Handmade Interview: Anna Clifton

For this installment of the Handmade Interview we have Anna Clifton, her website is at annaclifton.com.

You can also find her on twitter and facebook.

Please introduce yourself and your business

I’m a 34 year old mum of 2, wife and designer/maker of jewellery. I have a degree in jewellery and silversmithing and design and make innovative pieces of jewellery, using precious and recycled materials.

Q #1: When did you start your handmade business and what inspired you to do so?
I properly started my business in 2006 when my daughter was 2 years old. I’d gone back to work as a teacher full time when she was only 6 months old, mainly because we “thought at the time” that I couldn’t afford not to. I love teaching but I really wanted to try and make my business ideas work and maybe becoming a mum helped me to take a risk and leave my permanent teaching job in order to concentrate on being a “proper” designer!

Q #2: Do you have to balance your business with work, children, both? How do you do it?
Yes, as already mentioned, I have 2 young children and I also teach jewellery making part time so it’s all a bit of a juggling act!

Q #3: What is your usual work day like?
I don’t think I have a “usual” work day at the moment. Maybe when my youngest starts at pre-school after Easter things will get a little easier, but for the time being, I usually get 1 day a week where I can get to my workshop and spend a few hours there. On these days, I start work at around 9am, after dropping off the kids at school/childminder and work until 4.30pm when I have to pick them up again. This time usually gets taken up with making orders and commissions so any new pieces/website updates etc etc have to be fitted in in the evenings – hence filling this in at 10.45pm!

Q #4: What is your favorite thing about running your business?
Can I have 2? 1: Being able to drop off/pick up my children from school at least on most days! 2: Being able to make money out of designing and making beautiful things!

Q #5: What is your biggest challenge?
I’ve just been accepted into the Devon Contemporary Craft Fair in Bovey Tracey in June. It’s a really prestigious event so everything will have to be right.

Q #6: How do you market your business?
Word of mouth, arts and crafts markets, magazine advertising, social networking – twitter/facebook.

Q #7: What is one mistake you've made in your business that you've learned from?
When I first started up, someone rang me out of the blue and said how wonderful they thought my work was and how by paying to be part of a free CD ROM on the front of a wedding mag would make me £1000’s! It didn’t but it taught me to think very carefully before committing to expensive advertising campaigns.

Q #8: What has been your biggest success and why do you think it's been so successful?
My Mendhi jewellery seems to have been really successful, as has my recycled ranges. I think my biggest success though is with commissions as I can design and make something the my customer’s exact requirements.

Q #9: What is the one thing you'd most like to tell someone just getting started?
Get some good photos taken and invest in a good website. I ALWAYS check the web first when looking for something so I can’t be “too” much different to lots of other people.

Q #10: What goals do you have for the future of your business?
I’d like to really develop my recycled ranges as well as setting up some regular jewellery making classes in and around Malvern, where I now live.

Q #11: Anything else you would like to tell the readers?
Thanks for reading all this and watch this space!
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