Helen started MisHelenEous in June 2013 after prolonged serious illness meant she was unable to maintain a normal job.
A self-proclaimed shameless multi-crafter, her business hand makes a range of gifts for both the home and pets all the way from hand woven Yorkshire terror key rings to dog scarves!
“I started my handmade business after finding it impossible to maintain a conventional job due to long term ill health problems,” Helen told BQ.
“Our first dog, Border Terrier Whiskey, inspired many of the products in my range today, and in particular the collection of patriotic dog bandanas as her birthday was on St. Georges Day.
“I launched my Etsy Shop after fantastic feedback on social media to the items I was creating and haven’t looked back! I’ve completed several small trade orders to the pet product industry as well as handling a wide range of bespoke and personalised items.”
Social media was one of the key drivers of Helen’s business and being part of the Etsy community also helped her grow the brand. So much so, that she has already shipped her products to over 29 countries since launching.
“When I received my first order from overseas it was scary! It still feels that way sometimes. Exciting as well of course, but when you first start out it seems a minefield of postage rates, weights, world zones, complicated addresses, CN22 labels etc.
“I still haven’t infiltrated Russia, China or Africa, so I have a way to go but it’s a thrill being able to stick a new coloured pin on my ‘World Map of Orders’ that my husband bought me to put on the wall near where I sew. I regularly ship to Etsy’s Top 10 overseas destinations but it’s the more exotic places and the customer photographs I receive that really keep me going!”
One of the key factors helping her grow the brand overseas is the Made in Britain brand that Helen instils in all aspects of her business. As well as hand making her own products, she also secures all of her products and materials from UK suppliers.
“Because I’m a ‘one woman and her dog’ set-up who works from home in the north west of England, I try to recycle, upcycle, repurpose and source all my new materials and craft supplies in the UK too. I’m the only manufacturer in my business so you can be sure my goods are Made In Manchester, Britain. I’ve found that my overseas customers value UK made products very highly.”
Helen is a real advocate of UK manufacturing and firmly believes that it is something as a nation we need to nurture. She added: “I have discovered and personally met many other UK designer makers since setting up my handmade business and it’s a very creative, supportive and thriving area to be in.
“I probably buy as much from other designers as I sell! I‘ve also collaborated with fellow small businesses to help them develop new product lines or to bring some diversity into mine. Social media is fantastic at widening your artistic horizons whilst bringing us together in our common goal of making others happy with the things we create.”
As Helen looks to continue growing her business, and also adding more pins to her world map, she also has bold ambitions for the future.
“Aside from shipping to 29 countries from Britain in my first three years of business my other notable achievement was to have my Etsy shop picked to be in the first ever EtsyUK TV advert. I'm very excited to see what's next for the business!"