6 May 2008

All merged together.

Just a note to say that from now on I will be combining my business and family life blogs on Pipany & the Poltisko Memoirs to hopefully make my life a little easier, but also because they are so closely linked that it now feels wrong to seperate them - explained it all over there.

Hopr to see you there! xx

29 April 2008

What a difference a day makes.

This post should make a pleasant change as I feel 'habby' and flowery, hence the photo of blossom which sort of reflects my mood (though thanks Blogger for NOT letting me move it further down the post!) For once, I refuse to moan which will be a blessed relief to those of you who regularly dip into either this blog about my business or my other blog about our family life (Poltisko Memoirs). Lately has been a rather turbulant time of broken cars and much expense and skin of teeth financially speaking - just filling in any newcomers - thus making my blogging space a place for off-loading and well, whingeing quite frankly. Not today however, not today; no, today I am 'Mrs Very Important and Far too Full of Herself for Her Own Good' of Cornwall. You see, one or two nice things have happened (about time too) and I wish to share them with you...

First up for your consideration is the phone call I received on Monday afternoon, a call which I thought was from a friend who needed a lift with her children to collect her car from the garage - huh, cars...who needs them? (well, me actually) - anyway, I thought the ringing of said phone heralded said friend reminding me of my promise of help, yet the voice on the other end was unfamiliar:

"Hello, may I speak to Pipany please?"
Vacant pause from yours truly
"Hello, who's this?" says I.
Unfamiliar voice asks uncertainly, " er, who am I speaking to please?"
"Pipany," in tones of slight annoyance.
"Oh, hello Pipany; this is Emma from Marie Claire Magazine. I've just seen your showroom on Not on the High Street and went to look at your website. I really like your stuff and think you would fit in really well with our advertising campaign here at Marie Claire."

Well, I picked myself up off the floor and tried to sound professional as we discussed the ins and outs of media and marketing and international publication...as you do. Now, I am not stupid and am aware that this lady, my new best friend Emma, was trying to sell advertising space BUt - and for me it is a very big but - she liked my stuff enough to check out my website and 'phone me!!! Out of all those other people on the NOTHS site, she noticed my dear little products, my Babbits and mop caps and bags and sachets; let's just say something finally made Pipany beam a great big smile and for that alone I love Emma of Marie Claire Magazine.

So, there I am trying to inform Dave of this frankly small but lovely nonetheless saga when he interrupts to tell me he noticed I had two emails to open. Off I went to find one from a very lovely and happy customer who had received her parcel of goodies and had mailed to tell me how thrilled she is with her order; I love this side of the business - getting feedback is almost always a really positive thing and makes the whole thing worthwhile for me. The next email was from NOTHS to inform me that Wedding Magazine had requested my embroidered lavender sachets for a photo shoot for their Aug/Sept publication!!! I was almost on the ceiling! As was Dave! How many more !!!!!s can I use?

So there you are; Pipany is smiling and cares not that Emma from Marie Claire (name dropping) magazine probably rang the entire NOTHS seller list trying to sell space or that my sachets may not end up actually in the magazine in Aug/Sept or may be just a blur in the background. No, all I care about is that I must be doing something right to have been noticed in the first place and for that alone I shall keep on going and trusting my instincts as I have up till now.

Now I really am Far Too Important to chat anymore today and have to bask in my own glory for a while longer before I bump back to Earth with a wallop. Sooo hope that being happy won't jump up and bite me with a bout of things going wrong just to spoil it all (lawks, I sound like my mother now!). Oh, and as a final thing to mention, I am thinking of merging both my blogs together as the business and famil life are so closely related that it seems hard to know which one to write what in sometimes - let me know what you think.

Have a lovely, lovely day everyone

Pipany xx

21 April 2008

The trouble with hats...

A quick post today as I have a weather chart to make with Isabella before she heads off for a nap - I realised that I have been allowing tthe work for the business to start encroaching on my time with Isabella and I am determined to re-address the situation. After all, the time with her will soon go and can't be replaced, and much as I love my little business and could happily spend every minute on it, I need to remember that it was supposed to work around her until she is at school; then I can give it every moment, but in the meantime sticking things onto paper and messing around with paints is what we are planning for this morning and the afternoon will see me glued to the sewing machine while she sleeps!

