I hope you enjoy my new blog, with fluffy love and quacks, Mother Duck xxxx

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Branding ... Dizzy Ducks in a nutshell?

I was reminded today how important it is to be able to explain to people you meet or on your website or other social media exactly what your business is … what you do.
I was told that I should be able explain my company ethos and what I do in the shortest way possible; especially as my Company name doesn’t tell people what I do. I have been to seminars where we have been asked to describe what we do in one sentence, an exercise I have yet to succeed at. So how do I do it, explain Dizzy Ducks Creations and Mother Duck, to anyone that doesn’t know me or the company?

The key words I need to use are – handcrafted, bespoke, one of a kind designs but none of those say what I do, I do all of those things and more besides, after all my page on Facebook has a gallery of things I have made, both old and new, but I don’t really sell from that page it is more of a community, a place of motivation, hints and tips etc. Those key words are not enough to explain the facets of Dizzy Ducks Creations … I think this challenge will be with me for some considerable time to come BUT I know I have to find a ‘strap line’ my one sentence and I have to be able to describe my company when asked.

This is what I wrote today when asked to explain and it doesn’t go anywhere near really describing me and what I do.
“On fb Dizzy Ducks is a community of people from all walks of life that share hopes, dreams and hints n tips. Our page is also a place for motivation when things are getting us down; it is also a place to go to see a gallery of our work old and new.
At craft fairs we sell a cornucopia of items ranging from greeting cards, bags, clocks, jewellery and so much more.
At Wedding fairs we display our wedding and special occasion stationery and favour boxes.
On the website you can purchase from all areas of Dizzy Ducks Creations including requesting a bespoke OOAK piece just for you”

How do I reduce all of that down to one sentence? How much of that information do people want or need to know and how important is the ‘do it in a sentence’ thing, would I be better off honing a great short paragraph? 

Branding can be a minefield, big companies employ people to do this sort of thing for them the cost of which I am pretty sure is out of the realms of a small business like mine. I selected the company name really without any thought of whether it explained what I did – it just fit me. I had the logo designed when we first started and upgraded it recently but again without thinking whether it explained what the company was about. 
So should I now be asking myself whether my choices have been right or good for the company? Should I continue the down the path I have chosen and find the words I need to add to the existing branding (Logo)?
How to put a cornucopia of handmade individually designed items and services into a nutshell?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Adventures into Twitter

I have finally given in, I have gone over to the dark side ~ I have joined Twitter.

As many of you will know I am not great with Technology and I am sure there will be times when I will want to scream BUT I have to give it a try. I am told that it will help my small business so I shall stick with it. One of the first things I need to figure out is how to include links or pictures in my Tweets.

So if any of you are on Twitter and want to follow me you can either look for Mother Duck or @dizzy_ducks

Sunday, 1 April 2012

There are more questions then answers!

Having written my last Blog about the copyright restrictions for the major events happening in the Summer here in the UK, I began to wonder how we could otherwise be inadvertently abusing copyright in our creations.

I believe that when we purchase a fabric, craft papers, beads and other elements they are considered unfinished items allowing us to use them to create finished articles.
Is it the same if we up-cycle items?
Are we breaching copyright if we re-use an item to create a new item? 

We all know, or at least we should know, that Disney are hot on protecting their copyright over ANY of their creations; we also know that other film and TV characters are most certainly protected from reproduction by artists and crafters. So we can therefore, I think, safely make the assumption that unless we have a licence agreement with the original copyright holder to use their characters, we are not permitted to use them. But what about found objects or things like Lego bricks and Scrabble tiles? Are they still held by copyright restrictions of originators? Bearing in mind that these items were not originally intended to be used as components for jewellery. 

I ask the questions but I don't actually have the answers.

I can make some assumptions in my own work. If I am asked to create a replica of someone's work then I politely refuse and explain my reasons BUT if I am asked to use items such as Lego or Scrabble Tiles I am not sure what my response should be; I have seen some wonderful jewellery items created from both of these items  but does that mean there is no longer copyright restrictions on them? I have also seen some amazing cakes and cupcakes that portray popular children's TV and film characters, I am sure they are covered by restrictions. I have also seen some wonderful sewn items using the same characters ... should we make the assumption that the crafters/artists making these items for sale hold a licence to use the images?

If in doubt ask the original designer/creator ... don't use the Hello Kitty image or those wonderful Disney images unless you have asked for permission; you could find yourself coming up against legal teams that are paid your annual salary as a retainer to keep their client's copyrights safe. 

