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A Christmas CRZyBest

Wow!!! It's been a while and I certainly can't quite believe that we are well and truly in the final month of 2019. Moving into my third year of business has been totally amazing, I've met so many wonderful people since CRZyBest became official back at the start of October in 2017, so I thought I would dedicated my catch up blog to reflecting on the first two years of CRZyBest: who I have met, what I have done and possibly even looking into the future! Brilliant, now I'm sounding like a Dicken's novel, although I can definitely say that I am not 'surrounded by lunatics and squawkers' as my favourite quote from 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens suggests and 'yes' I did have this on my classroom wall when I was teaching English alongside my favourite and specialist subject of Art, Craft & Design.

Well, at the risk of sounding too Dickensian, looking back to when I decided to leave secondary school teaching and pursue my love of creating full time, with a dream of having my very own workshop at the bottom of my garden, I had no idea of what the future would hold and who or what I would take with me or meet on the way. At this point I do wish I had a little spooky friend to guide me, instead I have my little Jack Russell 'Barley' running around playing with a plastic pizza!

Not much help at all you might think, although he has definitely supported me through some of the high and lows of becoming self employed. If you don't know already, Barley happens to be the same age as CRZyBest and arrived at the same time as my little bespoke business, he has certainly helped me through those lonely times of being self-employed and working from home. Having a little dog in the house can be infuriating when he's trying to investigate what I'm making or wanders off with my tools instead of his toys, Barley can also be hilarious when he decides he's going to put his toys away in my tool box and he's definitely the best for making sure that I do take a break and get out the house, not mention how friendly I have now become, standing in the park chatting to total strangers about the random habits of our doggos!

During the weeks after I officially launched CRZyBest, I was lucky enough to be guided by a local business start-up programme that took me through lots of the scarier seeming elements of becoming self-employed and running your own business. The D2 programme, helped me to set goals, something which I have always disliked doing, preferring to just go for things as I think about them. I always found that if I thought about something for too long, I ended up changing my mind and wanting to do something else instead. What about you? Having people to keep me on track, taking me through business plans and tax returns was brilliant, D2 also gave me one of my first opportunities to present my creations to others. You're probably thinking that maybe I should have done this before starting my business, but as I mentioned, if I had done this, then CRZyBest probably wouldn't have come into being!

Experiencing face to face customer relations during the festive season of 2017 gave me the confidence to go for it and in the Spring of 2018 things really started to happen. I jumped in the deep end and CRZyBest attended the Giant Wedding Show, not a small event for a first and it was an amazing experience. My first wedding fair was soon to be followed by a wonderful showcase at a venue close to me heart 'Donington Park Farmhouse Hotel'; place where I attended my first ever festival back in 1989 and then in 2014 I was married there, to my amazing husband who has supported my CRZy ideas from the very start and without him I wouldn't be 'CRZyBest'.

A few other things had been happening on this thing called social media "I joined Facebook in July 2017, with Instagram shortly after, places I'd only known about through teaching internet safety in my earlier life and there's that 'Ghost of Christmas Past' again!" Whilst attempting to discover some like minded people I was lucky enough to come

across Caz Walsh 'The Wedding Alchemist' who was organising a styled shoot to promote an awesome alternative wedding fair called Tying the Nott and she wanted me to create an alternative bouquet with accessories for the event, giving me the opportunity to work alongside some of the most inspirational suppliers in the industry.

The summer of 2018 was amazing, I saw my first bride walk down the isle with CRZyBest creations and I experienced my first styled shoot, I got to meet a whole heap of amazingly creative people, including Linzi Barford of That Black & White Cat, who

became not only an inspiration with Unconventional Wedding, but also a friend. I remember travelling to Sheffield on the train, thinking 'oh my, I'm doing exactly what I've been teaching students not to do for years, going off on my own to meet a bunch of people, who I have never met before' Ooops! It was one of the best decisions I made that year and meeting with some wonderful alternative wedding suppliers, confirmed to me that I had definitely made the right decision only one year before. I'm so lucky that the Unconventional Wedding family continues to grow, creating one of the most supportive networking groups in the business, alongside offering amazing opportunities to suppliers and inspiration for couples who are looking for something a little more unique, quirky and perhaps, alternative.

At the start of 2019 I revisited my favourite venue 'Donington Park Farmhouse Hotel', because where else would I have own CRZyBest styled shoot. Bringing together a group of awesome creatives who collaborated in creating my vision, which was then published by Green Union, highlighting the eco-credentials of CRZyBest and the venue, along with tips on how to make your big day more environmentally friendly. My Eco-ethical galaxy shoot was also published by Unconventional Wedding highlighting the unique elements, sparkly goodness and kick-ass suppliers, Tori also titled me 'The Queen of Colour'! One of those amazing suppliers from my shoot was Fiona Elizabeth Couture, who also created for me a very special CRZyBest dress, complete with bright pink lining and pockets!

In the summer of 2019 year I was invited by the amazing Kirsty Rockett to provide an alternative bouquet and buttonhole for her colourful urban shoot on the streets of Nottingham. A wonderful opportunity just as I thought that I was moving away from creating my alternative wedding bouquets, I was right back in the creative thick of it.

CRZyBest has evolved since launching in 2017 with alternative wedding bouquets and accessories, a definite move towards creating more bespoke jewellery and accessories using the tiny sculptures that I make with precious metal clay has happened this year. It's wonderful to see the excitement in someone's face when you tell them that they can pretty much have whatever they want included in their bespoke jewellery or accessories: for example, I met bride to be Alice at a networking event hosted by the marvellous Stephen and Philip of KuKu Connect and created a bespoke hair vine with tiny sterling silver elephants surrounded by a hundred tiny silver leaves complete with a matching lapel pin created as a surprise for her husband to be, a brilliant example of right place, right time and hopefully more perfect timings will happen in the future.

Talking about the future, I now have my very own purpose built CRZyBest Shedquarters at the bottom of my garden, curtesy of Green Retreats and my workbenches which are being made by Steve from Greenfields Wood Store as I write this, will be arriving in January. I'm hoping to be able to start offering some creative workshops once I'm settled into my new studio as well as having a permanent place to showcase my work when people to come visit. My new set up will compliment my visits to Wedding Fairs and Craft Markets allowing people to pop by and browse in their own time, not to mention help me to make sure that all my 'ready to buy' pieces are actually listed in my online shops, as a customer today mentioned when collecting her bespoke Christmas gifts 'I didn't even know you made half of this stuff'! So, who knows what the future holds? I definitely have an idea, along with some awesome people around me, helping me make it happen...


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