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Bringing Innovation To The Craft Jewellery Market…

Q. Tell us about your company? How did it come about?

A. In 1998 I started an e-commerce website as a complement to my father’s tool business; I was in high school at the time. Nearly ten years later, after college, I decided to focus the majority of my time on the website, separate it from my family’s business, and run it independently. Around the same time, I noticed a trend – metal stamps were hot and they were being purchased by an unexpected customer. Women were purchasing these industrial stamps to create personalised hand stamped jewellery. When I realised there weren’t any companies catering to this market, I decided to make it my main focus, and ImpressArt was born.

Q. What products do you specialise in?

A. We specialise in everything needed to create personalised hand stamped jewellery. This includes stamps, tools, blanks, and a variety of other products that help make it easy for the novice and enthusiast to create beautiful, on trend jewellery.

Q. How is your company developing and growing?

A. Since incorporating in 2009 we continue to have tremendous year over year growth. We are constantly investing in talented new staff, equipment, and other technologies. We continue to expand distribution worldwide with successful re-sellers in about 30 countries, some of which solely focus on ImpressArt products.

Q. Have there been any recent developments that have changed your company’s profile?

A. Though product development has always been one of our strengths, we are placing even more of a focus on it going forward in an effort to keep up with our maturing audience and to appeal to new audiences.

Q. What inspires you to create new products and bring them to market?

A. Our customers inspire us. We listen to them and try to provide products that they want as well as innovative products they didn’t know they wanted. Our focus is on innovation, and that is what makes us truly unique.

Q. What can we expect from your company in the next 12 months?

A. The next 12 months will be extremely busy for us! You can expect a ton of new product releases, major growth into Europe, and a line expansion that will aim to include non-jewellery crafters.

Q. How has the market changed since you first started out?

A. In 2010, our clients were the early adopters, the people who helped to start the hand stamping trend. As the craft grew in popularity, we have attracted a broader audience. From experienced metal smiths and jewellers, to novices and craft enthusiasts who are looking for something new, we have continued to paint with broad strokes to ensure that we are not leaving anyone out.

Q. What do you feel your greatest success has been since you started your business?

A. Despite all odds, we developed something out of nothing. ImpressArt started during a recession, yet we managed to persevere and bring our product to the masses.

Q. To what do you attribute your success?

A. Much of our success is attributed to identifying and being able to fulfil the needs of this niche market. We do that by always thinking outside the box. While we’ve certainly experienced a lot of success I think it’s important to note that we aspire for a lot more and still feel we have a long way to go to be truly successful.

Q. What advice would you offer to retailers?

A. We encourage our retailers to find creative ways to set themselves apart. The days of competing solely on price are long gone. The internet has created some tough competition for brick and mortars as well as online retailers, and it is important to make sure your business is unique, and to ensure that you are providing the best experience possible for your customers. When we focused more of our time on our retail website we would always ask ourselves “How are we different from Amazon.com”. I think all retailers should regularly conduct that audit on themselves.

Q. What services and support do you offer retailers who stock your product?

A. Our customer service and collaborative spirit sets us apart from other suppliers. We offer our retailers an immense amount of support including expert sales advice and guidance, as well as strong educational, marketing, and communications tools. We make an effort to go above and beyond when it comes to servicing our retailers and arming them with whatever they need to be successful with our line. We are confident in our product and know that if it is properly marketed, it will sell itself.

Q. What trends do you predict will be popular in the coming year?

A. In a world where just about everything is mass produced in Asia, personalisation is going to continue to grow. From luxury to mass market consumers, people are looking for something unique. Hand made products offer consumers something custom and personal to them that nobody else has.

Q. What are you currently working on? New launches, etc?

A. We are always working on new stamp designs. In addition to that we have some exciting new tools coming; a revamp of our entire line of blanks, and a whole new line of on-trend project kits for non-jewellery crafters. Be sure to sign up for our email so that you stay in the loop on our latest releases!

Q. How can a new customer open an account?

A. ImpressArt makes it extremely easy for new customers to open an account. Interested retailers and distributors can fill out a dealer application at ImpressArt.com, and one of our account executives will follow up within the week.

Going from strength to strength

Craft Business: Tell us about your company?

Michael Armstrong: I set up Rico Design Ltd ten years ago as a UK/ Irish trading business for Rico Design GMBH, a third generation privately owned Arts and Crafts Wholesale business based in Germany. As one of Europe’s largest suppliers to the market it was important to have a base in the UK/Irish market selling directly rather than through third party distributors. The company sells approximately 26,000 SKUs covering most areas of craft that include knitting and crochet,fabrics, stitching and embroidery, jewellery making, stationery, party and paper and craft haberdashery. We only sell products that are branded Rico Design.

These are created by our own product teams and sourced from our manufacturing partners throughout the world. We believe in the complete product journey i.e. every part of the process from idea to final delivery is controlled by our in-house creative teams so the consumer receives a clean brand experience. We are a destination for arts and crafts developing beautiful product collections and supporting their retail sales through our marketing activities and shop display/space planning.


CB: How is your company developing and growing?

MA: From a standing start in 2007 Rico Design Ltd has become a significant supplier to the retail market. I believe the company enjoys great relationships with its customers valuing each one with the highest importance irrespective of size. There have been so many changes in the last ten years. I have a great team of people working with me and we are in turn supported by very talented and dedicated colleagues in Germany. To support the future expansion of the company a big investment was made in 2016 with the construction of a significant addition to our warehouse and distribution space. In addition, the company purchased a redundant plant bakery building covering some five acres for redevelopment to meet new market opportunities within Arts and Craft.


CB: What are you currently working on? New launches, ect?

MA: The summer is a very exciting time of the year for us. Our new fabric, stitching, knitting and crochet collections are being presented to our retail customers together with some exciting enhancements to our craft and stationery ranges. In addition, we will be launching an online order portal so our retail customers can fully appreciate the breadth and opportunity the company offers.

Spot Light On The Craft Cotton Company

Tell us about your company?

The company was founded in 1948 by Tony Levy, grandfather of the current owner Aarran Levy. Located in the garment district of Manchester, the company was a general fabric merchant, buying and selling all types of fabric, typically to clothing manufacturers. As clothing manufacturing moved abroad, the company concentrated on speciality fabrics for dancewear & fashion and printed cottons for a variety of customers.

On a trip to the USA 15 years ago, Aarran saw his first fat quarter bundle. Always on the lookout for exciting new concepts and designs, the company decided to produce its first collection of pre-cut bundles. Demand from crafters and quilters continued to grow and to give this area of the company it’s own identity, the company created a new brand in 2011 and called it The Craft Cotton Co, a trading name of the limited company Visage Textiles.

Have there been any recent developments that have changed your company’s profile?

To underline a commitment to bring exclusive ranges to quilt store customers, the company show collections by Henry Glass & Company who have been a leader in developing innovative quilt lines for the home sewer for over 100 years. They launch new lines each season designed by their in-house art department and work exclusively with famous licensed designers such as Kim Diehl.

Recent ranges of licensed designs including Winnie The Pooh and Peter Rabbit have also proven to be particularly successful. The company are very excited to announce a partnership with Camelot Fabrics to offer licensed ranges including Bambi & Star Wars to the UK.

How has the market changed since you first started out?

Participation in crafting grew during the last recession. Rather than going out for a meal or going to the pub, consumers stayed at home and looked for hobbies to occupy their time and they continue to do so.

Personalities such as Kirstie Allsopp and tv shows like BBC’s The Great British Sewing Bee have shown that sewing and upcycling can be both useful and really fun. They say doing it yourself is not just about saving money, it’s about creating something you can be proud of. The therapeutic benefits of crafting are also now widely recognised.

Many mainstream retailers have recognised these trends and you now find crafts in all manner of stores.

What products do you specialise in?

