Sunday, 17 February 2019

Quick & Easy Cards using Make Special Cards #16


I've been using the freebies in issue 16 of 'Make Special Cards' to create A6 cards this evening. I've already made 6 cards and have lots of papers and toppers left so I'm looking forward to seeing how many I can make.

There are a variety of paper styles included in the freebies but I chose to use the bold and bright ones first as I think they'll be great for men's / boys cards.




I never like to waste any scraps so I created the above card with offcuts of the patterned paper. 






Thursday, 14 February 2019

The truth about working with Hochanda


I thought for a long time about whether I should post something or not with everything that is going on at the moment but decided I wanted to give my opinion, it might not mean much to the majority of you as my business is tiny compared to most and I am really just a crafter but still this is my opinion and that of my business Imagine Design Create.

Imagine Design Create is a small family business, coming up 10 years old. I started it many years ago whilst pregnant with my eldest son. It became a ltd company in 2013 and i opened my Seaton based shop in 2014. In 2017 we launched our own brand range and in 2018 we joined Hochanda.

Claire began the Hochanda journey with her fantastic shows through 2018 and i only recently began demonstrating again at Hochanda but have been involved in the process since day one.

What the public don't get to see is all the hard work involved right from the start; the team who interviewed us as a company to see what our products are, the training team who teach us how things work and give us the guided tour, the buying team who help build the shows, security who check us in at the door, the floor staff who set up the show displays, arrange all the cameras and grab any items you forget whilst live on air!, the gallery team, the directors, the staff who mic us up, the presenters and many more people who i have missed out but there are so many staff involved in each and every hour show and they all work amazingly hard.

I am so grateful to Hochanda for giving us the opportunity to share our company with its customers. It has meant that we can grow and develop our business and has helped us reach a much wider audience than we would in our little Seaton shop. So this is really just an open letter of thanks to them.

A big thanks also to all our customers over the years and all those finding us recently, without you we wouldn't be here today.

We hope that we can continue to work with the Hochanda family through 2019 and beyond and want to thank each and every member of staff at Hochanda for all the hard work they do.

Kerri-Ann, Jon, Claire & all the Imagine Design Create team.

Card & wood slice projects made for our recent Hochanda shows


I have finally got round to mounting up the cards I created during my Sunday Hochanda shows. I really enjoyed the show's and can't wait to get working on new designs & ideas for future shows. 

The above pink design I created live in my 10am show, you can watch it here: Hochanda


The heart card above I created in my 2pm show, you can watch it here: Hochanda


This is another one of my continuous line art cards I created with the mat & layer card, I really love line art lately.


I hope you enjoyed the show's and please do share photos with me of your creations made with any goodies from the show's!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Flying the flag for Seaton on TV this Sunday...


I am finally ready to announce that I will soon be returning to your TV screens as a guest demonstrater on Hochanda TV. I will admit I have been a nervous wreak recently, worrying about it - can i even remember how to demonstrate?! I was unsure if i would be well enough to go on myself but I have thankfully been well enough recently to prepare for the shows together with the support of Jon, Claire, Eli and my other fantastic designers we have pulled together a show that I really hope you will all enjoy!


Obviously it has been a very long time since I have been out around the South West / on TV demonstrating. I previously had the honor of working for some fantastic creative companies who gave me the opportunity to represent them. I cannot thank them all enough, I learnt so much from them and enjoyed my time with each of them, I still work for a couple of them so you may see me in stores demonstrating again soon. 


My company Imagine Design Create is now 10 years old, with my Seaton shop celebrating its 4th Birthday last December. We launched our own brand products in the beginning of 2017 and things have snowballed since. It has been a fantastic rollercoaster ride and I am so grateful to Claire Newcombe a super talented designer friend who has been with me throughout. Claire will continue to represent Imagine Design Create on Hochanda hopefully all being well with myself joining her now and again (health dependant). We have lots of ideas for products and designs that we really hope to share with you over the coming months.

I must say a massive Thank You to all the team at Hochanda for giving Claire and I the opportunity to represent Imagine Design Create again this year, we really enjoyed the shows with them in 2018. All the staff at Hochanda have been fantastic and made us feel very welcome.


