Crafter’s Companion: Meet Sara Davies!
Meet the founder of Crafter’s Companion: Sara Davies! We caught up with Sara to talk all things craft, and find out how Crafter’s Companion grew from a single idea thought up in a university bedroom, to an internationally-renowned craft brand! Sara shares how crafting has always been a big part of her life since childhood, and how combining a passion for creativity with a sprinkling of entrepreneurial spirit enabled her to take Crafter’s Companion from humble beginnings to the incredible success story it is today.
When did you first discover you had a passion for crafting?
Crafting has always been in my blood! I come from a very crafty family – my mum did sugar craft and flower arranging, and she had my sister and I experimenting with all sorts, including candle-making and salt dough. We also did sewing with my nana, and crocheting with my gran (which I wasn’t too great at because I don’t have the patience!) and I have always loved to bake.
I was introduced to the papercraft market when I started a part-time job at a craft store. It was around the time when cardmaking was becoming huge, so I started making some cards myself and, as they say, I’ve never looked back!
What inspired you to turn a creative passion into a business?
Both of my parents were entrepreneurs while I was growing up, so I suppose you could say that I was always destined to have a bit of entrepreneurial spirit! When I started the company, I saw people making cards with no envelopes to put them in, so that was where my first product, The Enveloper, was born. I also noticed that there was an opportunity in digital crafting because it was so new at this point. Most people had computers but didn’t use them for crafting, so I saw another opportunity here. I got a computer programmer, a graphic designer, and someone to make the CDs on board, and it was another huge success on TV!
You started Crafter’s Companion from your university bedroom – had you any idea how successful it was to become?
I never imagined how successful the company would become! It really was an overnight success story. I had pitched the board to Ideal World, they took a chance on me and my product, and gave me a show. It turned out to be a sell-out – and the rest is history! I can’t quite believe how far I’ve come. I now have a team of more than 180 people at Crafter’s Companion, and we’re exporting to more than 40 different countries internationally.
If you could give three pieces of advice to young creative entrepreneurs today, what would they be?
Don’t try to excel at everything. Be honest about the things you are not good at… and hire really good people to do them instead!
You place a huge emphasis on education and inspiration – when it comes to demonstrating and sharing your skills with others, what do you find the most rewarding?
When I was younger, I used to want to be a teacher, and while I’ve followed a different path in my life, teaching and educating others still really resonates with me. I think that being able to give back is very important and it comes in many forms. It could be demonstrating how to achieve a specific card on a TV shopping channel, it could be live demonstrations of a new product which could transform a crafter’s capabilities, or it could be showing a complete novice how to complete a beginner’s sewing kit.
I have also been a business mentor and an Angel Investor for budding entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur is really demanding as you live, eat, sleep and breathe the work, and people often don’t know where to turn for some advice. Being able to give help and support people in any way is very rewarding.
What do you do when you hit a creative brick wall… any tips for conquering crafter’s block?
Thankfully, I have plenty of creative people in my team, so when I might hit a creative crafter’s block myself, chances are Leann, or one of our talented design team, will have something to get the creative juices flowing! I guess my tip would be not to overdo it. If you’re struggling to get creative, go back to basics, or take a break and go for a walk, as you never know when inspiration is likely to hit!
Now that crafting has taken over your professional life – do you still use it as a way to unwind in your spare time?
I would still class crafting as one of my hobbies, so I definitely still use it as a way to unwind. I love making things, and there’s nothing quite like presenting someone with a homemade gift. Aside from crafting, I’m quite creative around the kitchen too. I really enjoy making different jams, chutneys, fudges and chocolates, and I’ve even had my own ‘Sara’s Kitchen’ labels done to stick on the packaging!
Do you think your children have inherited your creative gene, too?
My boys and I do lots of crafting together, including things I did as a child, like using salt dough to create keepsakes, and lots of baking. This time together is precious, because I’m able to spend some quality time with them, doing something we all enjoy.
If you could give any advice to someone who’s new to the world of crafting, but worried that they’re not very creative, what it be?
I would say join as many groups as you can, and see whether there are any local clubs in your area. I know on our Facebook page, there’s lots of interaction between crafters, with people sharing tips, giving ideas and helping people who are struggling with anything.
That kind of interaction, whether it’s online or in a physical group, is invaluable to a crafter’s progression. With knowledge comes confidence, and the creativity will develop along the way. I’d also say not to be scared to experiment. So often, people are worried about trying something new in case it goes wrong, but it’s a case of ‘you don’t know until you try’. And if it does go wrong, then you can learn from it and know to do it slightly differently next time.
How do you see the world of papercrafting growing and evolving over the next year or two?
The world of papercrafting is showing no signs of slowing down. It’s growing in popularity, and crafters are getting more and more confident when it comes to trying different effects and mediums in their papercrafting projects. Thankfully, Crafter’s Companion has lots of exciting launches this year which will feed our passionate customers’ appetites!
Are there any new trends we should keep an eye out for?
At the recent trade shows in the US and Germany, I noticed there were lots of mixed media and colouring products as well as really gorgeous metallic finishes on items. This is great, because we’ve got lots of great launches coming up for our FoilPress machine, and we’ve also got some amazing products in the pipeline for Spectrum Noir too!
What would you say have been your high points of your Crafter’s Companion journey to date?
There have been so many highs along the way, so it’s really hard to narrow them down. Getting my big break and demonstrating for the very first time on Ideal World is always going to be up there for me as it was what really cemented me firmly in the craft industry. Moving our head office and opening a store next door was also a massive high point. I gave a speech to all my staff and it was a real ‘pinch me’ moment as it was incredible to see how far I had come. Also receiving an MBE in 2016 for services to industry was a very humbling moment!
How did it feel to receive your MBE?
Receiving my MBE was a genuinely humbling experience and an incredible day from start to finish – and it was amazing share something so special with my family, because they’ve supported me since the beginning.
It is crazy to think that we have come this far with the launch of just one product, but I couldn’t be where I am today without such a brilliant team behind me. Without their hard work and dedication, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish half of what the company has to date.
What’s next for you and Crafter’s Companion in 2019 and beyond?
Crafter’s Companion is continuing to grow on a global scale, and it’s really exciting because we’re introducing lots of new members to the Crafter’s Companion team, so it will allow us to bring our customers even more new products, more demonstrations and even more inspiration in their crafting journeys! All I can say is watch this space!
As well as catching Sara and her incredible Crafter’s Companion range on Create and Craft TV, you’ll also be able to see her gracing TV screens across the country as the BBC’s youngest ever Dragon on the 17th season of BAFTA-nominated Dragons’ Den, in 2019.
If you have a passion for papercraft and want to read more of our papercraft articles and tutorials, you can find them on the blog right here!