When did that happen? A Fleeting Look at 2021
A CRZyBest year, from cute dogs and magazine features to alternative bouquets and Zooms...
Starting quietly in January, compared to 2020, I spent some time reorganising my CRZyBest Shedquarters and getting ready for the rollercoaster of 2021. Running a full-time business as a sole trader can be lonely, especially when in person events are not happening so zoom meetings can be welcome, but will never replace meeting in real life, especially when going out to them is a welcome addition to my ‘working from home’ routine.
Here's the stuff I can recall
One of my first events of the year was attending a virtual awards ceremony that had been postponed from 2020. I sat in my CRZyBest Shedquarters and all the people taking part had been sent goodies from Colleague Box, so we could share our opening experience and nibble our treats whilst watching on our screens. I had been shortlisted for a Mainframe Award 'Best Digital/Creative Start Up' and although I didn’t win this time, it was a great experience to take part and be a runner up to Erica from CAD for Fashion who won the category.
In February I gave an online presentation to the new cohort of the D2 business start-up group that helped me to get started back in 2017. I've done a few more of these presentations since and feedback from participants suggests that they were well received and inspiring! It’s great to be able to support the people that helped me at the start of my new venture.
March was filled with online events, from zoom meetings and webinars to virtual coffee mornings and cocktail hours. I also took part in #MarchMeetTheMaker on Instagram for the first time, I’m not used to posting on social media everyday and I did flag a little towards end of the month.
April was most definitely my favourite month of 2021 as it saw the opening of pub gardens and some very exciting happenings, including another virtual awards ceremony from Mainframe. This time, I was shortlisted for the Mainframe Make & Trade Award which was very exciting, especially as I was up against some fantastic small businesses; Sarah from ‘Crafty Me, Crafty You’ and Sophie from ‘Duck & Peach’ and I was sure that I didn't stand a chance against either as Sarah has her lovely craft kits stocked in some great places and Sophie has her own shop in The 1924 Building in Belper, be sure to check them out.
After a couple of years being short listed, I could hardly believe my ears, when I realised that it was CRZyBest (that's me) being described by the judge… yes, I had actually won The Mainframe: Make & Trade Award! Woo Hoo! From that moment on, I became ‘CRZyBest Award-Winning Eco-Friendly Silversmith & Sculptor’ I even got to go and collect my trophy in person from Hana and Charlene at Derby Quad and Laura from MiniAperture Photography videoed me with her drone. #excitingtimes
From Award winning to winning stuff, I won a competition to name The Derby Ram painted by the talented Carla of LoveLalaland. I suggested ‘Baaaarley’ for the name of the Doodle Derby Ram and it was chosen by Compendium living as the winning entry. So, with a Ram named after my beloved doggo, I was presented with my very own LoveLalaland, CRZyBest Portrait, complete with my pink kiln in the background and Barley sitting by my feet. You can see my happy portrait on social media, on display in my CRZyBest Shedquarters if you visit and sometimes I even have it displayed on my CRZyBest bar at events.
At the start of May, I got to collaborate on an awesome shoot that had been postponed. Held in my favourite type of venue, a pub within walking distance of my CRZyBest Shedquarters. The Old Bell Hotel on Derby's Sadlergate was the perfect location for Doodah Photography's Labyrinth Inspired styled shoot. With it's own ballroom and space for Owls to fly around, the day was fabulous with a whole heap of talented wedding suppliers being brought together to create fantastic photos and even a video of alternative wedding inspiration, the whole thing was then published by Unconventional Wedding. Check out their blog for all the details and a full list of who collaborated on the day.
Outrageous Bride published Issue 4 of their magazine in May and there I was plastered across a four pages with a few of my favourite things, what a surprise! I may have a copy or two stashed away for prosperity if you ever fancy having a look.
I also collaborated in a lovely styled shoot held at Sharpes Pottery. There were some wonderful suppliers and the hairdresser Michelle Jewess did wonders with my heat-treated copper hair creations, they looked amazing in Elsa’s hair, who as a fantastic model also did a great job of showing off my copper earrings with matching necklace and stacking bangles, which have now been added to the range of my CRZyBest Jewellery collection.
During May I also won an award from Lux Life magazine, which was titled ‘Best Bespoke Wedding Jewellery Company 2021 – UK’ so I guess I can now call myself ‘Multi Award Winning’ although I’m not one for showing off and think this is probably the first time, I have shouted about this!
Around this time, I decided I should start telling people more about my CRZyBest Hallmark, something else I wasn’t great at shouting about, you can read more about this in my Hallmark Blog.