On Sunday I am looking forward to introducing you to some new products, new ideas and some of our best selling Imagine Design Create stamps/ stencil designs too.

Please join me over on Hochanda (Freeview channel 85 / Sky 673) at 10am & 2pm.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Seaton in the snow | Friday 1st February 2019


A sprinkling of snow for Seaton this year, not as much as last year but enough to make it look beautiful and cause 'snow day'. Most schools in the area are closed so lots of families out and about making memories. Here are some photos of our morning walk with the pups, thought i would share them with you all to show you how beautiful it looks here in Seaton today. (click photo to enlarge)






                            






Monday, 28 January 2019

Goodbye to Seaton's arts & crafts centre??

As many of you will have heard by now I have had to make some very tough decisions this year regarding my shop & my business.

Firstly our e-commerce website is being closed or rather downgraded to an information site soon with a switch to using Amazon & Etsy to sell our products (a sign of the changing online retail times)

Due to my poor health I have not been able to work as much as needed, I've had to cut back on my time in the shop and at my freelance jobs. If I could afford to put in staff more often than the two days I have my lovely lady Tracy in I would, but we barely take enough to cover her wages and I am unable to take a salary with how things are currently going. I have been working away on freelance contracts for the past 4 years just to keep a roof over my families head whilst I also try to build up the shop. It isnt all fun and games owning an arts & crafts centre I can promise you that.

Things started really well here in Seaton, but the weekday shop takings plummeted when the post office closed here on Queen Street and moved further away. Our Saturday takings boost disappeared when the town centre markets decreased and mostly moved away to Tesco area and we now hear news they will all be near Tesco instead of on Winsor Gardens all year in 2019 it feels like another kick in the teeth to us as a small independent business in the town. There is a serious signage issue going on in Seaton as so many people who visit the seafront have no idea we are up here on Queen Street. Our customers are people who have found us online, on TV or are our lovely regulars returning.


That being said, rarely one to give up I have spent January racking my brains on how I can possibly push through and keep my Seaton shop open whilst also battling with my health. I love it here, so do my young sons so I really do not want to have to move us and my shop away. I believe Seaton can and will regenerate soon too, it has the potential to become a fantastic town with enough support & development.

So instead of allowing the tough times to beat me I have decided to embrace them, to take note of them but not let them beat me. To learn from the retail changes online and on the highstreets and to make changes within my business and shop that will allow me to STAY OPEN IN SEATON.

My fantastic partner Jon has agreed to help in the shop two days a week which will help keep us open longer hours most of the week. My brilliant shop assistant Tracy has agreed to a slight shift change so that she can keep the shop open slightly later whilst I open up nice and early after the daily school run. This means that we'll be open by 9.30am weekdays (often you'll find me there opening the doors at 9am!) and only needing to close early twice a week so that I can collect my boys from school, be mum and get the rest that I need in order to try and be well enough to keep everything running smoothly!

We will continue to run workshops & drop in craft sessions we have a number of fantastic tutors on board teaching and I will do my best to keep all my sessions running (health dependent) if I am unwell and unable to run one of my classes Jon or Tracy will call participants with as much notice as possible.

We have got our new online sales systems up and running, we have our return to TV shows selling our own brand products very soon and we have lots of exciting new developments planned through this year. So the answer to the question everyone has been asking us is NO, we won't be closing Imagine Design Create Seaton's Arts & Crafts shop in 2019.

But we will need your help and support to keep us going, so please do pop in store take a look around and remind yourselves of what we stock, if you haven't visited before come take a look we have much more than you think inside! If you are an artist and currently get your supplies elsewhere, come take a look at our in store range and our catalogue. We are competitive on prices and have access to most if not art all materials and mediums! If you are a crafter then you definitely need to come take a look around, we have many top brands and a variety of new independent ones too. If you don't have a creative bone in your body but you are looking for a gift, a toy for a child or even just glue to fix a broken ornament we can probably help so come ask us, we are happy to help.


Lastly we all want to say a big Thank You everyone for your support and kindness over the past 4 years, here is hoping for many many more! Lots of love from the Imagine Design Create family xx

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Seaton community shopping habits survey



Anyone who knows me will know I'm passionate about Seaton and it's local businesses. I am keen to learn more about Seaton's community shopping habits to find out if there is anything us local shop owners can learn from. If we can improve, adapt or change to better suit our customers and to see what possible changes to the town as a whole would encourage more people to shop locally.

