You might have seen a super Easter cross stitch tutorial on my blog a few weeks ago (click here if you missed it!), and today we’re having a natter with Hannah from Hannah Hand Makes! I really love getting to know other makers, and I’ve got to know Hannah a little more over the last few weeks as we worked on our Easter collaboration. I thought it would be great to find out even more about Hannah and her creative projects! She’s a really talented cross-stitcher who loves to design fun, modern kits for everyone to try at home (with a cuppa, of course!). Expect colourful cute characters, pom poms and a good old natter – I know you’re going to LOVE Hannah’s work and finding out all about her!
Describe your work in 3 words.
Fun, easy and colourful.
Who or what inspires you?
I get my inspiration from everyday life, such as clothes my kids wear, window displays in Paperchase and all the lovely people in my Facebook group who help out with ideas for new designs. If I am struggling to get inspired though, I find cleaning such a helpful way to clear my mind and inspiration usually strikes.
How did you first get started with cross stitch?
I very first started when I was around 6 and my nan taught me (my first proper kit was a Groovy Chick one). But I got back into it after having my first baby and, like many mums, I needed a new hobby that wasn’t feeding, changing or rocking.
Tell us about your design process. How do you turn something from an idea to a finished project?
I have so many ideas that I have had to teach myself to learn to let some of them go because it would be impossible for me to stitch them all. I usually start with some sketches; this is when I decide how big the design will be. Then I get some opinions on whether to turn it into a pattern, usually from my sister but also from my Facebook group.
Once I have decided, I turn the sketch into a pattern by first tracing it onto graph paper and then using a software on my computer. Then I have to decide the colours, which is the hardest part because there are just too many.
I always stitch my patterns before turning them into kits/downloads, because they always turn out a little different to how you would expect and there may be some tweaks to make.
Your shops on Etsy and NOTHS focus on cross stitch kits and patterns. What do you love the most about creating them?
I love that I don’t have to be amazing at drawing to design a cross stitch pattern; working with squares is very helpful when I’m in the design process. And I love that I don’t need to be an expert at sewing to create a handstitched product. As a busy mum of two I like to keep things simple and easy.
You’ve recently started recording a podcast – tell us all about it!
This is something I was so nervous about starting (as you can probably tell from my voice on the first few episodes) but I personally love listening to podcasts and I wanted to create more accessible content for my audience and customers; something they can listen to while stitching! I love how personal podcasts are because as I am talking, stories come out that I never would have thought of if I was writing a blog post.
I try not to talk about the business side much on it (although it sometimes slips in) but make it more of a place to share any tips around creativity and cross stitch. And sharing any cross stitch related products I come across such as books and patterns.
How do you juggle running a small business with family life?
Well, I definitely drop some of those balls sometimes. I try and make sure there are different blocks to our day. Some blocks are just for family time and other blocks are just for work. They tend to get mixed up sometimes, especially during the week when I don’t have my husband here to help, but usually I try to be focusing on one or the other. My 4 year old is in pre-school part time and my toddler naps most days so I have that time too. But most of my work is done when they go to bed or during the weekend; breaking all the rules of a normal work week. As I spend so much time with the kids in the week though, I quite like escaping to work on the weekends.
What advice would you give to anyone who is just starting out selling their wares?
Try to focus on one thing at a time. This goes for everything, from what products to sell, to what platforms to sell on. Know your numbers from the very beginning and make sure you’re not undercharging. And be patient. Building an authentic brand is something that can only be done slowly, so try not to compare yourself to someone who has been doing this for years more than you (although I think looking up to these people can help, as long as it makes you feel good when you do). Also, try and find a community or create one yourself as the self employed world can be quite a lonely one. I don’t think my business would be anywhere near where it is now without the support of the online community I am part of.
Thank you SO much for chatting to us, Hannah!
Juggling a small business and a family is such hard work, but Hannah is doing an amazing job! I totally agree that you end up working all hours and during nap times (hooray for nap times!), and Hannah’s advice to work on one thing at a time is a top tip if you’re just getting started or if you’re getting overloaded. I’m looking forward to seeing what you make next, Hannah! 🙂
I’m so inspired by Hannah’s designs and hope you are too! 🙂 Do check out her podcast, The Cross Stitch Podcast, which you can find on on iTunes or via Hannah’s blog. If you’re interested in getting started with cross stitch, you can purchase kits from her website. And don’t forget to follow @hannahhandmakes on Instagram too!