An Inside Look at the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards 2019

As many of you Ragged Life followers know, I’m a HUGE HUGE fan of Mollie Makes magazine. The projects they feature are exactly my cup of tea. In fact, earlier this year they even featured my Berber style rag rug, so you know they have good taste 🙂

Well, a few weeks ago, I eeeked with excitement when I found out that my business Ragged Life had been shortlisted for the Best Established Business Award for Mollie Makes’ prestigious Handmade Awards 2019. Apparently, the Mollie Makes team get hundreds of applications from craft brands all across the UK and they’d chosen me… what an honour!  

Just being shortlisted would have been enough, but I was also asked to come along to the Handmade Awards Day, where I would have the opportunity to convince a distinguished panel of craft experts why I deserved the top prize. Naturally, I wasn’t going to turn down that opportunity, so I toodled over to Bristol last Monday to pitch. Well, I can’t believe it, but I actually won!!!

Mollie Makes Handmade Awards Winner 2019
My Handmade Award

Below is an inside look at the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards 2019. There were so many wonderfully talented people around that it would be a shame not to share. Hope you enjoy my musings from the day…

OUR CRAFT-TASTIC DAY BEGINS…

The event took place at Hotel Du Vin in the centre of Bristol, just a couple of minutes walk from the Mollie Makes office. The venue was quaint, with higgeldy piggeldy corridors, beautiful beamed rooms and a lovely outdoor chillout area (which was a godsend later in the day when it got warm – unpredictable English weather!). Most people arrived just before 10am, when the day was planned to start. It was a bit nerve wracking walking into a room full of strangers in small groups, but the craft community is such a lovely gang that I was soon chatting away. Plus, you soon realised that lots of the people you were meeting were people you already knew from Instagram. Isn’t the world funny that way! In particular, that morning I met Daisy from “Made by Daisy Jewellery”, whose silver handwriting jewellery had been shortlisted for the public vote for “Best Product”.

It was also such a nice surprise bumping into Emma from Stitching Me Softly who I’d met at the Knitting and Stitching Show earlier in the year. Emma’s Ultimate Necklace Kit was also up for the “Best Product” prize and she was totally rocking one on the day.

Another highlight was chatting to Hannah Whitman from “You Are Small” whose children’s clothing is just picture perfect. Hannah started out in fine art and costume design, which it turns out is a perfect combination for beautiful textiles. She’d been nominated for the Mollie Makes “Small Business Award” and you can see why given how beautiful her clothing looks on her You Are Small Instagram (below).

You Are Small Instagram

What was also particularly fun was finally getting to meet the Mollie Makes team in person. Sometimes when you’ve been sending emails back and forth with someone, you start to feel like you know them! Well, I definitely felt that way about the wonderful Yvette, who’d done a lot of the organisation of the Handmade Awards and Lindsey, who had been my main contact for the Berber rag rug in Issue 103 of Mollie Makes…

Mollie Makes Berber Rag Rug by Elspeth Jackson
This was the Berber style rag rug I’d made for Issue 103 of Mollie Makes Magazine.

After a good amount of chatting and a couple of cheeky pastries, the day was ready to kick off. The group had largely been split into two. Those doing their presentations in the morning (me included) would start off with a brooch making workshop in the morning, then move onto a colour photo walk with In Colourful Company in the afternoon, whilst those doing presentations in the afternoon would do it the other way around. There would also be some motivational talks throughout the day. Let the fun begin!

LEARNING TO MAKE A TERRAZO BROOCH

First stop for me was the Terrazzo Brooch Making Workshop with talented jewellery designer Rosa Pietsch and help from Eleanor from Little Paisley Designs. Rosa had won the Best Established Business Award a couple of years ago, so it was nice to get a bit of reassurance and see how her business had grown. Apologies for the less than ideal photos, the lighting wasn’t great!

Walking into the workshop was like total regression for me.

