Listen to Grandma


Fighting to get your craft business established? Then put the MBA on hold and listen to grandma for a moment

Grandma has listened carefully to all your hopes and plans and sees how very hard you’re working to get things going and has some little bits of advice for you.

“Always to do the task you are most ANXIOUS about first”

“Don’t be mean about putting on the HEATING.  Dress up as warmly, then heat on. It’s a false economy if you’re working poorly because you’re cold.”

“My dear, always STAND UP to make difficult phone calls.”


“Use the common sense you were born with, don’t blindly follow so called EXPERTS.

There is driving and driving instruction and they are not at all the same thing.”

“Do try not to get LOST in aspects of your business;  keep looking at the whole.”


“Sweetheart YOU are the most vital piece of MACHINERY your business owns, promise me that you will maintain it properly, it needs rest, food, warmth, stimulation, you mustn’t skip on any of these.”

“Always INTERRUPT what you are doing for the key people in your life; you will loose less time and energy that way than in the  ensuing row if you ignore them.”

“Familiarity breeds contempt, knives cut, flame burns, take care, you NEED your hands and eyes.”

“Above all dear, be patient, be persistent, but not stubborn and wait for some LUCK to turn up and all will be well.”

 Always remember that other things are more IMPORTANT than  the success of your business.”

“Now that’s quite enough advice I think we should have that cup of tea now, but before we do that, could you just pass me my bag?”

“I have £100,000 in there which I have been meaning to let you have for ages”



What did I learn for my business from my favourite Grandmother ?  She  cheated at cards when playing  with her grandchildren, which delighted us beyond measure. That taught me, to think outside the box and that sometimes something that seems wrong can be right.

What’s the best bit of grandmotherly common sense advice you’ve used as a craftsperson? Put it in the comments, I will repay you with a quick online look at your business and a bit of honest feedback, so subscribe to the comment feed so you don’t miss it.

10 thoughts on “Listen to Grandma

  1. Taz says:

    Hi Dixie, I have been following your posts for a while and particularly liked ‘The craftspersons coat of arrogance’ great advice which I have passed on to my students. I have just completed my MA in ceramics which has been fantastic but now the real work begins. I am already discipling myself to not make any more work until I have sold most of my stock, as you quite rightly said making is the easy part. I have a facebook page and a blog which I have currently set up with a static front page, I am not sure if this was the right way to go, any advice would be gratefully recieved,


    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Hi Taz
      Your Facebook is fine but I agree your static page makes sense for academia but not for a selling blog

      I suggest you leave everything where it is but start posting all your new blog posts on the home page.

      You have a Admin section in your left column which needs to go as its not for the reader
      In your author section you need a photo of you at work, change it to first person and no abbreviations I have no idea what UWIC is

      Then try and find a “voice” ( a few glasses of wine helps) you need to be personal so people feel they can connect.

      Beware the POTTER BLOG TRAP most potters end up blogging to each other.

      Whenever you post any pictures of your work you must add dimensions and price

      That said no potter ever made their living from a Facebook page and a blog that is just spreading you presence

      You also have a decision to make, are you wanting to be an artist potter producing non functional pieces? If function is important then you have to be very sure that with your cut and shut pieces can withstand daily use.

      You are producing interesting new work that is pushing at concepts if I was you I would research galleries seeing which really build their artist’s reputations then get in your car with some pots and negotiate HARD.

      • tazpollardceramics says:

        Hi Dixie,
        Thank you so much for your feedback. I have been struggling with the functional issue with this work. I generally don’t make functional ware but the tygs have the potential to be a really commercial product, I have been considering making them as a separate line and slip casting them so I can produce multiples much quicker.
        Right I am off to drink a glass of wine before I start blogging,
        Thanks again,

  2. Dixie Nichols says:

    Hannah, Grandma is cross with you, Bank holiday Saturday and you are working, what happened to the look after yourself bit?

    Your bit of received advice
    “follow your passion, forget the rest, do what you love and it’ll show in what you do.” is absolutely true, you will undoubtedly make better things and more importantly be happy.

    Now bitlets from my whistle-stop Hannah McAndrew-slipware on line tour.
    Your blog

    I think it looks wonderful. It is very clear.

    I think the page with “Pots in their new homes” is a stroke of genius. You want to increase the readers’ identification with the buying process here as much as you can. So use each picture as a jump off so with the tiles behind the aga explain how they are rolled out and the differences in thickness and how you can work to commisssion for a particular site. Try and remember the story of the commission where they found you, that sort of thing. Then on the pieces in Novia Scotia describe the shipping method and that you can safely ship all over the world mention your Japan exhibition and shipping for that. Talk of your buyers as “collectors” not as Archers families. Collectors invest, families spend. The first has a feel good factor, guilt attaches to the second.

    This extra “chat” wont look like selling it will look like sharing, but it will hook people in. People hang back when they are not quite sure how things work. If they feel confident that you send abroad, have done it before and it arrived in one piece, then you have dismissed a hurdle to their buying.

    On your posts which are lovely, be a bit braver You know you should put pictures of your pots in but you need to link it to the text a bit, at the moment we have “Speaking of the cat…” and we have a picture of such a lovely jug . Link the pictures up ocassionally with pots for sale so that you can say the jug is destined for ( a show/ gallery with a link ) or when fired fingers crossed it will come out like this one then blantantly link to made by hand item.