If you have a spare 3 minutes please could you complete this short survey to help me - click here 

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Unboken by Madeleine Black | Book Review



I recently had the honour of reading 'Unbroken' a true story written by the very brave and talented Madeleine Black. I will admit that i usually only read crime-ficton and at first i wasn't sure if this book would be right for me however after finding Madeleine on twitter and reading her open and honest posts and then reading the description of her book on amazon i just knew i needed to read it:

"
Violently gang-raped when she was thirteen years old, and raped three more times before the age of eighteen, Madeleine has experienced more trauma in her life than most ever will.
Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way.
Yet, after growing up with a burden no teenager should ever have to shoulder, she found the heart to carry out the best revenge plan of all: leading a fulfilling and happy life. But the road to piecing her life back together was long and painful. For Madeleine, forgiveness was the key. True forgiveness takes genuine effort. It takes a real desire to understand those who have done us so much harm. It is the ultimate act of courage."
Source: Amazon

My heart was in my mouth just reading the write up so I knew it would be an emotional read and I wasn’t wrong.


What I wasn't prepared for though was the journey this book took me as a reader on. The initial impact of hearing what happened to Madeleine leads onto reading about her journey of re-building her life, the honestly throughout of the good, the bad and the ugly is admirable. I was also interested to read about the various choice of therapies Madeleine chose to take, things I had never heard of but have since gone on to research more. Madeleine's lifestyle is also a million miles away from mine, so I read about the amazing things she has gone on to do in awe. 

I expect anyone who reads this book will relate to it in some way or another as it touches on so many true to life elements. I think for me it stirred up un-dealt with personal things that happened in my childhood that I have always hidden away and never spoken of publically. It has made me realise how much I have held onto inside and that it may be a big part of why I am the way I am, closed off from people, rarely trusting and rarely letting anyone in to get to know the real me. I live a very lonely life, I have very few friends and barely any contact with my family. I blame myself for this & they fact that I can't build relationships properly but thinking about it since reading Madeleine's story of re-building her life maybe the way i am is because of unresolved issues that I keep buried inside. They may even be part of why I struggle so much with my mental health. Maybe it is time to face up to them, to let them go and to change my mindset like Madeleine has. 

The chapter layout can at times get confusing, the jumping around of dates / years at times takes a few moments to catch up and realise where you are but as it is a true life story this is to be expected because I can't imagine it was easy to get everything she wanted to say out on paper all at once. It must have taken a really long time to get it all on to paper and then decide how to structure it as a story. 

Though it did stir up personal issues that are hard for me to think about (though I think it's time I did now) and some of the graphic details were so awful my mind tried to tell me I was reading fiction at one point. I am still so glad I read this book. It has shown me that despite facing the most awful things in her past Madeleine chose to take a personal journey that lead her to be happy, content and to use what happened to her to help others. 

Inspirational. 

A 5* must read in my opinion. 

Unbroken by Madeleine Black is available here 


*A big thanks to Madeleine for sending me a signed copy to read. Though I was sent this book to read everything in my review is my honest opinion

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Otter Garden Centre | Ottery St Mary, Devon - Christmas 2018


One of my favourite garden centres to visit all year round is Otter Nurseries in Ottery St Mary. (Though after yesterday's visit to a new garden centre this might not be my favourite anymore!) I have to admit we go there so often in the spring / summer and i always come away with a little something!

I was just as excited as the boys to visit this festive season as i know Otter Christmas displays are always magical. They must put so many hours into the designs and building of the different style Christmas sets it is fantastic. 

Finley was very pleased to see a festive unicorn display, what could be more magical than that? The colour palette on the unicorn display was beautiful.


Reuben particularly liked the polar bear display, it had a real Narnia look to it and Reuben as you can see thinks he makes a good ice king.


The lights display was fantastic, Finley had a little dance to the music too.


They both spotted an 'elf' style gift bag which they thought was very cool and decided we needed to buy one to put presents for the elf in. Yes, i'm now having to get presents for the Elf - good job we mostly make all the presents in our house!


