TITLE: 77 Transitioning From Craft Fairs To Selling Online with Barbara Keen, All Day Bags

EPISODE NOTES

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Today I am speaking to Barbara Keen, of All Day BAgs. Barbara makes quality bags for people on the go, the colours of land and sky. Barbara uses UK based textiles – Harris Tweed and tartan from Scotland and Linton Tweed who have made textiles for Chanel for 100 years. Barbara makes a range of bags from tote bags for laptops and shopping, gadget bags so you don’t leave your cable, mouse or battery behind, bags of lavender to ear bud bags.

We discussed how Barbara started making bags, her process and how she transitioned from selling at craft fairs to selling online during lockdown. Barbara takes a real pride in her product and process, and it was lovely to find out how she has evolved her business over the past year. 

Listen in to hear Barbara share:

  • An introduction to herself and her work (1:28)
  • How she started making bags (2:08)
  • How she decided to turn a passion into a business (4:36)
  • Where her product inspiration comes from (7:56)
  • How she set up All Day Bags as a business, and sought out business advice and training (13:17)
  • Making the move from craft fairs to selling online during the pandemic (19:00)
  • The differences she has seen since she started selling online  (24:17)
  • How she is promoting and marketing her business (32:29)
  • Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (35:28)

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Transcript
Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the, Bring Your Product Ideas to Life Podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. Hi, and welcome to today's episode today. I'm talking to Barbara Keen from All Day Bags. Barbara makes quality bags for people on the go, the colors of land and sky. She uses UK based textiles, Harris Tweed, and Tartan from Scotland and Linton, Tweed, who are the people who've made them textiles for Chanel for the past 100 years, Barbara makes all kinds of products by hand. So she makes tote bags, um, for laptops or shoes or shopping. She makes gadget bags. Your cables or mouse behind, she makes little lavender bags. She makes bags for earbuds. Um, and as you'll hear in this conversation, she's really up for making absolutely anything that you might possibly need. Um, and it's, yeah, this is a really lovely conversation. I really enjoy talking to Barbara about what she does. It's really clear how much she loves it and how dedicated she is to creating products that people love. Um, yeah, it was a really great conversation. I really hope as always, you enjoy. Say hi, Barbara. Thank you so much for being here.

Barbara Keen:

Hello. How nice to speak to you, Vicky.

Vicki Weinberg:

It's lovely. Um, can you start Barbara, by giving us an introduction to yourself, your business and what you make and sell, please.

Barbara Keen:

I'm Barbara Keen. I make bags for people to use instead of a plastic bag. My company's called All Day Bags, but I make little bags as well, small ones, so people can use them for other things as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And what are your bags made out of Barbara?

Barbara Keen:

I use a lot of UK sourced fabrics. I use Harris Tweed, which is, uh, made up in, the Scottish islands. And I also use Linton Tweed, which is a company that's close to me. And they have made fabrics for Chanel for over a hundred years.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, wow. And, um, can you tell us a bit about the story of yours, about bags and what inspired you to get started?

Barbara Keen:

Well, I was sitting there with my knee up, for nine months after another knee operation, which took longer than I wanted it to. And when I began to feel better, I went, this is really, really boring. What am I going to do with my life? And it was just as plastic bags became, um, not socially acceptable, very little, just to the very beginning. And I thought we need a bag instead of a plastic bag. That was the original idea behind it. So the size of my tote bags, the size for laptop shoes and shopping, that was the idea. Uh, so that's the size of those. And then the smaller ones, uh, I've got drawstring bags for gadgets. I've got bags of bags for lavender. And as I'm sitting here, I've got lavender floating around because I've got the bags beside me here. So I've got this lovelysmell of lavender around. Um, I do ear bud bags. That's to stop them all the cords, getting tangled in your pockets. And I'm working on at the moment, uh, a Harris Tweed case for glasses. So a soft padded one. So, uh, I can also do bespoke bags. If anybody wants a bag that isn't in my range, I'll see what I do to help. So there we go.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's fantastic. And I assume that you had, well, actually I know you have, cause I've obviously read up on you a bit, Barbara, but so you had been sewing a bit hadn't you, before you decided to start making your bags.

