So if you are sitting comfortably, I'll begin. It all started about twenty years ago, in the days when I made soft furnishings and sold them at small local craft fairs. I wanted some original fabric for my cushions and so I decided to buy a few rubber stamps to stamp my plain and boring fabric. I took myself off to Hitchin, to one of the very first dedicated stamps stores in the UK and purchased three or four stamps, a ink pad and some embossing powder along with a the only book available at that time, which was actually not much more than a brochure, published by PSX. It was definitely instant love....I was hooked. My customers at the craft fairs asked me where I got my stamps from as they were really difficult to come by locally. So that's really how it started, I purchased about three dozen stamps from a tiny UK manufacturer and they just flew out the door at the speed of light.
The next door that opened for me was the opportunity to rent a market barrow from Milton Keynes Shopping Centre. To cut a very long story short, I was selected along with one other new small business from hundreds of applicants to rent a barrow, sponsored by the local Business Link, for a trial period of three months. After seven successful years in that location, it was time to move to bigger premises and after a lot of searching, I found the perfect place in Olney, just 20 minutes away from where I live.
I took on the lease of what used to be an antique shop and I swear that when I viewed the shop, I had no idea that the walls were bright pink! There had been so many things hanging on the wall....it was pretty well camouflaged!! We had just seven days to get the shop ready before our grand opening and spent most of that time painting the walls white to try and cover the pink before opting for a calming turquoise colour! So here I am with Kelly, my daughter in the background trying to organise the stock. I can't believe how little stock I had in those days!!!!
The next guest artist was Mr Tim Holtz....I have searched and searched for these photographs and sadly they appear to have vanished from the face of the earth but all I can say is that we were beyond lucky as Tim did not visit my little store just once.....he came the following year too and simply wowed my customers with his talent, wit and amazing products.
Not only have we had wonderful guests visit my store, I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit too. I have been to some amazing places to attend CHA, the show has been held at quite a variety of places including Annaheim, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and Las Vegas. Whilst on a trip to Las Vegas, I had the amazing opportunity to teach a class for my Friend Audrey Freedman at Stamp Oasis. Back in those days, I had my own line of stamps which focused on Shrink Plastic and I took these out to Las Vegas for this class which was such a lot of fun as the students had never seen my stamps before.
A couple of years ago, I also had the great pleasure of travelling to Ede in Holland to teach a class for my friend Joan. Here's a picture of her friend Lia taking a picture of me......I know, we need to grow up!!!!
Artsycrafts.....many people have asked how Artsycrafts came to be. Well, I had invited Leandra Franich from Paperartsy to teach a class at the shop. Leandra cooked up a cute little book, jam packed with lots of techniques. She asked me if I would like to teach a metal page to insert in the book.....which I did and everyone loved the fact that they had the opportunity to learn something from both of us in one go. So I suggested to Leandra that we do it again sometime and she had the genius idea of taking it up to the next level and teaching to a much larger class......as so Artsycrafts was born. The arch below was our very first project.
Our friendship blossomed when we travelled to New Jersey together to attend Ranger U. We had the best time, laughed A LOT and learnt even more. Tim, Suze and Claudine Hellmuth were all amazing. It is hard work but so inspiring. We made some fabulous friends too, here we are with our table buddies Lori and Lisa.
Artsycrafts in full swing at Newport Pagnell.
Then of course we were delighted to announce that Tim had kindly agreed to join us at our Artsycrafts event earlier this year. Here we are at PaperArtsy World HQ watching the website go into complete meltdown as the bookings came flooding in.
And finally, if you haven't fallen asleep yet, a few of my favourite projects from last year.
So it just remains for me to say thank you to my wonderful hubby Mark for putting up with me being stressy all these years, my family for being understanding when I wasn't always around for their birthdays, to Karen for being the best member of staff anyone could wish for. To Linda Elbourne for teaching classes and being my webmaster extraordinaire. To Leandra and Mark Franich for being Mr & Mrs PaperArtsy.....you guys rock! To all my wonderful guest tutors who have visited over the years and most importantly to all my fabulous customers, without you guys, I would not have had the successful business that I had.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. I hope that 2012 brings you everything that you wish for.
With much love and thanks, Lin x