Alongside the speciality fabrics and printed cottons mentioned earlier, the company has worked hard to develop an exciting and affordable range of pre-cut fabrics, for example fat quarter packs, recognising that these packs are incredibly helpful to new and more experienced crafters who are taking on a new project.

To what would you accredit this success?

The company don’t have a formal mission statement but if they did, it would be ‘to bring craft sewing and quilting to the many, rather than to the few.’ The way they have achieved that is through great designs, great quality fabrics and great prices.

The company never stops asking for feedback from customers and end consumers. What designs do you like? What do you like about them? What do you do with them?

What services and support do you offer retailers who stock your product?

The Craft Cotton Company blog provides free content in the form of fun projects, easy to download and distribute to their customers. Subscribe to the blog through the company website.

What are your plans for the future?

Always moving forward and never standing still, the company are about to launch their own line of Premium Acrylic Double Knit Yarns in many beautiful shades.

The Craft Cotton Company

9-11 Chatley Street

Cheetham Hill

Manchester

M3 1HU

0161 832 9431

enquiries@craftcotton.com

www.craftcotton.com

Email

Spotlight On Worldpay

Sarah-Jane Lampe: What drives you?


James Frost: Working with Worldpay’s small business customers and seeing how the innovation and technology we are developing helps these entrepreneurs grow and succeed. UK small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest success stories, growing at almost twice the rate of the wider economy and worth a staggering £84 billion a year. This dynamic sector is driven by talented and innovative creatives and we’re glad we can play a part in their success with My Business Hub.

SL: How did My Business Hub come about?


JF: Our customers were telling us that they struggle daily with the administrative burdens that come with running a business. It was distracting from their focus on growth and customer service, and so we struck upon the idea for My Business Hub – an intuitive, all-in-one tablet-based point-of-sale solution.

My Business Hub brings to business owners the ability to reduce the daily admin burden by automating the reconciliation of cash and card payments. Operated with a detachable Android tablet, it gives business owners the freedom to take payments anywhere around their business. This flexibility means they can spend more time with customers, enhancing the overall in-store experience, while also helping to reduce congestion at busy times by serving away from the till.




SL: How does it help owners connect more deeply with customers?


JF: One of the benefits of My Business Hub is that it gives small businesses a mobile point of sale. As they are able to serve customers anywhere on the shop floor, staff can provide a more tailored service and spend time speaking to customers. The product is designed to evolve with businesses as they grow. Worldpay understands that business owners need time back, so they can focus on their customers and creating a great business.Not only can users cut down on administration from fast reconciliation, but the system allows business owners to perform lots of other duties such as ordering stock or checking emails and responding to customer enquiries. The user can also view and compare sales trends, access transaction history, keep on top of cash flow and view invoices on a simple and easy to use platform.


SL: What is the biggest day-to-day challenge small businesses face?


JF: The run-up to Christmas is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for businesses. It’s a time where every resource should be focused on delivering a great experience to the influx of customers wanting to buy items during the festive season. Yet in truth, it’s also a time when even the most capable business owner can find themselves drowning under the pressure of having to juggle the demands of paying clients, with the everyday admin associated with running a business. For sole traders,processing a large number of transactions each day and reconciling that information can result in late nights and early mornings cashing up.

Another challenge to running any small business is accurate record keeping. According to Worldpay research, just over half of small business owners are unable to pinpoint their busiest trading day of the month and nearly two-thirds are unable to name their top three selling items. Meanwhile 40% of business owners couldn’t call up an accurate record of profit and loss.


SL: What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?


JF: Most entrepreneurs set up their own business because they are passionate about something whether that’s making artisan candles, selling knitting patterns or creating bespoke stationary – but between the pressure of ensuring their business is successful and dealing with the daily administrative burden they can lose sight of this. That’s why investing in technology like My Business Hub that helps business owners run more efficiently is really important.

My Business Hub comes with the innovative online tool My Business Dashboard - Worldpay’s insights tool for small businesses giving access to the full detail of all their card transactions online. Hub users will be able to see both cash and card transactions in their My Business Dashboard account, saving them time, whilst also enabling them to track performance, view sales trends and gain valuable insights about their business.


SL: What support do you offer to retailers who work with you?


JF: What’s great about My Business Hub is that it’s an all in one solution – giving businesses a mobile point of sale, card reader, printer and cash till. It’s easy to set up and the till is really user friendly and intuitive to use.

What’s more, we offer our customers 24/7 support along with a range of other products and services designed to meet the needs of small businesses, whether that’s pay as you go pricing for online payments, flexible financing to grow your business or access to a range of discount and complimentary businesses related services through our award winning Worldpay Benefits Club.


SL: In one sentence, describe My Business Hub?


JF: My Business Hub is an intuitive all in one POS solution for business owners looking to reduce the administrative burden, gain insight into their business and serve their customers better.

Contact: 0808 278 1140, www.worldpay.com

Spotlight on Checker Distributors


Craft Business: Tell us the history of your company:


Brad Krieger, vice president of Checker Distributors: My grandparents, Bob and Del Krieger, started the business in 1948 supplying zippers, thread, yarn and ribbon to stores in Ohio, USA. The business grew slowly until 1971 when my father, Rob Krieger returned from the army and joined the business. In 1984, fabrics were added and the growth continued with the addition of sales representatives. The year 2000 marked the year Checker entered the world market and became known as the world’s leading supplier of quilting and sewing products. With the development of our website in 2006, retailers now had access to our vast inventory of over 140,000 items.


CB: You recently launched a new shipping program to the EU tell us more:

BK: We are very excited to offer a shipping solution to our existing and future customers in the EU. Their purchases will be a consolidated shipment via FedEx, with no weight requirements. Our customers will not be charged VAT and it is a three-business day transit from Checker to their store. VAT Funds will not be collected at time of delivery and the shipments are trackable from when they leave Checker until FedEx delivers to their door. Freight is currently (June 2016) charged at $1.85 per lb. with no minimum weight requirement. Our unparalleled selection of quilting products is now very affordable and fast to the EU.


CB: What are your top-selling brands?

BK: Our top-selling brands are the ‘must have’ notions and fabrics that quilters use. We have more than 1,200 vendors including very popular brands such as OmniGrid, Olfa and Clover notions; Hobbs and Bosal batting; Aurifil and Mettler thread; Benartex, Free Spirit, and Michael Miller fabric; C&T Publishing, Atkinson, and Martingale patterns and books. We encourage customers to browse the thousands of different vendors on our
website conveniently sorted by product category.




CB: Who is your target audience and what appeals to them most?

BK: The independent shop owner is our target customer. Shop owners are very busy running their store, teaching classes, etc. Checker offers them a true one-stop shopping experience with the thousands of brands we carry. Our website offers them all the tools to check stock availability, status of backorders, review old invoices and much more. We even offer online chat and an international customer service team who are always available via email.


CB: Does Checker help the independent shop owner with class and demonstration ideas?

BK: Yes, our website has about a thousand demonstration and class videos. They provide quick kit ideas and training forshop owners and their staff, and the make-and-take classes include an outline and downloadable flyer too.


CB: In this competitive world we live in, what sets Checker Distributors apart from other suppliers?

BK: We are family owned and just real people helping independent shop owners to be successful. Our incredible selection and the customer experience through our website and customer service reps, plus the new consolidated shipping program to the EU can’t be beat. Try us you’ll be hooked!


CB: How can a new customer open an account?

BK: Our experienced and knowledgeable customer service representatives are available Monday- Friday, 8am-5pm. EST via phone 001-419-893-3636,
online chat at www.checkerdist.com, or email custservice@checkerdist.com

Spotlight on Peak Dale Products

Craft Business: Tell us the history of your company?

