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Craft Focus chats to DoodleCraft Designs

Craft Focus chats to DoodleCraft Designs: Image 1 At Craft Focus HQ we want to champion small businesses by making our stories all about you! Here we chat to needlecraft experts DoodleCraft Design

In the beginning

DoodleCraft Design was launched in 2016 by Debbie and Gavin Harding. Debbie had just been made redundant and at the same time told by her GP that she was no longer well enough to go out to work, Debbie suffers from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which is a genetic connective tissue disorder. Debbie remembered that she had once been told that if you're going to start a business then you should do so in something you are passionate about; she had always loved drawing and painting but EDS has left her with chronic osteoarthritis which affects her hands and she can no longer hold a pencil or paintbrush for any length of time, cross stitch was her next passion and so she started using a software package to create some cross stitch designs. Then she found blackwork and started including this into the designs and now DoodleCraft creates designs using cross stitch, both cross stitch and blackwork and blackwork. One of the first designs that came about was after a visit to an antique market where Gavin found an old table with a tapestry chess board under the glass, it sparked an idea and the range of 'Stitch-your-Own' Games Boards that DoodleCraft is known for was born.

Craft Focus chats to DoodleCraft Designs: Image 4 The aim of the business is to produce contemporary and classic designs where the finished article can be used such as the games boards, clocks, coasters and much more. Of course, there is also the more traditional picture designs too."The reponse has been great, I'm not going to lie," says Debbie. "It has taken time and hard work to get where we are, but we have enjoyed the journey! Customer feedback is that we are innovative, the designs are fun and whilst sometimes challenging are engaging and fun to stitch. The games board especially give you a sense of completion as you finish each square giving you the tangible progress which is so often difficult to judge in cross stitch."

What's new?

New designs are being launched all the time, Debbie has so many ideas that they'll keep her busy for years to come. The best-selling designs would be the old traditional games boards like Snakes & Ladders and Chess but the range of blackwork designs of animals and birds is now coming a close second. Debbie tries to spend as much time as possible on the design and samples of the designs leaving Gavin much of the routine kit preparation and make up – alongside his day job.

Craft Focus chats to DoodleCraft Designs: Image 3

Life in lockdown:
"We have actually found lockdown really busy as people start looking for something to do in the spare time they have been given," shares Debbie. "The problem we have been facing is that our suppliers are running low on stock of threads and fabric we need to make up the kits. The threads element of it is not so bad as I can replace colours in the kits with similar ones that we have stock of, but we'll start having problems if we can't get the fabric. We do sell all our kits as 'Chart Only' Kits too so that people who have their own stashes of materials can just buy the chart."

Debbie has been at home running the business for years now and so the lockdown has had less effect except Gavin is now working from home so she sees more of him, the other main impact is the cancellations of some of the knitting and stitching shows and other shows, "We do these to promote the kits and we hope to resume these as soon as we can as we gain so much from customer interaction and feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the designs," they add. As to the future, "We will continue to create designs that customers are looking for," shares Debbie and Gavin. "At the start of lockdown we were just about to open our studio/shop and offer workshops, this will still happen but obviously once all restrictions are lifted. We’re hoping that the people who have taken up stitching while in lockdown will continue to do it once everything is back to normal.

"About 30% of our business comes from commissions, our service is called ‘Photo-2-Needle’. We can take one photo and create a chart or multiple photos (as long as the perspective is the same) and create one image with parts from each photo. We can also add or delete backgrounds and borders. Photos are not the only thing we work from, we can convert any image – just as long as there is no copyright however, if you have the artists permission to use an image we can then work on it."

For more information on anything you have read here visit: doodlecraftdesign.co.uk

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