Here are a few things which brightened my sewing room this weekend - cheery flags all waiting to be attached to tape to become reams of bright bunting for an order. I loved working on this as there was so much of it - 8metres in all - and the room almost glowed with colour; really lovely

I have also been making lots of little mop caps for ages 0 - 3 years in such pretty fabrics - gorgeous cotton poplins in delicate pinks

and lilacs

and even a beautiful sprigged yellow, usually a colour I struggle with as it can tend towards harshness).

These are all lovely and make me think of Jane Austen!

I do have to admit to finding the hats difficult to photograph for the website; Isabella, my model for the 2-3 year range, is just not ready for her close-up! These were the best I could get...

Just look at the way her dear little curls spring out from underneath the cap (sorry, mummy moment there!)

I think I need to wait for a sunny day when she is playing in the garden; hopefully, she will continue to enjoy wearing hats just long enough and I have a baby in mind for the tiny ones, so fingers crossed! In the meantime I will just have to put them on with the pictures I have managed to get so far and hope for the best - sometimes those super-models can be so difficult!

Bye for now
Pipany xx

9 April 2008

Of Mice and Material

ARGHHHHH!!!!!! Yesterday was such a frustrating day. The computer was playing up - just peachy when I had new things to load onto my website and emails to reply to and..... well, let's just say that I was not a happy bunny. Today all is well thanks to a friend who sat quite happily staring at the screen, clicking away with a passion that completely bemuses me until he finally looked up to announce with that glee peculiar to the computer-literate, "yeah, your mouse is shot to sh*t! Oh. Right. Cheers then. So the fact that an entire day of screen jumping, page changing at inappropriate moments and lost uploaded photos was all because of a rodent? Mmm....

Now that's off my chest I will swiftly move on. Business continues to be good - a steady flow of orders which suits me fine and a lovely mix of goodies is filling the shelves. This pleases me most because it means that I must be offering something for everyone which was my aim when I started out. It also means I get to do a little of everything - embroidery, applique, etc - while handling the most gorgeous fabrics (I know all you fabricaholics out there will know exactly what I mean!).

Talking of gorgeous fabrics, I found a bargain of giant proportions during the Easter holidays - actually it was Dave who found it, truth to tell; there I was, sprawling like a lazy thing on the bed, commenting that I really didn't feel like doing anything when he happened to mention that while strolling through Falmouth the day before, he had noticed a small sign stating the legend '£5 per roll' over a basket of what looked to be end of bolt Sanderson fabrics. Yes, that's right - £5 for Sanderson fabrics!!! I was out of that bed, dressed and demanding why there was a need to shave his face before leaving the house? Didn't he understand the urgency? I would have gone on my own but i needed to not waste time trying to park - no, I had better things to do with my time, like snarling if anyone went near the bolts I had placed to one side.

(yes, some of this one became a Hawaiian shirt for Dave on his request)

Each bolt was 3 metres long of the most gorgeous, sumptuous materials. I grabbed them all (though goodness only knows what I may have missed out on before Dave decided to inform me of this news; I really must get him to understand!), raced home and shook each one out to discover these beauties you can see dotted throughout my blog. Ahhh, aren't they wonderful? I hate to provoke envy (!) but I paid £35 for 21 metres of fabric which would normally have sold for £26 per metre! Wayhay!!!!

Now I am over my boasting session I will sign off for the day - I hear the sewing room calling...

Pipany xx

8 April 2008

Sunshine and bunting.

I went out in the sun, the snow and finally the dusk trying to get photographs of bunting. Anyone have some tips on the best way to get pictures that actually show the merry flags looking as lovely as they actually are and I will be one very grateful Pipany!

See my point? A very pretty picture which shows Dave's little writing room, the hens and, oh that's right, the bunting! The problem is there is no real detail. Still, it is pretty - I tried again...

and again...

and again...

The bunting comes in lovely summery colours - a mix of bright spots, red gingham and a little leafy green to provide a calming note, and to finish it off I included some beachy ticking (I do love ticking) as a contrast. I think the whole brings a touch of the festive; sort of reminds me of birthdays and Maydays and seaside breezes. We hang bunting in the house for celebrations and Lucy has some in a different colourway hanging in her bedroom too, but for the moment it is this one which I have named 'Bright & Breezy' which will be available on my website. It comes in lengths of approximately 2 metres (including ties) with 11 flags, but extra lengths can be ordered too.