Graham Aldous: Peak Dale Products was founded in 1997,but between the 5 members of the extended Aldous family who work here and the rest of our team, we have more than 150 years of experience in retail and wholesale craft business. Peak Dale Products, the wholesaler and manufacturing company, became independent five years ago and sells to retailers across the UK.

We’ve always been keen on providing shops with whatever their customers need. Sometimes we get asked for specific things, which we can source and sell via our website. We’ve also become an expert on spotting craft trends, creating kits and even entire product lines. For example, we’ve recently revamped our entire range of candle-making kits and developed eight new ones, which has seen sales rocket. Recently we’ve started working directly with designer-makers to develop kit ideas and this is proving to be really successful too. We’ve recently worked with Caroline Buchwald of Pewter Concepts and developed pewter and copper embossing kits.

CB: Who is your target audience?

GA: Our target audience is definitely shops. We are set up to supply retailers and we love to service and support craft shops, whether they are bricks-and-mortar or online only, we work closely with them all. Both types of retailer differ in terms of the quantities they need, the frequency of orders and the speed of delivery, but as a small business we are set up to be very flexible in our order and delivery services.

Because we work hard to get great prices and really good quality, bulk buyers often approach us to supply schools. We also get asked to supply large quantities of single items, from feathers to wooden balls, for specific business needs from shop-fitting to special events.

CB: What do you offer your customers?

GA: We supply over 3500 craft and hobby products, in over 30 different hobby or material ‘collections’, so there aren’t many products we don’t stock! Our focus is on hobbies, so most of our stock relates to a specific hobby or is a material that we know sells well. For example, we sell thousands of pieces of balsa wood each month, in various lengths, thickness and shapes. We sell large amounts of copper, pewter and brass in various thicknesses of sheet and sizes too. These are materials that we sell a lot of and always have in stock.

We sell a number of kits based on a variety of hobbies, plus the separate components of the kits and products connected with the hobby too. An example would be candle making, where we have several kits, plus hundreds of moulds, waxes, wicks, dyes, scents and accessories that may not be part of one of our kits but are associated with the hobby.

Recently we’ve started to develop a range of products for metal embossing, which is a new hobby to us. It fits in well because we already sell the metal sheets. We’ve designed some tools and had them made, and also some kits so that crafters can try the hobby using our materials and designs.

We find that being a UK company, shops appreciate that we work hard to design and develop our products and they like the fact they can talk to us before and after sales, rather than simply importing and not being sure what they are going to get.

CB: You recently launched a new website, tell us more, what do you hope to achieve?

GA: Wow what a job that was! Transferring hundreds of customers and thousands of products over from the old site to the new one. The main purpose of making the change was to enable us to receive orders automatically into our accounting system – previously they were manually typed in – massively speeding up the process of picking and packing orders. Now customers get their orders more quickly. In the process we have significantly upgraded the look and feel of the site, increased security to modern standards and added some useful marketing functions.

We plan to introduce more enhancements, including specialist websites, over the next two years.

CB: To what do you attribute your success?

GA: We feel that being a champion for shops is the right strategy for us. Shops, especially high street stores, have many challenges, especially competition from online sellers with their lower overheads. Also, we’ve found that a lot of wholesalers or manufacturers sell directly to the consumer through an Amazon or eBay shop that gives them additional margin, but effectively undercuts their shop customers. We’ve taken the decision not to do this and therefore we only sell online through our trade website. There is a simple, but effective, sign-up process to ensure we only create accounts for business customers.

One recent success has been the introduction of the Craft Panel – a group of retailers, business users andcrafters who comment on our products, test new kits and feed us ideas. It’s a great way of getting market information.

CB: What are your business plans for the future?

GA: We’ve recently confirmed our strategy for the years ahead – focusing on shops and making sure that as many of them as possible know about Peak Dale Products. We’ll keep sourcing, making and selling good-quality versions of everyday craft materials at competitive prices. We’ll also constantly look at developing new kits and with the help of our craft panel, keep an eye on future trends.

Telephone: 01298 78447

Email: sales@peakdaleproducts.co.uk

Website: www.peakdaleproducts.co.uk

Twitter: PeakDaleProduct

Spotlight on Deflecto

Craft Business: Tell us about your company?


Andy Page: Deflecto are a global manufacturer with sites in the UK, China, Canada and the USA; and has a long history of creatively applying solutions across different business channels.

Back in the 1960’s, an imaginative Deflecto employee flipped the company’s patented air deflection device - which had already been revolutionary in both commercial and private residence applications – upside down and started marketing it as an office supply organiser. It’s that type of creative thinking which has characterised Deflecto ever since.

Based in Newport South Wales, Deflecto has over 50 years manufacturing experience.

Craft is our focus however Deflecto have experience in the following areas; Office Products, Point of Sale, Literature Display, Floor Protection and Acrylic Fabrication.

CB: What products does Deflecto specialise in?


AP: CRAFT storage is our latest innovation and an area we are developing very quickly however as a business we are passionate about plastic and are proud to be the leading manufacturer of plastic components for the Point of Sale Industry in

Europe. You will have seen (but not always noticed) our products in most high street retailers and supermarkets.

We are justly as famous for our literature display products, which includes everything from business card holders to countertop, wall mounted and floor standing sign and literature holders.

CB: What would you accredit this success?


AP: Our products are manufactured from our wholly owned Chinese production facility, which enables us to be cost competitive, quick to market and European brand leader in a number of different sectors – Something which we are extremely proud of.

In addition, our strength has always been developing innovative cross-industry solutions that match customer needs - so when we looked at ways that our existing storage, frames, sign-display and floor protection products could be applied to the Craft sector the opportunity was so big for us, we simply jumped at the chance.

CB: What inspires you to create new products and bring them to market?


AP: We pride ourselves in creative thinking, innovation and the willingness to listen and respond to the needs and wants of our customers. Moving into the Craft market was a natural extension for us. We’re a solutions-based company, and we love finding new ways to meet customer needs and solve problems; and this wonderful Craft market is a great avenue for our type of creative innovation. We were able to quickly find ways that our existing storage, display, and floor protection products could translate into interesting art, craft, and education solutions.

Moreover, we were able to identify a major gab in the market when it came to storage solutions, and from this were able to develop new products specifically tailored to help crafters get more organised.

One product we are particularly proud of is our Interlocking Caddy Organiser – this product was showcased at the CHSI Stitches Show in February along with the rest of our craft range. We now realise that CADDY is more of a system than a one off product, it can evolve with you the more you Craft, perfect.

We develop products that give solutions to problems in most cases. Developing new product innovations and maintaining strong supplier partnerships with leading global resellers is key to Deflecto’s success.

CB: How successful have your new launches been and why?


AP: We have had positive interactions with end users and customers within this market in different parts of the world and their enthusiasm and creativity has really energised our team.

The CHSI Stitches show gave us access to the contacts we needed to launch our new craft products in the UK and the response we received at the show was phenomenal. We were able to engage with designers, wholesalers, retailers and end-users and gain feedback on our products.

In addition, we have been able to interact with some major players in the industry and were able to exclusively launch our Interlocking Caddy Organiser bundle set on the Create and Craft TV Channel; which sold out in less than 24 hours!

CB: What can we expect from Deflecto in the next 12 months?


AP: We are keen to explore new ideas and enhance our knowledge even further in this sector. More recently we have become a member of the CHA-UK and will continue to work with them in terms of product development and innovation.

Deflecto will also attend at the ‘One Big Show’ organised by the CHA-UK in June, and will look to attend more events in this industry throughout 2016/17.

In terms of new product development, we were privileged to showcase our product prototypes at the Stitches show and gain encouraging feedback from customers - as well as capturing interesting ideas to evolve our existing range.

CB: What support do you offer to retailers who stock Deflecto products?


AP: We are fortunate to have developed and built great relationships with our existing retailers and wholesalers; who remain very loyal customers.

