Where did the name TrishAlan Designs come from?
From my first name plus my husbands first name, Alan. Note who got first billing.
Tell us a little about your background and what path led you to open TrishAlan Designs?
I worked for 'Not-for-Profits' in both disability and aged care for 20+ years before we opened TrishAlan Designs. The path was long and meandering. Pre-Alan years I crafted and sold via consignment and markets. Alan also has a creative streak so he was doing his own thing during this time. Together we planned to start a craft business but had no idea what style, format, anything really; we just knew it would happen. While we were waiting we did all the boring stuff like paying off credit cards, the house etc so that we would be ready when the time came. Alan got fed up with his job first so he started selling his designs via regular markets while I continued working. When we opened the shop I dropped back to part time and contract work. This gave us time to consolidate our plans, products and finances. With little prompting from Alan I came on board full-time in 2004.
Tell us what TrishAlan Designs is all about?
TrishAlan Designs creates hand dyed fabric and threads, needlework charts and kits, and Kumihimo supplies and accessories. We also conduct craft classes, train craft teachers based on my book "How to Teach Art & Craft" and mentor business owners. Alan and I also make one-off items made from recycled and repurposed timber and fabric. When we started the business we made a commitment to ourselves that our point of difference to the other shops around us would be only selling what we make. At times this has been a struggle, however, we are still committed to this approach.
How does TrishAlan Designs support independent artists and crafters and/or the handmade community?
Over the last few years we have had an increasing number of creative people seeking us out for hints and tips on starting a craft business. Initially we assisted free of charge, however, a large percentage of people failed to take action. Since we introduced a nominal fee for this service not only has the demand increased but individuals are taking action toward their goals. Perhaps paying for the mentoring has increased their perceived value of the service. I also actively promote indie artists and crafters via my weekly art/craft magazine column. Interviewing other creatives is my favourite part of writing the column. I learn so much.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
There is no such thing as a typical day. The one thing that I try to do is focus on actions linked to achieving our goals. I don't believe in 'to do lists', they are just filled with tasks that rarely move you forward in a real sense. I list actions in my diary like other people make appointments. It keeps me focused and every day is therefore different. The mundane, repetitive and boring simply don't make it into my day. It doesn't mean that I enjoy everything I need to do but it does mean that we are moving in the right direction.
How do you promote TrishAlan Designs?
In my diary I make an appointment to do at least 1 promotional activity per day. This doesn't necessarily mean allocating a big chunk of time. Answering these questions is my activity for today. It might be emailing a press release or interviewing somebody for my column. Little steps add up to big jumps when you add them together. I have a blog, twitter and facebook page all of which are much focused on TrishAlan Designs and Trish Goodfield. This could take heaps of time but they are all linked so one activity reaches all 3. I also schedule posts etc. so I'm managing my time well. I'm rarely at the computer when my little words of wisdom flash into your newsfeed. My weekly art/craft column has promoted us more than I ever could have imagined. Not only do I get at least half a page of free advertising every week but it has increased my personal profile and the business profile immeasurably. Promoting your business doesn’t need to be expensive there is lots you can do for low cost; think about how you dress when doing a market, the words you use to describe what you do to others, packaging, submitting project/items to magazines, entering competitions etc all come together to form a picture of you and your business. We haven’t always got it right but we just try again until something sticks.
What is your favourite item in the shop at the moment?
That’s easy; it’s always the last thing I made. At the moment that is the Kumihimo Necklaces and Handfasting Braids.
What's in store for TrishAlan Designs in 2011 and beyond?
I’m currently working on my second book exploring the phenomenon of the Etsy Street Teams. The first one is focusing on BrisStyle and the craft artists who make up its membership base. Hopefully this will be the first of many as other Etsy Street Teams seek to be involved.
We hope you enjoyed this little sneak peek into the world of TrishAlan Designs. Thank-you Trish for taking the time to talk to us.