  1. The bowls of enamel pieces looked like tasty sweeties
  2. Colour colour colour 🙂
  3. Sooo much choice!

This is the terrazzo style brooch that Rosa showed us we’d be making in the class…

Firstly, we chose our background colour (there was a choice of cream, light grey, dark grey and black) then all we needed to do was select different coloured pieces to slot into the gaps. It was like adult paint-by-numbers, but I suspect that Rosa had made it near impossible for us to choose any colour combinations that were too heinous 🙂

Fortunately for me, I’m pretty decisive with colours as it’s what I do pretty much on a daily basis with Ragged Life, so I was one of the first to finish. Here’s how my brooch turned out… Oooh! Yes, it’s colourful as you’d expect.

And here were some of the other combinations from other crafters at the event… I think you’ll agree that they all looked lovely!

SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNINGS FROM LEONA

After we’d had fun playing around with brooch-making, we congregated for a talk from lovely Leona from Indie Roller (formerly also of Lucky Dip Club). Leona and I had been chatting about the wonders of the British seaside (Leona’s from Margate, which has gone through a real transformation recently) when we found out that the venue’s presentation clicker wasn’t working. Tragedy strikes! Fortunately, it must have been fate that I was there when this conversation was going down because I’d brought a clicker with me and Leona was able to borrow it from me. Disaster averted and new friend made!  

Leona’s presentation was incredibly interesting and touched upon plenty of “of-the-moment” topics, but what really resounded with me was her lessons on social media. She’d got to a stage with her business The Lucky Dip Club where posting on social media had become a chore and she was struggling to make it fit in with her home life. She took a good hard look at what she was doing and decided to wind up The Lucky Dip Club to focus on a new, more freeing business, “Indie Roller”, which would allow her to fall back in love with social media again. This particularly resonated with me as there have been points in the past when posting on Instagram has had me paralysed with inaction. You start to overthink things… Is the photo perfect enough? Will people even be interested in what I have to say? What will it look like in the grid of nine photos? It was refreshing to hear that even people as successful as Leona have a love / hate relationship with social media, but you can learn to love it again, particularly if you focus on being true to yourself and not overthinking things!

After Leona’s presentation, it was almost time for my presentation. I managed to have a chat with the other businesses who were up for the prize in the Best Established Business category and it just stressed how varied the entries were and how all of us deserved the win. For example, Craftpod is a quarterly stitching and crafting subscription box that even I find difficult to resist (I’ve already got too many crafts on my plate to add more… or do I?). Plus, Jo, the founder was so friendly and calming. Look at how pretty her packaging is!

The other finalist in our category was hello DODO run by duo Ali and Jam. They’re self-taught screen printers, designing and printing everything from their flat in Brighton. Once again, they had another great business and it would be so tricky to judge us apart. Below are a few of their playful designs from their hello DODO Instagram.

hello DODO graphic shop on Instagram

LIKE WALKING INTO DRAGONS DEN…

Finally, time for the presentation… I was called up to a room with a serious looking table with the judges sitting like something out of Dragons Den. There was Tilly (from Tilly and the Buttons), Reena Rai (blogger and influencer marketer at Pinterest), Suzanne from This Modern Life (who is actually based in Bedfordshire as I later found out, so we should have shared a lift!), stationery queen Katie Leamon and Yvette from Mollie Makes.

I was a little nervous, but I’d come up with a clever tactic for easing my nerves. As many of you know, I’m really in my element when I’m teaching people how to rag rug. I find it soothing and I could run a workshop in my sleep. Well, almost immediately upon starting my presentation, I taught the judges a little rag rugging with the spring tool. They didn’t know what had hit them! In particular, Tilly could hardly stop making (she does love textiles after all) and even mentioned that she may attach her rag rug flower to one of her creations. That’s quite the compliment! The rest of the presentation was just me talking from the heart and explaining all of our Ragged Life accomplishments and plans for the future. I thought it had gone well, but mostly I was just pleased that it was out of the way, so I could properly relax and enjoy myself.

AN AFTERNOON OF FUN AND (EVEN MORE) COLOUR!

After my handmade awards presentation, it was time for lunch. We chowed down on some delicious chicken pie and salads in the Hotel du Vin Bistro. I had a lovely lunch with the ladies from Mollie Makes. It was great learning more about the different roles at the magazine and who did what.