This relationship has been built on trust and an offering of free product training; access to marketing copy, sell-sheets and imagery to assist with the sales process.

As a manufacturer we have the independence to be able to develop and create eye catching product packaging, particularly suited for a retail environment – and with this, we are able to offer the very best prices!


Telephone: 01633 280123

Email: sales@deflecto-europe.com

Website: www.deflecto-europe.com

Twitter: Deflecto0

Email

Spotlight on Vlieseline

Craft Business: Tell us about the history of the company?

Sharron Belcher: Vlieseline is a brand of the family owned Freudenberg based in Weinheim, Germany and is the world’s market leader for non-woven performance materials. It is the first company to introduce non-wovens to the market and, thanks to ongoing technological development and innovation, it is one of the world’s largest and most diverse manufacturers of these today. Since 1948, Freudenberg have been developing products for interlinings, Vileda cloths, carpet backings, hygiene applications, automotive, filtration and building products, all using non-woven technologies.

CB: What sort of products does Vlieseline specialise in?

SB: Vlieseline products are the most famous and prestigious interlinings for those with a passion for sewing as well as for professional tailors/dressmakers, quilters, embroiderers and garment manufacturers. Vlieseline also specialise in creative products for textile artists and craft makers alike. These high quality interlinings provide the basic ingredient for a perfect finish and safe solutions.

CB: Vlieseline is a family-run business – how has this contributed to its success?

SB: After more than 150 years, the Freudenberg Group continues to be a wholly owned family enterprise. We strongly believe that our long term business orientation is a major strength that benefits our customers and partners. While we are not averse to reasonable risks, financial prudence and solidity will continue to determine the scope and speed of our strategic development. Freudenberg has a long and successful tradition of worldwide cooperation, alliances and partnerships which enable us to better serve our customers and strengthen our competitive position.

CB: Tell us about Vlieseline’s recent corporate unification, with a new name and website?

SB: What some people don’t realise is that Vlieseline belongs to us, Freudenberg, the founding German company. Starting from Germany, we have distributed the same products worldwide over the years; in the United Kingdom under the brand Vilene, and in the South of Europe under Flieselina. Since the 50’s, the world has changed, becoming more global. For this reason we decided to go back to our roots and promote our interlinings worldwide under one brand: Vlieseline.

CB: What impact has Vlieseline’s range had on the sewing industry?

SB: Interlinings are in nearly every garment worn today, whether it be in a tailored jacket, fashion skirt, curtains, sofas or piece of art. The sewing industry has been able to achieve new cutting edge design in the UK due to the skills of designers and a diverse range of interlinings which make the impossible possible in garment engineering and crafting. Our products are high quality and the end result is always one that suits and is durable. Our materials are tested and that has always been our USP. We always have and continue to work very closely with major design houses, crafters, teachers, colleges and artists, creating very strong relationships for our brand.

CB: What sewing trends do you predict will be popular in spring/summer 2016?

SB: Kits are becoming ever more popular with designers selling ideas and instructions to consumers. Copper metallics are very on trend and will be seen in dressmaking and home décor. And as always, bag making and home décor continues to be popular as they are quick, easy projects that even the beginner can attempt.

CB: What new products can we expect to see from Vlieseline?

SB: Currently the items that we are most excited about are our natural mix battings, 279 Cotton Mix 80-20. This is a needle punched wadding with a blend of 80 per cent cotton and 20 per cent polyester plus the added support of scrim, which gives the quilter a soft handle and luxurious drape in its lightweight construction while still offering a high level of support. In addition, a new foam based wadding, STYLE-VIL, which has been developed for bag and accessory making will be launched this year at CHSI Stitches on our stand DO2. Off the back off the success of the Multi Bag kit, we are currently working on a new range of ready-to-use kits which we are sure will prove to be another big hit with consumers!

CB: How do you see the sewing market evolving over the next few years?

SB: Over the last few years, Vlieseline has had a strong presence at both trade and consumer UK shows and this has helped us to take an overview of the textiles arena and the sewing market in general. The interest in textile based crafts, from DIY fashions and creating garments, to home decor, patchwork and quilting and textile art, is surging. While we are still noting a growing interest from those with little or no creative experiences in these areas, we are also delighted to have discovered that many are returning to us again and again, to further build their skills and knowledge of textile based crafts, suggesting that this current popularity is set to grow and evolve with the consumer. We feel that the key to continuing to boost and support this sector and encourage growth lies in continuing to provide entry level information while also looking to advance skills and therefore interest in those that are currently keen stitchers.


CB: What advice would you offer to retailers?

SB: Education consistently seems to be at the heart of success in any sector within our industry. Retailers that have a greater understanding of the products that they stock undoubtedly are able to better serve the customer. As the Vlieseline range is so extensive and offers creative solutions for a wide range of textile based crafts, we are taking greater efforts to ensure that the retailer is fully informed about our products, and the many and varied applications. To support this we offer retailers a wide selection of point of sale material in the form of product information sheets, brochures for specific sectors like dressmaking and patchwork and quilting, and guides to the full range along with the creative ranges. These not only give the full details about each item, but also feature its care instructions, which is essential for dressmakers and home stitchers alike.

This collection of supporting information sheets also include users guides and, in many cases, offers suggestions for projects featuring these products. In addition, one of the aspects of the Vlieseline unification that we are really excited about is the new website, www.vlieseline.com. Not only is the site user-friendly, allowing both retailers and consumers to search through the vast array of Vlieseline products, but it also offers trouble shooting sections, how-to guides and a growing collection of video tutorials and free projects. We hope that this will prove to be a valuable resource for the textile community.

Staying abreast of the current trends is crucial – social media is a great way to keep your finger on the creative pulse of the consumer. Checking out popular pins on Pinterest, monitoring posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keeping up-to-date with the growing community of stitching and textile bloggers is a great way to stay in tune with the needs of the consumer.

CB: What are Vlieseline’s plans for the future?

SB: Vlieseline aims for one global voice in that we can tap into all the creative minds out there no matter where they are and build a community of designers, crafters and artists talking, engaging, making and sharing the love of Vlieseline products.

Spotlight on Arne Nerjordet and Carlos Zachrison – Knitting

Biography

Carlos Zachrison comes from an artistic family with four generations of painters. Half Spanish and half Swedish, he was born in Brazil and had already travelled around the world before he was 13 years old. Arne Nerjordet also comes from a creative and musical family where everyone knows how to knit. He was born near Lillehammer, in Norway and comes from a small farm that has been in his family for more than 400 years.

Thanks to their creative backgrounds, the two designers can pretty much do anything, from illustrating and painting to sewing, embroidery, crochet, knitting and weaving. Arne is also skilled in woodcarving and welding, and has a degree in fashion design as well as pattern construction, specialising in men’s wear.

Both men learned their crafting skills from their parents and grandparents. Carlos learnt to paint from his father and grandfather, and how to knit from his mother. Arne learnt most of what he knows from his mother and grandmothers. Carlos learnt the textile part of his skills from Arne.

Getting Published

Carlos and Arne’s books are first published in Norway, then their mother publisher sells the book rights to publishers abroad and Search Press buys the rights to publish English language books. Their first book was 55 Christmas Balls to Knit; they simply contacted their Norwegian publisher with the idea and got signed up straight away. So far, they have written seven books, five of them are published in English. The sixth book, 30 Slippers To Knit and Felt, will be published this autumn and their seventh book, which is about art journaling will be published in English next year.

When Carlos and Arne started out, knitting books didn’t get the attention in the media that they get now. They were already best sellers, but no one knew that, as most media focused on other literature. The pair never thought that anyone could become a ‘knitting celebrity’, but today there are several authors of knitting books that have reached that status.

