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Happy fifth birthday!

As I am sat watching the flames of the fire flicker over apple logs, with a heavy damp fog outside making gardening a no-go, I had a rare quiet moment to reflect on where Cat's Punky Stuff is, and where it will be going in the new year.

Back in 2017 I had a five year plan to sell the crafted Stuff I had made as a casual hobby. It was a simpler time where I had time to dream of having a successful shop on Etsy with an excellent reputation and a stock of beautiful, handcrafted pieces. There have been many lessons learnt along the way and today as I reflect, I realise I have exactly what I had envisioned. My journey to this eventual goal has been deliberately slow and sure, I was never after a quick buck or mass-producing loads of Stuff and have never spent a penny on advertising. Instead I was dedicated to offering a unique customer service, so often lacking these days, which would never leave a client wondering, and to make Stuff oozing with quality, charm and clearly made with love. Attention to detail was in abundance from the beginning, refined as time went on to look professional but still clearly of a handmade origin.

Without wishing to repeat myself from previous blogs I sit writing to you in a situation most crafters will only dream of, as I once did. According to 'E-Ranker' I am ranked 67, 013 out of 4.36 million active sellers worldwide and ranked 3,176 in the UK! I think the things most important to this success include:

  • Punctual, personal message responses to ensure a high precedence is set from the start

  • Accurate photographs and listing information to clearly show what is on offer

  • Proof of posting by photographing both the parcel label and the postal receipt

  • Wrapping and packing to a level that exceeds all expectation.

These main four factors can only be achieved because I had the greatest gift of all, that of time! Treating each order and client like they are the most important person, in fact the 'only' person of importance, will offer a sense of confidence and reassurance which is what most folk look for when buying from an unknown online. Prompt messaging and considerate packaging all takes time which although doesn't cost anything towards the completion of a transaction, the goal of the seller and quality of the item will be reflected in these first contact aspects. I am fortunate that I do not have to balance kids, a full-time job or social commitments and can instead message and pack instantly, taking care and making the effort to be prompt, professional and pleasant.

As predicted years ago I knew a time may come where doing everything myself may become too much and so recently my 'husbunny' has taken on many preparation roles, from cutting rolls of brown paper for stamping used as parcel wrap, doing the post run, making boxes for lavender wands so they travel safely, cutting wool bundles when I'm making the giftie robins and helping to cut, fold and make tags. Again, his time has enabled me to focus on the Etsy side of things. He is also going to take over the task of knitting squares for the lavender filled hares. These hares have been very popular from the start and so I plan to make larger ones as 'sofa bunnies', something tactile to cuddle up to for a peaceful afternoon nap!

At Christmas time I like to wrap in a festive paper and this year chose to buy some snowflake stamps and stamp my own paper. Year round I stamp with an acorn rubber stamp just to add a bit of intrigue to an otherwise plain brown parcel.

As an ex-courier it is nice when you get a pretty parcel, plus it sticks in your mind which gives it some extra protection and careful handling. This is one of the main reasons I wrap so carefully. It's not just for the big impact when received by the recipient, but to ensure the parcel has a safer passage. A carefully packed parcel will always be treated with extra care. When you can tell a parcel has clearly been packed with pretty intense care it would be churlish not to show it some respect. Out of the 1.300 sales I have had, I have never had a damaged parcel or anything arrived damaged.

On the left is the new parcel wrap I have hand drawn. It has been slow to get off the ground as there was a lot of work involved to get to this stage. Once printed onto A2 brown paper sheets I plan to add by hand little fine white highlights so the black print really pops off the paper. I'm very excited about this project as the simply stamped snowflake wrap is really fabulous, so I'm confident this wrap will be really elegant and unique. It's very simple to print black onto brown and as I couldn't find designs I liked, I decided to make my own. This paper will become my gift wrap which is an additional extra available through my Etsy shop. It will create a whole new level of gift wrapping once I set aside the time to set it all up.

As we head towards the chaos that is the festive season, it is unusually quiet, which is to be expected considering the economic uncertainty everywhere. I feared the planned postal strikes were going to completely grind to a halt the whole exodus of parcels being moved around the country and beyond. In fact the postal strikes have not impacted me at all. Some what shamefully I have found the economic problems have in fact worked to my advantage. Whilst I am sending out more Stuff than in previous years, 70% is going to folks who have bought before. This is incredibly humbling and a huge validation. It is quite emotional when you get an order from someone you have connected with before, where your messages include personal snippets of great achievements or memories since the time of your last chat. In previous Novembers I usually sending out many lower value parcels, but this year it is fewer parcels but of a higher value. This was my goal five years ago.

On the right are some cushion covers I got dead cheap. I wanted waterproof cushions for the garden in the summer, though they do look fabulous on the kitchen sofa and add extra colour to house through winter. These cushions are really special as they are filled with all the wool trimmings from my pom poms. I have always hated throwing away bags full of these wool bits and many times I have tried to find a use for them. The cushions have a very dense, luxurious feel to them, much better than a bought filler. I can't wait to be sat in the big wicker chairs in a secret part of the garden, reading a book whilst leaning on these voluptuous cushions. I know its only November and still warmish, but roll on Summer!

So here we are, five years on and exactly where I expected and wanted to be. I consider myself very fortunate to have the foresight and skills to create Cat's Punky Stuff, to sustain it, progress and develop it. Of course there is only so much a Master's Degree in crafts can teach you and over the last few years clients have taught me so much more. Taking the time to get to know your people along with communicating and learning, continues along the path you travel together and will continue to do so. I wholeheartedly believe much of my success in part is thanks to the fabulous people who have ordered, left wonderful reviews, asked for commissions and come back time after time. Thank you, thank you do much.

Let's all have a slice of cake, it is a birthday after all! And I would like to gift you a 10% gift voucher off everything till the end of the year (except made to order pom poms). Use this code at Etsy checkout 5THBIRTHDAY, no restrictions or limits.

Happy Birthday Cat's Punky Stuff and thank you to everyone who has supported me.

I will continue to exceed the expectations of the Etsy 'Star Seller' initiative

I will continue to introduce new designs and ranges

I will continue to make Punky Stuff made with so much love and care

And I will continue to try and spread a little sunshine with each and every parcel

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1 Comment

Happy Birthday catspunkystuff. I have followed your journey over the last 5 years and am so proud of all you have achieved. Your creativity, attention to detail and exemplary customer care and service are a gift. How lucky are we to have you in our life. Christine.

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