Office manager Kirsty lives on a boat called Zulu in the heart of the Cambridgeshire countryside, running her Little Floating Craft Company on the side. Since starting in 2010, Kirsty now has customers all over the world, all itching to get their hands on her vintage-inspired goodies.
Messing about in boats
“There’s something so relaxing about living on a boat. Everything changes so much, from the scenery to the wildlife, with the light and reflections on the water coming in. You get home from work and just plug everything in and go to the middle of nowhere – we have lots of barbecues in the middle of nowhere. It can be quite hard to be motivated on a boat, a lot of tea drinking goes on!
“When it comes to craft, nothing’s gone overboard yet. The only issue I have is with the animals. A few things have been destroyed. We’ve got a German shepherd called Poopy – he’s wonderful – and two cats, Kevin and Neville. If you put things well out of the way to dry, you come in in the morning and, even though the entire boat is covered in cushions, Neville will be sleeping on your work. He’s damaged things beyond repair, but it all works out OK in the end.”
“My family’s really creative. My mother was a dressmaker when we were younger and my father was head pastry chef for a big hotel in Cambridgeshire. My brothers are both really creative. My stepfather was a writer and painter. It’s always been there.
“My mum still has the first thing I made. It was a pincushion – two squares of felt with a piece of lace tacked onto it. I was four. I’m quite ruthless with throwing things away, which you have to be when you live on a boat – things have to be dual purpose. I threw so much away and gave so much to charity shops when we moved onto the boat. I do come from a family of hoarders though – my dad had six vintage typewriters in his house.
“The most important thing I ever made was a collection of photos of my dad in a book for my mum after we lost him. I’ve done a couple of wedding books, which were very, very specific. One was for a Bavarian wedding where the girl had just lost her dad. It had to be so specific with details that weren’t going to upset her and still have the happy bits in it.”
“I love the idea that my creations can be nestled in between antiques and not look out of place. Older pieces can look beautiful but they can also fall apart and I like the idea that you can have something new that looks old and vintage but that won’t fall apart.
“I also really love Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Inks. I like using natural fibres, the linens and cottons. Here’s a tip: try and find a really, really firm piece of foam to do your distressing. The ones for sale are so soft, it’s impossible to build up layers. Look in DIY shops for serious foam.”
Words of wisdom
“Make things you love because otherwise it’s never going to work. Research what other people are doing and what’s selling well but there’s no point in making things that in your heart of hearts you don’t want to make. They’ll never be good enough. Good customer service is also very, very important. My customers are fantastic. They look out for me and I look out for them. I’ve got some that email me just to say hello. They send me presents. It’s a pleasure to see their emails pop up in my inbox.”
Facebook vs. Etsy
“I sell much more through Facebook than through Etsy. My customers seem to like the personal touch. It shows a real trust in me, it’s quite an honour. I have tried to convince everyone to go to Etsy – I now put Etsy links on all my products – but they prefer me to sell through Facebook.”
Who wouldn’t want to live on a boat? Kirsty’s got it made! Make sure you check back on the blog later today, as we’ve got a special how-to from the cap’n herself.