Roll on summer!

Pipany xx

6 April 2008

New things.

I can't believe that the Easter holiday is over here in Cornwall. I know that some places have only just started the holiday, but our children go back to school today. I was against the break being so early initially though now it feels as though we have truly said goodbye to the winter and hello to spring - apart from the light dusting of snow which is frosting the garden in the early morning sunshine today that is!

The Easter proved a good time for the business: bags, bunnies and Babbits were all popular and as such provided me with a little confidence boost, proving to myself that I was judging both my products and the market correctly. Of course the challenge as always is to see whether this can be sustained when there isn't a major event such as Easter or Christmas to cater for. So what new things are emerging from the pipany sewing room? Let's have a little look...

I said there would be a new addition to the family some time soon and now the stork has been - good grief, obviously I don't mean another real baby (what you don't think seven children between us is enough?!!) - may I introduce Baby Babbit to you...

Isn't he sweet? As ever, working with these little creatures is such fun and I played around far longer than I should have to get these photos of Baby with the classic Babbit. The children want me to write a story about them because they look so like they are having a conversation - wonder what they are talking about?

Baby Babbit seems to enjoy a spot of gardening too, though I don't think he realises that sitting on the plants isn't the best way of planting them...

Back to ask for some advice from One Who Knows...

Ok, ok, I'll stop now! The Baby Babbit is also available filled with lavender and chamomile as I thought this would make it a soothing present to sit on a shelf in a baby's nursery (how well I know those nights of pacing the room). On this note, I have also been working on lavender and chamomile cushions for a child or baby's room; here is the first with more to follow later this week...

photographing this cushion has been such a challenge as the light keeps turning dull with such a harshness in between that it bleaches the colour out altogether. Never mind, I did the best I could and tomorrow is another day! This shows the close up detail of the appliqued crib with a touch of course of embroidery just to keep me happy.


I have also been replenishing the Lauren tote bag stock during the holiday as they have been selling well - I think people are beginning to get in beach mode (ever-hopeful here!) and these bags do provide plenty of storage with both interior and exterior pockets; why is it then that I still manage to lose my mobile? The most popular options seem to be the Grape and Teal

Lavender and Rose

and for those who like bright and zingy, Tropical Lime

Right, that's me done for now; off to finish the lovely bunting I will be showing tomorrow which is full of gorgeous, summery fabrics. Suppose I had better load the new stock onto the website too!

Bye from me - and Baby Babbit of course

Pipany xx

7 March 2008

Babbits once more.

Goodness, who would have thought that something as simple as a soft toy called Babbit would be such a nightmare to photograph? I seem to have spent the last few days taking endless pictures of the little thing in a variety of poses and situations so that I can put it on the website; first there ws not enough sun, then there was too much (can there be such a thing?) and all the colour bleached out to leave it looking like a Babbit who had seen better days. Finally I managed to get the photos I was after - I think - and here is the finished version... you can click on the images to enlarge...

First the original picture

and this one which was also shown on my Poltisko Memoirs post

So far, so good but having initially said I would be making a little bag for Babbit containing a hat, shells, etc I was made to do a re-think based on the fact that so many people - both virtual and local - have expressed an interest in buying one for babies. As those of you who read my other post will know, I was making this for Lucy's tenth birthday and was showing it off online! The reaction was truly lovely and Babbit seems to have stolen a few hearts (I have to admit to being more than a little taken with it myself if that's not too big-headed to say!). However, babies and shells don't go, and so I decided to make Babbit a home of her own (may be a boy Babbit - not too sure) which looks like this...

It is made from calico with a calico lining and features an appliqued house. Of course, there was no chance that it wouldn't have a little embroidery on it somewhere - 'Babbit's House' is what I found myself sewing and then it just needed a few flowers either side of the door, some stitching to highlight the walls and the window frames - you know how it is, too much fun to be had!

So there is Babbit and her bag, now available from my website www.pipany.co.uk (blatant advertising but it
is my business blog after all). In fact, I so enjoyed making this one that I am planning a whole range - a little one called Baby Babbit perhaps; a boy one with a stripey top in the best Cornish tradition carrying a bucket and spade called Beach Babbit; hmm, the list seems endless...