Barbara Keen:

Oh, yes, I have. I've sold all my life. And the sewing machine that I use is the one that I sat beside my mother's knee when I was a small child. And, um, my mother used to sew all sorts of things. She was an upholsterer and she used to make clothes. She made all my clothes when I was a child. So all the things that I do on my sewing machine, I used my mother's scissors as well. So all the things I do on my sewing machine is what I learned through osmosis when I was sitting around my mother's feet when I was a child.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, that is lovely. And I really like as well that, you know, you saw the opportunity with the plastic bags and then decided to do something. Can you remind me what year was that? Because it feels like forever we haven't been using plastic bags, but it wasn't that long ago really was it?

Barbara Keen:

No it was about five or six years ago.

Vicki Weinberg:

Okay, thank you. Um, and so what made you decide to get started, you know, to do this as a, as a business and how did you sort of take something that you clearly love doing and turn it into a business?

Barbara Keen:

Well, I drafted some patterns up to start off with. I looked at the bags that I liked that worked for me and then worked out how, what the pattern was. And I got some, uh, old material that I had and then chopped it up about and made some patterns out to see if it worked and if it didn't and see what I could change. So that's how I came about the pattern for my tote bags. Um, and they've got very square corners, they're called box corners, because sometimes when you buy a bag, it's just two pieces of material stitched together. Well, you can't get anything in it, so that's no good. So it needs some width in the base of it. So how do you do that? Um, the, uh, what I put into my pattern was something called box corners and, uh, you cut out a square in the bottom corner where you want the width to be, and then it's very difficult to describe you cut out the square and then you pull it into sideways, and then you stitch it across. So, um, that's how you do that. So I've got a lot of width in the bottom of my tote bags and the handles, the handles it's slots together like a jigsaw puzzle. And, um, the handles, when I'm making them they're double width, because I wanted handles that were nice and wide and soft for people. Because when you carry in a plastic bag, if it's heavy, it cuts into your hands and makes your hands sore. So I wanted wide, soft handles and long enough to fit over your shoulder. So if you wanted to put the top back onto your arm, you could do it that way as well. So there's a lot of material in the handles. Because they folded in two, and then they folded in two again. So, but, um, I won't cut down on that because the handles are important.

Vicki Weinberg:

I love how much thought you put into your products. They're so thoughtfully designed. I think it's great Barbara, like how, you know, how you thought about every little thing to make sure these really are practical bags that people can actually use as well as looking lovely.

Barbara Keen:

Yeah. I spent a lot of time on the pockets as well. The pockets on the tote bags are just inside at the top of the bag because I wanted it to make it easy for you to get, uh, your phone or your keys. If you're out under your arm.. Cause very often your keys are in the bottom of the bag and you scratching about trying to find them. And I'm very particular about the details on the pockets because the ribbon roses is the time because it is anembellishment. I put that ribbon across the top of the pockets as well. And sometimes, uh, with the material you can get what's called woven salvages and they are beautiful because they're all the colors that the fabric is made out of. So I use the woven salvages as decoration for the pockets and I use it like a little fringe together with the ribbonas well.

Vicki Weinberg:

Okay. I love how much attention you put in the detail. Um, and where do you get the inspiration for your bags? Your bags are beautiful. What, what inspires you?

Barbara Keen:

Um, well, in the end, a product has got to be what somebody wants to buy. And if you, if somebody doesn't get excited about the solution that it gives you, them, you're wasting your time. So a lot of the ideas that I've had. The things that well people have mentioned to me, a lady came to my house and now she was, uh, doing the interview with me. She puts her mouse and her cable in a little bag. And drawn it across the top was a little drawstring bag. And she said, if I don't put it in there, I leave it behind. And I thought, oh, that's a clever idea because people leave a cable behind or a mouse. And then whenever they get to the next job, Or get home, they can't do anything because they've left it behind. So my, my little gadget bags have actually got a label on it that says, have you picked up your mouse and cable to make sure, remember t says on it.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. Well, that's sucha good idea and it's really nice that you're getting your ideas and your customers as well, because it does seem like your products are really relevant. Like I like your idea of your ear bud bags as well.

