Four Years of Four Little Walls

Last week officially marked  four years since the first post on Four Little Walls so I thought we'd take a self indulgent trip down memory lane and share some experiences from this 4 year learning curve!

Spoiler alert: Not all of the following is positive, upbeat stuff, I consider it more of a cautionary tale in muddling your way through setting up a niche, craft business without completely losing your money and your mind.

Join me if you will, and bring a drink!

January 2012: I'd reluctantly left my job at a craft magazine and was moving out of Brighton.
Between job hunting and packing up my little flat I decided to start a blog, partly to re-ignite my doll's house obsession and also to give me something to do between job hunting when everybody else was at work.

A snap of FLW early years!

Needing to keep my brain occupied I set my self the 52 week challenge.
Basically, making something for the doll's house, every week, for the entire year.
Some were a bit hit and miss but it was a great exercise in creative project planning. (And lack of!)

Projects from the 52 Week Challenge

By May I was writing a monthly column for Doll's House & Miniature Scene but still only working part time. I qualified to attend The Princes Trust Enterprise scheme and the course gave me the boost I needed to launch the shop,
At the end of my trial marketing period Four Little Walls business plan was deemed not viable and  a few months later my mentor support ended.

(My first mentor was so convinced I was making a mistake that when I received a financial contribution from a family friend she advised I use the money to learn to drive and abandon the business all together. Motivational eh?!)

I was pretty gutted at the time and she did have a point, (doll's house miniatures are not a quick way to get rich FYI!) but I'm really glad I ignored her!

Sneaky Secret Dolls House Project

So I carried on plugging away, blogging was less frequent now the 52 week challenge was over, and I started to get the hang of fairs.
Every seller will be different but for me I've found outdoor events to be a no no , high winds = high drama and stock losses,  whilst indoor events in high Summer are dead as a dodo, and rightly so because that's when we should all be outside getting fresh air and freckles.

The first fair I ever did was TERRIBLE. Thankfully I did not document it, my stall was truly a disaster.
 It was an indoor event on the hottest day of the year so there were no witnesses to the catastrophe beyond my fellow, de-hydrated stall holders.
I like to think I've upped my game a little every time we head out.
Most of it's really down to preparation and just doing it a little better each time you set up.

2014 I did indeed abandon the business, not officially, but because I landed a full time job in London.
I don't regret the move, it was a hugely valuable experience and came with some tough lessons in balance!
The city swallowed me whole for a year and a half, during which time my overworked brain made numerous poor and expensive decisions in half-baked attempts to haul the website onto its feet again.

Free tip:
Don't even think about migrating a website unless you actually understand what that means!
I didn't, and I killed my online traffic,stone cold dead, over night. *Pours a large Gin and Tonic*

Let's have a lay down. 

2015 was more of the same.
I realised I was done with London for a little while and the job just had to end for the sake of sanity!

Hands down the best thing I did for Four Little Walls during 2015 was buy a ticket to Blogtacular.
I'd handed in my resignation with the job a few days before and it was just the most perfect antidote.
So many creative, driven people, it really was food for the soul, it completely rebooted the creative bit of my brain.

So, here we are in 2016. Hooray!
(I say we because my parents and friends have endured my doll's house related ramblings for far longer than the last 4 years and without their support this little baby business of mine would never have left my room. Perhaps that mentor had a point about the whole learning to drive thing?!)
As I said earlier, I'm not a resolution maker but I do feel like this year could be a goodie.
As in I feel like I have more a clue about what I'm doing thanks to 48 months of chaos and confusion!

A week into the year and there's been a stock take, customer orders, and a whole lot of planning for the blog, the neglected ugly sister to the fancy, business side of Four Little Walls, high fives all round, let's see what happens next!

A belated happy new year to you and a huge thank you for your support (and reading all the way through that blog post!) so many smooches to you!