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When the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions shook up Emma Eatwell’s newly launched recruitment business at the start of 2020, she wouldn’t have guessed a £20 resin kit from her sister would soon lead her to turn over £100,000 in one year. Express.co.uk spoke to the entrepreneur to find out how she launched Cotswold Crafts by Emma.
Speaking about the launch of her initial recruitment business in January 2020, Ms Eatwell, 47, said: “Lockdown as we all know, was challenging for a business that’s built on human connections. So naturally and as many others would have experienced, I found myself with a lot of time to spare.”
Ms Eatwell continued: “I dug up a resin kit that my sister gifted me which hadn’t ever been ever used and found it to be an incredibly enjoyable activity to channel my focus. I started making various gifts with pressed flowers and leaves and would drop them off at the doorsteps of family and friends to let them know I was thinking of them during the difficult time when we couldn’t see each other.”
However, after being urged to start monetising the crafty venture, Ms Eatwell set up an Etsy shop with “not much thought” of it becoming anything more than a hobby that could put a few extra pounds in her pocket.
She said: “Even the name came without much thought! Cotswold Crafts was taken so I went with an alternative suggestion and Cotswold Crafts by Emma was born.
“It was going better than I expected and I was considering getting my products into local arts and crafts shops when the pandemic happened. This is when I started exploring my options and found Amazon Handmade, which is a great marketplace to help creators and makers like me put our products in front of more people than we can imagine.
“The process to join was stringent and you were required to set yourself up as a proper company and have all your ducks in a row in order to join, which really meant you had to be serious about the business. So I registered the business in September 2020 and by October I had my first listing on Amazon, which was the real game changer propelling Cotswold Crafts by Emma to where it is today.”
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It wasn’t until Ms Eatwell joined Amazon that she saw the possibility of working on it full-time where she could earn a living from the items she was making.
Ms Eatwell said: “I have always loved plants and resin is a fantastic way to preserve plants and flowers. As I was making things during the lockdown, I tapped into the meaning of flowers as a theme for my resin keepsakes to help people send messages to loved ones. For example, forget-me-nots featured a lot in my work as the flower represents the sentiment that I am always thinking of you, while four-leaf clovers were a great way to send the message of good luck.
“Most of my products are focused on spreading positivity rather than practicality. I’ve loved seeing how much my products resonate with people and I love the idea that I’m making individual pieces that people will actually cherish.
“These days I make all sorts of keepsakes from keyrings to pendants. Lately, I’ve been making a lot of letter keyrings which have been popular, probably because they’re so great for putting on kids’ school bags.”
Describing her being a one-woman band as her biggest hurdle, Ms Eatwell said: “The biggest challenge for me is keeping up with the growing demand and being able to have the headspace and time to come up with new designs and product ranges.”
She continued: “Thankfully I’ve got my whole family behind me to help out and have also been able to rely on Fulfilment by Amazon to take care of the delivery of 90 percent of my sales.
“Looking at the sales insights on my Amazon dashboard, I can see that the business has grown 140 percent in 2022 compared to 2021 but I know this would’ve been even higher if I was able to keep everything stocked.”
After turning over £100,000 last year, Ms Eatwell said her goal for 2023 is to “step on the accelerator” for growth.
She said: “I’m currently looking to hire two to three people to help me across not just production but also marketing as I really need to level up my Instagram and other social channels. I’m also going to seize growth opportunities, such as taking advantage of Amazon Pan European fulfilment services to enter new markets and also look to partner with local bricks and mortar businesses that want to stock my products.”
For those interested in launching a business, Ms Eatwell offered a few words of advice.
Ms Eatwell said: “Be ready to put in more hours than the normal nine-to-five, so you really have to love what you’re doing. Expect to wear many hats and learn new skills from basic accounts to marketing and logistics.
“Listen to your customers’ feedback and be prepared to get it wrong sometimes as this is where the greatest lessons are learned and also where you can seize the opportunity to perfect and grow your business.”
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