Our store of the month for March is the delightful bellesheartsncrafts. Maxine, after learning from her father, has turned her passion and hobby into her very own creative business! We caught up with Maxine for a chat…
1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your business and where it all started
I met my American hubby in quite a bizarre way – playing a game called ‘Clash of Clans’ on my mobile phone. We traveled back and forth for a while, decided to get married and I moved over to Pennsylvania to live 4 years ago!
I was an English Language and Literature teacher in England, specializing in students with social and emotional barriers to learning. To make any kind of difference, I had to be creative with teaching and learning – an anything goes kind of approach – learning through art, through building, making, drawing, painting – anything that interested my students and helped them to learn.
2. What made you get into this line of work?
My father was an amazing artist, carpenter and all round DIY man, I spent hours as a young girl learning skills from him. I love working with wood; in fact, I was the first girl ever in the history of my high school to take wood work and metal work as subjects rather than the only girl option of Home Economics.
I love working with my hands, with wood, painting, it soothes my soul; every single item I make at bellesheartsncrafts is made from my heart. I decided to have a ‘dabble’ with selling some things I had made – mainly photos transferred onto wood and wood burned Christmas ornaments, to begin with. It soon evolved into wedding ring boxes, hand painted signs, ornaments, leather products to name but a few – all made by hand by me. I just LOVE being able to make something special for someone to treasure; to help people in times of grief with memorial ornaments; to capture precious moments and memories for people to hold on to; knowing it was specially made just for them with my love poured into it.
3. Do you have a physical store as well as an online store? How do you market your product?
I currently don’t have a physical store, it’s something I’d like to do in a few years maybe, but I’m enjoying working at home at crazy hours to fit around spending time with my family.
I’m just really starting out with looking at marketing; I have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, my shop, word of mouth at the moment and am really excited to be expanding into building my own website as an additional place to show and sell my products.
4. If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?
Oooooo – this is a tough one! It would have to be my daughter who is 15 at the moment and is still living in England, she loves making things with me and we work really well together; but then I’d need my oldest son too who’s about to finish his Graphic Design degree – he’d be a great help! and my middle son too who has a great eye with aesthetics…what a team!
5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?
Never, never, never give up – if it’s your dream and you love it – just keep on going; be determined, open-minded, tolerant, accepting and willing to try and fail and try again.
6. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?
Actually it was a place I follow on Instagram called Oakley Dokely – they’ve recently started a website with you and I thought I’d take a look – it looked great; easy to build, FAB customer support (and incredibly patient with me when I’ve asked a phenomenal amount of questions!) I can’t wait to get all my products listed, set up newsletters, blogs… – so exciting!
7. If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?
Oh my! – Does being a unicorn, a faery or a dragon count as magic powers? If not, then I would choose the power of healing.
8. And finally, tell us your best joke!
According to my hubby, I don’t have a ‘best’ joke – but one of my favorites (and I apologise in advance…)