You may find that some companies that own images/designs/patterns will, for a fee, offer a restricted use licence on their products. If you are a paper crafter you may have come across the term 'Angel Policy' where you are allowed to use rubber stamps or images from CD ROMS or printed decoupage sheets to create items for sale; some such items may include a limited licence to make and sell items using popular characters. Always make sure you know what you can and cannot do with the products you buy for your own particular craft. Do not make the assumption that because you have purchased it you can then sell the items you make from it.

Do you have the answers?
Have you personally experienced difficulties after using an item in your work; either from the original creator/designer or their agent whose intention it was to prevent you from making items to sell from found items/fabrics/beads/craft papers or any other purchased items?

Remember you need to protect yourself and your customers, so the onus is on you to be clear before using something (that may have a copyright on it) in your creations that you may later want to sell. 

Happy crafting,
with fluffy love & hugs
Mother Duck

Friday, 23 March 2012

Sporting & Royal events Summer 2012 ~ will you be breaking the law?

Unless you have been slumbering for a while then you are probably aware that there are two major events happening in the UK over the summer; we are celebrating a Royal Jubilee and the Olympics. So how many of you are thinking of having a party to celebrate or perhaps as a crafter you are planning to make a collection of items related to both events that you could sell.

As a crafter are you aware of the high number of restrictions on the use of images AND words that are attached to these events? Were you planning to make cakes/cupcakes or maybe bunting/banners to advertise items you have made to help celebrate, or some cute cushions or jewellery items - you could be breaking the law!

Mother Duck has been astounded in the past few days at the number of restrictions ... I had expected it on images such as the rings or the logo etc BUT the words I was surprised at; likewise with the Royal Celebrations, I expected the Queen's image to be restricted but there are other restrictions too.

On my Face book page I always tell people that ignorance is no defence; just because you don't know about the restrictions doesn't mean they won't take you to court or force you to destroy your work for breaching their copyright or trademarks. It doesn't matter if you just sell a few things to family and friends or a few more through Facebook or a website or one of the Marketplace sites likes Etsy or Folksy (to name just a couple). It doesn't matter what you sell or where you sell it! If you are using the words or images that carry restrictions you could be in trouble.

The restrictions are lengthy and I would advise anyone planning to make items relating to these events to check out what you can and cannot use. I am including a couple of links that might help BUT these are just a hint of some of the restrictions. Remember that ignorance is not a defence and I do wholeheartedly encourage you to do some research BEFORE you make.



These events are such a huge opportunity for crafters ... my imagination is was running wild with ideas many of which I will not be able to do because of the restrictions. At least I have found out now and not after I had spent money on materials etc.

Please enjoy the events and the parties etc that I hope we will all be part of  but don't risk your business by using the images and words that are restricted.

Here is a link to a great Blog that probably explains all of this a bit better than Mother Duck has

Friday, 16 March 2012

How Much!?! Sorry it's too expensive for me!

I have been trying to write a Blog on pricing goods, I have deleted it and re-written it so many times. So hopefully today is the day and someone other than me is reading this.

So you had an idea; you put it down on paper and eventually it became something you are ready to sell. How do you decide what to charge? Well, you could pluck a figure out of thin air write it on a tag and hope it sells BUT is it a fair price? Have you covered the material costs, your time, the cost of utilities used etc? Are you making a profit?

There are lots of books, Blogs and videos out in the world that will give you many different equations on how to price your goods but there are so many variables that I feel it should be up to the individual how they make up the cost of an item.

Do we cost the research time for an item, the planning stages, the proforma stages or do we only count the time spent on the final item? If we are making items for say a craft market or to make stock for an on line store we probably only count the time spent making the specific item. If we are working on a bespoke item then the design time for a specific customer may to be taken into account.

Clearly there are so many variables to be added into any calculations used for pricing. Let us try and look at some of them individually and see if we can make our own equation.

