Tag Archives: shop

Cut Out & Keep – Oxford

I was recently asked to write an article for crafting website Cut Out & Keep, on the subject of Oxford. They have very kindly allowed me to publish it on my own blog too! I hope that you enjoy reading it.

Oxford – the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ – is steeped in history and knowledge. It has spectacular architecture, glorious open spaces, and its own unique brand of eccentricity. It is probably best known for its university, and, with so many students living here, there’s an atmosphere of new beginnings, dreams and aspirations…

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Open and Closed

A colleague of mine (in my day job) is leaving the company to set up a cafe/art gallery/therapy centre/craft party venue in the Midlands. For part of her leaving present, I was asked to make an open and closed sign for the front of her shop. I know she’s a big fan of chickens (her Orpingtons are spoilt rotten!) so we decided to incorporate a chicken (or technically two) into the sign. It says ‘Open’ in large letters on one side and ‘Closed’ in slightly smaller letters on the other. It was laser cut from 3mm acrylic.

Let me know what you think!


Day Fourteen – 30 Days of Creativity


This is the first of my ‘must do’ projects which I’ve known about for months yet am leaving till the very last minute!

Darn It & Stitch is a lovely little sewing shop tucked away down a back street in Oxford. I’ve only actually been there once but will definitely be visiting again next time I’m in Oxford (and may even make a special trip to do one of their workshops). Their first birthday is on Saturday and they’ve asked people to make a Stitched Birthday Cake – stitched, knitted, quilted, embroidered or crocheted, pretty much anything goes!

I spent some time trawling around on the internet for cupcake pincushion tutorials this evening, and the cake below is an amalgam of about four different cakes. It’s not the neatest (I could have done with white fleece or felt for the top, and to not have been in such a rush!) but I hope the lovely DI&S ladies will like it. Hopefully it will sneak its way into some of the photos that will inevitably be taken at Saturday’s birthday party.

Darn It & Stitch - Birthday Cupcake Pincushion

I’ll pop it in the post tomorrow and hope it gets there on time!


Aqua Marina (Or, a bit of shameless self-promotion)

I’m going to apologise in advance for the aforementioned shameless self-promotion!

I’ve been working on a new range of laser cut acrylic jewellery recently that I thought I’d share with you all in order to get feedback and ideas for improvements. I had fun creating my mini Christmas range but wanted to create a non-seasonal range, and one that, as a member of the Etsy for Animals team, I could use to raise a bit of money for animal charities.

So, where to start? Well, I pondered this for a bit then remembered I’d fallen in love with the manatees on Last Chance To See, a televisual update (with Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine) of one of my favourite books of all time (Last Chance To See by Douglas Adams), so I designed a manatee necklace:

Manatee necklace

Having created the first piece of the collection I decided to take the marine theme and run with it – hence the name Aqua Marina! All the pieces will include a donation to an appropriate charity – at the moment I will be donating to Fauna and Flora International (as supported by Stephen Fry) and the Rainforest Alliance, unless anyone can suggest other, reputable, more specific charities for each of the species I’ve ‘made’.

Sea Turtle  Shark  Starfish   

Sand DollarJellyfish

I decided not to decorate these pieces with buttons and cabochons (a la my Christmas items) because I want the simplicity of the shape to show through (though the rainbow tentacles on the jellyfish are admittedly pretty bling!). I’d love to know what you think of my creations, and if you have suggestions for other marine themed necklaces that I could make…


Is good customer service back in fashion?

Like many people did, I spent a little time wandering around the shops this weekend. I haven’t been shopping for a while (due to a combination of minimal funds and general lack of shopping motivation) and was pleasantly surprised by an improvement in the customer service ‘experience’ in a good few of the shops I visited.

That might sound terribly patronising but, having worked in a health food shop for many years, I like to think I give good customer service – something I try to extend to any interactions I’m involved in on Etsy, be it convos or sales. I really appreciate shop assistants and Etsy sellers going the extra mile to make the experience memorable and will return to a shop or seller where I’ve had a particularly good experience.

This weekend’s most interesting shop interactions were in a high street clothing shop and a supermarket. At the supermarket, every time that I have bought something recently, the cashier (a different person every time) has asked me, ‘And how are you today?’ – at which point I usually get really embarrassed and mumble something about being fine, thanks. But my shyness is not really the point, the fact that they ask the question, with a smile, is the point. It seems to make the transaction far more pleasant for everyone involved. I mean, everyone likes to have human interaction from time to time, right? I’m going to assume that, given the number of different people who have asked me the same question at this particular supermarket recently, the employees have all been asked to make sure they make conversation with their customer for the purposes of improved customer service, and that ‘How are you today?’ is a good place to start.

The clothes shop was another interesting one. It wasn’t particularly price-y, nor particularly low-end, just somewhere in the middle. I had three different members of staff ask me if I needed help with anything (again resulting in my embarrassment and a mumbled reply, but hey, that’s my problem and not theirs). Then once I’d collected a few items to try on, but was still browsing, a sales assistant approached and asked if she could take them to the changing rooms for me, so I didn’t have to carry them round. My cynical side says that this was only so my hands were free to pick up even more items, but the trusting, innocent me thinks that they wanted to improve my shopping experience so that I would shop there again. I’ve only had that kind of service in the higher-end high street shops so to see that it’s filtered down to regular high street level is A Good Thing, I think. In fact the whole shopping experience had gone up a notch since the last time I shopped there – if only they wouldn’t insist on constantly pushing their high-interest-rate store card at every opportunity (between every song on the ‘radio’, in the fitting rooms, at the cash desk).

My cynical side comes out again at this point, and ponders whether all this extra effort is just down to this whole recession thing, and if shops are just keen to get us to associate them with being good thus resulting in us spending more there. I don’t know if it might be the Mary, Queen of Shops effect (I hasten to add that I have never seen her programme, but I have heard good things about it, and her crusade for improved customer service in Britain’s shops). Her programme has made customers and shops alike think more about customer service. Expectations have been raised!

I’d love to hear your experiences of particularly good or bad customer service on the High Street. Wonder if everyone’s bucking their ideas up?