Barbara Keen:

Yeah. Yeah. Um, I suppose in fact, it was a gentleman, who's one of my friends that said he had his ear buds in his pocket and they get kept getting tangled up with his keys. I thought, oh right. Because I don't carry keys. In a pocket like a gentleman does. So I said to him, well, that's a good idea. So I made him one and sent it to him and said, will you test this for me? Um, so that's how we did that. And quite a few people like those, they give them them to people as Christmas presents as well. And that seemed to go down very well for gentleman's presents. Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And do you get a lot of feedback from your customers then? Is that where you would you, is it fair to say that's where you get a lot of your feedback and your ideas for new things?

Barbara Keen:

Well, I always ask them what they think. And, uh, I've made a mic bag, a bag for the mic. Do you know, Mary King the Formal Lady? No. Okay. Mary King does a formal and she donates to atomic when it was online. And she said to me, would I make her a bag? Because the microphone kept getting scratched. And, uh, so I made her a bag out of Linton Tweed and it was all padded and I'm on the inside. So, but I have to measure. Uh, I said, well, how big is your microphone? So she led the microphone out on a, on a table and put a tape measure beside it and sent me the measurements for it. And, uh, and then of course, when I, when I saw the picture, I realized that it had a band around it which in actual fact was quite wide, but the handle itself was very narrow. Then of course there's a round bit on the top that is a microphone itself. So, um, I said to her, uh, I'll do a mock-up of it just to see how big the bag has got to be. And I made it out of an old milk carton just to get the dimensions of it, because I didn't know how wide it had to be to get the, the, the diameter of the thing. So, uh, and then once I got the offer milk carton, I made the, in the fashion district, they call it to 12, but it's like a, uh, some white cotton material and you make it up and you do all the adjustments on the white cotton material and use that as a pattern. So I did that. And then, uh, I consulted my BBC friend and I said, well, which way up does the microphone go in a bag? She said, oh, it goes around bits at the bottom. Cause I'm thinking I have to go across ways or waited. So we did that and she said, you've got to make sure that the cable doesn't get kinked. Oh, right. Okay. So, so to Mary King, are you going to put the cable actually in the back as well? Yes. She said, I said, well, you have to make sure it doesn't get kinked. I'll make him a separate bag for the cable. So that's what I did. So Mary King has got one of my little Tweed bags for a microphone, so, you know, and that's how it sounds, how things come about. And another lady wanted a. This beautiful Linton Tweed that is black with a gold Stripe in it, uh, for going out to Newcastle. And she wanted to feel a Dolly when she was going out in Newcastle. So wearing only dolly shoeswhen she could get out in Newcastle. So I made her one of my drawstring bags and she sent me the most beautiful, um, Instagram reel of her little daughter wearing a black high heel shoes with, with the Dolly bag on her arm.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, it's lovely. It's lovely how you can be so accommodating for your customers and how much you can do.

Barbara Keen:

Well, I will, if I can, you know, if I couldn't do something, I would say I can't do that. It's not in my portfolio. So therefore, you know, if you want that, you better go just somebody else. So. But it's my customers that inspire me. Absolutely.

Vicki Weinberg:

And so how did you actually get All Day Bags started as a business Barbara? So obviously you did a lot of work in sort of creating your bags and making sure they were practical. So how did you start selling them? What were the best things you did?

Barbara Keen:

I was doing a craft fairs at the time and, uh, I went to quite, there's quite a few craft fairs around where I live. So I was, I was doing go to craft fairs and getting my name out that way. And, uh, all my friends and family bought my bags. So I thought, well, they must, I became back for some more as well. Uh, all the people who bought one I've usually bought at least two or three. And, um, so I thought, well, it must be a good product if they're coming back for some more, it's gotta be a good product. So that's how it got started. And then of course we had all the, the face-to-face contact with the people who I was dealing with, went away during COVID. So I've had to work very hard recently. I've getting my name out there, uh, on social media. Which is what I'm doing at the minute.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. So, so was it, were you just, um, doing craft fairs before COVID so what were you on? Did you have a website or anything, or was it just purely face-to-face that you were selling?

