Wednesday 25 June 2014

Last Chance Birthday Offers!

One week ago today, made by lolly celebrated 4 years in business!

As part of the celebrations I launched a few special offers -  and because I am a firm believer that birthday celebrations should last for longer than just one day, all of the special offers were set to run for a whole week.

But all good things must come to an end... is your last chance to take advantage of my birthday bonanza offers!

Free UK delivery on all orders placed through me on Facebook

OR through my ETSY shop


Technically, we're now 4 years and one week...!

No need to quote a magic word - all of the listings have been amended to show FREE POSTAGE!

And if you are a new customer to Etsy you can also get £5 off your first order of £10 or more 
by following this link:

That would make this gorgeous new 'Liberty HANA' brooch from my Spring Collection ONLY £5!

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Behind the Scenes at made by lolly : All About Me

So now you know all about my Branding, my Favourite Suppliers and my Favourite Tools...

But what do you know about me?

Well, maybe that depends on who you are!

But regardless of what you may already know about me, I thought today, on made by lolly's 4th birthday, it might be a good idea to do a #MeetTheMaker type post where you can find out 
All About Me! 

I'll also be answering some of your 'Ask me Anything' questions!

Perhaps we'd better start with the introductions.

My name is Laura Smith and I am the designer/maker/owner of made by lolly

Like many small business owners, I am also the administrator, the photographer, the accountant, the copyrighter, chief biscuit eater and cleaner*.

When I'm not working at made by lolly I have a PT job out in the real-world, working as an administrator for a charity.

*You'll understand that with all my other roles, not a lot of cleaning ever gets done

Some interesting facts about me and made by lolly:


  • I have just realised that my bathroom windowsill is the best place in the house to take decent product photos!
  • I rarely ever have any music on when I am working.
  • I love the feeling you get when a new idea just bubbles up, apparently out of nowhere. I can't wait to get back into the workroom and see whether it works out the way I imagine it!
  • I NEVER draw any of my ideas out on paper. I cut sample shapes in a variety of colours and layer, fold, cut, stitch and manipulate until I have some samples that I am happy with.
  • My favourite time of year is when I get to choose which colours of felt are going to be included in the made by lolly Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter Collections.
  • I bounce a lot of my new ideas off my other half. Especially when I have got to the final design stages and am working out the RRP of an item. I do it so often that the question: 'How Much?' has become a catch phrase in our house!
  • Compared to my desk at my day-job - which is spotless - the desk in my home workroom is usually rather more chaotic.

Ask me Anything....

Do you have any tips for sourcing wholesale materials?
  • Search, search and search again! There really is no shortcut. Google is your friend. Try the most common or obvious search terms first but also think laterally too. What else might a wholesaler be selling that might show up quicker in search results?
  • Always keep a record of all interesting looking suppliers and wholesalers - even if you don't need to purchase now! I guarantee  6 months down the line you'll be looking for something and you'll say to yourself...
"I know, there was that website I found while I was looking for  'Y'. I'm sure that sold 'X' too... Mmm but what website was it?"
  • Don't be put off if you can't initially see prices or minimum order quantities, companies will be happy to share these if you send an enquiry email. It's always worth asking as sometimes the minimum order is smaller than you think! 
  • You could also try joining forums and groups related to your area of work - they are often a fantastic source of insider information!
  • Consider approaching some of the other small supplies businesses that you currently use and seeing if they will give you a bulk buy discount. It won't be as cheap as wholesale but you won't have as large a minimum order.

Do you have any tips for marketing your work?
  • I really admire businesses that have a very consistent approach to their branding, marketing and display, and this is something that I strive for in my own work. 
  • For me, the key starting point was to create a 'word cloud' of all the things that I thought were important to my business, with the things that were more important appearing in large letters at the top of the page, and the things that were less important in smaller letters lower down.
  • This became my 'style-guide' and a visual reminder of what I was trying to communicate about my business. So now, whether I am designing a new product card, writing a tweet, designing a poster, updating my packaging, etc, I try to refer back to my word cloud to check that it remains in keeping with my brand values.

What's the best business tip you've learnt in 4 years?
  • Price for Profit.
  • Sometimes it is hard to see the true cost AND the true value of the work that you do. Whatever stage that your business is at, and whatever you are selling, it is absolutely essential that you take EVERYTHING into account when pricing your products. 
  • As well as the direct costs of materials and packaging, you need to factor in your time. And not just for how long it takes to make. How long do you spend  photographing and editing? How long does it take to list the item on your website? How long does it take to package the item? How much time do you spend on social media advertising the item? (This is something that took  me a very long time to learn!) 