Hopping off now (groan!)

Pipany xx

3 March 2008

Well, I don't appear to have written anything on my poor business blog for a while which could suggest that it has all gone down the pan! Thankfully that is definitely not the case, quite the reverse actually, and the reason I have not written for so long is that I have had too many things happening, things started and not able to be completed which makes it a little hard to write about them. I think I am beginning to win through now though and so here I am.

The first task which seems to have taken me an age to sort has been the updating of my pipany website. Dave and I first put this site together throughout last August and I have continued to work on it ever since, uploading photographs, writing copy, etc. During the Christmas period I realised the layout would need changing to allow for an expanding stockline in the New Year. Finally I have managed to complete it - now we are into March! Why did it take so long? Partly because I tried to do it in the evenings when I would be too tired to sew, partly because I am a bit of a fussy so-and-so and spent a lifetime playing with different colours, fonts, layouts...the list is endless. No sooner would I sort on bit and the rest would look tired and off I would go again. Fortunately dear Sam has a great eye for things and would tell me to change things when I was clearly too tired to see the faults (mind you, he was really waiting for me to get off the computer!). Anyhow, it is done and has a much better layout which I am pleased with while still retaining the overall feel of the original including what seems to be a very popular photograph on the welcome page judging by all the comments.

As well as all the work on the site I have been working on things for Easter including these little bags and bunny...

In fact, the bunnies (I did consider calling them Easter Babbits to please Isabella!) are taking over the house - I think the children are taking them off when my back is turned which I suppose confirms I am on the right track in thinking that kids like little things such as this. Each bag has a flowered lining...

...and embroidered front panel and comes complete with one of the bunnies; so far so good as they are already selling well, but oh lor, it has taken an age to get a photograph of them what with bad weather, flat light, too much sun...arghh!!!!

As an alternative to all this Easter activity I have been in touch with several shops who have shown interest in the Ship, ship sailing game and am waiting to hear back from them in regards to possibly placing wholesale orders. Weddings are on the horizon and one or two lovely projects have come up as a result involving dragonflies, lavender and lace, though not all together I might add!

Yes, overall things are going well and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. Now off to take some more pictures and load up some more stock onto the website...I wish it would stop raining though!

Pipany xx

5 February 2008

Posing problems.

Lauren bag in Lavender and Rose

I am actually on my way to the sewing room; can't you tell? The trouble is I just briefly checked emails, blogs and er, blogs. Reading through one of my favourites by Jane of Snapdragon's Garden I felt inspired to write my own. Jane talks today of the difficult problem of pricing handmade goods, something I personally find very difficult, and it made me think of the various things I have 'issues' with in getting this business off the ground. Time for a bit of honesty then I feel, so here are on or two of the things I grapple with:

1. Pricing - needs to be a business not a charity and therefore needs to
make a profit.

2. Packaging - what is the best form of packaging? I use a variety of tissue
papers and trimmings to make the whole experience what I would
enjoy (of course!), but what boxes work best? Don't like
envelopes, so where is the cheapest place for boxes of all sizes? I
suspect ebay is the answer to that one.

3. Postage - I had this one to think about for my wholesale order (still a bit
proud of my first little order!). Ordinary orders have posed no
problem, but suddenly I had a large box and couldn't work out the
best way to post it - this meant I wasn't sure what to charge for
postage on the quote I sent and as the order obviously wasn't made
up - or even placed at this point - I couldn't really weigh it in
anticipation....very tricky and I had the feeling I was missing
something here. What does everybody else do?

Well, there are a few to be going on with. So far I have not come unstuck, quite the reverse in fact and I seem to have hit the mark with all I have done, but I get the feeling that it is guesswork - albeit an educated guess - and this goes against the grain. I like to know what I am doing and sometimes wish there was a handbook especially for me.

It's all a learning curve I guess, but all suggestions from those dealing with the same issues will be gratefully received!

Pipany xx

4 February 2008

And it's gone....

Hurrah! Hooray! It's all over for today! Hmm, poetry not my thing it seems. Why the cheers? My wholesale order has been posted and is winging its way to Dorset. Oh the relief and yet now the panic really sets in ... what if the order isn't what they thought it would be, after all it's hard to see much from a little photo on a website isn't it? What if my faith in my work is misplaced? What if..... Ah well, we shall see! In the meantime here are some pics of the little dears packaged off for their journey.