Barbara Keen:

I did have a website, but, um, one of the things about making a product is you've got to sell it. So, uh, you've got to get your name out there as well. And in the beginning I wasn't very good at social media. Um, I think I've improved a lot, but I'm not brilliant yet, but I'm actually. Um, I'm doing a lot better than I was, and I'm doing a course with Janet Murray about engaging content and Janet Murray is fantastic. It's very structured what she does. And she gives you lots of templates for things. And, and I've got an accountability sheet in front of me with days of the week on it, and I've got to tick off when I've done it. So. Which platform you're going to use and that sort of thing. So that is brilliant. So it's actually makes you be, you've got to make sure that whatever you start, you can continue. So, uh, my engagement to reach is improving. And one lady said to me, why don't, uh, have you got it? Why don't you join Google My Business. So, uh, I joined that. So there's a Google My Business shop and the person that have been very helpful, uh, is the Department of Trade and Industry. And also, I forgot about that before I got an expert, uh, the I've got an international business advisor, uh, working out of Manchester and she's absolutely fabulous when I have to, I had an order for America this week and I had to check what had changed since I last sent an order to America. And there's something called commodity codes, and you've got to find your way through those to get your customs sheets. Right. And then of course, you've got to have all the invoicing, right. As well. And one company tells you you've got to have a five, lots of your invoice in the see-through plastic pocket. Somebody else tells you it's different. The post office is different again. And then you've got to look at all the tax regulations is it payable? What I don't want to happen is that my product arrives in with the customer and then they've got to pay to get it out of customs. I don't want that to happen. So you've got to find your way through all of that. So the Department of Trade and Industry I've been absolutely fantastic. I've also had a lot of help through Digital Cumbria. And, um, which only started fairly recently that I don't think that's how long it's been going all together, but they've been very helpful, uh, with all the tech that is needed to get my website out of the doldrums. And I've got a meeting with a graphic designer. Next week, hopefully. Um, and he's going to help him with all the, uh, graphic design that's needed for my website as well. So I had a lot of help from a lots of fantastic people, but it's trying to find the right people with the right skills is a difficult bit. So you just got to keep going until you find the right people to help.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. Well, it sounds like you've done a great job at doing that, and I'm actually quite curious about the Department of Trade and Industry. So how did you get involved with them, Barbara? Did you just reach out to them? Because it sounds like. Really useful, but I didn't know that was something that was available to people.

Barbara Keen:

Yes. Um, I reached out to them because I knew, I knew about Department of Trade and Industry. I didn't know that well, what they, all the bits and pieces that they did, but, uh, over the last several months they've been running quite a few webinars, very structured on a weekly basis. And the guy who did that, uh, used to live in Spain and run a business in Spain. And he was extremely knowledgeable about anything that you need to know about, um, exporting, importing, uh, the people, the agents that you need, if you need any and all the different customs regulations for anywhere in the world that you want to send your goods. Extremely helpful.

Vicki Weinberg:

It sounds like since I guess the first lockdown and the end of craft fairs, you've done a incredible amount and you've made some really big changes. It sounds like in terms of how you sell your products.

Barbara Keen:

Yes, yes. I've have I have but it was all the stuff that I had to get my head round anyway. And I think in that respect COVID has been a gift because I've had to do that. Uh, it was, I said, it's not enough to make a product. You've got to sell it. So you've got to find a way of selling it. And when you just a one man band or there's just you, you've got to do absolutely everything that is you need to do to sell it. Um, one of the things I did do. Uh, in the beginning, uh, I know a bit about time and motion study. And in the beginning, when I was starting to make my bags, I was actually, I actually had a stopwatch around my neck to work out how long it took me to make one bag. Uh, to make sure I've got my costings, right. And then I got my accountant to give me a costing model. Um, so everything is based on the costing model that my accountant gave me. So, but then you've got to sort of slide up and slide down a bit with various things that you've got to do. So you've got to work out what your margins are and what you're prepared to give away sometimes. And that's always nice.

Vicki Weinberg:

I think pricing's is always tricky when you handmake, but it's really interested in the way that you've done that. So did you have an idea of what your time, what it sounds like he did, you knew what your, an hour of your time was worth to you?

Barbara Keen:

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, I think that's amazing because a lot of people don't actually price like that and sort of don't even factor in the time. So the fact that you were taken into account at the time and the materials, I think is a really smart way of pricing, actually.

