Mandy Jane Gregory has always been passionate about crafting and making things, but a few years ago she had the strong desire to take her hobby to the next level. With pricey store front rents limiting her options she began searching for an affordable way to open a physical location for her craft shop, Lucy Locket’s Studio, when she had the idea to create one in a retro caravan. Today the St. Columb, England-native takes advantage of her gift shop’s mobility by traveling around her England to different events and fairs and hosting craft workshops in rural communities.
Gregory’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I wanted something of my own. Something I could do to bring my own money into the household and something I could hold as my own achievement. I enjoy creating things and I wanted to sell what I made. I also have strong drive to do something to help others to success, so I decided to open my own craft workshop based inside a converted caravan. I travel to rural communities and run crafting sessions in my mobile workshop, bringing an activity to communities who don’t often get the chance because of transport problems. I also have a mobile/traveling gift shop based inside the caravan, in addition to running various craft workshops. One of my passions is teaching and sharing my skills with others, so they too can craft for fu and profit. I am also passionate about mentoring people who want to start their own small businesses because i know how hard and lonely it can be.
Success is when you turn off the lights at the end of the day knowing that what you created will make someone happy. It’s when someone buys something and you pack it up and post it off and a couple of days later you hear they loved it or it’s made someone’s day, made a sick person smile or a sad person happy. Success is being able to share knowledge with people who need it, to be able to bring in my own money through my own creations, to choose the hours I work and what I do. That is what success means to me. Recently winning a small business award and being recognized for what I do – there is nothing like it! The feeling is amazing. The road isn’t always easy but when you reach the top of the success hill, it’s unbeatable
My biggest success would be opening my shop. It was a dream for so long to open a mobile shop that I could travel to events with. After I had to give up my previous shop when my dad and then my mom became ill with cancer. Rents make it very difficult for a young business, and I knew I didn’t want to be stuck inside a shop all day, tied to shop hours because that makes it difficult to get out and about to actually work on designs and make items to sell! So I came up with the idea of opening a mobile gift shop where I would not have to pay any rent. A few days later I bought an old caravan for £50. My husband converted it inside and fitted it out as a shop!
I now travel to events in Cornwall where myself and my stock can stay dry in rainy conditions when I’m working at a fair or an event outside! It is perfect. I can create and make my handmade items between customers with my workshop and home being just feet away. It’s now a well known and successful handmade gift shop completely stocked with my own creations from fused glass to bags, cushions, jewelry, mugs and more!
I think my top challenge was getting my work known and seen. It took a long time and a lot of networking to become well known and trusted in the industry. I recently won a small business award and achievements like that are amazing as they help elevate your platform event more. Social media is also a very valuable tool for any business, large or small. Networking and connecting with other business is pure gold to a small business and getting seen is often listed as the thing 99% of business owners struggle with – this is where social media comes in! It’s free and reaches more customers than print. So I took to social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Tiktok and posted and tweeted until I got myself on Google maps. It’s hard work but so worth it. I went from 300 followers on Twitter to over 800 in 4 weeks!
Chrissie Lowery of Heartizan Marketplace is my role model. I joined the Heartizan Team in 2019. Heartizan is a UK based handmade market place where you can sell your handmade items. I quickly became an admin for Facebook and was part of the team. Chrissie is amazing; she’s been on TV and is a real team builder and mentor to people who want to sell what they create. It’s because of her that I am where I am today and she has pushed me and challenged me to do more. I am hoping that as I grow my business I can pay it forward and help other people like Chrissie helped me.