Next up was the colour photo walk with Toni and Zabby from In Colourful Company. I’d been really looking forward to exploring Bristol and getting some fresh air. The clue is kind of in the name, but In Colourful Company plot out walking routes in cities and towns across the UK that are colourful and photo-friendly. The key goal of their walks is to meet new people…colour is just the bonus. Participants dress up colourfully (I’d definitely dressed the part) and admire colourful murals, banks of flowers or cute and colourful independent shops. The key goal being to get in as much colour as possible. Here are a few photos from the walk.

In Colourful Company Bristol Walk at the Mollie Makes Handmade Awards 2019
These beautiful hydrangeas were so soft!

Towards the end of the day, I was flagging a bit (I normally suffer from a bit of an afternoon slump at the best of times), but we still had some great talks to go. Firstly, one of our illustrious handmade awards judges, Reena, announced a new feature that Pinterest would be launching soon… Pinterest stories. Oooh! That’s pins with multiple photos or videos, which you can swipe through to tell a more complex story. What’s even cooler is that Reena invited us to be part of their Beta testing group. So, check out the Ragged Life Pinterest page over the coming weeks to see my Pinterest story pins in action. P.s. It’ll be a learning curve, so apologies if the first few are questionable 🙂 Reena is also a style and travel blogger in her own right, so had some great insights.

Next up was a panel discussion on the topic of authenticity. Yvette from Mollie Makes chaired the discussion with Kalkidan Legesse of sustainable fashion and homeware shop Wow Sancho, Katie Jones from Katie Jones Knit and Lauren Aston of Lauren Aston Designs. A lot of this panel discussion was just a proper laugh with classic quotes like “don’t show them the sausages” from Lauren, but mainly it was a reminder to stick to your beliefs, learn from your mistakes and think carefully before saying yes to projects. Plus, I discovered Lauren’s Instagram, which would have been worth it alone (see below)!

Lauren Aston Designs on Instagram

The last activity before the awards presentations was a keynote talk from Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons. Tilly is used to giving presentations (I’ve seen her give a speech at a show before actually), so I knew we were in for a treat. The talk was short and sweet and the main message, which I think we can all learn from is, we should cultivate our own garden. For anyone who did French for A Level, this probably has you recoiling with horror (I’m still scarred by Candide), but the point is a very valid one. It’s easy to feel inferior and insecure when you see what other people are doing on social media, but within reason, it doesn’t matter. The only thing you can control is what you are doing, so you should put your energy into developing yourself (and your business) rather than worrying what other people are getting up to. Thank you Tilly!

Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons. Source: https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/

THE WINNERS AND THE FINALISTS

And finally, we were onto the awards… Below are the categories with the finalists and eventual winners. I definitely think you should check them out when you get a minute as it’s a very talented bunch.

Small Business Award:

Winner: The Completist

Finalists: dAKOTA rAE dUST and You Are Small

Established Business Award:

Winner: Ragged Life (yes, meee!)

Finalists: Craftpod and hello DODO

Handmade Champion Award:

Winner: The Mamahood

Finalists: Paperdolls Handmade Market and South Coast Makers Market

Best Illustrator Award:

Winner: Liz Harry

Finalists: Emma West and Arnelle Woker

Best Workshops Award:

Winner: The London Loom

Finalists: Haute Culture and London Craft Club

THANK YOU MOLLIE MAKES HANDMADE AWARDS 2019!

As winner of the Established Business Award, my prizes are one-on-one mentoring with Tilly, a stand at the Kirstie Allsopp Handmade Festival (so put it in the diary if you’re local – 13-15th September) and I’ll be hosting a Mollie Makes Instagram takeover on Tuesday, 27th August, 2019.

All in all, it was such a wonderful day. I got to meet a whole host of talented and genuine people giving their all in the name of craft. I never did get a proper chance to explore Bristol, but something tells me I’ll be back (Arnie would be proud).

P.s. Here are a couple of photos from the Mollie Makes write up of the Handmade Awards 2019 in Issue 109 of the magazine. You can buy a copy in W.H.Smith or selected Waitrose.

Mollie Makes Issue 109
Ragged Life rag rug brand in issue 109 of Mollie Makes magazine with the handmade awards 2019 write up

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As always, happy rag rugging!

Elspeth x

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