Running a small business

I thought of writing a post on how I’m finding running a small business a while ago, and was undecided for a long time about whether to actually write it or not. But I wanted to be honest with you all, so here it is. I hope you’ll forgive the slightly negative tone.

Negative tone? So things aren’t going well? Well, to be honest, I really shouldn’t complain. After doing my taxes a couple of months ago, I realised that I made a small profit in the last financial year (despite having spent a small fortune on supplies). I get a slow but steady stream of views on my Etsy shop and a few people favourite my designs. I have some lovely friends who keep buying my jewellery and I’ve made a few sales from people I’ve met through this blog.

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and looks at my Etsy shop by the way. Thank you even more to all the lovely people who actually buy my jewellery!

Little Koo - Cushion style earrings

I just got a bit downhearted after making very little (if any) profit from the last few craft shows I’ve done. Although, to be fair, the weather at two of them was horrendous. So I’m having a little break from craft fairs for a while. I just don’t know if I’m doing something wrong or if it’s just that the people at the craft fairs weren’t looking for my style of jewellery. Is my style of jewellery the problem? Is it my display style? My prices? My own demeanour? (I find it very hard to know how to interact with people at these things!)

Little Koo craft fair stall

And then in between the craft fairs it’s not a lot better. And I think a lot of it is the fact that I just have very little time for the business these days. I’m lucky if I spend a couple of hours on it a week. I read all these articles about setting goals and how to improve certain areas of my business, but I just don’t have time to do the work required.

I do worry that the jewellery itself isn’t good enough either. One thing a lot of these articles tell me is that I need to have a target audience in mind when designing and marketing, and to be honest, I don’t really know what that is. Women with similar taste in jewellery to me? Is that good enough?! I just make things that I think look pretty, but I don’t know how to reach people with the same taste as me. Or should I try and follow more of the fashion trends?

handmade sterling silver charm bracelet - shell

To be honest, I thought about jacking it all in and making something completely different. Mobiles for children’s bedrooms! I really like the one I made before and I have some ideas of what I could do for different designs. But then I get real and realise the amount of work it would take to even just get ready to launch a new business, and remember that I just don’t have the time.

Moravian star mobile

So anyway, running a small business is hard and I’m certainly not going to make a living off mine any time soon. But I’ll keep going with it and have fun making new jewellery designs. I’d love to hear from anyone else who runs a small business and how they are finding it. And also any tips on how I can improve mine!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Handmade Hong Kong Indie Arts and Craft Fair: In Review

I was privileged to secure a spot at the Handmade Hong Kong (HmHK) Indie Arts and Craft Fair in Discovery Bay on 24th November. HmHK have fairs throughout the year, and this was my 3rd since starting up Little Koo. I’m starting to get into the swing of it now, but the twins didn’t allow me much time to prepare for this one!

I really enjoyed the day. For a start the weather for the most part was surprisingly hot and sunny, even for Hong Kong! I got sunburned! There was a steady flow of people browsing the stalls, I had a good spot near one end of the fair and I was surrounded by other lovely sellers. The fair was supposed to last until 7pm but at a little after 5, the heavens opened and it started raining heavily and everyone had to pack their stalls up!

Here is my little stall. I was quite pleased with the setup this time:

Little Koo craft fair stall

One of my lovely friends joined me for most of the day to keep me company and she kindly manned the stall while I browsed the rest of the fair. There were so many great stalls selling unique and unusual products. Visitors to the craft fair were really spoiled for choice!

Here are some of my favourite stalls:

Puff Terrariums were at the stall next to mine, and attracted a lot of attention with their unique products

Puff Terrariums

On The Move.Asia  had such cute lunchboxes!

On The Move.Asia

Cap East sold unique and fun flip flops!

Cap East

I didn’t catch the name of this man’s business, but his wooden animals were so beautiful

Handmade carved wooden animals

I Love Crochet had so many cute accessories and beautiful children’s clothes

I Love Crochet

Carolyn Waweru makes lovely ribbon jewellery, and was kind enough to pose for my photo :)

Carolyn Waweru

I hope this has whet your appetite for the upcoming HmHK fairs! The next is on Saturday at The Vine Centre in Wanchai:

Handmade Hong Kong Wanchai Christmas Bazaar 2013

And the following weekend is the final fair of the year in Discovery Bay Plaza:

Handmade Hong Kong Christmas Bazaar Discovery Bay Plaza 2013

Come along to these craft fairs to see more great stalls like the ones above! If you do so, please stop by the Little Koo stall and say hello :)

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

A new collection at Little Koo and early bird Christmas discount!

I’ve spent the last couple of months working on a new jewellery collection for my online shop, Little Koo, and I’m really pleased with it! The aim of this collection was to create a line of much simpler and delicate designs for those women who prefer that style of jewellery. The new ‘simple’ collection designs can be found in the simple necklaces, simple bracelets and simple earrings sections of my shop.

