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My story really started about 2.5 years ago at the secondary school where I work. I work with pupils aged between 12-18 in what is called the Alternative Education Base. We are a very large school of approximately 4000 pupils and the pupils we have in ‘The Base’ are ones who, for many, many reasons, cannot be in a mainstream class. In the Base they have a bit of space, a bit of peace and quiet and are able to do their normal school work in a less hectic environment. Many of them are not with us for long, some are with us off and on for years and many come back to visit after they have left school altogether.

Anyway, part of my work there is to do projects with the pupils and one idea I had for this was to make jewellery with them and sell it to raise funds. Firstly however, I had to learn to make jewellery : ). This I duly did and proudly brought my spoils into school to show them off. I was more than a little amazed that some members of staff wanted to buy them from me, and then they wanted me to do jewellery parties. Beadybird was born!

Fast forward a year or so and I had begun a love affair with gemstones and around the same time was off work for approximately 4 months after an operation. This gave me more time to concentrate on my jewellery and I realised I was having much more fun! Consequently, I gave up one full day a week at school and now spend that day solely on jewellery. I sell in two shops in Edinburgh, I have two Etsy shops The Silver Starling, I do regular Craft Fairs (which I LOVE!) and this year I’m organising the classes for the second Edinburgh Bead Fair which will be held on 26 September Edinburgh Bead Fair

My longterm goal is to be able to give up another day at school next year. In the past 2.5 years I’ve completely turned what I thought was ‘my lot’ on it’s head and become involved in something fantastic which I had never even thought of! I’ve met so many lovely, talented people via my jewellery business and even now, every single sale is a little thrill and a personal achievement which gives me the enthusiasm to get into my workshop with my lovely beads. Long may it continue!

Avril Scott
The Silver Starling
Beadybird – Handmade gemstone jewellery

Hi, I’m Nicola and I recently set up an online jewellery shop with Folksy called GewGaws. I’ve always loved jewellery and wanted to learn how to make it myself but never had the time until now. To tell you a little about myself, I’m an art historian and previously worked in a museum. When my contract ended last October I found myself with some spare time and a need to feel creative and productive so I signed up for a couple of beading workshops in Birmingham. Kate at the Birmingham Bead Shop in Digbeth and Estelle at The Bead Loft in the Jewellery Quarter are both wonderful teachers and have lovely shops with an excellent range of beads so they really fired up my enthusiasm! I started making a few things at home and gave some away but managed to sell a couple of things too which got me thinking about setting up a shop. I eventually came across Folksy. I was really impressed with the site and with how many creative people were out there, which was also a little intimidating, but I could see that my things could fit in too. It also looked really easy to use so I decided to go for it. The name GewGaws was suggested by my boyfriend and it means a showy trinket, bauble or ornament, which seemed to sum up my jewellery quite nicely. I also wanted a name that was a bit abstract, and just one word, so that people would remember it.

So, with some help from a graphic designer friend, I set up the shop and uploaded a few necklaces, mainly chunky colourful ones, and some charm bracelets. Then I told all of my friends and advertised on Facebook and Twitter. To my amazement I sold a necklace straightaway! Admittedly, it was to someone I know, indeed, all of the first few items I sold were to friends or acquaintances, but after a few weeks I also sold a couple of bracelets to someone I didn’t know (this may have been a result of posting the items on Craftjuice, another invaluable resource). I’ve now sold 14 items on Folksy and had a few commissions from people so I’m really pleased with how things have gone. It would be nice to sell more (and maybe even make a living from it!) but I am realistic that money is tight for people just now and there is a lot of competition so I’m considering other ways of branching out, such as trying out craft fairs. I have also found that the marketing side of things does take up a lot of time but it is worth it and allows you to meet other crafty people, who are all lovely and incredibly supportive. I’m still looking to find a job in a museum but have every intention of continuing to make jewellery – it’s given me a real sense of achievement and I absolutely love doing it!

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