As a result, demand for good knitting books has increased and Arne and Carlos have been sought after since they wrote their first one. They originally thought that they would only take a year off work to write one book and have some fun, but since the first book was published in 2010, they haven’t been able to go back to a normal life, but instead continue to do this full time.

55 Christmas Balls/ Bestseller

Arne and Carlos feel that their first book, 55 Christmas Balls to Knit, really changed everything. It was completely new, with projects that were easy to do in a short time and they were able to provide 55 designs with one pattern. This book has now been translated into 17 languages and is available all over the world. Many beginners started to knit because of it.

When asked if there was anything they know now that they wish they’d known when they started out, the pair said that they hadn’t realised just how much travelling would be required to promote and sell their books! For example, this autumn they will be going on tour, starting in Norway on September 2, and visiting Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany, before finishing in Tokyo, Japan on December 18.

The Future…

The future continues to look bright for Carlos and Arne, who have just started to work with Coats and launched some sock yarn for Regia that has been very successful. As a result, they will continue working for them with all three brands, Regia, Schachenmayr and Rowan, and look forward to developing lots of great ideas with them. Watch this space…

Spotlight on Jessica Palmer

Craft Business: Tell us about yourself; did you come from a creative background?

Jessica Palmer: My mother was a sculptor, while my father painted and they were both superb potters. They took great pride in hand making everything, from plates and staircases, to clothes and preserves.

CB: What craft techniques do you specialise in and what inspired your interest?

JP: My passion is paper and I specialise in paper cutting, collage and sculpture. However, I am an illustrator and so I am probably happiest when I am drawing with a fine pigment liner pen. That being said, I see paper cutting as just another form of drawing, using a scalpel knife instead of a pencil.

CB: How did you develop your skills; did you take classes or were you self-taught?

JP: I did an MA in Illustration but there was little in the way of skills training on the course, so I taught myself. But I have learnt most by teaching. I run all kinds of art workshops and these have helped me extend what I know and the range of what I do.

CB: How did you get involved with writing books for Search Press? Tell us about the titles that you have written so far.

JP: I held an open studio in my home and a neighbour, who is a bookseller, saw my work and put me in touch with Search Press. I have just written The Art of Papercutting (July 2015) for Search Press and I have just drawn Tangle Wood – A Captivating Colouring Book for Grown-Ups (August 2015).

CB: How has the industry changed since you first started out?

JP: I was a BBC producer until 2006 when I took redundancy and did my MA in Illustration over the next two years. In 2008, we were still being advised to carry a portfolio around to publishers. That has almost disappeared now in favour of websites, blogs and online content.

CB: What effect has that had on the way your career has developed over the years?

JP: It took me a number of years and several tries before I came up with a website which worked and was well designed. This is absolutely crucial to me as a showcase for my work.

CB: What trends have you seen come and go?

JP: The current enthusiasm for handmade, homemade and hand crafted is one trend I really welcomed back with open arms. I love the technical challenge of learning how to cut large papercut images or making something like my Tudor Paper Galleon, in the Tudor House Museum in Southampton, or my Paper Tutu, now residing with the curator of the Royal Ballet Museum.

CB: What new products have appeared over the years that you feel have really made an impact on the industry?

JP: Paper as a material is a hugely diverse and growing medium now. There is a gigantic range of papers available for every different task you can imagine.

CB: Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known when you started out?

JP: I needed several years after my MA to continue learning, improving, growing a critical eye and really figuring out what I loved, what I was good at and finding a niche for myself as an artist. There were many times I nearly gave up. Luckily I was able to persuade myself to keep going! My husband was and is an incredible supporter and encourager. You need to have a friend or two with whom you can exchange ideas and offer encouragement.

CB: What are your plans for the future?

JP: To keep doing the best work I can and to continue experimenting. For example, I just made a series of collographs (sort of 3D collages) and used them to create embossed and printed images as illustrations for a book of poetry. To keep drawing and getting paid to do it, that is heaven for me!

Spotlight on Debbie Shore

Craft Business: Tell us about yourself; did you come from a creative background?

Debbie Shore: My mother was a seamstress, so I was taught to sew at a very early age. She was also very artistic, wrote wonderful poetry and worked as a draughtswoman. My father passed on his DIY skills to me and my sister, along with a curiosity of how things work. As a result, we’re both very good at taking things apart and putting them back together again!


CB: What craft techniques do you specialise in and what inspired your interest?

DS: I specialise in sewing, which until the last few years has been a hobby, my career being a TV presenter. The two came together whilst I was working for a shopping channel, and came to be selling sewing machines! The hunger for learning anything to do with needlecraft became so obvious from viewers, so it was they who inspired me to start to write and teach the craft.

Half Yard Heaven


CB: How did you develop your skills; did you take classes or were you self-taught?

DS: Mum taught me most of my skills, but to freshen up I’ve studied a few short courses at the London College of Fashion, and taken tuition in upholstery. A lot of what I do as in designing patterns and projects are things that I’ve figured out myself (thanks to my Dad!), so there has been a lot of trial and error.


CB: How did you get involved with writing books for Search Press? Tell us about the titles that you have written so far.

DS: I’ve written eight books so far for Search Press, six already published and two more to come out later this year. I have another three in the pipeline. My first book, Making Cushion Covers, was an idea I had after making a few projects that my husband, who’s a fashion photographer, took some beautiful pictures of. I sent them to Search Press who loved the images, and it all went on from there! My books are all aimed at the beginner, and my Half Yard series has proved to be a best selling range.


CB: How has the industry changed since you first started out?

DS: I’m really still quite new to the industry, but am seeing more and more use of social media, which makes authors more accessible to the public, and is a great way to promote their books.

Half Yard Home


CB: What effect has that had on the way your career has developed over the years?

DS: My career has completely changed in the last couple of years! I’m still presenting, but nowadays it’s only sewing shows. My writing is almost full time, and I’m designing my own patterns and fabrics.

CB: What trends have you seen come and go?

DS: Shabby chic I think has had its day, we seem to be going for bold colours and statement fabrics. Nautical is playing a huge part at the moment!

CB: What new products have appeared over the years that you feel have really made an impact on the industry?

DS: In my industry, sewing machines are becoming more comprehensive, computerised and easier to use and maintain. Measuring and cutting tools are more advanced to give accurate cutting.

CB: Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known when you started out?

Sew Useful

DS: I wish I’d have known this is where my career would have taken me while my parents were alive, they would have been so proud!

CB: What are your plans for the future?

DS: There’s Half Yard Kids and Sewing Room Secrets to name just a couple of books, then there’s the fabric range, growing my web site, and designing patterns and kits. I have a lot planned!

Caran d’Ache Celebrates 100 Years

This year marks an important milestone for the Maison Caran d’Ache. Since it was founded 100 years ago, the family business has increased in stature to become an international icon of writing and drawing, thanks to its unique expertise and the kind of quality you only find in Switzerland. To launch the celebrations of our 100th year anniversary, we opened the doors of our manufacturing facility to visitors in February, taking them to the very heart of the production. This was the perfect occasion to reveal some of the many surprises we have planned throughout the year and to reaffirm the values and future vision of our Geneva-based company.

The history

Since 1915 Caran d’Ache has carefully preserved the art of handwriting, the symbols that have connected people from the dawn of civilisation. With a priceless heritage of expertise, it designs and produces innovative products in its workshops.

Caran d’Ache art and drawing materials as well as writing instruments are recognised around the world for their Swiss made excellence and quality. Combining technical expertise with aesthetics and original materials with superb design, they are personal objects that add refinement to every new page of drawing or writing. Each creation is part of the human adventure and passion that has shaped the company, a synthesis of the spirit, rigour, determination and expertise of specialists in more than 90 skills. They are all entirely produced in Geneva, Switzerland in the great tradition of Swiss manufacturing.