First the wallhangings nestled in tissue paper that was actually a very pretty shade of sea blue (flipping light is awful here today!) ...

Next came the Ship, ship sailing games with all the little pebbles and shells tucked safely inside....

And finally here's Fatty Arbuckle. No, we're not posting him off to Dorset - he's far too gorgeous for that - but he just wouldn't budge and so I thought he should be included in the photocall. Isn't he lovely?

Right oh, I'm off for a cuppa before I start the Easter bags - more about those later!

Pipany xx

23 January 2008

Progress....I think!

Well, despite a very thorough search (HUH!) the camera cable is still missing in action and I am having to post the frankly poor pictures I had already uploaded before Dear Davey swiped the camera last week. I know the lighting is bad and I know the positioning of the bags is a bit odd, but I was only planning to take these intitial pics to see how they well they photographed. Ah well, best laid plans - it also means the other version of my snail bag which has less flowers and some script instead isn't shown here because I hadn't finished it at the time...oh, let's move on. Here they are for now and I will post better ones when I can:

Lots has been happening over the last week or so: the shop in Dorset has been in regular communication and has confirmed the order - Hurrah! My First Wholesale Order!!! This has meant Many Hours in my sweatshop - sewing room - and much hand embroidery resulting in a slightly bruised thumb due to the fairly tough canvas used in the wallhangings, but I am so pleased with the mounting pile of goodies; I will pop a link on to the shop once they have received the order.

On top of all this excitement I have been having loads of ideas for new products and paths for the business, and can't wait to start working on them. What are they? Well, let's just say for now that they involve rosemary, gardening (which was where I started out years ago), beaches and a collaboration with a friend who is a VERY talented ceramacist (sp?). Am I fired up (ho, ho excuse the pun)? You bet I am.

Oh and the downside to the last few weeks? My poor websited are so neglected that I wake at night worrying about them; new ranges not on, new layouts and a spring clean needed, and generally somw love and care much required. If only each day had 48 hours instead of 24!

Pipany xx

15 January 2008

Coming along nicely

Yes, I know you've seen it before but....

At last I am beginning to get back into the swing of things and slowly, slowly new arrivals are appearing on the shelves in my sewing room. I have been working on a range of bags which have a slightly old fashioned feel - my version of the 'vintage' word which doesn't really apply here - with little embroidered motifs and a simple shape to compliment this. The picture above is one of them but I have also made a different version which replaces some of the flowers with a little embroidered script. I'll post of picture of this when it's finished and you can let me know which you prefer. I have always loved to mix words and fabrics together and it seemed the time to go with this; I also love sewing and drawing simple insects - very simple! - and so have been working on combining the two together in a small range of textiles. It's such fun!


Ha!!! Well, that was yesterday and things have been a bit crazy since then - Dave has, ahem, 'misplaced' (LOST) the lead for the camera so for the mo I can't upload any pics onto the computer; he 'thinks' it's at school (along with ALL my lunch boxes - 20 at the last count!!!). Woe betide him if he doesn't bring it back tonight!!!

On another front, I received an email from a lovely lady called Marina who had contacted me before Christmas about wholesale for her shop in Dorset; she was interested in my wallhangings. I heard no more and didn't really give it another thought - it was lovely that she had liked them in the first place. Anyway, yesterday she got back in touch - we negotiated terms, etc and she wants 10 wallhangings and 5 Ship, Ship Sailing Games as an initial order, hopefully with a view to a larger one in the Spring if they do well! How cool is that? I am almost wholesale!!!!

More info hopefully tomorrow and those blooming bag pics too (or else Dear Dave!!!). Apologies in the meantime for the repitition of the above photo.

Pipany xx

8 January 2008

Material Thoughts.

It took a few days but finally I am there - my sewing room is tidy! The shelves are stacked with neatly folded layers of fabrics, packaging materials are tidied away and put into order, and all is calm once more. Unfortunately the downside to this is that I find myself sitting in my comfy swivel chair (a pressie bought by my gorgeous kids when I was pregnant and did nothing but moan about being unable to sit comfortably....yes I know you cannot imagine me moaning!!!!) and seem to do little but twirl around enjoying the view! I am supposed to be working on my new range and ideas are certainly fighting for space in my ever-crowded head but, however hard I try, they are not transferring themselves to paper.

