Crafty Kit Company
Founded by Jo Lochhead in 2012, The Crafty Kit Company produces best-selling craft kits that are stocked by both independent and national retailers in the UK, the USA, and Canada. Voted Best Sustainable Craft Company in the Craft Business Awards 2021, the company is proud to produce all of its kits in Scotland, and has placed giving back to both international and local charities at the heart of its business.
Find out more about Jo and the Crafty Kit Company in the interview below!
How did it all start?
I’ve always been crafty, and grew up in a creative family: my father was a watercolour artist, my brother is a potter, and my mother has always been sewing or creating something beautiful!
The Crafty Kit Company grew out of a previous business, a specialist bead shop which I opened in 2004. After running an art gallery in Aberdeen, and teaching English in Japan, I eventually became a teacher, and would hold jewellery workshops for pupils. I discovered that there weren’t really any specialist bead shops in Scotland, and decided to open my own. Over the years the shop evolved as we began stocking craft supplies and fabrics, as well as a few craft kits we had developed.
The story behind the name…
When we attended our very first trade show we had a really positive response to our craft kits, but visitors kept asking why The Bead Shop Scotland was stocking crochet kits. As I drove back from that first show I was chatting with my colleague Fiona (who has been working with me for seventeen years now!) and said “we really need to name this new business – why don’t 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 immediately knew that it was perfect, and have never looked back!
Where are you based?
We’re very lucky to be based in the beautiful village of East Linton, in East Lothian, Scotland, where our premises are in the old village post office!
What inspires you?
I take inspiration from the amazing landscape, flora and fauna that surrounds us here in East Lothian, where we have so many stunning walks right on our doorstep. East Linton is like a little Scotland in miniature, with hills and valleys, a river running through it, and hedgerows filled with wildflowers in spring and summer! Woodland animals and birds are always popular with our customers, who love to connect with the natural world as they craft. I also like to draw inspiration from current trends – such as dinosaurs, and gnomes, which have been a huge hit over the past year!
What is your creation process?
I’d like to think that I have this down to a fine art now! Once I’ve decided which animal or flower I’d like to create, I first make a prototype, writing the instructions and taking the photographs at the same time, just in case it turns out perfectly the first time round – which sometimes happens. Once I have the instructions written and photographs taken, I hand everything over to my graphic designer – AKA my husband! He then works his magic, producing the beautiful packaging and instructions that our customers love.
What makes you, your brand or products unique?
We are extremely proud to be the first craft business in the UK to partner with the non-profit initiative B1G1 (Buy One Give One), and for each craft kit that we make, we’ve committed to donating one ‘impact’ to charitable projects around the world, such as clean drinking water to families in Cambodia, or sight-saving vitamins to children in Kenya. This means that when customers buy one of our products, they know that they’re also making amazing things happen for the people and places that need it most.
Alongside this we work with good causes closer to home, for example by holding fundraising workshops in aid of Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home, and The Scottish Seabird Centre, as well as donating £1 from the sale of each of our subscription boxes to the charity Headway, who support people with acquired brain injury.
I’m also very proud of the wonderful online community that we have developed and nurtured in our Craft Your Way to Happiness Facebook group, which has grown from just a few hundred members last year to over 2,000 now. During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, I began holding free online needle felting workshops as a way for members to connect with other crafters at a time of great isolation, and it’s been just wonderful to see those friendships continue to grow now. Members often say that it’s the most supportive online community they’ve encountered, and anyone who has a question about making our kits will always find a friendly answer there!
What is your next project?
I’m very excited to be launching our first Needle Felting Advent Calendar! It will contain 24 crafty gifts, covering the 1st December through to Christmas Eve, including 13 full needle felting projects that we have developed, all with a festive theme!
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
We’re currently planning a move to larger premises, still within East Lothian, which is exciting! I’m also looking forward to working on new products that will celebrate some of the important occasions in life that we’re all just beginning to enjoy together again…
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 of craft kits for Cath Kidston, you can imagine how starry eyed I was! Having said that, I’m fortunate to feel a sense of achievement most days in this business.
What is your best-selling product/line?
Over the past year it has to be our Nordic Gnomes, which have been a huge hit with our customers! They’re a fantastic introduction to needle felting, and it’s been wonderful to see how people have adapted our original design, once they have learned the technique. We’ve had graduation gnomes, gnomes in team colours for football-loving grandsons, Valentine’s gnomes…
Your experience of your first Country Living Fair (year, exhibiting or visiting)
I first visited a Country Living Fair in Glasgow around five years ago. I just loved its festive atmosphere, and was blown away by the quality of the products on offer.
What do you love about Country Living Fairs?
I love the range of beautiful products on offer, and the wonderful atmosphere of the fairs – if I’m not exhibiting, I’m buying!
Your three top tips for crafters and makers…
- Use the best tools and equipment that you can; it really is worth being generous to yourself in this department.
- Buy your supplies locally if you can, and make friends with your suppliers – you never know when their help might make all the difference to you when you’re faced with a tight deadline!
- 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 handmade items too low, in the false belief that customers wouldn’t be willing to pay more.
Any advice for fledgling businesses…
It IS possible to build a business doing what you love. Always start by asking yourself WHY you want to do this, why it’s important to you and how it will impact your life and the lives of those who matter most to you. Turning your creative hobby or passion into a business ‘just to pay the bills’ won’t bring you joy or fulfilment. In fact, you might find that you become so busy wearing all the hats required to run the business, that there’s little time left for that joyful hobby that started it all off. Defining a purpose for your business that’s bigger than just making enough to get by is what will drive you to do better, bring joy and impact more lives as your business grows.