For the month of March we’ve been taking part in #MarchMeetTheMaker over on our Instagram Stories, to help you get to know Create Gift Love a little better and see what goes on behind the scenes! So what is March Meet The Maker? It’s a month long Instagram challenge founded by Joanne Hawker with fun daily prompts to get small businesses and creative hobbyists talking and sharing about their creative process. March Meet the Maker is a lovely creative community and it’s a great way to find out more about small business stories, behind the scenes insights and what inspires your favourite makers.
Now the month is drawing to a close we decided to share some of the posts here on our blog and go into a bit more depth with our favourite prompts. You can catch up with the whole challenge on our Stories highlight and if you want to know more, just drop us a line – we love to chat all things making!
Back at the start of March, the first few Meet the Maker prompts were all about saying a big hello: ‘brand introduction’, ‘style’ and ‘beliefs and values’. Like lots of small creative businesses, our story started on a kitchen table back in 2011. Our founder Emily decided to make some wooden cufflinks as Christmas presents for her family, and after they proved popular she started to sell them online on a friend’s website. Emily was working as a full time pharmacist at the time, and made her small wooden items in any spare moment from the shed at the bottom of her garden. She applied to notonthehighstreet.com in 2012 and Create Gift Love was born! (Formerly Made Lovingly Made, but that’s a story for another day).
With the help of family, friends and her husband Tony, the business was off to a brilliant start and we’ve gone from strength to strength ever since. Nine years later we’re still making wooden cufflinks, as well as personalised keyrings, coasters, photo gifts and homeware, to help our customers celebrate all of life’s special moments. We’ve long outgrown the garden shed and are now a team of 11 with a purpose built workshop in the New Forest.
Our style is always developing but one thing that’s always stayed the same is the natural materials we use to make our products. Just like in the beginning, wood is still one of our most used materials and we love to work with leather as well – the natural character of our materials helps to make every item we create as unique as its owner and every piece has its own story to tell. We make to order and only stock raw materials so your gifts come straight from the source.
Sustainability has always been at the core of Create Gift Love. We believe the only things we should leave behind are sandy footprints and great memories, so we source all our materials sustainably and we run our workshop on renewable energy. Our wood comes from an FSC certified supplier to protect and replenish the forests it comes from, and our veg-tanned leather is prepared using traditional natural processes here in the UK. Our packaging is completely plastic free too! We’re proud of our beliefs and values and have always stayed true to them as the business has grown.
The Meet the Maker challenge encouraged us to share some behind the scenes photos and videos, with prompts like ‘on your desk’, ‘newest make’, ‘work in progress’ and ‘hands on’. We took the opportunity to give you a little studio tour, because being in our workshop is not like your average desk job! Our workshop is split over two floors: downstairs we have dedicated areas for our lasers and printers, a sanding room for woodwork, desks to package and dispatch items, and lots of benches for assembling products. Upstairs is our leather area, with our sewing machines, leather worktop and hot presses for stamping personalisation, as well as our office space and a storeroom for wood and leather.
If you’ve been following along you’ll have seen some sneak previews of what’s been going on in the workshop recently – we’re just finalising our Father’s Day gifts range for this year and soon we’ll be heading into Christmas design (yes, Christmas starts in March!). We design and make everything in-house, which means when we have a new idea we can get started straight away, from sketches to samples in a matter of hours. It means we can be really flexible and quick with our designs, and we’ll soon see how well a new idea is going to work out.
Of course, our small business wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of our wonderful customers, not only in terms of orders but in your comments, reviews and feedback as well. We love to develop and update existing products based on your feedback, so the ‘from the archive’ prompt was a great look back on how far some of our products have come over the years. It means so much to us that people want to come back to Create Gift Love again and again, choosing our products to capture their memories and celebrate favourite moments. Seeing your keepsakes in their new homes is always such a proud moment, so we love sharing your photos for the ‘in use’ prompt on day 12, and sharing some gorgeous reviews we’ve received was the perfect way to capture the ‘silver lining’ on day 19.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this little round up, whether you’re a new customer or you’ve been there from the beginning. If you want more behind the scenes insights then make sure you’re following us on Instagram and sign up to our mailing list to receive our news from the workshop, as well as new releases and gift recommendations.