cards/flyers

You may find there are people browsing your stall that will be potential customers, but don't want to purchase something that day. It's so vital to make sure you have promotional material at hand so you don't lose out.

Make sure any information is up to date, and that the material is relevant to the event itself.

Be friendly!

The worst thing you can do is sit behind your stall looking bored or frowning - you need to make sure you're as approachable as possible. While it can be nerve racking at first, try and engage with your customers without being sales pushy - even if it's just a smile or saying hello! Keep it conversational, and make sure you don't get too engaged with one person to the point that you forget about the other people also browsing your stall.

If it helps, rehearse a few lines to help you explain your products, process or materials as a talking point to get people interested in your products, while also helping them to understand what makes them unique/special.

Learn from each event

I write up a list of each item that sells at an event for tax purposes, but also so I can see what works/what doesn't work. Different products work well with different audiences and at different times of the year, so it's helpful to learn from previous events so you know what to take to different events. Treat it as market research to help you improve in the future.

What tips would you give to someone preparing for their first event, and are there any problems you've had to overcome? Let me know in the comments below!

You can see any upcoming events I'll be attending on the Events page of my website.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Today's Workspace: All About That Clay

I've been super busy these past few weeks restocking charms for bracelets and earrings, as well as working on a few new ones! First each charm is delicately hand sculpted from a block of clay - I don't use moulds or stencils so each one is unique in its own little way, making each piece of Little Miss Delicious jewellery that little bit more special.

Once out of the oven everything is sanded to make sure they're super smooth, then the fun part begins! Each charm requires at least 4 coats of paint before adding details to make sure they're as bright as possible, those that need a white base first can require many more than this, and let's not even talk about how stressful it can be making sure each face is absolutely perfect ;) I have very strict quality control with my work, and I'd never send out anything I'm not happy with so it can take days to paint each piece exactly right. 

After all that, the work is still not done. Once each piece is finished, they all need to be glazed, and I tend to leave at least 6-8 hours between coats to ensure they're fully dry before doing the next one. Each piece is glazed multiple times on both sides to make sure they're as shiny and well protected as possible! This does mean it usually takes 5 days to finish glazing due to all the drying time. After that, they're then attached to their earrings, bracelet or necklace chains and ready to go to their new homes!

It's a long process to make each charm, and one I don't think many people realise takes as long as it does - hopefully the amount of work that goes into each individual piece shows in the final product, and helps you appreciate your Little Miss Delicious pretties that little bit more!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Botanist, Newcastle

This year I decided to try and cook at least one new thing a week, and go somewhere new once a month. Even if it's just a new coffee shop or a local city I've been before, I need to learn it's okay to take time off sometimes!

One of my favourite new discoveries is definitely The Botanist. I'd heard about it on Facebook and instantly looked forward to it opening (I'm a sucker for a good cocktail), and it did not disappoint.

With a world-famous selection of botanical cocktails, craft beers/ales, champagne and wine, it's the perfect place to unwind. Situated in Monument Mall, it was amazing to see the difference from what we assumed was previously the food court! The decor is absolutely perfect.

The food menu, inspired by the deli, rotisserie and BBQ, only had a few vegetarian options, but they were more than enough and I was really surprised by the reasonable prices. We opted for The Botanist Deli Board to start, followed by halloumi hanging kebabs, and both were so delicious!

The perk of sharing meant we weren't too full for dessert, so ended up splitting a banana and coconut kebab, and I think I've found food heaven. Like the savoury hanging kebabs, the dish comes with sauce in a little bowl above the kebab, and once tipped upside down it slowly coats the kebab, as well as providing a topping for the ice cream at the bottom.

And of course, it would have been rude to go to a chain renowned for their cocktails without trying a few! First I had the apricot and mint daiquiri - I was a little apprehensive since it looked a bit like sweet potato soup, but as soon as I tasted it, I was in daiquiri heaven. The mojito was a bit too strong for my liking and I ended up wishing I'd gotten a flavoured one instead of the standard version, but it's my favourite drink so I had to at least try it! The plus side of the cocktails being as strong as they were was definitely the fact it meant you had to take small sips at a time. I hate cocktails that just taste like juice because I always end up drinking them too fast!

As we were finishing our meal, they had a girl with an amazing voice performing an acoustic set, and instead of being rushed out of our seats for the next people to take our table, our waiter told us to just relax, order another drink and enjoy the music which was something I wasn't really expecting considering how busy it always is.

I'll definitely be frequenting The Botanist a lot more - and I'm excited to try a new drink every time I go!

Website: www.thebotanist.uk.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebotanistncl
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheBotanistNCL
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thebotanistncl

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Events: Newcastle Roller Girls

Back in February I was asked if I'd like a stall at a Newcastle Roller Girls bout on Valentine's Day, and I jumped at the opportunity! I've always meant to go along to see what it's like but it's very rare I have spare time, so I couldn't wait to finally get a chance to see roller derby and call it work at the same time - and it did not disappoint!

It took a little while to get a grip of the rules, but once I did I was hooked. The roller girls moved so fast it was hard taking pictures, but it's definitely something I'd recommend everyone to go to. It was such a fun day out, and really exciting to watch!


I'll also have a stall at round 4 of the British Championships hosted by Newcastle Roller Girls this Sunday at Temple Park Leisure Centre in South Shields, and I genuinely can't wait. Hope to see some of you there! Check out the Facebook event for more information. 



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