Handmade Nation is the brainchild of Owen Birkby and Becky Doggett who, inspired by the fantastic talent on display during #HandmadeHour, wanted to do more to support the handmade community; and so began the Handmade Nation journey. Have a read below to find out more about our fascinating story so far and how it all began.
Owen had a background within the craft community as his wife, Clare, owns a well-established craft business. During early 2013, Owen was surprised to discover that there was no handmade-focussed networking hours on Twitter. He decided to create one in order to support this thriving community and help showcase their fantastic products.
The first ever #HandmadeHour was in May 2013. Around 300 tweets were posted and every photo was retweeted! Since this very first session the focus has always been on showcasing amazing talent and supporting the smaller businesses in any way that we can. Becky joined the #HandmadeHour team in around June 2013 and the session has continued to grow from strength to strength.
The continual growth of #HandmadeHour was fantastic, but it led Owen and Becky to realise something - they wanted to do more. There was an amazing community full of talented crafters and we were helping to promote their makes, but there was still so many more ways in which we could help them to get their work out there. So they got their heads together and started coming up with ideas. They wanted to make a website. A website for everyone. Something unique, where you could not only sell your products but also access help, advice and information to boost your business. A website where you could access information on craft fairs, workshops and retailers looking to stock your products. But that wasn't all - to ensure this website was exactly what those who would be using it wanted, they decided that the handmade community had to be a big part of creating it. And so the plans started to take shape.
We used #HandmadeHour as a platform to get your input for ideas on what you would like to new website to be all about. As well as ideas, we needed a name - queue competition time! This competition ran in 2 stages, first of all we asked for name suggestions to be emailed to us - we had loads of entries! From these Owen and Becky picked a shortlist of their 5 favourites (a task which was very difficult given the fantastic names which were sent in). These were then tweeted and we asked our followers to favourite the one which they wanted to vote for. After 2 weeks the name with the most favourites was crowned the winner and as such, Handmade Nation was born
Now we had a name and a plan, so action needed to be taken! In order to finance our plans we needed to raise money to put it all into action so a GoFundMe account was set up as a way of selling memberships in exchange to contributing to the website costs. All money raised was going towards the Handmade Nation website and although we knew there was a demand for what we had planned, we were nervous that we wouldn't be able to raise the funds needed to create the fantastic site we had planned. We didn't have to worry though, the craft community offered amazing support and started getting their Handmade Nation memberships!
The next step was to find a web developer to make our plans a reality. Research was undertaken and adverts were put out. We wanted to keep within the handmade ethos and go with a reasonably small web company, but at the same time the project we were about to undertake was huge. It needed specialist knowledge and expertise which doesn't come around very often. We started working with Dan, a freelance web designer who created a concept for the Handmade Nation website and alongside our direction, created our beautiful logo which is the one we use today. We then came across Darren, a very experienced web developer who has created very sophisticated websites for some huge name companies but owns a small business based in Lancashire. After sharing our vision with Darren, he came back to us with plenty of ideas and thoughts on what he felt he could do to really help get the handmade community out there, ensure their products are seen and make the dreams we had for Handmade Nation a reality. And so production began...
While Darren and his team began to build the Handmade Nation website, Owen and Becky were still very busy with other exciting ventures. #HandmadeHour started to trend throughout the UK - and not just as a 1 time occurrence. Since late 2013 #HandmadeHour has regularly trended in the top 10 during our 2 hour session on a Wednesday. People were joining in throughout the world, especially across Europe and the USA as the hashtag reached their timelines. As a result, we began to get mentions in some of the top craft publications such as CraftSeller and Mollie Makes and was approached by Handmade Christmas at The 02 to be a sponsor at their craft event at The 02 Arena. This was a very proud moment for us, but in truth we were happier for all of those who had taken the time to join in #HandmadeHour every week; their hard work was paying off and their products were getting noticed. Increased demand led us to introduce a second #HandmadeHour on a Sunday evening and another to cater better to different time zones; #HandmadeHourUSA.
So here we are... it's been a long time coming but the Handmade Nation website is finally here. This is your website, made for you, with your own ideas. Handmade Nation is all about supporting the small, independent business. We know how amazing your talents are but we also know how hard it can be to get yourself seen so let us help you shout it from the rooftops and ensure you get the support and attention you deserve!
We want to take a moment to say a huge thank you to our founder members - absolutely each and every last one of you! Without you we wouldn't be where we are today so it's only right that you get a mention on the Handmade Nation website just to show how much we appreciate every one of you. If you would prefer your business name/real name to be listed instead then please do let us know.