    I dont want you to twist your bog into a ruthless sales vehicle but it is just an indulgence if you dont put a bit of you can buy this stuff in subtlely from time to time.

    Your website

    This needs a make over to get it to match the look of the blog, at the moment it sits in the middle of the screen and you want it to spread like this page does and your Twitter profile does.

    Of course I want you to sell direct from it but I know you are using madebyhand for that. So at least put the direct link to your madebyhand area and label it shop or something in the left hand navigation right at the top. Make sure it opens in a way that when they close it they return to your site.

    Also put a direct link to your blog in this navigation. Hiding your own links away in the links page is not logical they can be there but they need to be in the main navigation too.

    This is minor, but given the wonderful simplicity of your landing page, do loose the word “luciously” as in ‘luciously slip decorated’ you have a picture and it is self praise which I think sits wrong.Your readers will think it, but dont tell them to.

    I think some rural pics and workshop pics would work well on your site, it helps to relate what you make to the surroundings. Thats what is so good about Doug Fitch’s vdeos (


    Some of the click though pictures arent appearing although the thumb nails are there at the bottom.

    The flash is distorting the colour on some pictures for example it says Black tiles they dont look black, I find I have to photo edit to get colours true for my buttons.

    When you click through for more details it gives the price including post and packing, does that mean where ever you are in the world? If not tell people what they need to do here and if it does, say so here too. Not being sure about something can just change the balance between buying and not.

    Pricing I do think you can look at your prices and nudge them here and there. If I have to pay £24 for a mug I think £26 doesnt feel any different. I think with pieces that people might buy several of such as the mugs you could easily put a quantity discount on, such as six for this price. I do not mean a sale price at all just a nudge to get a set.

    Have to say I think you are pretty much getting everything right: wonderful pieces, friendly voice, comfortable online presence, inject a bit more rural Scotland and stick a post it note on your computer that just says SELL to remind you

    • Hannah says:

      Hi Dixie,
      Thanks for all that, I need to sit and digest it a bit I think. I did only work till three on saturday so it was gentle.
      I have passed your comments about the Madebyhandonline site through to the girls there as I thought they might be interested, you make some very good points.
      Selling – that is the hardest part and I know I’m not the only one that finds that. I find it so difficult to encourage that aspect of it.
      I am in the process of completely remaking my website, I have the man to do the job and the new images and all I need is the new information, text etc to go with it. I am planning to have my blog and website all on the same web address, what do you think to that? I hope it will all be much clearer and would encourage people to look at the website fully as I get far more traffic to the blog than to the website currently. I plan to spend my train journey to Devon this week rewriting the content and I will be taking your comments with me to my new web site designer.
      Thanks ever so much.
      best wishes,

  3. aneta says:

    Myself I liked number one, do not put off difficult things, it pays off to do that first, but not too quickly either, give it some thinking BEFORE you act.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      You are so right about thinking carefully as ofen things are difficult because they carry some emotional bagage and if you can stop and see your way round that you get a better result. Also with Disasters it is best to get your ducks in a row, what do I need to do and in what order?

      Your Etsy shop

      You have a fabulous story behind your store and the paralells between our businesses are strong. Both of us are selling off a treasure trove from the past.

      I know the Etsy store is only part of your Empire but the rest is in Norwegian which makes me of no use to you.

      The way you photograph your offerings on Etsy is a bit clinical and is not redolent of their origins, anything visual that puts the story across would help. Maybe your header photo could be of the orginal stock boxes or shop view.

      I think it is a mistake when you click through to say, a couple of lines into the description, “Thanks for watching , come again. Happy to answer additonal questions…” It assumes that I am not going to buy or I probably am not in a postion to buy as I have more questions. Saying you will rationalise the postage charge is good as that implies I will be buying lots.( Incidentally you need to say looking because you look at something static and watch something moving. So you look at a picture book but watch tv.)

      I think you would have huge mileage in making up mixed lots aimed at different makers. So you could do a jewelry makers goodie bag or a seamstress’s goodie bag, do them at different values and explain it will contain high end pieces with more everyday ones.

      That will make selling stock where you have just one or two pieces more ecconomic as the time it takes to put them on Etsy hardly makes them worth listing. You can show the contents of a sample bag for each and you could do them at different price points. Maybe it could be sold in a plain cardboard box.

      What you are doing is sharing your pleasure in going through the stock. Lots of people loved going through their grandmother’s button box so make upYour Norwegian grandmother’s button boxes. Make a point on Etsy that it is from Norway as it makes it sound special and exclusive.

      People will buy as gifts and will buy without needing it for a particular project which frees up sales.

      These would be very promotable, just do a few competitions to win one and aim at that sort of maker. People who dont win could well buy one.

      What do you think?

      • Dixie Nichols says:

        I knew I recognised Perlehurset just clicked on to Facebook Nichols Buttons and the penny dropped. My ideas will make your fortune and you will spend it all on my buttons, could not be more perfect!

  4. Hannah says:

    Great post Dixie, I really must must deal with the “rest, food warmth” part properly this weekend. When will I ever learn?
    Best piece of advice I’ve been given, follow your passion, forget the rest, do what you love and it’ll show in what you do.

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