How a pandemic gave me my business the best year so far
am Goodison Glass was launched in July 2013—borne out of my passion for glass. It actually started as a hobby; I never thought that it would become a sustainable business, but here I am, seven years later, stronger than ever.
It all started when I read a local college prospectus that featured glass-making courses, quite a few years before the business began. I saw some stained-glass trees and other Christmas decorations lit up in the college window at night in the depths of winter and found it enchanting. A few years later I decided to give it a go. I became hooked—it was like an obsession.
My friend suggested I ran a few workshops at her gallery. I saw at this point how investing in the business could create more income, so off I went over the border into Derbyshire, my car piled up with equipment and glass. The workshops proved a great success until my friend decided, due to personal circumstances, to close the studio. This gave me an idea…could I run the workshops from home?
I began creating items on top of the tumble dryer in my utility room (I now have two rooms that I use at home as a studio and workshop space). Just before the first lockdown in 2020 I invested £500 and bought tables, etc. My downstairs, particularly my living room, turned into a makeshift studio. I ran one workshop then we went into lockdown.
Panic set in. How could I, first of all, run workshops (which had become my main source of income); secondly, how was I going to sell my products when all the craft fairs had been cancelled?
I floated a few ideas around, including the creation of glass crafting kits that could be posted. I really thought this initiative would take off. As I’ve found previously, you have to keep evolving and adapting in business. I’ve tried many ideas and most of them failed—the main thing is, I tried them!
Many a time I’ve been ready to give up, but my love of glass kept me going. The kits did not take off as I’d hoped they would, but again I diversified. It’s wise to aim for as many income streams as you can, then if one fails you have something to fall back on. I was lucky that I was able to promote my business in a number of groups on Facebook—not via sponsored adverts, but just by sharing great photos of my creations. That’s where I really saw traction. In a short space of time numerous orders flooded in. I even put my prices up slightly and they still continued to come! I realised that the key was showing my audience and connections the great work I do.
In October this year my business page hit 2000 likes on Facebook. As I write it’s at 2,324. This, again, was achieved through simply sharing posts and images of my products. This method of promotion also worked for a friend of mine. After joining a new group, she achieved £500 of sales in one day, from a £30 investment. She told me about them, and I’ve had an amazing amount of success within the group since, including repeat business. I always make sure I look after my customers, so that they come back and purchase from me again.
In December, I decided I needed to reduce time spent in my day job to three days a week, as I was so busy trying to keep up with business orders. Earlier in the year I’d changed jobs, which meant a 50% pay cut. I honestly believed that I would struggle because of this, but I have managed to cut my costs (no more expensive trade fairs and exhibitions that never brought me business anyway) and I continue to work just three days a week even after the busy Christmas period is over—I honestly believed this would be something I’d achieve in June 2021.
That little voice in my head no longer claimed that growth in my business was something I couldn’t achieve.
Working with glass also helps with my mindset. I’ve heard many of my students comment that they are ‘in the zone’—where they think about nothing else but the item they’re creating—and I think that’s one of the reasons why I love it so much. I’ve had some very stressful jobs in the past and my passion for glass and growing my business has helped me cope.
Last year I concentrated more on creating bespoke pieces and applying customised branding on glass items for businesses. With a bigger kiln coming soon, this element of what I offer will expand even further. I also plan to create a subscription box, so that my income becomes more regular, but at the moment I’m happy that, at the quietest time of the year, I have a six-week waiting list.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been able to achieve this all on my own. I’ve sought support in many areas, including coaching, the help of my contacts in the crafting sector, my family, and a very understanding boss.
So, although 2021 seems to have stalled in terms of the lockdown, I know that once we’re allowed to open up again, my workshops will really take off as people crave a bit of mindfulness. It’s certainly been a challenging twelve months on so many levels, but my business is proof that there are always opportunities to be found, even amongst the worst of times.
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