Where will made by lolly be in another 4 years?
  • To be perfectly honest... I don't know?!
  • That's not an intentional cop-out of answering the question - honestly! What I mean to say is, while I have some short and medium term goals that I think are really important and are intended to push made by lolly forward, at this stage I don't have any fixed long-term plans!
  • Looking back over the last four years, it has not been the most straight forward of journeys, and there is plenty that I would do differently then, if I knew what I know now! However, the thing I love most about my business, and my role within it, is how flexible it is. Over the last four years my business has grown and developed into something I am truly proud of. But it has grown at a rate that is responsive to what I have learnt and how I feel. It is my intention to keep learning, and keep growing my business - whilst enjoying the luxury of a work-life balance that I control!
  • So, I guess the real answer to your question is... I shall see how I feel!

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Behind the Scenes at made by lolly : My favourite suppliers
Gorgeous coloured felt swatches from paper-and-string

I'm often asked "Where do you buy your equipment and supplies?"

And the answer is... lots of places!

Some are closely guarded secrets, but there are quite a few that I'm happy to share with you!

So here they are in alphabetical order:

Awesome Merchandise
For all your merchandise needs, try this Leeds based company! All the prices quoted on the website include VAT and postage - what you see is what you pay!

Bills Haberdashery (not online - located upstairs at Barnsley Market)
An absolute Aladdin's cave of sewing supplies and haberdashery - you've never seen so many items in such a small space. The staff are super helpful and nothing is too much trouble!

Blooming Felt
A fantastic colour range of 100% wool felt sourced via Fairtrade - available in sheets, balls and roving, which is great if you want to have a go at needlefelting! There is also a good range of haberdashery items for sale.

Country View Crafts 
This is where I source my sizzix dies. New items are listed on the website really quickly, and the delivery is FREE and SUPER SPEEDY! (I once ordered at 3.15pm on Friday and received my parcel the next morning!) 

You can't beat Hobbycraft when you're after some cheap but hard wearing acrylic felt. Comes in a range of bright colours on handy A4 size sheets. Also sells a huge range of materials and equipment for many different crafts. Not always the cheapest option but it's hard to leave one of their stores without purchasing something!
If you're looking to make a good impression with your business cards you need to go to Moo! Excellent QUALITY! Want to try them out? Get 10% discount when you follow this link:

paper-and-string limited
A MASSIVE selection of craft supplies including felt, ribbon, buttons, haberdashery... I recommend bookmarking the What's New page as new lines are always being added! The choice of felt colours is fabulous - and they sell buttons that have been specially dyed to match! Be warned, Sarah's selection of goodies is hard to resist, so make sure you log-on knowing you WILL end up spending money!

A great range of printed products available in lots of different sizes and paper finishes. This is where all of my new packaging has been printed. They do a really helpful FREE sample pack that helps you choose between the different finishes.

The Range
A surprisingly large section of craft supplies for children and adults! Head into store to see the full range and to grab a bargain - the special offers can be fabulous BARGAINS!

So - where do you buy your supplies from? Have you got a favourite supplier that you want to share? Please feel free to leave a comment and a link at the bottom of this post!

And if you want to find out more about the tools I use, why not visit  

Behind the Scenes at made by lolly : My favourite tools

So, these are my extra special favourite tools... The ones I use ALL THE TIME!


If you look closely, you'll notice that most of them are very well used, slightly battered and covered in glue. Although I love getting new equipment as much as the next crafter, somehow I don't feel that it truly belongs in my workroom until I've dropped it, lost it, found it and covered it in glue!

You'll also notice that most of them are pink.

To this day I have no idea why crafter's tools have to be pink.
I wrote a blog post about it 3 years ago. And it seems that nothing has changed...

My extra special favourite tools
So, what have we actually got here then?
What are the must have tools on a felt flower maker's desk?

Steel Safety Ruler, Steel Ruler


Fabric Scissors, Embroidery Scissors, Tweezers, Stitch Unpicker, Glue Spreader, Rotary Cutter

A3 Cutting Mat

And here we have some of my new favourite gadgets...


My new favourite tools

Fiskars Paper Trimmer, Bobbin Winder, Self Cover Button Tool


But what's on my wishlist...

I've just seen that Paper and String have just got in some 'Scalloped' Scissors
Just like Pinking Shears, but they cut scallops.
I really don't know why I need them... but I definitely DO need them!
Scallop Scissors from paper-and-string

I've also got a wireless all-in-one printer/scanner thingymebob on my list
I'm convinced that the ONLY* thing that's holding me back from having a perfectly organised and efficient administration system is the ability to print on demand from anywhere in the house.

*I'm obviously deluded. But it's gotta help, right?