Born as the ‘Fabrique Genevoise de Crayons’ in 1915, Caran d’Ache adopted its present name in 1924 when Arnold Schweitzer took over. It was a tribute to the French cartoonist Emmanuel Poiré who signed his drawings ‘Caran d’Ache’, a French adaptation of ‘karandash’ the Russian word for pencil.

Right from the start, Caran d’Ache explored the wide range of colour and writing tools for different forms of expression such as pencils, pastels and fibre tipped pens, as well as writing instruments that act as an extension of the hand. The desire was to create, transmitting harmony of a line, a draft or a sketch, experimenting with a technique or revealing a subtle nuance. It is one of the only companies in the world to offer such a large and comprehensive palette of products for design and writing.

With their elegant design, original choice of materials, strong pigments and technical excellence, Caran d’Ache products are an invitation to discover and explore. They symbolise the spirit of a manufacturer focused on innovation and driven by craftsmen committed to excellence.

The company’s long history of inventions and developments is testimony to the great creative freedom that energises the workshops.

1929 Fixpencil, metallic clutch pencil, a world’s first.

1931 Prismalo, water-soluble pencil, a world’s first.

1952 Neocolor, wax pastels.

1985 The Fine Arts range is launched with Neopastel.

2008 The Bar à Couleur, enabling a customer to test the products at will.

Caran d’Ache is a family company and a complete manufacturing facility. In its workshops, craftsmen with pecialist skills work alongside machines at the cutting-edge of technology. The company is committed to preserving and developing its 100 years of expertise.

Tradition meets innovation

Throughout its history, the Maison Caran d’Ache has always managed to evolve in a way which is both coherent with and respectful of its roots. Having initially specialised in graphite and colour pencils, the workshops in Geneva gradually diversified to incorporate an increasingly wide product range, all inspired by unique expertise. A true ambassador of Swiss quality, Caran d’Ache has succeeded in developing at an international level and now has a presence in more than 90 countries.

Our brand also has a strong commitment to social, artistic, and sporting initiatives, shown through the support given to young talent and various cultural institutions. The support made available to young artists and designers, to education in less favoured countries, and to several museums and cultural or scientific institutions speaks volumes for the values of Caran d’Ache, as do the involvement in the ‘Cartooning for Peace’ initiative and the sponsorship of the young Swiss tennis player Belinda Bencic.

Sharing the moment

Intended as a tribute to the 100 years of ceaseless contribution made to artistic expression in all its forms, the Collection Anniversaire (Anniversary Collection) from Caran d’Ache consists of symbolic creations, which embody the history of the Maison Caran d’Ache and will therefore be presenting (in order of appearance) some reworked versions of the iconic Technograph, Fixpencil, Prismalo, Ecridor, and 849 models on a limited edition basis.

This anniversary also provides Caran d’Ache with an opportunity to thank all those involved in the company on a daily basis and to celebrate the emotional ties that bind them to the brand. The result is a magnificent film made specifically for that purpose (available at www.carandache.com/100).

Loyalty

Caran D’Ache has an unmistakable family character and recognises that its people are its most important assets. Its shared ethical values, its lasting partnerships and its close links to the nearby environment all illustrate the notion of loyalty that has been fundamental to its development.

Innovation

The originality in the materials and technology of Caran d’Ache creations is due to the efforts of two integrated R&D departments, one devoted to colours and the other to writing. The results can be seen in numerous patented inventions such as Fixpencil and Neocolor that revolutionised writing and drawing. The company bring together traditional craftsmanship and advanced technology, an essential recipe for high-quality manufacturing.

Colours

Powerful, long-lasting, pure and shimmering. Caran d’Ache masters pigments to create colours that bring the most beautiful inspiration to the blank page. Its prism of 300 shades is a dazzling feat of alchemy and requires total control of all the stages of development and production.

The only limitation is imagination

From imperial purple to royal blue, from flamboyant coral to cherry red, the symphony of colours flourishes with different materials – pencil leads, felt tips, pastels, gouaches, inks – offering both brilliance and excellent light fastness. Since 1915, Caran d’Ache has inspired and enabled successive generations to enjoy unlimited creative freedom.

Sustainable development and social responsibility

Since 1915, Caran d’Ache has put the quality of its products and respect for environment and people at the heart of its activities.

The true quality of Caran d’Ache products shows in sustainable development at each stage of production, as well as in the company’s culture. All the pencils are certified FSC or PEFC, guaranteeing that their wood comes from protected forests. The company has also led the way in developing a water-based varnish for pencils that drastically reduces the use of solvents. Using the benefits of nature while ensuring its survival, drawing inspiration from technology while preserving its manual skills – these are the commitments of a company that is firmly in favour of protecting our environment.

Stick with Glue Dots – The Secret to Glue Dots Success

Craft Business: Tell us a little about the history of your company

Dave Angus: Glue Dots is a global brand and this year celebrates its 20th Anniversary. Founded in the United States in 1995, Glue Dots International revolutionised the adhesives industry with its instant bonding adhesive products under the Glue Dots brand name, creating a new and innovative adhesive category.

Invented by John Downs, Glue Dots was the first product of its kind on the market. Initially introduced to the industrial marketplace, the product line and related uses quickly expanded.

In 2001, an assortment of products was launched at the Hobby Industry Association Show in the United States and the response was immediate. Since then crafters have discovered endless uses for Glue Dots around the home.

Today, the company has a global employee base with headquarters in Germantown, Wisconsin, in the United States and has manufacturing facilities in the UK, US and Asia with a distribution network supported by more than 30 offices worldwide.

This year we appointed West Design to work with us as UK and European distributor for the craft, stationery, art and education trade sectors as they are very well-known and respected in the marketplace.

CB: What products does Glue Dots specialise in?

DA: We specialise in clean, versatile and safe adhesive products, aimed at the craft market, and are well-known for their high quality and value for money. In the UK and Europe, we have more than 29 products across three ranges: Craft, Stationery and DIY.

Glue Dots Adhesives offer a new way to glue, which is fast, simple and safe as they’re non-toxic, Lignin and acid-free. Glue Dots’ high quality, double-sided adhesive bonds instantly and because there’s no mess, no fuss and no drying time they are ideal for mixed media crafting.

They’ll glue just about anything you can think of including: paper, glass, plastic, textiles, metal and wood. They come in a choice of three formats: sheets, rolls and dispensers as well as a range of adhesive strengths and sizes including: Mini, Removable, Ultra-thin, Micro Dots, Pop up, Permanent and Extra-large.

CB: How do you feel the market has changed since Glue Dots first started out in the business?

DA: The growth of social media has had a major impact on the industry as well as how we communicate as a business. Glue Dots has a far-reaching consumer-driven social media programme, which enables us to listen and learn, inspire and share information with a wide and growing consumer audience.

We have seen Glue Dots’ share of the adhesives market grow rapidly throughout our 20 year history and particularly in recent years, thanks to increased brand awareness and the increasing use of adhesives in manufacturing and retail sectors.

New product development has been crucial in the Glue Dots success story as the company has invested in manufacturing innovative new adhesive and application solutions.

Currently, there’s a strong trend towards hand held and desk top dispensers as consumers want fast, effective, easy-to-use, mess free, safe and clean alternatives to liquid glues and tapes. We have seen a 116 per cent increase in the sale of our Glue Dots Dispenser products in the last year.

CB: What services and support do you offer your customers when they choose to stock your products in their shops?

DA: We’re very proud of our comprehensive reseller support programme and West Design has a highly experienced and friendly sales team with a wealth of experience who like to work with individual resellers to make sure they have the right product mix and sales support to suit their budget, store and customers’ needs.

West Design can also supply a wide range of merchandising options,which can be manufactured as required, including hang packs clip strips, floor standing, aisle end and counter top display units.

In addition to a dedicated consumer website www.gluedotseurope.com/, we have a fantastic social media platform involving YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and an interesting blog post full of news, views, giveaways, ideas, tips and hints as well as a large directory of crafty ideas for the whole family.

