Thursday, September 15, 2016

Qualities of A Successful Small Craft Business

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/169025792238889238/

Building a successful brand, in my case it's handmade lifestyle jewelry, does not happen overnight. It takes a whole lot of commitment, persistence and perseverance to be where one wants to be. Most times, when you hear about someone's success in their business undertaking, they have probably already started honing their skills very much earlier before getting noticed. And 'success' deems differently for each individual. For me, success is about my passion, tenacity, building self-worth, trust and relationships.

I remember my daughter asking me this question very recently, "mummy, do you think dancing is a talent?", and I said "yes" because I certainly do not have any talent there! But she went on to quip that with practice and perseverance, anyone can actually dance well. I paused and pondered. There is certainly truth in her observation which also speaks volume to my personal journey at Adeline's Loft. There was no particular 'talent' to speak of before I discovered my interest in making jewelry. It was indeed something that was nurtured over the years (11 years and still practicing). It was only after my 6th year into this little hobby business that I found my purpose and concept behind what I love to do. So if you happen to be in a rut with your handmade venture, you are not alone.

I have thought through about my little business journey and decided to share about what I think is the essential qualities one should possess. I hope it will help inspire you along with your journey, if you are on one like me.

Do you have a signature style?
It took a long time for me to find mine, which I am glad it is still reflected in my current style even though over time, it did evolved a fair bit. It may not be a style that everyone would appreciate but it will certainly be one that you are most skilled at. This is about staying true with what you enjoy doing and not just following trends. When you enjoy your work, it is reflected in your pieces.

Do you communicate the value of your work accordingly?
I often put myself in my buyers' shoes. I would ask myself if the price is affordable and if the value of the product in terms of labor, cost of materials and originality, are in place. Define a story of what you are doing so that you can attract the right clientele to your brand.

Do you have a regular clientele base?
There are clients who will always be supportive of your work, and then some who are 'touch and go'. It's the same everywhere. The right clients would always love your creations and wear what you make. It may not be a big number of clients but they appreciate your designs and are often your biggest source of referrals. They are also the ones who will bump up the value of your brand. Hence, it is essential to maintain a good customer relationship with them.

Will you stay dedicated to your craft?
We celebrate when in good times. Would you quit when in bad times? Or be resilient and stay on course, adapt new techniques and move forward? We must learn to adjust, and know when it is time to cut out on things that aren't working and confident enough to try out new things that would enhance our experience and skills. Always go back to why you started out in the first place and keep building on it. By all means, get inspired by your favourite craft artisans when you need to but NEVER copy others' work, because successful brands do not prosper that way.

Do you relate to my article? 
Is there any other qualities that you would like to highlight on your own journey? 
Read more jewelry resources written by me HERE 
 Let's connect!



Till the next post, have a wonderful day!

Absolutely Me,

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Babi Masak Assam or Tamarind Pork


If you do a google search for this peranakan dish recipe, you will see different versions of it. I learned mine from my mother and have asked her how some recipes I came across called for lemongrass or kunyit (tumeric). She dismissed my questions, citing that it was a much simpler recipe that she learned from my mama - how I greeted my paternal grandma, who was a true blue nonya. I love my mum's cooking so of course, I had to follow hers! It is the reason why I love this dish very much.

If you are not familiar with this dish, let me tell you that it is a VERY appetizing dish because of the assam juice. Just by looking at the photo sends me salivating! The result should be a very tender meat dish. My family enjoys it and it usually is gone before I can go for second helping. It really whets the appetite and is even better when you drizzle the gravy on your rice! 

