Why I’ve decided to start a business amid Brexit chaos

I’ve now been on Universal Credit for a month. Though I’m grateful it exists, jumping though hoops to take handouts from the state makes me feel a bit helpless and hopeless. I really don’t want this to continue for longer than is totally necessary. So, with the help of my wonderful Patreon supporters and super-kind Ko-Fi donors and incredible Peter Weilgony, who has generously gifted me €1,000, I have decided to start a jewellery business.

I’ve been a jewellery-making addict for more than two years, so already had thousands of beads and materials, and had learned the skills needed to design and create pieces. All I needed, really, were some pretty packaging and a website, along with a unique and memorable name.

I have many names for the eight-year-old: Lilypops, Little Pops, Littlest Popsicle, Lil Popalous and Lillabilla. So when it came to deciding on a name for the business, I chose Lillabilla as (along with the rest) it’s close to my heart.

My extremely talented best friend Graham Nunn designed the following brilliant logo for me:

Lillabilla-logo

I then bought the font licence and found a reasonably priced Danish packaging firm who debossed the logo onto high quality jewellery boxes in rose gold foil. I had to buy three different sizes for necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

Lillabilla box.jpg

I wrote a business plan, and Graham also created an amazing spreadsheet for me, which enabled me to see exactly what all the materials cost and therefore what profit I could make from selling each piece. I decided to sell my pieces at roughly the same price points as Accessorize (£6 for earrings, £7 for bracelets and £12 for necklaces) even though they’re handmade and not mass produced. This will enable me to make roughly £2 from each piece.

Tamara bracelet 1

If I can sell five pieces an hour during the working day, I can get off Universal Credit, which will be a huge relief.

Annalise bracelet 1

Candy necklace 1

 

Brexit is worrying. Am I still going to be able to order packaging from Denmark, or will there be huge tariffs and lorries stuck at the border? I can find a new supplier, but at what price, and what cost to quality? Are people still going to want to buy jewellery if there’s an economic downturn? Are some of my bead suppliers going to go out of business?

I concede that Brexit may not be the ideal time to start a new venture, but in the absence of a job, it’s necessary, unless I want to start eating things people have dropped on the floor. And I’m really hoping that Brexit will never happen, which seems entirely possible right now.

People always want to know what a business’s USP is. So what makes Lillabilla different from all the other millions of jewellery businesses? Well, all the designs are entirely original and unique, but also: instead of being one-size-fits-all, each design can be personalised. You can select the length of the bracelets and necklaces, and can choose whether the earrings are clip-ons or for pierced ears.

In addition, you can choose the metal plating used in the design (silver, gold or rose gold) and there are even eight ‘name’ bracelet designs where you can specify the name you’d like on the bracelet. Oh, and I’ve decided to do themed collections for occasions, so will soon be launching a special Christmas range of earrings and bracelets using wintry colours and Christmas charms. (It’s only seven weeks away, guys!)

Kristy earrings 1

I think if you’d told me in 2009, at the height of my Atheist Bus Campaign fame, that ten years later I’d be a divorced single mum on the dole making jewellery instead of writing, I’d have been properly depressed. But actually, I’m quite excited. I love making jewellery and very much hope this could be a viable and profitable second career.

I genuinely have no idea what the response to my jewellery designs is going to be, but that’s the great thing about life: it’s full of surprises.

So here it is: Lillabilla Personalised Jewellery! I hope you like it. Christmas is coming up, so do consider placing an order, as your wife/mum/sister might like a pretty bracelet as a Christmas gift. You can tell them it was designed and made by that weird crazy girl who did the ‘probably no God’ buses.

Now that’s definitely a unique selling point.

www.lillabilla.com

This post has been made possible by my Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Marc Alexander and Jelly, Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Fowler, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Musical Comedy Guide, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis and Marcus P Knight.

Please support me on Patreon.

The much-fabled sleepover

Since I bought her a new bed with an extra pull-out mattress, my daughter has been asking me for a sleepover. She asked if she could have one with her best friend Ella, but to be honest I think she’d have happily accepted a sleepover with Mummy Pig or Mr Tumble if it meant she could show off her Harry Potter bedroom.

Lily Buddy bed

Lily desk

Last night was the big night, and I think it went quite well, though kids in real life never say ‘Darling Mummy, thank you so much for making my sleepover so special! I love you completely. Take all my pocket money and enjoy a spa day on me!’. You’re more likely to get a grunt and a request for Haribo for breakfast.

ella-signs

The planning that went into this sleepover should not be underestimated. I cleaned the house from top to toe, worried Ella might tell her class I’m a Scummy Mummy (my present title of Fattest Mum at School is depressing enough already). Like the middle-class health-conscious parent I am, I also bought an array of nutritious foods for the girls, as seen below:

snacks

After prepping for the big night, I had to ferry both children halfway across London to my newly-clean house. They were engrossed in my daughter’s iPad and barely registered my presence. This behaviour continued throughout the evening, with vociferous protests when I made them put the iPad down to eat their nourishing dinner. (It was fish fingers, chips and beans. Told you: I’m practically Gillian McKeith.)

However, they were far from satisfied with the hearty food I provided: the fish fingers were “not breadcrumby enough”, the chips were “too soft” and the vegan Magnums were met with a scornful “dark chocolate is yuk!”. When I furnished the girls with bottled water, I was informed in outraged tones that, because of my purchasing decision, “sea creatures are dying!”. (This didn’t stop them asking for breadcrumby fish fingers though.)

When not glued to the iPad, the girls painted each other’s nails:

lily-nails.jpg

Plaited each other’s hair:

lily-plait-1

lily-plait-3

lily-plait-2

And tried on necklaces I’d made, but as hair crowns:

jewellery

A few hours later, the battle of the bedtimes commenced. The girls wanted to stay up until midnight. I was wrecked from all the cleaning, and wanted to go to sleep at 9pm. ‘It’s not Cinderella, you know!’ I insisted. ‘Nothing exciting happens at midnight, you just get more and more tired!’

In the end, they fell asleep at the preposterous time of 3am. 3am! (I was only informed of this in the morning, as I went to sleep well before midnight.)

All in all, the sleepover was rather exhausting. I think the girls enjoyed themselves; they were very cute. But if they want to repeat the experience, I might have to insist on that pocket money spa day.

MY DAILY STATS

Weight: 12st 11.4lbs (goal weight: 7st 11lbs)

Waist: 36″ (goal: 25″)

Bust: 42″ (goal: 32″)

This post has been made possible by my Patreon supporters Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Lucy Spencer, Mark White, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

They receive a whole host of amazing rewards in addition to this credit! Please support me on Patreon.