Meet the Maker: Founder of Crafter’s Companion
Meet Sara Davies! Sara became the founder of Crafter’s Companion after setting up the company from her bedroom (whilst still studying at university!) Today, Crafter’s Companion design, manufacture and sell craft-related products to people across the world through retail outlets, online and TV shopping channels.
As part of her role, Sara regularly features for Crafter’s Companion on TV channels Ideal World and Create & Craft – as well as equivalent shopping channels in North America and Europe.
Meet a Maker! Sara Davies from Crafter’s Companion
We all know that you’re a papercraft pro! Tell us a bit about your other crafting passions.
I’ve always been crafty as I come from a crafty family! My Mam enjoyed cake decorating, cross-stitching, candle-making, salt dough and many other crafts, so I grew up watching her and also joining in and learning different techniques. I didn’t actually discover cardmaking until my late teens but got hooked straight away. Aside from papercrafts I also do some beading and love pottering around the kitchen baking. I make my own truflles, fudge, jams, chutneys, cakes etc and then put them all in presentation boxes… that I make and decorate myself of course! I even made myself my own ‘Sara’s Kitchen’ labels to go on the jars, bags and boxes!
How did you come up with the concept for Crafter’s Companion?
I was doing my work experience at university for a craft company in the area and I had a lightbulb moment. I saw all these beautiful cards in lots of different shapes and sizes that were being made but they were all being put into really plain envelopes and often ones that didn’t match the card size properly. I thought how nice it would be if crafters could make their own bespoke envelopes using pretty papers that will co-ordinate with the cards they’d created and will be perfectly sized to fit. Luckily, my Dad’s an engineer, so I went to him with my idea and between us we developed a board for crafters to create their own envelopes. I had saved up the money earned from my summer job and worked with a joiner from my village who built me the prototype and then the original boards out of MDF. The Enveloper was born! This happened while I was still at university, so I had to convert a corner of my uni bedroom into an office and I worked from there! That was almost 9 years ago now – I can’t believe how fast the time’s gone!
There are many craft brands out there. Why is Crafter’s Companion different?
I’m surrounded by such a great team who are so enthusiastic with what they do and lots of them are crafters themselves. Because of this they understand a crafter’s needs and not only follow trends but also look out for upcoming ones, so that our products will always be exactly what a crafter will want. We understand that there are many different levels of crafters and we try to cater to them all, so whether you’ve never crafted before in your life or are a highly-experience crafter, you’ll be able to use our products with ease. We also try to bring out innovative tools to help make crafting easier and have won numerous awards for these.
Crafter’s Companion is well-known for its innovation. What process do you go through to design a new product?
Often we’ll start at the end, if that makes sense! For instance with our Rock-a-Block stamping system, this came about from the frustrations people were having with stamping with flat acrylic blocks. We noticed people mentioning how when they stamped out they would have to press down all over the stamp area to ensure that every part of the stamp was transferred over onto the surface and they also had to be really careful not to get ink anywhere other than the stamp design as it would often transfer through. They were saying it seemed it didn’t matter how careful they were trying to be, when they lifted the block off they would get parts of the image that didn’t transfer and / or ink showing up where it wasn’t supposed to! We worked on a way of solving this problem, which is why the Rock-a-Blocks are curved and have a raised edge on two sides, so that you can rock the stamp (that’s been mounted onto the block) from front to back and you’ll get an even pressure throughout and only the ink that’s on the image will get transferred. I think I’ve got a bit of my Dad’s engineering brain as I love coming up with concepts like this and solving problems!
How do you think papercraft has evolved over the years?
It’s evolved greatly. I remember when I first started in the industry there wasn’t anywhere near the amount of tools or machines that you have today. There were also very distinct separations between different crafts, whereas today you find more crafting crossovers and products designed for one particular craft being used for another. For instance images from our papercrafting CDs are being printed onto either printable fabric or fabric transfer paper then used in sewing projects, the refill inks from our Spectrum Noir range are being used to colour resin and then used in jewellery projects and sugarcraft moulds are being used to create card embellishments.
What is the best piece of crafting advice that you’ve ever been given?