Barbara Keen:

Yeah. I, uh, you've got to work out what margins you're prepared to work for and in the end, what your time is worth. But anything is only worthwhile. Someone's prepared to pay for it. It's like buying or selling a house, you know? So, uh, yeah. Uh, whether I should put my prices up I don't know yet. Um, don't know. So working on that,

Vicki Weinberg:

So with all of the changes that you've had over the past. Let's say 18 months it's feels like it's been about that now um, what have been some of the biggest challenges do you think.

Barbara Keen:

For me?

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah.

Barbara Keen:

Getting my head round. All the tech that is required to contribute on social media. Um, people have mentioned things to me, um, that, you know, that's a good idea, you know, have a look at that, but it then it takes you ages to pick it up. Something like Canva, which I've been doing this morning. Um, and then if you do the Facebook business suite, Which I've been doing, the things that you create on to go on Instagram. They don't always fit. So then you've got to find another way of doing it. So it's all that tech stuff that drives me a bit bonkers really

Vicki Weinberg:

yeah. It sounds like it was yeah, like a huge learning curve. Were you using social media much sort of personally, before you got online for your business?

Barbara Keen:

Yes. Yes I was. Yes. So now I do Facebook business. Because I learned you had to have a business account, so you could do the creative bit and then, but you can do Instagram on it as well, but it doesn't always fit so this morning I've been a say I've been doing Canva and that seems to have posted fairly easily because my Instagram page, isn't what I want it to be. So I'm working on that.

Vicki Weinberg:

And that sounds, it sounds really good that you're like, obviously you've got a lot on, but it sounds like you're really embracing all of the changes that you need to make.

Barbara Keen:

Oh yes. You've got to, um, you, you know, you can't stand still, whatever it is, you don't want to be living in the past. You've got to be living in the future.

Vicki Weinberg:

Okay. Absolutely. And do you think, could you see yourself going back to doing craft fairs? Is that something that you see yourself doing in the future? If and when they come back

Barbara Keen:

um, I'm not sure how I would feel about it. They're worth a try something like the Christmas ones or something like that, because I do have the bags of lavender that just sort of smaller items that would be okay. You know, for something like a craft fair. Um, and then if it just gives you, you just give out a lot of business cards. And I know the Christmas ones around here that usually run, uh, and, uh, and have been okay. So if you're worth going to, so you got to be careful that you don't spend an awful lot of petrol going somewhere and then you don't sell anything. So, yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. I hope you didn't mind me asking the question. I just wonder, because obviously now you're running your business very differently to how you were two years ago. Say, and so, yeah, I just wondered if you could see yourself sort of not, not going back because of course you're always moving forward, but wherever you could see sort of selling face to face being part of that as well.

Barbara Keen:

A sales a sale, isn't it? It doesn't matter where it comes from.

Vicki Weinberg:

And do you feel like you're reaching more people now that you're focusing more of online? I mean, you said you've had customers in America, I guess that's something that never happened when you were selling. Just, you know, along craft fairs. So do you think you're getting a bigger reach?

Barbara Keen:

Yes. Uh, and I'm keeping an eye on the numbers as well, just to see what posts work and what they don't and who engages and who doesn't. And you know, so I'm doing all of that at the minute, but, uh, asking questions seems to be the best thing, trying to get people to engage.

Vicki Weinberg:

Absolutely. And are you sending your products anywhere else, other then on your website at the moment?

Barbara Keen:

Um, I've got a Google My Business. And at the moment in the UK, I'm sticking to the UK and the USA because, uh, what I don't want to do is get into something to say extremely complex in perhaps Japan or where you've got a totally different culture, although Linton Tweed do a, sell a lot in a lot in Japan, but you got a totally different culture. You've then got to make sure that your website is internationally enabled. So I'm speaking, I'm sticking to English language countries at the minute um, I do a lot of tartan, which I was wanting to appeal to ex Patriots in America and Canada, and perhaps all the dance, the Scottish dance school in, in American Canada and parade in the New York and that sort of thing. So that's why I've included quite a bit of Tartan one way or another. Over the, over the last 18 months, I've got a lovely drawstring bag. That's got tartan panels on it, and some of the lavender bags, the bags of lavender are made out of tartan and the earbud bags I've got tartan in as well so, uh, English speaking markets at the minute.