The new collection is mostly based around some handmade Indian glass beads that I recently purchased. These beads come in a lovely range of iridescent and opaque colours which has made choosing colour combinations great fun. Also, due to their handmade nature, the beads are all slightly different shapes and sizes, giving the jewellery a nice ‘imperfect’ look. As with my other designs, sterling silver and silver filled wire is used throughout.

Unfortunately, I was not able to upload all the designs to Etsy before the twins came along but I will endeavour to get more of the designs up this month. Here are some to whet your appetite:

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New products

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Also, the Christmas season is upon us, and as an incentive for you to start thinking about it now, I am offering an early bird discount for the month of November! Get 15% off your order with the coupon code EARLYBIRD13 when you purchase through the Little Koo Etsy shop.

Little Koo early bird discount

Lastly, I want to guarantee that orders will reach you in time for Christmas so here are my last order dates:

  • UK – 29th November
  • USA – 6th December
  • Asia – 6th December
  • Australia – 9th December
  • All other countries – 26th November

These dates are based on the last posting dates before Christmas as provided by Hong Kong Post. If your country is not listed above and you have missed the 26th November deadline, please contact me as the last posting date to your country may be later.

Thanks for reading, and please do check out my new designs!

Rachel

P.S. Just a little plug for the Little Koo monthly newsletter: Click here to sign up to receive the latest news and special offers. Plus, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a pair of Little Koo earrings of your choice!

Introducing the Little Koo Newsletter

Little Koo Newsletter

From time to time on this blog I post updates about my handmade jewellery business, which is also called Little Koo. I have an Etsy shop where you can view and purchase my designs, and I also take part in craft fairs here in Hong Kong from time to time.

Mint green and white Swarovski crystal silver earrings

I won’t stop giving updates here from time to time, but I’ve created the Little Koo newsletter which you can sign up for to receive regular updates about Little Koo Jewellery including new designs and insights, and get access to exclusive discounts and offers. I will send out the newsletter once a month, and will never spam you or sell your details.

Diamonte, pearl and Swarovski crystal earrings

As a little incentive, the first 25 people to sign up will go into a draw to win a pair of my earrings of your choice from the Etsy shop! This draw is international.

Green cluster earrings with crystals and pearls

So what are you waiting for? CLICK HERE and enter your email address to sign up to the newsletter and be automatically entered into the draw! Good luck!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

P.S. Please share this with anyone who you think might be interested!

The Little Koo Etsy shop is open!

Finally, after a significant amount of work (definitely more than I expected!) the Little Koo Etsy shop is now up online! I’m so excited! Please take a look!

I’ve started with a small selection of items, and I’ll add more as time goes by. I’m also working on some new designs so I’m looking forward to putting these in the shop, perhaps next month.

Here are some of the items I’ve uploaded:

Mint green and white Swarovski crystal silver earrings

Diamonte, pearl and Swarovski crystal earrings

Coral coloured Swarovski crystal and shell pearl silver earrings

Simple handmade rose quartz and pearl silver bracelet

Handmade blue tigers eye and red Swarovski crystal earrings

Please take a look at the shop and spread the word! I hope you like my pieces.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Registering a business in Hong Kong

Registering a business in Hong Kong is surprisingly quick and easy, with only one form to fill in! I guess that if you have visa issues or want to start a larger business it might be a bit more complicated but for me (as a sole trader) it took well under an hour.

You can register a business online, but I decided to go to the Business Registration Office and do it all there in the hope that someone would be able to help me if I got it wrong! The Business Registration Office is on the 4th floor of Revenue Tower (5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai). It was a little hard to find but if you walk on the elevated walkway into Immigration Tower and turn left (instead of turning right to Central Plaza) there are some escalators. Go down the escalators to the ground floor and you get to a lobby area. There are some doors opening out onto a square, go through these and walk across the square. The building in front of you is Revenue Tower.

On the 4th floor is a waiting area and through an opening is the Business Registration Office which has lots of counters. On the wall of the waiting area is a display case holding lots of different forms. I took the form for a sole trader and completed it – it was very easy to fill in. It just asked me for things like my name, the company address and nature of the business.

I then went into the Business Registration Office and took my form to the counter marked ‘New Business Registration’. The lady there took my form and checked it through and asked to see my Hong Kong ID card. And that was it. She gave me a number and so I sat and waited for that number to be called.

I only had to wait about 15 minutes. My number came up on the electronic board, so I took my number to the payment counter and queued there. When I got to the front, I paid the HK$450 1-year registration fee and received my certificate. I was then a registered business!

I hope this has been useful to anyone thinking of registering a business in Hong Kong. Obviously, I can only talk from experience, so I don’t know what else would be involved if you wanted to set up a larger company, but I found the system to be very quick and painless for a sole trader.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel