Welcome to Saturday Small Business Chat! Today, it’s time to meet Jennifer Woracker, from the fabulously named TwinkleBalls. I “met” Jenny in a Facebook group for small business owners that we both belong to – IRASB Forum, which mainly seems to include crafty types but welcomes all comers and is a friendly and supportive place. I told members about this series (they have a No Advertising policy but no ban on helping others advertise themselves out the kindness of my heart!) and we’ll be hearing from a few members over the next few weeks.
I love all the different craft ideas I come across. I didn’t even know that cake toppers were a “thing” to be honest, but if you’ve got a lot of cupcake businesses, there will be a lot of businesses dealing with the accessories, too. I also love being able to feature businesses that didn’t even exist when I started this series – lovely to see people starting up in a recession and having the bravery to go for it. Let’s meet Jenny!
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called TwinkleBalls – I make and sell bespoke cake toppers. TwinkleBalls was established in April 2012.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I wanted to find a way to help financially support my family but still be able to look after my two young children full time.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
Family and friends saw my work and encouraged me to start selling them. After researching other cake topper businesses, I saw it was a thriving market and decided to give it a go.
Had you run your own business before?
Yes, I had a small business selling cards of local landscapes in Pembrokeshire back in 2002, but after a relationship breakdown I closed it.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
As a full-time mummy of two very young children, time is limited. I only work evenings and some weekends, so at first I was just planning to start the business slowly and then really launch it in February 2013 when I will be relocating to Wales and will have the benefit of childcare during the day. But the business has grown its own legs and started running, so I’m just jogging along trying to keep up!
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
How to price up my items correctly, I have under-quoted for so many jobs! To have clear terms & conditions and a cancellation policy, I forgot about that bit and ended up out of pocket. ALWAYS take a deposit, even if the job is for a friend!
Thanks to the support of a fantastic Facebook forum called IRASB, I now have all the support I need and if I get stuck or feel a little lost there are lots of other friendly professionals ready to give a helping hand, I wish someone had told be about the forum sooner; it would have saved many days wondering what on earth SEO means 🙂
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
You can DO IT! have confidence and believe in your own abilities!!!
To have patience and not get exciting with every enquiry. It took a good two months before I got my first sale, then I had five in one week. At first I got really excited with every enquiry, but you soon learn that most enquiries lead nowhere, people like to window shop. I only celebrate a sale now once the money’s in the bank!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I wish I had brought a mini photo studio sooner: it is so important to have good quality photographs of your products when selling online. Buying it sooner would have saved me a lot of time and presented my work to a much higher standard from the start.
What are you glad you did?
I am glad I started the business, I am loving it! I really enjoy all the new challenges it brings me and I am very excited about all the new projects I have planned.
What’s your top business tip?
NETWORK, NETWORK and NETWORK, do it every day to get your name seen and remembered. It is the key to success for selling through Facebook: there are lots of great networking pages where you can showcase your work, but it is also important to take the time to comment on other people’s pages and build relationships within the crafting community. People will remember you and recommend you to others.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
TwinkleBalls is growing rapidly, new fans are joining the Facebook page at an incredible rate, and the website is busier than ever. I have just started selling tutorials, so that is a new aspect to the business that I hope will be popular. I have lots of plans to further grow the business in the New Year: the first thing I need to do is learn to drive!
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I see myself working from a lovely little purpose-built workshop in a Pembrokeshire country garden, taking on lots more work and being able to attend wedding fairs and craft markets. I would like to be holding cupcake decorating events and expand the products that I sell to included printed toppers and baking supplies.
What a lovely, positive interview and snapshot of a growing business. There’s much in common with other interviews, isn’t there: juggling raising a family and running a business but being able to do it around your family commitments, teething troubles with terms & conditions, and that delicious but scary feeling when you start to do well and everything feels like it just might run away with you. Other crafters will definitely find the photographic tip useful, so thanks for that too. Let’s hope we find Jenny in that Welsh workshop when we pop back to see her in a year’s time!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.