Meet the Maker: An Interview with Beanie & Bob

I hold my hands up and say with pride 'I am a stationery addict'. It's true. I adore it. I can't tell you just how many notebooks and journals I have stashed away because they are too pretty to use or how many pens I have that are all 'my favourite'. I have a serious problem when it comes to stationery. So you can imagine my joy when i discovered Stacey from Beanie & Bob last year! She creates personalised pencils! It was a dream come true and I immediately ordered some for the release of my first batch of kits as free gifts and they went down a storm! To my mind, everyone needs a personalised pencil with a pun on it...

1. Tell us a little about you and your business.

Hi, I’m Stacey. I’m thirty something and live in Essex with my husband, 2 daughters and Labrador Lucy. I have 2 ‘day’ jobs, I work as a GP receptionist (I’m not a dragon, I promise!) and I also work for a local poster company. When I’m not doing those, I bake cakes for a local coffee shop, decorate cakes for celebrations and run my business Beanie and Bob.

2. What inspired your business name?

My business is named after my 2 children. My eldest, Evie has been called Beanie since she was born. I cannot for the life of me remember why but it has firmly stuck and my whole family call her it! (poor child). My younger daughter Lily is nicknamed Lily Bob. I wanted to name one of my children after my dad and then when I only had girls, Lily got the name anyway! I found naming my business really hard and kept changing my mind!

3. How did you first discover your passion for your craft?

I’ve always been a complete stationery addict! I was probably the only child spending their pocket money on notebooks, pencils and paperclips instead of sweets! A good day out for me was a day trip to WHSmith! One Christmas my Mum and Dad bought me a set of colouring pencils with my name printed on them in gold and it was my absolute favourite present! I wanted something like this for my girls and that’s when I thought ‘I want to do that!’

4. How long has your business been running?

I started Beanie and Bob in May 2017 although it wasn’t until August that I started selling. I did a lot of research and sourcing suppliers first etc. I have always been a ‘maker’ and have had lots of hobbies but this was the first one that I really took seriously.

5. What inspires your creations?

Anything can inspire a pencil design. If I’m at work and someone says something funny, we often say ‘put it on a pencil!’. I might hear a phrase somewhere or see colours put together on a poster that I like. I am constantly writing reminders for myself (brain like a sieve) of new ideas. I get all of my pencils made in the UK and custom painted so I am always looking out for new colours to colour match. Currently most of my pencils are positive and uplifting messages (I’m eternally optimistic) although I am working on a more adult sweary range for the days when optimism is difficult!

6. What is your proudest achievement to date?

I’ve had a few proud moments but the main one is still how I feel with each sale I get. The fact that someone wants something that I have made is such a great feeling!

7. What is the biggest lesson you have learned?

It is very easy to become despondent especially with parts of business like social media. Social media is great but I sometimes feel I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Instagram and Facebook! I love that it connects me with other fantastic makers and customers (I’ve ‘met’ so many inspiring makers and lovely people whom I wouldn’t have met in ‘real’ life) But I find that it can make me feel inferior and getting and keeping followers is like pulling teeth at times!. We are all led to believe that the higher your followers the more successful you are which isn’t always the case!. So what I have learnt to accept is not to compare myself to others and concentrate on what I can control as opposed to what I can’t!

8. What is your favourite make?

I don’t really have a favourite make but I’d say my best seller is the positivity pencil set. I love the colours together in this set.

9. What is the best feedback you have received?

It’s always lovely getting a good review on Etsy, I still hold my breath as I open the App to read it but I am very lucky to have lovely customers! Quite often the pencils are being sent as a surprise gift to cheer someone up so to hear that they are well received is a great feeling!

However, my favourite feedback was from my daughter’s teacher. We had given her a set of pencils for Christmas and she has since told her that they are her favourite pencils which made Evie beam with pride!

10. Is there anything you regret?

I try not to be regretful but if I had to say one thing, it would be I regret how much time I spend procrastinating! I’m terrible at getting distracted and wasting time!

11. What are your goals for the future?

I have lots of future goals. The main one being that I would like to see Beanie and Bob stocked in some brick and mortar shops.

12. What is the best part of being a maker?

The best thing about being a maker is getting to be creative everyday! It’s also good to be able to work from my home studio so I can be flexible around my children’s days.

13. What is your least favourite job to do?

My least favourite job is tidying the pencils after they have been printed. Oh, and paperwork! Definitely paperwork!

14. What advice would you give your old self?

Believe in yourself! I spend a lot of time doubting my decisions and generally putting things off. If I could go back in time I’d give myself a good talking to! I follow Kelly from the Bees Knees on Instagram. I find her very attitude very inspiring and she is always championing small businesses. If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect other people to?

15. What advice would you give other makers?

Go for it! If you are passionate about your craft then give it a go! It is a lot of work but be patient and watch your business grow. It is very hard work at times but when someone buys something or you get a 5 star review, that feeling makes it all so worth it!

To find out more about Stacey and to see more of her fab work, follow her here:

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