I'd love to know what are your must-have tools, and what's on your wishlist.
Feel free to comment and link below!


And if you want to find out more about my favourite suppliers, why not visit
Behind the Scenes at made by lolly : My favourite suppliers

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Behind the Scenes at made by lolly : My branding journey

Last month, Batman turned 75 - and apparently, in that time he has used over 30 different logos!

Later this month, on June 18th, made by lolly turns 4! And in that time has also had quite a few different logos and brand redesigns...

I'm not entirely sure whether this is a good thing or not (!) but I thought I might be fun to follow Batman's example and share some of the different fonts, logos and packaging designs I have used since 2010.

Back then - this was the best that I could do:

Please don't judge me. I was inexperienced. Massive learning curve ahead!

By November 2010, thankfully, I had decided it was time to get some professional help:

Designs by Bonnita Graphics

It looks like I continued to use variations on this design for quite a while -
as these leaflets from August 2011 show:

But by a year later, in August 2012 it's all change! The launch of my new website had caused me to rethink my style and to commission another re-brand! New colours, new font:

Designs by Bonnita Graphics

...And to redesign my product packaging

But that redesign didn't last too long!
By the Autumn of 2013 the style of my work had become much more bold and graphic, using strong colours and repeating patterns. I needed a clear and simple design as complement.

And then... We arrive at Spring 2014
I appear to be over my flirtation with 'bold' and 'graphic' and have started designing softer, more realistic looking felt flowers. I need my branding to reflect this.
So I introduce another new font:

New Business Cards:

...And for the first time ever, pre-printed product packaging!

And slightly 'tweaked' gift wrapping:

Phew, what a journey!
I don't know what you think  - but I feel my branding style has definitely improved since 2010!

If you liked this peek behind the scenes of made by lolly - stay tuned!
Over the next few weeks, as part of my birthday celebrations, I will be posting lots more info 
about who I am, what I do and how I do it...

You can find out about my tools, my favourite websites, and I may even show you a pic of what the workroom usually looks like!

I'll also be compiling an 'Ask me Anything' blog post to be published on our business birthday.
So... if you have a burning question that you'd like me to answer you can either:
a) Leave a comment on this blog post
b) Tweet me at @madebylolly 
c) leave a comment on my FB page
d) email me at
e) attempt to contact me using psychic powers...*

*If you definitely want your question answered I'd recommend using option a to d and not bothering with option e!

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Easter Giveaway Time! Win a Craft Party Kit!

It's Easter Giveaway Time!

The Prize: 

Win a 'Craft Party - In a Box' craft kit worth £30! Makes up to 12 felt flower brooches, perfect to keep you (or the kids!) entertained during the holidays!

How to Enter:

Head over to my FB page and Like AND leave me a comment on the competition post pinned to the top of my page telling me what is your favourite colour! 

The competition closes tonight at 9pm so you'll need to hurry!

Terms and Conditions:

*To enter Like AND leave me a comment on the FB competition post
*One entry per person
*The Easter Giveaway will be drawn at 9pm on 16/04/2014 That's today so hurry!
*The winner will be picked by random generator and tagged in a FB post later that day. By entering you agree to allow me to post your name on my FB page if you win!
*The winner must message me with their address within 7 days
*You do not need to share the FB post to enter
*By entering the contest, you agree to a complete release of Facebook from any or all liability in connection with this contest.
*By entering you acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook

Wednesday 2 April 2014

#Project52 Weeks 6 - 13!

OK, OK I know I promised that I'd be blog writing more often because I had the excuse of sharing my weekly #Project52 activities with you....

Well - it turns out that I've been so busy working on the new made by lolly Spring Collection and so busy enjoying my #Project52 activities that I haven't found the time to get over here to tell you about any of it!

So here's a whistle-stop catch-up of the things I've been getting up to!
(I think we got as far as Week 5 - Cheese Making)

Week 6 
A trip to Yorkshire Sculpture Park- and some very early snowdrops!

Week 7
My first Craft Fair of 2014!

Week 8
A trip to Ikea - including free cups of tea, a cooked breakfast and the cutest plasters ever!

Week 9
A Silver Clay workshop with Emma Mitchell

Week 10
 A TV Dinner Date to watch Fantastic Mr Fox

Week 11
A 100th Birthday Party for our piano - including chocolate kit-kat piano cake!

Week 12 
A trip to Millennium Gallery Craft Shop - Bought a Badge Making Kit!

Week 13 
Started to teach myself Italian using the Duolingo app!

And can you believe it - that brings us up to Week 13! 
I have completed the first quarter of my #Project 52 year!

And what a fabulous fun thirteen weeks it has been!

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