We also produce Glue Dots’ in-store project cards to promote craft projects around busy times of the year such as Easter, school holidays and Christmas and these will be available through West Design.

Glue Dots is supporting its UK and European market expansion with a comprehensive PR and marketing support programme that is designed to increase brand awareness and engage with customers to encourage product trial. The 2015 campaign involves a multi-channel, sector focused approach targeting both trade and consumer audiences.

CB: What is your biggest accomplishment to date?

DA: Since the company was founded 20 years ago, Glue Dots International has revolutionised the adhesives industry, creating a new and innovative adhesive category, and we are very proud of our track record having started with one stockist, to being listed by every major retailer in the US.

Over the years, Glue Dots has won numerous awards for innovation and quality, in the US, including Creating Keepsakes Readers Choice awards for ‘Best Adhesive’ and ‘Most Innovative Product’, the ‘Best New Product/General Merchandise’ award from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and Learning Magazine’s ‘Teachers Choice for the Family’ award.

CB: What are your future plans for Glue Dots?

DA: We have seen huge growth in the US with our line of craft adhesives and we are now focused on establishing our brand in the UK and throughout Europe.

We started this year with the launch of a new look for our craft range and appointed West Design as UK and European distributor for the craft, stationery, art and education trade sectors.

New product innovation has always been a powerful driver in the craft industry and our major focus is transforming ideas into technically advanced adhesives and bringing new, effective products to market.

Creations by Korbond range

Craft Business: How and when was the company started?

Stuart Caller: Korbond was established in Australia in 1956, by Henry Korski and initially specialised in thermo plastic coatings and the laminating of textiles for the garment and shoe trade. Henry built a formidable reputation among the trade, with quality, value and service at the heart of his philosophy.

Henry switched the company’s focus from industrial production in the early 70s to service the growing demands in the consumer haberdashery markets. Korbond quickly established itself across Australia and New Zealand as the Care & Repair brand, and was subsequently launched in the UK market in the early 80s.

Today, Korbond are respected as haberdashery experts working closely with grocery retailers, high street stores, convenience stores, independent and speciality stores, large national wholesalers and digital outlets. We are very proud of our customer base, and have held true to the values established by Henry many years ago. We constantly seek to exceed our reputation of a brand established on superb product quality, supported by excellent service and representing great value for the consumer.

CB: How do you feel the market has changed since Korbond first started out in the business?

SC: Taking a recent view, through the late 90s and early 00s we lived in a consumable and disposable society and it was cheaper to buy new clothing and garments than to repair them. In 2008, the recession hit households hard and Make Do & Mend became a household trend. Demand for core items increased, sales of sewing machines rose and the popularity of sewing lessons grew more than expected. I feel this stimulated and revitalised the industry, and it has continued to develop over the last six years beyond necessity based sewing activities to desire led hobbies.

The popularity of The Great British Sewing Bee and other TV programmes, and the growth of social media is having a positive impact on the whole industry and they are major factors in attracting a wider audience and enticing many new users.

We operate in the most sophisticated omni-channel, social media-driven, consumer-centric environment. Consumers are well and truly at the heart of information and technology allows consumers to learn, share, innovate, customise and purchase. This will continue to drive our industry forward.

For us the known fact is that change will be a constant – trends will come and go within the industry, but there will always be a demand for core haberdashery and craft tools and accessories. We must continue to make our products and our business model stimulating, relevant and competitive.

CB: What products does Korbond specialise in?

SC: There are more than 300 products within our entire portfolio delivering a range of sewing, clothes care and crafting tools and accessories. We have two brands that are presented to retailers, our Korbond Care & Repair brand and our Creations by Korbond brand.

Korbond’s Care & Repair range has been the UK’s number one brand for haberdashery and clothes care accessories for more than 25 years. The brand is established upon the fundamental foundation of providing a tailored selection of the best-selling products, packaged and presented ready for the retail environment. The range has been carefully designed to ensure that the retailers have the core products to support a wide range of sewing and crafting activities, and is widely recognised for its exceptional quality and value for money.

Creations by Korbond is a dedicated craft brand featuring a wide selection of carefully engineered crafting tools and accessories, modern storage solutions and gifting items for the haberdashery and craft market. The products are bright, colourful and fun, focusing on high quality that is expected from a professional range.

So whether retailers are looking to stock a range of key sewing and mending accessories, a range for care and repair, or more specialist craft items, the Korbond portfolio can deliver great choice at excellent value for both the retailer and consumer.

CB: You have recently launched your Creations by Korbond brand, can you tell us more about why you decided to launch it and what you hope to achieve?

SC: The Creations brand was born from a desire to provide a high quality and inspirational range that encapsulates the enjoyment and passion of crafting. We conducted a series of independent market research across 1,500 consumers and 50 independent retailers to understand what the market was looking for. The answer was the Creations by Korbond range. A well designed, inspiring collection of tools and accessories to support a broad variety of crafting.

Our new Creations by Korbond range is ideal for adding a touch of style to retail stores, and has been designed to complement retailer’s existing ranges, while providing new and exciting twists to core tools and accessories. The range will also provide retailers gifting options, with our comprehensive range of sewing baskets and knitting storage solutions. We refresh the fabrics every six months and seek to offer retailers a wide selection of traditional and modern designs for those looking for something a little different to feature in store.

Creations by Korbond delivers a beautiful retail range to inspire creativity, fun and excitement to both new and experienced crafters. Particular attention to detail has been placed on the packaging design, not only the soft and earthy colours, but more importantly with the level of advice and guidance that is provided to support and inspire the consumer with their craft activities.

CB: What services and support do you offer your customers when they choose to stock your products in their shops?

SC: Our sales team have a wealth of experience and tailor our advice to ensure that all customers are serviced with the right product and merchandising solutions to meet their needs. At Korbond flexibility is key and we like to ensure retailers can engage with us in a simple and efficient manner. For example, retailers do not need to open a trade account, we work with them on trade discounts and trading days, and we offer a single pick ordering system where they are not obliged to adhere to large pack sizes or minimum order quantities.

We try to remove the stress and hassle from the ordering process, by empowering the retailer to place the order that suits them, their budget, and their consumers. This allows the retailer to take small quantities and expand their offerings without considerable upfront investment.

We also offer a wide variety of fixture options to display the Korbond brands. However, if customers are not looking for fully loaded fixture deals, we also have the ability to tailor their preferred product selection to suit individual store needs.

We continue to promote our brands within trade and consumer magazines, and utilise our website and social media to engage with consumers. We feel that it is important to continue to invest in our brands, and retailers expect this support.

CB: What are your future plans for Korbond?

SC: 2014 has been a year of innovation for Korbond and we are really only at the beginning of the journey. In the exciting months ahead there will be some further launches within Creations, as we seek to expand the offering further and we will certainly update everyone as the story unfolds.

We have also recently joined the CHA-UK and are looking forward to working with them and other members of the industry at their events and through their media to assist and educate retailers to better serve the UK consumer, remain competitive and most importantly be successful in revitalising the UK high streets.

To explore the full Korbond portfolio including our core haberdashery range visit http://sew.korbond.co.uk/product-range/product-catalogue or contact us directly to discuss your craft requirements.

Spotlight on Efco’s CEO, Martin Erler

Craft Business: How and when was the company started?

Efco: Well, we’re celebrating the Efco’s 50th birthday this year and it really was a kitchen table operation at the start – Lutz and Inge Erler (the present CEO’s parents) started it all by selling enamelling kilns and accessories from their home.

CB: What products does Efco specialise in?

Efco: We still build kilns in Rohrbach, Germany and Efcolor low melt enamel remains one of our most popular lines. But now, Efco also offers a diverse range of more than 20,000 craft components to the retailer, supplying everything for papercrafts, jeweller making supplies, candlemaking, Decopatch shapes and now and much more.