Vicki Weinberg:

And is, has it changed how your, um, so making your bags now that you're selling online. So, cause I'm assuming that when you were selling a craft fairs, you need to sort of make up a quantity and take them along with you. So you can just sell them on the day. Are you selling more to order now? You know, your sales online or where you make, you know, you're selling, you know, you make it to order or are you making up batches still, has that changed.

Barbara Keen:

I make up batches. So I've got so many in stock of each one that I've got. Um, so sometimes that there were a lot of sewing and then other times I don't do any sewing at all, but sitting down at my sewing machine gives me such a lot of pleasure. I don't know. It's just part of my DNA. I think from when I was a child.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. So it sounds like you enjoy the sewing part. So, um, so yeah, it must be nice to just be able to sit down for a couple of hours and just make up a load of bags.

Barbara Keen:

Yeah, it is. Yeah. And I love the, I'm the sort of person that if you take me to, uh, a shop that sells lots of material, um, like the John Lewis or something like that, I go in that textile department and I go around patting at all. And when I say that to other sewers they go, yeah, I know what you mean. I don't know. I don't know it it is the texture of it I don't know if it's the colors off it. I don't know what it is. Textiles just does it for me. Absolutely. Yeah.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, if it makes you happy, that's wonderful. Yeah, it was. I guess that must be quite a balance. I often talk to makers about this between actually making your bags and selling them. So how do you sort of manage the balance of both? Because obviously they're both equally as important.

Barbara Keen:

Well, you can either do one or the other. So if I do batches, uh, on, uh, in my work room, I've got so many of each one. And then I sort of think about that as a minimum stock requirement. And then, uh, I do have some cutout ready to, uh, make up. So that, that the cutting out bit, uh, I've got a very large table. Cause some of the material that is very, very wide, you actually need a cutting table because it takes up the whole of the width of the table. And if you don't get it square on the table, you can end up with something that's not square when you make it. So, and also when you buy it, uh, even a metre of material, you've got to find out how the pattern fits on. Particularly the totebags. I have a, a large square see-through plastic square. That enables me to put on top of the pattern to see where the pattern fits within the bag. Particularly if you've got like a tartan or a square of any description, you've got to make sure that it matches all the way around, because otherwise when it's made up the pattern, doesn't match either across the bottom or down the sides, and I'm very particular about that. Every line has got to meet across the edges. So it out is vital to make sure that you get the pattern in the right place. Very easy to get it off square. So you've got sometimes with the material, you've got to pull it to straightening out. So you've got to pull it across both ways to make sure it's square before you start out. So you need a big cutting table as well. So I do all the cutting out. On a particular material that if I find that it's, um, the right sorts of material for the job and then, cut it all cut all out one piece. So I've always got, I've always got out material ready to stitch.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And is that the piece that's most time consuming?

Barbara Keen:

Um, it can be, uh, but usually the making up again, it depends with what sort of material that it is, the cutting. Um, because you've got to make sure it's up to be exact, it's all chalked out to make sure that each bit is right before I start cutting it out. So I'm very particular about that. Um, but I think one of the most time consuming bits is making sure that each line meets across the edge of the bag. And I have been known to hand, hand tack it to make sure that it's absolutely exact or even when I've stitched it. And it's moved about, um, I've unpicked it to make sure that it comes out right.

Vicki Weinberg:

Do you know, I love Barbara how much attention to detail you pay and how much you care about quality, but just think that's fantastic because I had the, you can just tell that the amount of care you put in to making sure every single bag is perfect. I'm convinced every single customer who buys from you just gets a perfect bag.

Barbara Keen:

I hope so, well, perfect for them. I know what goes out to my workshop is as good as I can possibly make it. Um, I was stitching the, um, so that Linton Tweed that Linton Tweed. I'll just show you that because we're on zoom. Now, the color of that gray for that label Linton Tweed label, you think it'd be white stitching would go on that, but and I actually unpicked that label three times because before I got the color of the stitching, right. The color of the thread. Right. But then to get the label to be stitch takes actually, right. You've got to get the needle to hit the very edge of the, the bag. So you can turn the corner while the needle is in the label. And I couldn't get the length of the stitch. Right. And, uh, I unpicked it three times before I got the color of the thread. Right. Um, the length of the stitch. Right. But now I know I've got the thread. Right. Uh, but that, that's the sort of, I'm fussy about that and it's got to work. So, you know, um, I would, I'm very fussy about quality, anybody, anything that I'm receiving for myself that's what I want to give back to my customers.

