An Interview with Diane Harrod from Zukie Style
Published in Issue 22, April 2013
Hi I'm Dee (or Diane when in business mode!) I am the designer/owner and maker for my company ZukieStyle. I live with my fiance and pooch in Lincoln, East Midlands. I work from home and can be found selling my wares at various county events. You will mostly find me behind my machine (Candice), walking the dog, or sat behind my laptop adding products to my website and chatting on CC. (www.creative-connections.ning.com)
I work 3 days a week in a gig venue selling tickets to the lovely local folk. As much as I'd love to do ZukieStyle full time, at the minute every penny helps, and I do enjoy the perks that come with my day job :)
When did you first begin creating your designs, and why?
I registered my business back in 2010 but I started designing things long before then. ZukieStyle actually started life as handmade handbags and purses; Fashion has always been my background and I just LOVE a good bag! I used to do shift work and would often make purses and bags when I had spare time. I found my friends and colleagues became interested in what I was making so I decided to try selling online. I sold my first bag on ebay! After falling out with my sewing machine after graduating I found once I started stitching again I couldn't stop :)
I love the freeness. I can design what I want when I want. It is the most amazing feeling to get good reviews and have appreciative customers. Knowing that I'm supporting handmade and flying the flag for Britain is important to me, we need to encourage our local talent. I also enjoy meeting my customers at events - it is great to put a face to comments that may have been left on Facebook etc. To me it is important to do events to get your face out there so people know who they are buying from.
I had a start up grant from the Princes Trust; I was eligible for their 'Enterprise Program' this is open to people on low income or out of work with a business idea aged 18-30. To cut a long story short, I used their grant to expand my knowledge into using and working with leather. I attended a 5 day course which was amazing and came out with a beautiful satchel bag, in the red leather I chose, designed and stitched by my own fair hands. Needless to say, this bag I have kept for myself :)
Other than your crafting, what else do you like to do?
I like to see my friends, they are all so spread around the country now it is good to visit them and do some site seeing!!!
If you had to choose your favourite from your creations, which one would it be?
My red leather satchel of course :)
Don't be put off by those first few events or a lack of sales in the beginning - my first few events were awful I never sold a thing! You will find as your business grows your ideas will change and you will get to know what works and what doesn't. Join forums like CC and get advice as much as possible from different people. If you ever feel down about your work, guaranteed we've all been there and there will be a lot of encouragement from places like CC. Be nice to everyone too, word of mouth is SO important.
I wish I hadn't spent so much money on events that didn't work out; if I knew then what I know now I'd be a lot better off. But then you have to learn from your mistakes.
What do you think has helped your business the most?
Word of mouth and doing local events - if I didn't have these I wouldn't be as well known locally as I am now. I think it is good to start off locally and branch out :) My website is good, but it has taken a while to get where it is. Websites take a lot of work to get the SEO right unless you have someone who is a whizz to do that for you! I try not to spend much on paid advertising these days - that was also a bad move for me in the past. There is so much you can do for free or cheaply you’ve just got to do your research ;0)
Has any person helped or supported you more than any other?
I have so many lovely friends who have helped me at my events, too many to mention, they act as my wing buddies and keep me company :) One day I will be able to pay them a decent wage! Also my Dad bless him, he takes me to all of my events more or less and helps me set up! My other half Curt too for putting up with me and the house being a mess while I work - ooops! (Housework comes last to us creative types!)
Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I have no wisdom teeth - therefore no wisdom! Hee hee!