CB: What are your bestsellers?

Efco: We are glad to see that after 40 years or so, Macramé is making a reappearance in time for our anniversary in its new 21st century guise as Paracord braiding. This is proving to be a hot seller this summer. The other real craze is ‘Loom Bands’ and we just can’t get enough of these; we have a container due mid June, that we hope will see our customers through the season!

Décopatch paper mache and Papp Art shapes are consistent top sellers. Great for home decor and wedding and party favours, we’ve added to our range of Papp Art letters (available in three sizes) with a new 10cm high serif style, plus for the first time we are stocking Décopatch papers, as an addition to our popular napkin decoupage range. Do ask your sales representative for details.

Anything to do with feltmaking is selling well at the moment too and our new felting wool spinner, launched at Paperworld in Frankfurt, is a strong seller.

CB: What are your plans for the future?

Efco: We are aware that we need to develop our internet presence with the aim of supporting our retailers, so an effective B2B online site is essential and is one of our immediate goals. Our strategy is still to focus on the retailer, both bricks and mortar and online stores and unlike some manufacturers, we have no plans for direct sales to the consumer. We are becoming more of a global company as new markets emerge, and despite the challenges in the Eurozone, there is still potential in our European home market – so there are plenty of opportunities to keep us busy for the next year or so.

CB: What support do you offer to retailers who stock Efco products?

Efco: The Efco catalogue is a great resource. It’s updated twice a year with the latest trends and useful

guidance on craft techniques, plus it lists everything in the current range. We are still old fashioned enough to believe in a personal approach, we have sales agents out on the road to offer expert advice and support and are always available on the phone to answer any queries. We can also provide in-store demonstrations and offer finished samples, though these are subject to terms and order minimums, so do contact us for more details. Our aim is to be the one stop shop of choice for the craft retailer and with that in mind we have developed strong partnerships with leading craft brands such as Plaid and this summer we have added Décopatch papers to the range. We also try and be on top of the latest crazes – as mentioned above, at the moment everyone is going loopy for Loom Bands.

By offering a diverse selection of brands, basic craft items and our own branded products, we can offer the retailer considerable savings in inventory, plus the sheer convenience of being able to source from one supplier with great value and service – in a way, I suppose, we see ourselves as the Viking Direct of craft!

CB: You’re gearing up for a milestone anniversary, to what would you accredit this success?

Efco: You mean milestones! 50 years of Efco, 40 years of Hobbygross, our distribution company, and 20 years at our logistics facility in Rohrbach. To answer your question, it’s down to hard work and a great team. Also, the values of all successful family-run businesses – caring passionately about products and customers, as well as being there for the long term, rather than a quick buck.

On the subject of milestones; we started the ball rolling at our home fair at the beginning of June and we’ll keep the ball rolling with some super anniversary offers over the coming months, plus you might find a little gift from us in your next order. So don’t miss out, join in the fun, and make sure you are part of Efco’s year of anniversaries.

Best Seller

Chris and Stuart Freedman, founders of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads

Craft Business: Tell us about the history of Fire Mountain Gems. How did the business get started? Chris & Stuart: It started as a hobby in 1973. The hobby was lapidary – cutting faceted stones. This was a great hobby for an engineer – angles, optics and gemology. The problem came when we became buried in finished stones and had to start selling them to keep going. Soon we had four people in the garage, cutting full time. We put small ads in trade magazines and started selling cut and uncut, rough gems. We started sending out flyers with lists of cut and uncut stones. This was lots more fun than engineering and we soon moved to commercial quarters, and became a rock and gem/silversmithing shop. In 1986, we moved to Oregon, USA, where we now operate as a full-service, jewellery-making supply company. CB: What approach do you take when it comes to the jewellery and beading market? C&S: When we were just starting out, a seasoned businesswoman told us, ‘Take good care of your customer and your customer will take good care of you’. That’s about the extent of the worldly wisdom we have to pass along. It sounds so easy – it isn’t. You really have to learn to listen and to be open to questioning some of your own beliefs. CB: What has been your greatest challenge? C&S: Resisting well-intentioned advice, mainly from employees and friends who have wanted us to jump onto every fad and gimmick. Anybody want to buy a room full of dumb ideas? We’ll say it again: when you need good ideas for products or processes, ask your customers. CB: What has been your greatest success so far? C&S: Our greatest joy has been watching our customer lists grow worldwide. The bulk of the growth is from referrals; one jewellery maker referring us to another. However, we don’t measure success in numbers because customers aren’t numbers, employees aren’t numbers, and vendors aren’t numbers. Those who like numbers tell us that we are now the largest fashion jewellery supply company in the world. Thanks everybody! CB: What are your most popular products? C&S: Our single most popular product was an accident. It happened more than 30 years ago. Our most popular product line then, as it is now was gemstone beads. Customers who didn’t want to buy an entire strand of one item asked us to sell the beads individually. To enable this, we got four large trays, each having 100 pockets. When customers requested them, we would carry the four trays containing 400 types/sizes/shapes of beads out of the back room and over to the front counter. As I was bringing them out one day, I tripped. The four trays flew up in the air and beads went everywhere. We had two rules: 1. If you make a mess, you clean it up, and, 2. The rules apply to everybody. As I was sweeping them up, an idea came – why don’t we sell bags of assorted beads and other desirable items. It could be like a ‘grab bag’. We would tell the customers how it originated and call it The Boss’s Bead Bag. After 35 years, that is still our bestselling item. CB: Do you provide retailers with any support? C&S: Yes, we treasure our retailers; if they don’t succeed, we cannot succeed. We provide them with: - Platinum Partner special pricing that doesn’t appear on catalogues or on the web - Advanced access to all our publications (about 2,500 pages of printed matter every year) - Patterns/designs with instructions for classroom usage - Updates on current designs and colours - Exclusive weekly previews of new items CB: What does the future hold for Fire Mountain Gems? C&S: The customers are still telling us what they want, so we are working around the clock to provide it: - New ways to order and pay, including mobile and PayPal - New products – we have 116,000 items on the web, but we get many requests daily for new items - Faster service worldwide – secure, inexpensive delivery with lowest possible tariffs or duties.

ImpressArt is an innovative, niche business, offering something new and exciting to the craft jewellery market!

Arne Nerjordet and Carlos Zachrison, Norwegian and Swedish respectively, established their design company ARNE & CARLOS in 2002.

Drawing on traditional Scandinavian influences and the natural environment, they create original and striking knitwear.

Jessica Palmer gave up a TV production career to rekindle her first love of art, gaining an MA in Illustration at Kingston University at the age of 49.

Debbie Shore started her career as a children’s television presenter and since then has appeared regularly

on television and written several bestselling sewing books.

1929 - Fixpencil, metallic clutch pencil, a world’s first.

1931 - Prismalo, water-soluble pencil, a world’s first.

1952 - Neocolor, wax pastels.

1985 - The Fine Arts range is launched with Neopastel.

2008 - The Bar à Couleur, enabling a customer to test the products at will.

1974: Lutz Erler starts Efco, selling enamelling kilns & supplies from the family home.

1984: As the company grew and expanded, hobbygross Erler GmbH was established as the distribution and wholesaling division.

1994: Hobbygross moves to its present distribution centre in Rohrbach & offers over 20,000 lines to the retailer throughout EU

Chris and Stuart Freedman

Chris and Stuart Freedman

The husband and wife team and founders of Fire Mountain Gems established the company in 1973, and have been based in Oregan in USA since 1986.

We look forward to many more years of service to our customers around the world.

02-06
February

Spring Fair

NEC Birmingham
16-18
February

CHSI Stitches

NEC Birmingham
21-22
April

Stationery Show London

Business Design Centre, London