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Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Woolly Hats in the Woods

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

This blog post is a celebration of several things.

  • Of the special friendships and professional relations forged through social media
  • Of families and times having fun in the great outdoors together
  • Of my upcycled woolly hats
  • Of UK knitwear manufacturers who have the foresight to recycle their waste and collaborate with upcyclers such as myself.
Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

I have made a large amount of hats, some from squares of recycled knitwear, and some from recycled merino wool sock tops from The House of Cheviot (more of the latter later).  I hate taking product shots using a plastic dummy, and had to resort to using a squash with a drawn on face to model the hats for the website.

Kids Hats Recycled Wool Knitwear The Woolly Pedlar

Kids Hats from Recycled Wool Knitwear by The Woolly Pedlar

Through Twitter and Instagram, I have got to know Corinne Hills down in Sheffield. Corinne bought a baby blanket from me in the past and our online friendship has developed over the last couple of years. Corinne has a wonderful family of boys, and home educates her children, spending lots of time in the woods as a learning environment. Recently, Corinne has set up her own website, Corinne Hills Photography and I thought, what better person to photograph my hats?

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

I am a massive fan of getting children out and about in the great outdoors. When I was teaching children with learning difficulties I did my training to become a John Muir Award leader. The John Muir Award encourages folk to discover a wild place, explore it and conserve it and then share their findings. Corinne and her family can be found regularly exploring and interacting with the woods around their home town of Sheffield.

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

So back to my hats – I make hats for everyone – from big people to little people! These can be found in the Accessories Dept of the website for big people, and in the Kids and Babies section for little people. Hats are either made using squares of recycled wool knitwear, as in the photo above, or using recycled merino wool sock tops as in the photo below.

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

The merino wool sock tops are a by product from that posh sock company, The House of Cheviot.  I’ve written about them before, in a blog post ‘Recycled Sock Top Hats from The House of Cheviot‘. I think it’s great when UK knitwear manufacturers can sell their waste to upcyclers such as myself. Waste needn’t be waste!

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

So, in conclusion, let’s hear it for Corinne and her family of awesome boys and for her photography; for the upcycling of waste knitwear into fabulous and funky hats; and for forward thinking knitwear manufacturers for recycling their waste back into the UK’s economy.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Are you on Instagram?

Continuing my four part series on using social media for a small business, this week I’m asking the question, are you on Instagram? If not, here are a few pointers for getting up and running with what is becoming one of the fastest growing social media platforms.

As I’ve said before, for this fifty something year old, using social media to promote my upcycling business has been a steep learning curve, but a most enjoyable one. Instagram has become another string to my bow, and works very differently to Facebook or Twitter.

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Research is showing that the photo-sharing app is one of the most effective brand-building tools available today. It is not surprisingly is a popular choice for other designers and professions, and is in fact increasingly important for every kind of business.

Whilst Instagram can be viewed on a laptop or pc, it is primarily an app for the smartphone. The Instagram app can be downloaded for free from the Apple store or Google play, and is very easy to use.

Once downloaded, you will be prompted to fill out your profile. Your username should match those already in use on other social media profiles. Write a short 150 character bio and include a link to your website.

Your profile picture can be your company’s logo or a photo of you, and again, it is useful to keep this consistent over all social media so that your brand is instantly recognisable. This is a job that I need to do as my profile pics are not all the same! I often wonder of it’s better to use a photo of me, an instantly recognisable product such as my sweatercoats, or my logo? I think I’ll change them all to my logo this week, after all it’s a great design!

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Stick to a theme. I live and work in rural Northumberland making one off handmade, upcycled products. This therefore is what I want to show folk. I do not include photos of my dinner, holiday snaps, family or other aspects of my life, but I do show photos of behind the scenes, where I live and work, what has inspired me in nature as well as photos of new products. I think it’s a good idea to develop an image of you and your brand that is not just about what you make, but rather how it is made, and the personality behind the business.