Wedding Buttonique, Kristin (Pastelesta), Cassie Leicester, Lisa Bolton, Hannah Kerr, Grainne Reynolds, Martha Farqua, Angela Brown, Jackie Evans, Jessica Teague, Alexandria Simms, Hazel O'Keeffe, Hema Parmar, Jennifer Burke, Shirley Howard, Caryl Carson, Claire Hogan, Vicky Tippell, Leone Porton, Marie Campbell, Simi Valecha, Vicki Mills, Jo Vane, Clare Birkby, Paul Ingram, Jen Goodwin, Wendy Lincoln, Michelle Reece, Kay Patterson, Dee Johnson, BabylonBlu Jewellery, Susan Hagen, Sharon Lowe, Master Wishmakers, Corporate Baby, Bex Wickens, David Deakin, Carrie Reast, Susan Inglis, Abi Bell, Cosmos and Cotton, Valerie Bull, Tracy Francis, Charlotte Loukes, Lisa Coles, Stacey Smith, Melanie Paul, J Miers, Jayne Dryden, Jane Crawford, Caroline Eyles, Angie Saunders, Danielle Somerfield, Annette Madgewick, Indigo Sky Silver, Samantha Grig, Pixie Craft Dolls, Neil Wildman-Whitten, Madeleine Bonney-Helliwell, Helen McNicholas, Annie McAllister, Sarah Hindley, Ella-Mae Hubbard, Jen Scott, Nicola Griffiths, Sarah Cross, Grainne Nash, Stuart Helmn, Eve Williams, Michelle Rice, Louise Lowe, Cher Nicholson, Bel Pearce, Monica McCabe, Louise Allan, Jane Hamill, Sue Luger, Andrea Kay, Fiona Watson, Wendy Boorer, Kim Burnett, Caroline Sutton, Rebecca Holland, Roger Booton, Holly Scoble, Clara Castner, Debbie Todd, Lindsay Buck, Catherine Shutler, Catherine March, Michaela McMillan, Zoe Patterson, Mary-Louise Hussey, Sarah Kelly, Jana Davidson, Lisa Watson, Emma Bevan, Angeline Keightley, Amy Cooper, Lenny Carter, Michaela Sillick, Kerry Souter, Sue Mills, Cally Conway, Tusa Clark, Tayyab Dilmohamud, Lydia Furzey, Erica Martyn, Katie Ford, Emily Donovan, Lauren Batten, Maria Koekenhoff, Gail Cadogan, Keren Sansom, Brett Torrey Haynes, Lucie Dutton, Sara Norwood, Claire Light, Trudi Davies, Joanna Haigh, Laura Long, Hannah Sturrock, Kirsty Williamson, Sheila Britton, Dominique Bennett, Devan Lawrence, Joanna Pearce, Katrina Davie, Kevin Smith, Hollie Ward, Lisa Pedley, Katie Clement, Gill Lockhart, Sarah Jane Welch, Jilly Glennsansum, Carol Pocock, Sarah Reed, Kim McConnachie, Carolina Sanchez, Michelle O'Shea, Sarah Junik, Emma Jackson, Stephanie Rawlinson, Kate Rolfe, Christina Miteff, Anita Burrough, Mark Pettit, Donnae Mcghie, Kati Lewington, Heidi Sandford, Maria Ingram, Bethan Lewis-Williams, Rachael Porter, Lisa-Marie Nelson, Toni Reeder, Terese Wilmot, Natalie Dawes, Gail Myerscough, Rachael Baralos, Sharon Lowe, Natalie Street, Kathryn Gale, Charlotte Pendred, Sue Nicholls, Gary Benn, Laura Grey, Helen Rogers, Sarah Bayly, Katie Willingham, Lisa Hutchens, Imelda Kay, Deborah Corbett, Carol McCurdie, Robyn Hepburn, Jan Laverick, Mairi Morton, Georgie St Clair, Random I.D, Jane Gray, Dimpled Thimble, Lorraine Brown, Jen Newton, Graham Gulliver, Zoe Chan, Sharron Porter, Home Threads, Victoria Maus, Caroline Slark, Martin Wilson, Stacey Catlin, Kate Bufton, Stacey Orr, Birgit Schönfelder, Claire Montgomery, Laura Webb, Paper Crush, Wendy Flynn, Tracey Witts, Chessie Rosier, Cara Lloyd-Hopkins, Suzy Rai, Sara Rhys, Callie Carling, Sophie Wheatley, Dinah Liversidge, Jessica Taylor, Kadeza Begum, Claire Williams, Sarah Claxton, Gemma Donegan, Ciarrai Samson, Jon Lendrum, Emma Willis, Claire Griffiths, Rose Ogden, Kate Holden, Rachel Hogben-Lambert, Shelly Stead, Penny Fairbairn, Sundee Boswell, Samantha Thomas, Jeffrey Morgan, Kirsty Flerin, Penelope Reynolds, Karen Young, Lynda Williams, Emma Swailes, Rebecca Ashton, Caroline Rigden, Michaela Bere, Lorraine Wilding, Laura Wilks, Helen Anderson, Barbara Lea, Amanda Bagley, Suzanne Murphy, Gemma Hanford-Phillips, Susan Boon, Judith Passant, Terese Wilmot, Paula Jackson, Peter Futcher, Victoria Ford, Naomi Jones, Galina Galichyan, Denise McLachlan, Nichola Hemingway, Liz Mangles, Shelley Rapley, Suzanne Jackson, Lynn Davy, Erica Blashill, Mary Rhiannon Pryce, Susan Ocock, Kelly Weeks, Paula Banks, Mandy, Terri Overton, Karen Ruckel, Nikki Lorenzini, Ghaz Mahdizadeh, Charlotte Harrison, Claire Riley, Rene Trewern, Janna Rose, Sarah Prescott, Rachael Humphrey, Sarah Straub, Claire Patchett, Fifi Sweetpea, Rebecca Handy, Alix Leeds, Ana Hurst, Gill McArdle, Kevin Connell, Penny Lindop, Rhiannon Heath, Erin Tilley, Charlotte Satterfield, Sarah Griffiths, Slawomira Boruta, Heather Montgomery, Kevin Payne, Andrea Taylor, Laura Conlon, Penny, Kes Samuelson, Stephanie Durbin-Wood, Jessica Bright, Mari Dewhirst, Danni Willshaw, Joan Kendall, Samantha Bond, Natasha De Vil, Sue Robertson, Rebecca Gallop, Caryl Carson, Mary Cormican, Rachel Lambert, Sandra Hepworth, Paula Jardine, Sara, Carolyn Pancotti
Thank you! You're all amazing!