This month’s regular bi-monthly blog feature sees Perfect Layout talking to an established business based in Romford. We believe that learning from others and how they run their business is the key to increasing one’s overall knowledge.
Even if the sector of the business isn’t like yours, it’s the management and processes employed by that company that can resonate and lead you to improving the systems that you have.
We are passionate about promoting the fantastic, successful growing companies that exist right here on our Essex doorstep.
Keep reading to find out more about this month's business under the spotlight - Crafty Arts.
What’s the history behind Crafty Arts?
It’s a family business, that was set up by Jays parents. Their first shop was in Ardleigh Green in 1991 and then they closed that one and progressed to having a store in Lakeside a few years later. They then opened a store in Brentwood on the High Street and another one in Bluewater Shopping Centre. At that point they were running 3 stores at the same time. Eventually, they closed the Lakeside store and had the Brentwood and Bluewater stores running alongside each other.
In 2000, Jay set up an information website and seven years later he set up an actual e-commerce website. From that, we saw potential and it was at that point that he left his website job and took the plunge to work for the business fulltime.
Following on from that we started to see a growth in the online business that was earning us more than our Brentwood shop. We then moved to North Street in Romford and rented a warehouse there. After 2yrs we had to rent the warehouse next door too. Bluewater was doing really well too. After 15 years we closed the Brentwood shop.
We moved to our current location in 2015 and we now have 15 members of staff.
What makes you stand out from other shops that supply arts and crafts?
We’ve got the personal touch. Our customer service staff are passionate about what they do and we have long serving members on the team. They are not afraid of hard work. Our manager has a background of arts and she manages our workshops.
The top tiers of the business are still family led and run, but we have two managers that we know that we can rely on. We take care of our own and we’ll step in and offer our help when required.
An element of your business involves running workshops. Tell me a little about what you offer and to whom?
We cater to everyone and run different workshops throughout the year. From beginners to professionals of all ages. The content of our workshops varies and we also provide the setting for home schooling on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Who do you provide your products to? Local or further afield? An
We sell to individual customers and predominately to the UK. 20% of our sales is to Europe.
Is your background arts and crafts based?
No. It’s more strategy and admin. Jay’s background is arty in that he can draw. He’s very creative and very analytical in mind set that’s why we work well together.
What’s your role within the business?
I am the Business Development Director. I focus on the brand and oversee the customer service team and HR. I also source new products and go to shows and test out new products which is really nice.
How is business going?
It’s going really well. This year we’ve put lots into planning and having strategies which has worked really well.
Crafty Arts celebrated 25 years of business in May 2016, with an unveiling by The Mayoress of Havering, Linda Van Den Hende
Have you been on any formal courses to learn how to run this business or have you learnt everything whilst being ‘on the job’?
Mainly on the job and through past experiences of roles. We’ve all had to kind of find our feet. Jay was a web designer but now oversees the day to day running of the business.
I see that you have a very active website for the business. How reliant is your business revenue on your website?
It’s not reliant on the website as the business has grown quickly and we sell on multi-channels. As well as the website, we sell on Amazon and eBay. The website is an added bonus and gives our customers confidence that we are real and that they can pop in and see us when they want to.
Do you have a marketing strategy?
Yes, we focus on the major seasons throughout the year as well as the art seasons. For example, Spring is the start of the watercolour season and you’ll find people out painting watercolours. At this time, you’ll also find students putting their portfolios together. Start of the summer holidays it’s arts and craft kits for kids and Christmas it’s board game season and gift items.
Which social media platforms are you on?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Wow you seem to be on all of them, who manages these platforms for you?
We have a Customer Service and Workshop Manager who manages it.
Which platforms would you consider as your most successful?
At present, Facebook because of the interactions.
What are your top 3 tips for business owners that are not on social media or are ready to get started?
In both instances I would recommend having a plan! Be consistent on your platforms and post often and try and build a community. We use Monday.com that helps us to plan, manage and organise our work.
I would add, that it’s really important to have your processes in place from the beginning. E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber, is a book that can help you to understand the different roles within a business. Know what the why is, of having built the business, as the answer is going to keep you moving forward. It's not easy!
I also see that you have won various business awards over the last few years. Can you describe how, having won these awards, it has impacted your business?
It’s impacted the staff by reflecting their hard work as a very well done. It helps remind us that we’re doing a good job and to keep going. It’s also great for our customers to see, especially new-comers reviewing our products for the first time – it gives us clout. We can also share the news with our suppliers, which shows that we are sourcing good products. It’s a lot of work to enter, but I think it is worth doing.
Crafty Arts - winners of the best E-Commerce business awarded by
Business Excellence, April 2019
Would you recommend entering award competitions to other businesses?
Do you think that it’s something that any type of business could benefit from?
Where do you see Crafty Arts in 5 years’ time?
I think arts and crafts will always have a space in this world. Crafts have a cycle and it’s interesting to see what the next cycle will be. Painting by numbers, knitting, scrap booking, card making have all come and gone and come around again as popular trends. We love being a hobby provider. I see us growing and expanding the workshops and having multiple ones running simultaneously.
If you would like to know more about the services and products provided by Crafty Arts, you can get in touch by contacting them via their website or via:
If you would like your business to feature in this slot, why not give us a call on 01708 578 015 today.
We'd love to hear from you!
We are asked all the time, why do I need a blog on my website? It probably ranks right next to, what is SEO? And believe it or not the two are related. In a nutshell the number one reason for having a blog on your website is that it drives search engine traffic.
How does it drive search engine traffic? Well, for one it enriches your content, but secondly and of equal importance it keeps your site updated.
If you think about the way Google and other search engines work, they constantly look for indexed pages. So every time you put up a blog it’s one more indexed page on your website, which means there is a greater opportunity for it to show up in search engines.
Blogging also shows search engines that your site is active and they should be checking back regularly for new content, even better it puts more keywords on your site, all of which help it rise up the page rankings; in the trade it’s known as organic SEO!
But it’s not all about SEO. Blogging is one of your best sales tools that can help increase leads and improve conversion rates.
While its pretty tacky to use your blog for a direct sales message, it is your big chance to really tell your organisation’s stories.
It will also show your credibility and to prove your authority in your market. In many ways blogging is your chance to show off and to really convey that you are an expert in your field.
We always get a real buzz when we read a blog that teaches us something new, written by someone passionate about their subject, it’s such a great opportunity to get inside the personality of a business.
Don’t make it too long though (around 500 words is optimum), but tell compelling stories in your voice which help customers and potential customers understand something about what you do, how you work, your industry or what you’ve learned on the way.
Your blog therefore is the enrichment you put into your site, the thing you do to change it from a showroom into a friendly business.
The big benefit of this rich content is that readers love to share new, fun and interesting material they’ve found online. Which means that not only do you have something to put up on your social media channels every time you blog, but so do your clients and potential clients.
Think about it, if a potential client has read your blog and has even linked to it on social media, how much more likely are they to buy from you than if all they’d seen were the static “services” or “about us” pages on your website?
You know we said its not all about SEO, but actually those social media links are great for creating inbound links to your website, something search engines absolutely love.
As you can see we practice what we preach, believing passionately that blogging is the most creative way for driving search engines to find you and to influence prospects to buy from you. If you need help with making this happen, why not get in touch on 01708 578 015 or take a look at our copywriting services for more information.