The lights display was amazing, it makes me wish we had a front garden and lots of money, we'd be able to make an amazing light up display with all the pretty styles they had!


Overall i can honestly say that it was a fantastic magical after-school trip. We went away with some great little gifts for family and the boys really enjoyed looking around at the wonderful displays. Otter do also offer a 'Santa Visit' but we don't have the funds for extras this year so we settled for touring the garden centre instead. I'm going to have to budget better next year and save up extra for them to visit the grotto as from what i'm hearing it is a brilliant experience for the kids.

I'd highly recommend a visit!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Combe Garden Centre in Honiton, Devon : Review


Enjoying my day off today visiting some more garden centres. I heard online about a new one in Honiton called 'Combe Garden Centre' so of course I had to go check it out.


On arrival it was instantly apparent that it was a purpose built centre, it looks amazing. The carpark is well designed, good size parking spaces and room for cars to manover without issues.

On entering I was greeted by the most beautiful tree, it was nearly as tall as the roof. A lovely lady on the till greeted us good morning and off we went for a browse.


There was a great selection of Christmas decorations which were all reasonably priced. A surprise as often I find garden centres over price their festive stock! Whilst walking around i noticed a sign that said they have 20% off on all Xmas decorations too so I got a few more that I knew the kids would like.

Outside in the plant area I was really impressed with the selection and again the prices. They are really reasonable, I think I can say with confidence the best prices in the local garden centres that I have found so far. Great quality plants too, looked well cared for.

At the till the staff were happy and helpful, service with a smile can often be hard to find but each staff member I saw had a smile and was happy helping customers.

I was really impressed with this new garden centre and I think it might just be my new favourite! Well-done to a the team at Combe Garden Centre.

I'll be back in the new year for lots of plants to fill my Botanical Studio & Courtyard with!

Combe Garden Centre
Hayne
Honiton
EX14 3PD

Monday, 10 December 2018

Kings Garden Centre | Sidmouth, Devon - Christmas 2018


I love visiting Garden Centres all year round but there is something extra special about them at Christmas! The effort that goes into the displays and the variety of gift ideas in every garden centre i visit is fantastic.

Last week i went to the newly named 'Kings' Garden Centre in Sidmouth, this garden centre recently changed hands so i was looking forward to seeing what changes had been made.

On entering i was hit by Christmas, it was a very festive sight. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, more floor staff around that on previous visits. Everyone was busy putting out festive products. The displays looked fantastic, really eye catching and there was something for everyone.


I was pleased to see they haven't changed too much around in terms of the stock, all of the usual garden centre stock is still available which is great. A lovely selection of poinsettias which i had to stop myself from buying! If you need a real Christmas Tree they also have lots of those available too.

I'd highly recommend going along for a visit, it has a lovely magic festive feel so great for all the family to visit. The singing reindeer were great fun to watch!

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Seaton Town Shoppers Map : Seaton, Devon

Seaton Town Map is one of most used guides of the town, especially during the Summer. I saw tourists and locals walking around with them last year. They are a fantastic help and they are a brilliant advertising opportunity for local businesses.

Karin the organiser of the Town Map said:

"The map has a 12k distribution, it has been running now for a number of years and the feedback on it has been brilliant. The TIC said it was one of the most used and requested pamphlets they have"

The 2019 map is currently in planning and due for printing soon. There are just 4 slots left for advertisers. 2 double panel slots on the back and 2 spots on the back page. Rates a reasonable and the map is a well used item that people tend to keep and refer back to.

If you would like to find out more contact Karin on
Www.kfmarketing.co.uk

*Update 04/12/18 - just 2 spaces left in the 2019 map!

What are your thoughts on Windsor Gardens in Seaton, Devon



I've recently been discussing Windsor Gardens on Cross Street in Seaton with fellow local traders and the community here in Seaton. Talking about how it looks and about what it is used for throughout the year. I wanted to find out more about how people feel about Windsor Gardens in Seaton so i have created a short survey to gather your thoughts. I'd be so grateful if you could spare the time to complete this for me, there are only 7 questions.

If you have two minutes to spare please could you complete my survey about Windsor Gardens here:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/S99D5K9

Thank you for your time.