February 11th marks the beginning of the 5th Year of The Crafty Rock as we celebrate our 4th birthday! I thought I’d reflect a little on this journey that Rita and I have been on as we approach the date.
Contrary to what many believe, Rita and I were not friends before we met to discuss the possibility of opening a shop – in fact, apart from sitting beside each other at a Social Media training workshop, we had never met.
Rita is Portuguese, married to a Blackrock man, and moved with her family to Ireland in 2015. I moved to Blackrock from Dun Laoghaire in 2008 when I took early retirement from teaching. We both loved crafting and our interest led us separately to selling our products in a Craft shop in Wicklow. We both worked shifts in this shop a couple of times a month and after a text between us about something which had been sold, we decided to meet up and explore the possibility of opening a premises nearer to home. From this meeting in December 2016 The Crafty Rock was born!
We wanted to create a shop which allowed crafters like ourselves to exhibit and sell their items locally. As well as crafts, we decided to sell craft supplies and planned, once open, to facilitate classes. But more than The Crafty Rock being just a shop we wanted to create a place where crafters could with their customers and we could interact with the local community to share our love of crafting.
It’s been a very exciting and fulfilling journey. Some of the team of crafters have been with us since the start and we’re appreciative of their support throughout the years. Others have come and gone but each has added something vital to our shop.
We’ve involved the local community in several projects – a charity raffle of a beautiful blanket crocheted by our groups, “Cup-cakes for Koalas” to raise money for Wildlife Victoria, holding an event for World Knitting in Public day when we sat “on the wall” knitting and crocheting, and sponsoring prizes in many local events.
We have been delighted to have the shop recognised in several Community awards and display our certificates received with pride. We have organised craft markets for BIDS Dundalk as part of Frostival and for The Glyde Inn, Annagasson’s Taste of Togher. We also represented The Crafty Rock at the Louth Agricultural Show, Knockbridge Vintage Festival, The Garden Party, An Grianan and Ghan house’s Celebration of a Carlingford Christmas.
We’ve had three major challenges along the way – the size of our premise, becoming business women as well as crafters and the COVID-19 Pandemic.
It’s amazing how inventive you can become in trying to fit more items into a small space! Utilizing upcycled display units, furniture from home and the odd bits of Ikea, we managed to make use of every inch of space available to us. Credit to our long suffering husbands must be given here! We’re constantly told how our shop is like an Aladdin’s cave – everywhere you look you see something new!
Neither Rita or I have a business background, in fact we both come from the area of Science. It’s been a huge learning curve, we’ve had to get to grips with Social Media, Excel spreadsheets, marketing, accounting, grant applications and staff management. It’s not always been easy but we’ve got there, more or less, in the end, not without the odd disagreement!
The Covid pandemic was something no one could have planned for. It coincided with Rita having to return to Portugal for a time for family reasons. But thanks to modern technology we have been able to continue with the shop, each taking slightly different roles in the changed circumstances. Rita developed our online shop whilst I was concerned more with the day to day running of the physical shop. It has worked well and we have had great support from the Community who have certainly taken on the mantra of “Shop Local”.
We miss the interaction with the social groups which had formed throughout the years but have now started to try to connect with them online through such things as our Crochet- A- Long.
We are looking forward to whatever challenges our 5th year in business has in store, to meeting and supporting new crafters, to interacting with our community and, of course, to continuing crafting!
Thank you for all your support and friendship through the years,