So - I think the time has come. It's time to put Venerable Bead to bed.
For those who don't know, I've been making jewellery for the last 12 years under the name of 'Venerable Bead' (yes, there's a website and everything...) and for the first five or so years things were going pretty well. I was never really going to make enough money to make an actual living from it but it was encouraging to pull in a few grand every year. People seemed to like my stuff and were willing to pay me a reasonable amount. I enjoyed designing things, and resourcing interesting stones. I learned how to fuse glass to make my own dichroic glass bits and pieces - it was fun.
Then the economy collapsed, and people reined in their spending. My sales started nose-diving. As my mother said (she also sells handicrafts and also suffered) 'we're not selling sausages', and you can't deny that she's right. Sausages, we were definitely not selling.
What she meant was that jewellery (mine) and decoupaged items (hers) are not essential household items like food, mortgage payments, utilities, etc. and given the choice of being able to feed your kids or hang some trinket from your ear'oles, the sausages are going to win.
Things have slowly gone from bad to worse. Last year I experienced my first ever craft fair where I sold nothing. Not a single sausage (see what I did there?) My mother tried to gee me along, saying motivating things like 'don't worry, the economy will pick up, it'll come back...'
But it hasn't. And the reptilian Cameron pronouncing last week that we're heading for a second market crash hasn't exactly helped. Thanks, Dave.
For example, the last three craft fairs I did I sold a grand total of £10, £16 and last Saturday saw me go home with the princely sum of £12 in my pocket. Bearing in mind the pitch cost £16 and there was petrol costs involved, it means I'm actually paying to attend the fair. Plus I haven't sold anything at all from the website in over a year, where I used to sell a few bits and pieces a month.
This is not good business practice. Admittedly I don't do any advertising/marketing at all, but then I never did and always managed to sell stuff.
I was chatting to Janet, the organiser of the craft fair I attended on Saturday (which I've been doing regularly for about 7 years now) and she said that many craftspeople are giving up, and it's the first time she can remember that she doesn't have a waiting list of people waiting to get a table at her fair.
My heart has most definitely gone out of it. If people don't buy your stuff then there's absolutely no incentive to continue adding to your stock, so you stop looking for new stones/beads/whatever and you stop designing. No point making more if you're not selling any - it's just that much more to cart around. Plus I'm far more excited about painting and making art these days and, to be honest, selling more of that than my jewellery anyway.
So The Lovely Husband and I have come to a decision that this will be the last year for Venerable Bead. We're committed to doing 6 more craft fairs in Alresford, Hants, which will take us up to December 2015, and then that's it.
God knows what I'm going to do with all my semi-precious beads and pearls - I'm thinking I'll probably eBay them in bulk next year. And, of course, I have my lovely little kiln that I fuse glass in, but I think I'll hold onto that - I'd like to try and incorporate dichroic glass cabochons into my paintings somehow, and I'm quite keen to have a go at using powdered glass to make seascapes or other art pieces.
It's sad, but times change and events conspire to make you alter your plans, and the time has come to bid Venerable Bead a fond adieu....
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