The wildlife park is open at last! There are some animals for you to meet, and lots more to come. Its been quite an adventure getting here – I nearly gave up numerous times but I’m glad I stuck with it. I thought now might be a good time to write down some of my hopes and dreams for Beetle Cherry (yeh cheesy I know).
I’d learnt a lot from the couple of years I worked on Beetle Cherry before, but the most important thing was the one that kick started my complete make-over (and the most obvious when I think back) – do the thing you love, do something a bit different and try to have your own voice. I didn’t know how this applied to me, until I read (for the thousandth time) Gerald Durrell’s book ‘My Family and Other Animals’. As well as setting up his wildlife park, Durrell wrote many popular books about his trips and adventures, aimed at reaching a new audience and raising awareness and money for his park. He used his creative voice to support his conservation work. Obviously I’m a thousand light years away from what Gerald Durrell achieved, but it did spark my idea for setting up my own illustrated wildlife park.
With this nugget of an idea in mind, I wrote down some aims and hopes, which thankfully months on still seem relevant:
* to bring amazing but endangered animals to a different audience, to share some of the things I’ve learnt about these animals and what we can do to help them, through prints, jewellery and homeware.
* I like trying new things so I wanted to give myself a ‘theme’ to work under but not limit myself to what I make. This gives me a great framework to work within (and learn a lot along the way) but leaves me free to try out different craft techniques and product ideas.
* to sell some things and give some of my profit to charity (see my About page, and more blog posts to come in the future)
* to connect with like-minded people – it gives me my own voice, both within the craft community and the conservation community.
Its been hard work getting to this point, I had a lot of ideas that never went anywhere, days spent doing things that I ended up not liking, but hopefully its all helped in some way. Developing my new branding was something I was really struggling with. I’ve done it for other people but suddenly doing my own seemed an impossible task, so I drafted in the help of Cat aka Twin Pines Creative. This was definitely the best idea I’ve had all year, it was great having someone to work with (it can get kinda lonely being an independent designer/maker), it made me really think about what my brand was and most importantly, I LOVE what we came up with!
Another ‘problem’ that I had to wrestle with (and still am) is how to balance making something different with making something mainstream enough that people will actually want to buy it. At the beginning, selling a print of a kakapo seemed like a great idea because no one else is and there are plenty of people in the world who like kakapos. Then as I thought about it more, I realised that most people want pictures of cats and dogs rather than kakapos, and finding those few people in the world who do want one is actually trickier than I first thought…
So I’m aiming to have a balance of things, keep the kakapo and hope that I find some of those people who want a print of one (and actually, at the time of writing, I have found a few of these people and sent them their prints already, hurrah!) but also sell things a bit more ‘mainstream’ that are an easier pitch to sell, like my Honeycomb jewellery range which will highlighting the story of our honeybees but hopefully also stands on its own as a range of jewellery. Its going to be a constant balance, every new product idea I have, I have to ask myself if it is relevant to an endangered animal but is also something that my audience in general might want to buy. But its nice to have some boundaries and I’m hoping these questions will help me to create some different products.
I feel excited about my aims, and hope to keep on track with them all, even in just a small way. I’ve got a very busy full time job so for my sanity (and so I enjoy doing this rather than it becoming a burden) I’m keeping my aims small(ish) and hopefully realistic. Now that my website is live (which by the way is all thanks to my genius amazing boyfriend) I can focus on making some more stuff, and my most feared element, some online/social media type promotion. I find this the trickiest part of running a small business, it doesn’t come naturally to me, but hopefully now I’ve found more of a ‘voice’ this might come a bit easier. I hope you enjoy looking around the beginnings of my wildlife park, there is plenty more to come, thanks for all your support so far!