It’s Small Business Chat Update time again (a bit late today, sorry!) – so say hello to Kath Kilburn from wool shop Three Bags Full. We first met Kath in June 2014, and updated in May 2015, when her bricks-and-mortar shop came under threat (through no fault of her own), and she was still uncertain in May 2016, but she’s still going strong with her online presence and maintaining her role in the knitting community. This time last year, when I asked her where she saw herself in a year’s time, she replied “At the moment it’s really difficult to say. We’ll be doing some SEO work on the website to make it more visible and adjusting the lines we have on offer and see how it goes from there. Watch this space!” So, how’s she doing now?
Hello again, Kath. So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
We were in such a state of flux last year that I’m not sure I had much of an idea where I’d be but, since we closed our bricks and mortar shop, I’ve been adding more items to our website, have started selling completed garments on folksy (I did this especially in the run up to Christmas), have identified an extra regular craft market to frequent, have sold yarn once a month in the foyer of our old building in Halifax and have finished a new, short ebook about the shop closure – so I haven’t been sitting around! I’m also considering a pop-up shop later in the year if it’s feasible.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
The major change was closing the shop; still the same is the running of the website, although we’ve re-jigged the stock to some extent. I’ve also continued to meet up with the lovely knitters from what was originally the shop’s knitgroup.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I wish I’d known everything would be (kind of) okay after such a major change and how much I’d appreciate being able to spend more time on writing, which is the other thing I enjoy.
Any more hints and tips for people?
I really wouldn’t advise anyone to take business advice from me!
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I think we’ll still be doing the same stuff; I’m finding the mix of different things we’re doing now really enjoyable. I’m probably more suited to it than I am to doing the same thing in the same place all the time. Having said that, as a general thing, I think it’s sad that so many little specialist shops are closing – we need independents to make our high streets interesting and unique.
Bonus question – What would I like to ask other new small business owners?
I’d be interested in which parts of their jobs other business owners hive off. For me, I’m so unsuited to the technical side of things (setting up the website, etc) and the accountancy side (preparing the tax return) that I’m happy to pay someone to do those parts of the work for me. I sure there are some great people out there who’ll successfully tackle anything, but I’d sooner concentrate on the crafty and organisational bits of the job – the bits I know I can do reasonably well
I stopped asking the bonus question after a year as I wasn’t getting the feedback I was hoping for from other business owners, but I think this one is totally valid. I am OK at the organisational side of things because I was an administrator for years of my career before I started my business, but for creative people this can be a real issue. I’m glad Kath’s doing OK, though!
You can find Kath’s website at www.threebagsfulluk.com *there’s a Folksy button on the web page where you can find seasonal items) and call her on 07941133155 or email her if you want to get in touch. You can also read her e-books, “So You’d Like to Open a Wool Shop…“ and “So, That Wool Shop We Opened ...”.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.