  1. Material costs ... you need to work out how much the materials cost you, don't forget to take into account the postage you paid or the cost of travel to collect materials. Did you pay VAT?
  2. Your time ... so many of us under charge when we calculate this one! At the very least you should be charging at minimum wage BUT realistically as an artisan, a skilled worker you should be charging more than minimum wage. Your time is valuable and you should be charging properly for it.
  3. Utilities ... when you are creating your hand crafted item the odds are you are using one or more of the following, power for tools, lighting, heating and running water.
    Who pays the bill? You do. So surely you should consider passing some of the costs to the customer.  
  4. Profit ... that is quite a scary word to some people, often people feel embarrassed to talk about their profit on an item  BUT you are in business and as such you want/need to make a profit. How much profit margin you add to your items has to be up to you; some people add as little as 2.5% whilst others add 50% or more.
  5. Wholesale or retail price ... these are different. Wholesale is usually when you are making a quantity of something for the same customer that they are going to sell on to their own customers. You need to charge a reasonable figure for wholesale but you also have to price it so that your customer will be able to make a profit when they sell it on. You will need to know your Retail price to calculate a RRP to tell a wholesaler (RRP = recommended retail price) If you are selling the items direct to the customer you are charging the RRP ... the difference between wholesale and retail is a % profit. BUT when you are selling wholesale you still need to make a profit.
    So basically you need to calculate two prices for your items the wholesale price and the retail price.
  6. Are you charging VAT? If you are then you will of course have to add this into the calculations
    Please note that VAT in the UK at the time of writing this is 20%
So here goes at an attempt to make an equation ...

materials + time + utilities + profit = wholesale price

wholesale price + profit = retail price
Don't forget that you may also be adding VAT to the above equations

What we haven't taken into account here things like photography to display your items on line, stand fees and travel to craft events to sell your items, your time at craft events, website costs, postal costs, paypal or bank charges involved in taking payments, costs of other on-line stores. Only you can decide which of these you pass on to your customers. 

I can already hear people saying "if I charged minimum wage for my work plus all the other stuff being suggested people wouldn't buy my items." I ask you ... are you not worth minimum wage?

I am only making suggestions here, this is not set in stone, I am not telling you this is what you have to do, these are purely suggestions. You have to decide for yourself what you are going to charge but I hope this has given you something to think about, somewhere to start. You know your target market and the price range that they would be willing to pay. Believe it or not people will pay more for good quality hand crafted goods.

I am sure this is a topic we shall revisit as I am sure there will be much feedback from our readers, some agreeing with what I have written and others wholeheartedly disagreeing. 

fluffy love & hugs
Mother Duck

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Should I really be flattered if my work is copied?

Why is it when people see a piece of your work or a picture of it they say "I think I might make one of those" rather than where can I get one of those? Even if said in jest it makes the designer of the original piece bristle and get upset.

How many times have you been at a craft fair and heard someone say 'I could make that' or 'that's expensive it's just a couple of beads(fabric or whatever)".
I have been creating items to sell via craft fairs and wedding fairs for a number of years now and I still hear it, yet every time I want to tell these people how long it had taken to make from inception to completion. Often at craft fairs or on the website we don't price items to their true value, taking into account the work put into the item, materials, cost of utilities used, transport to get it to the craft fair, your time for a day at a fair etc 
(the thorny issue of pricing our products are for another Blog) and we know that the people saying these things are unlikely to actually go away and do it but you never really know.

I spend a lot of my time making a product to sell; not just the physical time spent making it but the time spent sketching ideas, drawing or writing a pattern, checking the pattern works by making a prototype (often several to get it just right) and finally sourcing all the materials etc to make it just right BEFORE it gets to my stand at a craft fair or the website.

We are all told that pride comes before a fall BUT why shouldn't we be proud that we have designed something, if we've created the pattern, adapted it several times to get it just right and finally producing something beautiful ... even a practical item can be beautiful. Why shouldn't we be proud of the hard work, and final item?

Hold your head up high, say I designed and made that. If you are using someone's pattern then you can say I made this beautiful thing because such & such a person took the time to create the pattern; give credit where credit is due.

A word of advice if you use a pattern, whether knitting, crochet, sewing, jewellery or anything else make sure you read the fine print. Many patterns have a little note that says "for personal use only" which in a nutshell means you cannot sell the items you make from this pattern. You need to get written permission to sell items you make from commercially produced patterns; just because a crafter publishes patterns in their Blog it doesn't mean you can take that pattern, make it and sell items ... check with the Blogger first.  No matter where you purchase or find a pattern check the fine print ... even if the pattern is in a book there will be a note in the front or back of the book saying whether you can use the items made to sell. If you cannot find it in the small print then it probably means you cannot sell the items you make BUT no matter where you get the pattern from you should out of courtesy name the pattern creator. For example "this item is made using a pattern from ........." NEVER claim it to be your original design if it isn't.

Many designers of patterns that you can find in books or on the internet are happy to sell you a licence that will give you the permission you need to sell the items you make; obviously they set limits and these should be adhered to to avoid legal issues at a later date. A licence will cost you but better to buy the licence than risk a very expense law suit for breach of copyright. Some companies have what is called an Angel Policy which will mean that they give limited permissions for their patterns to be used, each is different so check them out don't make an assumption you can sell if they have an angel policy. The thorny issue of intellectual copyright is too complex to tackle here but is one you have to consider if using designs created by someone else.