I find this is a bit of an ongoing problem for me; I have no background whatsoever in pattern cutting / designing and make all my own patterns with no more than grit determination and a dollop of common sense to aid me. I love the process and over the years have taught myself plenty - most of the time I am able to get an idea down and it works - this week however has mostly consisted of me creating what can only be described as deformed creatures....rabbits with misshapen heads, a mouse with it's ears sewn on the inside (ok I was thinking about needing to paint the walls in the room rather than what I was doing) and a chick that has a pinhead problem. Hmm, back to the drawing board methinks.

I suppose it is all about focus - I had none. My mind was drifting here and there contemplating the infinite possibilities for the garden in terms of the business (more of that another day) and floating over the newly arranged piles of fabrics all glowing with possibilities for spring - piles of lilacs and sweet pinks leaning against pretty sprigged cottons, a huge batch of materials in brighter jades and blues all shouting for attention. They pulled me away with promises of fresh spring air tantalising the senses with the scent of blossoms and daffodils and primroses. I could almost feel the later hot summer sun warming my back as I walked across a beach, the warm sand pushing through my toes and the salty tang of sea air filling my mind. Yes, I truly had little focus on the hear and now. Ah well, today is another day and I have given myself a good talking to; today will be the day I actually achieve something and this will spur me on once more....well that's the plan anyway

In the meantime I will leave you with a pic or two of those gorgeous materials and see if you are distracted too (though of course I should have photographed them in better light, etc...it WAS early!!!)

Pipany xx

4 January 2008


Happy New Year from Pipany and Matzen!

So here it is, another new year all fresh and bright and bursting with possibilities. I love it, this chance to grasp life by the horns and make it into whatever I want it to be. I always start of with plans and resolutions, never worrying about the fact that maybe some of last year's were not achieved; what does it matter? It is about the idea of change and hope, inspiration and a clean sweep for me. I love the mulling over of things that have annoyed me or that have not come to fruition. How can I improve them or me for that matter? What could I have done differently? I look back at the positive things too - high on that particular list would be the huge leaps in self-confidence which this particular Pipany has made which has had a massive root in the meeting of like-minded people through the wonderful world of blogging. Sharing ideas, hopes, upsets and dreams has meant I finally began to understand that I do have something to offer the world....me! I'm not so bad after all!

So what worked for me last year?
1. I joined an inspirational and wonderful blog site - Purplecoo - and through this met many wonderful people and links to other blogs outside of this site. These blogs inspire me daily and are something which made me start to realise my dreams to have my own business.

2. I began to run said business, set up a website and gave it a shot. The response was immediate and has made me grow in confidence even more.

3. I learnt how to set up and manage two completely different websites, learnt how to take decent photographs (and trust me the ones prior to this were truly awful!) and began to learn the ins and outs of deadlines/packaging/postage/materials not arriving!!!! In other words, I became a fledgling business woman.

4. I re-learnt to trust my instincts and my heartfelt belief that if you want something enough there is ALWAYS a way, just think, think and think again.

And (honest to the last) what didn't work?

1. Promising orders in too short a time - didn't allow for poorly children/ materials not arriving!/ postal strikes...

2. Not allowing enough time for sourcing packaging materials/ trimmings, etc. I cannot believe how much time this eats into and yet it is so important to a small business. Profit margins disappear and the finish of an item can be compromised, something which disheartens me terribly.

3. Planning! I should have set up a yearly planner from the start and followed it rigidly to keep me focussed. Too easy for panic to make me flip from one task to another which panics me more.

With hindsite I made it hard on myself as the site became active very close to Christmas and concentrating on designing and making stock just to get it up and running meant the time spent doing the same for a Christmas range was limited. It also meant this range was much later going onto the site than I had intended. Having said that, I am pleased with how it has gone so far. I sold a lot of Christmas stock, much more that I expected; It is all a learning curve and I am loving the ride.

Now to this year....perhaps I'll just clear away the mess that is my sewing room before I venture my thoughts on that one!

Happy New Year everyone

Pipany xxx