I have come up with a couple of product ideas that I feel inspired by, and that are achievable in terms of both production method and sourcing of materials.
The first is a small hand-sized aromatic herb cushion. The designs are my own, based on images that are supposed to evoke a peaceful and restful state (meditating Buddha, lotus flower and so on). Once I am satisfied with my design (researched mainly from Pinterest and Google Image), I transfer it onto a linoleum block, then carve it out. I then stamp the image onto fabric and set it using a heated iron.
Here are some of the prints. The background effect is inspired by the artist Rothko!
Here is one of the finished products (it just doesn't want to be rotated!)
The above cushion is filled with kaffir lime leaves, though I am currently in the process of researching different herbs for their aromatic effects. I have been experiencing a lot of sleep difficulties recently so lavender will definitely be included in the range! I am also looking to combine the herbs with fillings that can be heat activated (e.g. barely). These can be applied to tired muscles or simply used to warm cold hands.
The second product idea involves a different medium, polymer clay, but the same linoleum stamps. These are applied to the clay (no ink), leaving an impression. After baking in the oven, they harden to form a clay tablet. A loop of colourful ribbon transforms them into a hanging decoration. When hung in front of a window, the sunlight shines through the image with very pleasing effect. The only one I have made is still to be varnished so I don't want to display it just yet. But here are the colourful slabs of clay that will shortly be transformed into decorative hanging ornaments...
That's the fun side of it all. But in order for my business idea to take off, I'll have to become a bit more business 'savy'. To this end, I have completed a short marketing course at Morley College. I am also working my way through a book called "Etsypreneurship" by Jason Malinak; it seems to be offering sound advice (albeit a bit dry!) on matters such as book keeping and finances. I've bought my husband the book "How to get to the Top of Google" (so far untouched I notice) - he'll be responsible for the technical side of things including search engine optimisation.
From now until the start of the school summer holidays, I will continue with the following:
- experimenting with techniques and designs for herb cushions and clay hanging decorations
- researching suppliers of raw materials (herbs, fabric, inks, ribbons, clay, varnish)
- learning about how to start a business (business plan, book keeping, taxes, marketing, legal considerations)
Over the summer holidays, I plan to stay at my sister's house in Lincolnshire. While my son is busily playing with his cousins, I will be building up a stock of products to sell.
By the end of the summer holidays, I hope to have enough products to start up an online shop. I've recently discovered that Folksy is the British version of Etsy, so it might make more sense to start up on Folksy.
It is difficult for me to dedicate blocks of uninterrupted time to this venture. This can affect my motivation. Another potential set back is recurring bouts of insomnia which knock me out and make it difficult for me to commit to a regular routine.
On the bright side
No doubt the plan will not go exactly according 'to plan', but at least I will enjoy the journey. I look forward to updating you on my developments in a few months time!