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You then need to add a caption. This is a chance to expand on your image, and link it back to your business. Use hashtags to help followers find your posts that are relevant to the photo, but use these at the end of the caption, and not jumbled up in the text. I frequently use the following hashtags: #upcycled #ecofashion #wool #recycled. You can put a couple of hashtags in your profile too.

On Instagram, you should be maintaining a regular posting schedule, but you don’t want to bombard your followers with too many posts. I generally post something once or twice a day, usually in the morning and again in the late afternoon to catch everyone returning home from work.

Don’t forget to crosspost your Instagram posts with other social media platforms. The app allows you to post images directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. However, I do find that as the different social media platforms work in very different ways, I do tend to construct posts differently depending on where they are destined for. I crosspost direct to Twitter and Tumblr from Instagram, but not to Facebook. That just a matter of preference.

I’ll leave you now with this photo of a poncho sent by a lady in Tennessee USA who followed me on Instagram, then put an order in for a bespoke rasta poncho after seeing posting of my upcycled woolly ponchos. It’s proof that using social media for business really is worth the while!

Ruana

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram I’m woollypedlar

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The Power of Twitter

Following on from last week’s post, about the Highs and Lows of Using Facebook as a Small Business, I thought I’d write this week about the ‘Power of Twitter’. I love Twitter, and it has helped me link up with some awesome people and has provided many business opportunities.

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It was through Twitter I met Gavin Forster. (It was in fact through Northeasthour on Twitter, but more of that later.) Gavin has a photography business, Gavin Forster Photography and was looking for designs to photograph to jazz up his website. He had seen a tweet of mine showing my brightly coloured, upcycled, woolly creations and thought my work was just what he was looking for. Gavin picked  a suitcase full of my sweatercoats and jumpers and took them off on a photoshoot with one of his models. I was delighted, as I got some absolutely stunning photos, many of which I still use today, and Gavin was delighted too as he got a lots of very funky shots.

The black and white sweatercoat above is one of his shots, as are these two and all three remain firm favourites of mine.

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Only last week, I came across Chris, who has a workshop called Quercs down in Skipton where he makes upcycled furniture using reclaimed timber. Chris had tweeted about his gallery opening, and his hunt for fellow upcyclers to exhibit there. I’m happy to say that through the power of Twitter, Chris and I started talking and last week I sent down a big box of bedspreads, throws and cushions to Skipton. Chris’ furniture and my bedspreads go beautifully together. Quercs is now added to the list of stockists of my upcycled woolly wares, thanks to the power of Twitter.

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One of the most unusual commissions to date has to the the coffin cosy I was asked to make for Divine Departures, a funeral parlour in Gateshead.(Unfortunately no longer in business). Divine Departures were after a covering for their cardboard caskets that fitted with the ecofriendly nature, and found me through #Northeasthour.

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 Northeasthour, is an hour dedicated to north east businesses and is hosted by Helen Armstrong on Twitter, every Monday from 8-9pm and on Tuesdays from 1-2pm. The idea being that is you tweet anything with the hashtag #northeasthour then this can be easily spotted and retweeted or commented on by others joining in with the hour. There are many different ‘hours’ over on Twitter, far too many to join in with them all, but living in the north-east, I’ve found #northeasthour to be a tremendously supportive community. I’ve even had my carpets cleaned by a guy who I found through #northeasthour.

ITV

It was through the power of Twitter that ITV got in touch. They has seen my work and were looking for a small business to interview for a broadcast about the election and how it was affecting businesses in the northeast. I was picked as I was a small business that appeared to be doing well. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk about my work, and the crew spent a lot of time with me, filming at home, and in Hexham at The Farmer’s Market.

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The list of contacts made and friendships forged could go on. In just 140 characters, Twitter invites you to tweet. Hashtags are used to help people find tweets. So for example, I tweeted about my latest sweatercoat today. I tweeted ‘This latest sweatercoat has a stonking great hood! #ecofashion’. I then included the link to my website and this photograph. A great opportunity to show what I’ve just made, and the #ecofashion hashtag means those searching for tweets on the subject will hopefully find mine! It really is as simple as that.
If you have something to tell the world, I really would suggest you give Twitter a go.

If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @Woollypedlar.

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