Vicki Weinberg:

No, I think I'm, I think that's really nice. I'm certain your customers really appreciate it. So what are some of, and I know you spoke about some of them Barbara, but some of the other things you're doing to promote your business in your bags

Barbara Keen:

uh, talking to you, that's nice I've never done a podcast before ever. So that was really nice. Uh, I appreciate you asking me and what I'm doing with my social media. I'm doing Facebook, Instagram. And Google my business, but I've lost a techie. It's always the tech. I've lost the first account that I set up. So I'm setting up another one. So, um, I'm doing three things and getting myself out as much as I can.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, I think three things make sense as well, because as you alluded to earlier, you need to start things that you can see through. So there would be no point in being on every single social media platform, for example, because then you'd never have time to make anything and it just wouldn't be sustainable. So, yeah, that makes total sense to just stick with the things that, you know, that work and I mean, are they working for you and are you enjoying them?

Barbara Keen:

Oh I enjoy doing it yes because I like keeping busy and trying to think of all the different things that I've got to post about and make sure that it's relevant to my business. So I've been posting today about reducing plastic and cause that's something that I, I think, um, A bit fussy about fussy, about recycling. And, um, although don't tell anybody, but I don't think I clean my tins out enough before I put them up, but I'm so certainly, uh, reducing plastic. My black bin is hardly got anything in it whatsoever and, and everything else goes in plastic or in cardboard. Um, so yeah, can't called keep continuing creating all this rubbish that nobody knows what to do with. So I've been posting today about mixture. You've got, um, a refillable drinks bottle. That's something I've been doing for years, because as soon as I get up in the morning, I drink a litre of water and you can see from my, my very battered litre bottle, how long I've had it. So drink a litre of water in the morning. When I get up, then I just fill up the bottle and that make sure I drink another litre throughout the day. So. Very important.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And like you said, it really aligns with your brand as well because your brand is all about sort of stopping using the plastic single use bags as well. Um, so yeah, that's fantastic. And when this episode goes live, I will link over to your Instagram, Facebook pages as well. So people can come and see what you're talking about and join in the conversation with you.

Barbara Keen:

Thank you very much.

Vicki Weinberg:

So before we finish up Barbara, I'd love to know what is your number one piece of advice and I'm saying. I'm thinking there might, you might have more cause you're full of good advice. Um, but what is your top advice for?

Barbara Keen:

Is that a good idea?

Vicki Weinberg:

For other people wanting to make and sell their own products? What advice would you like people to take away from this?

Barbara Keen:

Get your costings right. Work out how long it takes you to make something. And if you can't get a reasonable costing that you think something, somebody is going to pay, find a cheaper, quicker way of doing it. So you, you, you get your costings, right.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really good advice. Thank you. And I've actually, no one's ever made that point before as well that actually possibly you could do something cheaper or quicker if, you know, if you can't make the, get the price workout. So thank you. That was really valuable. I think.

Barbara Keen:

Yeah. Sometimes you can spend too long putting all the fancy bits on the outside and really it's not necessary.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, it's really useful. Thank you. And thank you so much for everything you've shared today. I've really enjoyed talking to you.

Barbara Keen:

Well, I hope all the things that I've shared, uh, can help or the people who were in a similar situation to me, trying to get a business out there and trying to get it to work.

Vicki Weinberg:

No, I really think they will be a way to think they're going to help. So thank you so much.

Barbara Keen:

Pleasure. It's been a great great being here. Thank you very much for your help

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh you're welcome. It's been lovely. Thank you.

Barbara Keen:

Thank you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Hi, thank you so much for listening as always. I would absolutely love to know what you thought of this episode. Please do remember to rate and review the show and also most importantly subscribe so you don't miss out on any future episodes. And as a reminder, I release a new episode every single Friday. So take care and look forward to speaking to you again, then.