There are many, many agencies that will register your unique designs to protect them; I haven't personally used these,yet, but if you do have a truly unique item and want to protect it then it might be worth checking the agencies out. The one I have noticed at larger craft events is http://acid.eu.com/  I have also had these two suggested to me http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/ and 
http://copyright.co.uk/index.html  I haven't used any of these Agencies and cannot vouch for them; you will have to make your own mind up whether you want to register your UNIQUE design/item and whether any of these can help in your own situation. You could also seek legal advice but be aware this may cost more from the outset.

As crafters, artists, and designers we enjoy making something new to share with the world but that doesn't give the world permission to copy what we have made and say that it is their own.

Be unique!
with fluffy love & hugs from
Mother Duck

Sunday, 15 January 2012

And the winner is ...

Thank you to everyone that took time to enter our competition.
The winner is Sarah Stiff.
We selected the winner from all of the correct entries received by numbering them in the order they were received and selecting a number using Random.Org

I do hope Sarah gets great pleasure from her necklace when it arrives

much fluffy love
Mother Duck

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Treasure Hunt or Hunt the Hunk as it has become known here

If you would like the opportunity to win this necklace from Mother Duck then all you need to do is go to our website
and follow the clues.
I must just say at this point that we have used pictures of scantily clad men and women to hold the clues! You have been warned, just trying to save your blushes LOL

Please note that we do not hold the copyright to any of the 'hunk' images (except the puppy, he's ours) they were all found on Google images.

So here’s how to be in with a chance to win ...
Follow the clues, these will take you to our online shop, our gallery and our website.
You will need to open the picture of the item to find the clue and may need to scroll down on the picture of the hunk as the clues are at the bottom of the picture.
When you find the last picture you will be asked a question (the answer can be found on the website).
Once you have the answer send it in an email to competition@dizzy-ducks-creations.co.uk
Only one entry per person ... we trust you not to enter using multiple email addresses

The competition closes at 8pm (UK time) Sunday 15th Janaury.
The winner will be chosen at random from all of the correct answers received.
The winner will be emailed and once we receive acknowledgment from them, including an address for posting, we will announce the winner on the Blog and our facebook page.
The pix holding the clues will remain on the website until the winner is announced and there is nothing to say you can’t go and view the images more than once.

You have to be in it to win it and it's not going to cost you anything!

Have fun searching the website for the hunks and their clues.

love & fluffy hugs from
Mother Duck

Friday, 6 January 2012

So we have waved goodbye to 2011

So 2011 has passed into the filing system of time.

We should look at 2012 as a new chapter in the book of life, each day is a lovely new blank page for some wondrous adventures. As Mother Duck has always said we can make some amazing memories from even the most mundane tasks. 

My biggest dilemma for any New Year is the new diary selection ... I am so particular about its configuration and all the little extras that I want too. Am I the only one that is so picky and therefore finds it so hard every year to find the perfect diary. This year I have the answer, I think, I have a filofax. I am like a little  girl in a sweetie store I didn't know there were so many different things I needed for my diary! LOL

So what adventures lie in store for 2012 for Dizzy Ducks Creations?
The first wonderful thing happening is the updating of our logo ... we are not getting rid of Dizzy, we just couldn't do that; our Logo was one of the first things that we purchased when we started the business and Dizzy is one of the ways our returning customers can locate us at craft fairs and wedding fairs. So no he isn't going anywhere he is getting a make-over ... not a how to look good naked kind of make over, heavens we couldn't ask Dizzy to ditch his feathers for anybody! We have trusted the lovely Claire at  https://www.facebook.com/DesignatNo.11 with his make over. She is also creating Mother Duck's new business cards, letter head and compliment slips. We are so excited! We have had a peep at our new Dizzy and he is soooooooooooooooo cute but we are not giving away any secrets. We are looking forward to his launch on the website, our fb page and hopefully some new banners for craft fairs and wedding fairs.

Mother Duck's next  Blog will also include a little competition ... I will be offering the chance for someone to win the lovely necklace in the picture above. But I have a problem with this ... the last time we did a similar competition we didn't really get a great response. So let me ask you, is having a competition on the Blog a good idea? The competition would probably be in the form of a question to be answered and the winner will be randomly selected from the correct answers.

So apart from wishing you all the most amazing adventures in your book of life for 2012 Mother Duck wants to send you all lots of fluffy love & hugs.