Always buy the best tools you can afford, don’t just go for the cheapest option (unless you find that the cheapest item is also the best!) and don’t be afraid to experiment. Crafting is a fun hobby, so don’t stress yourself over getting something perfect – often mistakes turn into happy accidents and you discover a new effect that you actually really like. I could give loads of advice when it comes to crafting as I’m so passionate about it, but if I had to limit it I would say the tools, have fun and don’t be afraid to ask! There are so many social media and community craft groups that you can join and being around like-minded people, seeing what they do and being able to ask questions is just so helpful as you learn so much.
As a TV presenter and entrepreneur, what does a typical week look like for you?
My weeks are so varied – I never have a ‘typical’ week, although I have tried to make it more structured since I’ve had my little boy, Oliver. It changes all the time though as no two days are the same! I try to work it so that one day a week I’m in the office and the other day I’m working from home or at a meeting. When I come into the office I catch up with my team and find out where they’re up to with various projects before moving on to my own tasks. This could be anything from product development and sales planning to working with the marketing department. When I’m not doing that I’ll be doing things like going on TV, flying out to the other offices, travelling overseas with meetings and TV work or developing new business ideas. It certainly keeps me busy and out of mischief!
Give us a tour of your craft room.
It’s an absolute tip at the moment – there’s stuff everywhere as I’m writing this while I prep for an upcoming TV launch! I try to keep it contained in my office – I have one half of the room as my office and the other half as my ‘play section’. I’m a real gadget girl, so I have lots of cutters, die-cutting and digital-cutting machines, my Ultimate Pro with the various boards, Xyron machines and lots more. There’s a box full of different glues, a set of drawers for embellishments and ribbons etc and then a bookshelf full of papercrafting CDs! My tower of Spectrum Noir markers are always on the craft desk and then the drawers are packed full of folders containing stamps and dies. And don’t even get me started on the amount of paper and cardstock I have in my room; it feels like an entire tree’s worth of card and paper is in there at the moment!
What’s always in your stash?
Glue, cardstock, papers, inkpads and papercrafting CDs! I would be lost without these. Obviously all my tools, gadget, dies and embossing folders are to hand as I just love using them and then I can spend hours just colouring in images. Actually, it’s sounding like everything’s always in my stash!
Where do you find your inspiration?
All over the place! It could be from anywhere like a fashion magazine where I’m flicking through and I see a certain colour combo that I think would look good on a card to a project shared on a social media site and I loved the way the card was laid out, so I used this as inspiration for the next card I did. From a work / product perspective I keep my eye on growing trends and colours / patterns in fashion to help develop new ranges.
Share your biggest crafting achievement.
My biggest work achievement so far has been with our Ultimate Pro. This is our flagship product and was launched in 2009. For the launch I did a three week tour of the three major craft trade shows – CHA (in America), the Craft, Hobby and Stitch show (in the UK), and Paperworld (in Germany). The product was awarded ‘Most Innovative Product’ at all three events – the only product to have ever won this award in all three territories. This is a huge achievement and one that I am incredibly proud of. On a personal front, I’d probably say it was passing the Spectrum Noir Accreditation Programme! I was always so in awe of people who could colour in well and I aspired to be able to do the same. When we launched our Spectrum Noir range of alcohol markers I worked really hard trying to develop my skills by watching Leann and the DVD she made. When I felt confident enough in my colouring I put myself through the Accreditation Programme and was chuffed to bits when I passed!
We’re very much looking forward to you blogging for Hobbycraft! What kind of thing can our readers’ expect?
I can’t wait to be part of your blog and I’m hoping to bring you sneak peeks of what’s in store for you all with our upcoming and also to show you different ways to use our products. Above all, I’m just really looking forward to share my love of crafting with everyone and to give you all some insight into my crazy, hectic world!
And for the future? What’s next for you and Crafter’s Companion?
There’s exciting times ahead for Crafter’s Companion and I can’t wait to see everything come together. We’ve got lots of new launches lined up and we’re going to be working with some new, incredibly talented designers to bring you new papercrafting collections. We’ve got new tools in the pipeline and a completely new line of products that you’ll be able to get VERY soon, so watch this space!