The Crafty Kit Company is a socially conscious business based in the beautiful village of East Linton, near Edinburgh. They design knitting, sewing and needle felting kits which are sold in big and little shops, garden centres, museums, farm parks and visitor centres all over the UK. Continue reading our interview with Jo Lochead to find out more about what they do, how it all started and whats next…
How did it all start?
I formed The Crafty Kit Company in 2012. At the time, I had two shops – The Bead Shop Scotland and The Handmade Store. I sold fabric and beautiful yarn, in addition to beads and jewellery making equipment. I designed some bracelet kits and some crochet kits, and took them to a trade fair in Scotland. The crochet kits were a huge success and the rest, as they say, is history!
The story behind the name…
Driving back from the very first trade show that I attended, Fiona (she’s my longest standing employee) and I were chatting in the car about the wonderful response we’d had to the kits. One thing was troubling me though – people were a little confused about the name of the business. We were exhibiting under the name ‘The Bead Shop Scotland’ but most of the kits were crochet kits. I said to Fiona, we need to name this new business – how about we call it “The Craft Kit Company?” We both agreed that this didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so when Fiona suggested “The Crafty Kit Company”, we knew straight away that it was perfect!
Where are you based?
I’m based in the pretty village of East Linton, between the Lammermuir Hills and the Firth of Forth. We have rather an unusual set-up here. Our home has commercial premises attached to it; in fact our workshop used to be the old Post Office, and our office was the original sorting office! Downstairs in our basement sits the original safe for the Post Office. Sadly, however, the key is missing 😉
What inspires you?
I live in such a beautiful part of the country; inspiration is all around me. Just a stone’s throw from our front door are beautiful river walks, ancient mills and dovecots, fields of sheep, cattle, alpacas even…! I feel truly blessed.
What is your creation process?
I’d like to think that I have this down to a fine art now! All our kits are animals of one sort or another, and we now tend to produce ranges, for example British Birds and Woodland Animals. Once I’ve decided which animal to create I make the first prototype, writing the instructions and taking the photographs at the same time, just in case it turns out perfectly first time round – this happens sometimes! Once I have the instructions written and photographs taken I hand everything over to my graphic designer AKA my husband. He works his magic, producing the beautiful packaging and instructions that we are renowned for.
What makes you, your brand or products unique?
We are very (very) proud to be the first craft and hobby business in the UK to partner with B1G1 (also known as Buy One, Give One). We support international causes by donating a percentage of the profit of every kit that we sell to people and places that really need it. For example, we are currently helping farmers in Kenya to run their bee-keeping businesses. We are a giving business and we have placed this at the heart of everything we do.
What is your next project?
I’m so excited about this! I’m currently working on four new needle felting kits – the range is called Dinky Dogs and they are ridiculously cute. They are small and mighty, each one being formed over a wire armature and created using 100% wool from Yorkshire mills.
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
We’re going through a phase of rapid growth at the moment, so my main plan for the next 12 months is to stay focused on what we do well, continuing to grow in a sustainable way. We are working on a new website, looking for bigger commercial premises to move to and we also have plans to launch a subscription box – it’s going to be a very busy year!
What is your biggest achievement?
This one is easy. I’ve been a fan of Cath Kidston for many years – almost from her kitchen table days, in fact. So when I was asked to design a range craft kits for Cath Kidston, you can imagine how starry eyed I was! Having said that, I feel a sense of achievement most days in this business. Only yesterday I found out that our Needle Felt Blue Tit is British Heart Foundation’s top selling ‘new’ product!
What is your best-selling product/line?
Our best-selling range is most definitely needle felting. It’s a very easy, relaxing and therapeutic. Results are quick and impressive.
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
I’ve been coming to Country Living Fairs for years. If I’m not exhibiting, I’m buying! I love the range of beautiful products on offer, and the wonderful atmosphere of the fairs.
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
1. Use the best tools and equipment that you can; it really is worth being generous to yourself in this department.
2. Buy your supplies locally if you can – and make friends with your suppliers. Last week we sent a ‘thank you’ card to the company that makes our felting pads. We needed an order in a hurry, so they organised for a member of staff to stay late to put our order together.
3. Charge enough for your work. I mean – cover all your costs and PLEASE value your time when working out how much to charge! We undervalue ourselves and others when we price our hand made items too low, in the false belief that customers wouldn’t be willing to pay more.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
Here’s what I wish I’d known years ago!
You CAN be creative and run a profitable business at the same time. You just need to commit to learning everything you need to know to get really good at the business side. Alternatively, outsource all the stuff that you don’t want or need to do, so that you can focus on doing the things you love. Know your ideal customer and market your products to them. Our business was transformed when we realised that our ideal customer was actually a lady in her fifties and not a twenty-something!
Get hands on in one of their Christmas workshops at the Country Living Fair 2019. Take a look at their sessions below:
For more information on their workshops or to book tickets please click here.