The green chillis added to this dish, is not at all spicy. It somehow, adds a different dimension to the flavor of this dish. For me, it is definitely the highlight! (Because the kids won't eat the chillis so I get to eat more!) But of course, if you are concerned that your children might be sensitive to the green chilli taste, please omit it, though you may be missing out on a special flavor. :)

Preparation time : 10 mins  :  Cooking time : 1 hour  :  Servings : 4-5

Ingredients:

- 500 gram twee bak or pork shoulder, sliced.
- 1 soup bowl tamarind or assam juice from 3 tbsp tamarind pulp (see below for how-to)
- 2 tbsp fermented soy bean paste (tau cheo)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 4 to 6 green chilli, de-seeded
- 1 tbsp brown sugar (or regular sugar if you don't have this)
- 2 tbsp cooking oil

 Method :
- prepare the tamarind juice by soaking the pulp in 1 soup bowl of hot water for a while. Then strained into another bowl by pushing the softened pulp through a sieve. Set aside.
-  Heat the oil in frying pan on medium heat. Add garlic and bean paste. Stir fry till fragrant.
- Add the pork and mix it well with the paste. Fry for a few minutes.
- Add the tamarind juice and green chillis. Lower heat and let it simmer for about an hour. By then the gravy would have slightly reduced and thickened.
- Add the brown sugar. Do a taste test for the level of tang you like.
- Serve with white rice.
- Enjoy!



Till the next post, have a wonderful day!

Absolutely Me,

Friday, August 12, 2016

Taking Paper Floristry To New Heights

It has not crossed my mind that paper floristry could be a possible route I could embark on. After all, I picked up this new hobby to satisfy my desire to enhance my own home decor and perhaps arrange some flowers for personal gifting. It is a far cry to compare this genre of delicate paper craft with jewelry making which I am so in tune with. But one thing for sure, I love both kinds of craft because blending pretty colors together makes my day a little better and worth the time spent completing what I set out to do. It also (always!) gets a hundred times better when people out there notice my work and have faith in my skills. I am very thankful for the opportunities.

My first order were for a few stalks of paper flowers meant for photography background props. For props, the colors considered had to be fairly neutral which should compliment and not dominate the picture. For variety, I made a light pink cherry blossom branch, a pair of white magnolias (probably not a variety seen locally) and baby's breath. 



My second order that came through was for a 10" floral wreath for a wall decor. A lush pastel theme concept was decided and this took me approximately a total of 7 hours to put together, spanning across 3-4 days. 4 days, you ask? Well, I also had to attend to jewelry orders and priorities at home. There was also no doubt that I made some paper blunders here and there which required me to re-do some of the process from scratch. Hence I am grateful to be given the space and flexi-time to work on this particular order. For a handmade artist, we thrive when given sufficient time to work with our inspiration so that we can produce our best.
A mock up of a halfway arranged wreath for my client to see if she was happy with what she was seeing so far.
And the final product!
More recently, a request to make potted garden roses came through for a birthday gift. I considered the home decor of the recipient's before embarking on this style. "Minimalist and functional" was what I gathered so a color blend of peach with light pink hue roses would brighten up the home and of course, most importantly, to put a smile on the recipient's face.


Having only dabbled with paper flowers just a few months ago, it has been a great start for me to receive these few orders. And I think I am ready to begin my journey with paper floristry service! 

What are my prices like?
I can't tell you enough that it is something hard to put a finger on, just like my handmade jewelry, because it's so hard to price time which is the crux of it all. Considering the amount of time spent painting the colors -> to cutting petals in shape -> curling the individual petals -> assembling and taping each petal together -> purchase suitable sized vases (if any) -> style an arrangement, I am ascertain many would be able to appreciate and be willing to invest in the entire process that's made with much love and care.

As I am still a budding artist and building up my paper floristry portfolio,  I am currently happy to work on orders by a given budget which I could then advise you what I can offer to make based on that budget. It works very much like how you would walk into a florist and tell them your budget for a customized bouquet of flowers. So think along this line of the prices that a florist would quote you for a floral arrangement.

If you are considering a unique and lasting gift anytime soon for occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas or just something to brighten your personal space or someone's day, do connect with me! If your budget permits when a suitable occasion arises, do also consider adding a handmade jewelry gift with a bouquet. Adeline's Loft will now house 2 of my crafts - jewelry and paper floristry. Email me with your requests! oon.adeline@gmail.com.
 


Till the next post, have a wonderful day!

Absolutely Me,

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