Perhaps take a look to see if you can spot my CRZyBest Hallmark on my social media posts or have a look in person when you are visiting me at an event or in my Shedquarters.
Creating tutorials for Cooksongold was something that I did a few times this year, after the success of my tiny camera earring tutorial. My favourite was a step by step tutorial for creating mixed copper and bronze clay Easter egg pendants as it incorporated a more unusual technique using wood clay. I also created tutorials for making a hairvine, bobby pins and of course my absolute classic a tiny doggo sculpture. If you fancy having a go at making any of these yourself but don't have the kit or would prefer more help then please get in touch with me as I do offer bespoke 1-2-1 workshops in my CRZyBest Shedquarters.
In June I attended my first in person Wedding Fair of the year at a venue I had visited only the month before, Sharpes Pottery it is a wonderful place to spend the day and hopefully I will be going back there soon (keep an eye out for updates). Later on in June I got to take part in an awesome styled shoot at Dunwood Hall, with inspiration taken from Game of Thrones and Vikings, my Alternative Dragon Bouquet and Buttonhole were right at home, along with a copper dragon crown for the groom. I received some fantastic photos from Vicki Clayson Photography, I hope I can share more images from this shoot soon.
July saw some events happening, some going virtual and some not happening at all. One of my most memorable events that did go ahead was visiting my old secondary school, through the voluntary work that I do with Inspiring the Futures Charity. I gave a series of presentations to different classes about starting your own business and took in examples of my creations. My biggest revelation was that after teaching ceramics for 20 years, the pupils at my old secondary hardly new what clay was! So, you can imagine what is what like talking about having my own business making things out of metal clay, which wasn't even around when I was at school!
Another place I visited was The Bead Shop in Nottingham to chat about collaborating on some projects, take a look at their website to see when the next Create with CRZyBest Copper Clay small group workshop will take place. If a group workshop is not your thing, then get in touch with me to arrange your own bespoke 1-2-1 workshop in my CRZyBest Shedquarters.
Mainframe was back on the calendar in July and after being invited to become a Mainframe Champion along with some other fantastic people, we finally had our launch event at Quad. As usual Quad’s hosting was great and we got to hear about Derby’s bid for City of Culture 2025 #culturederby2025 of which we have now been shortlisted.
I managed to have some friends and family time in July and August with a Festival up a mountain in Wales and some seaside camping up North, the weather wasn’t great, but we still had fun, Barley got to run on the beach and I went in the sea even though it was freezing!
On September 1st Quirky Weddings Magazine published my Pink Beer, Hops & Stars shoot, across six fabulous pages and all suppliers are listed. It was amazing to see full pages of photos from a collaboration that I had put together being talked about in such a wonderful and positive way. Grab your own copy of the magazine to flick through on your break or pop round to my CRZyBest Shedquarters to have a look at my alternative bouquet in real life, maybe even meet Barley who stole the show!
I started mixing things up a bit, with the first in person KuKu Connect meeting at Derby’s Cathedral Quarter Hotel where I met some wonderful people. Two days later I was then off to Donington Park Farmhouse Hotel for another festival, this time I was taking part in one of my favourite hobbies, which is doing stuff with beer. I spent my time looking after the casks and serving at the Real Ale bar, whilst my friends enjoyed themselves drinking the beer and watching the bands.
Around this time I created a bespoke hawthorn hair vine which I sent to Bella Weddings along with a silver leaf necklace, matching earrings and some stacking bangles for a woodland shoot, check out CRZyBest on Instagram for my favourite photo of the bride on a comfy chair in the woods.
With all the different things going on in September, it’s amazing that I even fitted in a wedding fair. I had to though as The National Brewery Centre is one of my favourite venues for wedding fairs and they are also so well organised by Two for Joy Weddings. I love being able to showcase my alternative wedding accessories and beer inspired jewellery and lapel pins at the National Brewery Centre. This year all the dates for my favourite events are clashing at the moment, so hopefully I will back at the Brewery soon, although in March 2022, I will be at The Whitworth Centre with The Derbyshire Makers, so fingers crossed for Autumn.
I made a promise to myself, to only ever do one in person event a month so I had room to make the most of everything. October however, blew that promise out of the water, with not only more than one event in a month, but two very different events over one weekend! Sunday 24th was the final date for the postponed a few times, Tying the Nott wedding fair which I just have to do, as they were the reason for my very first styled shoot and it is now in collaboration with the amazing people at Unconventional Wedding. Tying the Nott is definitely my favourite event for showcasing my alternative wedding bouquets, alongside my alternative buttonholes, hair accessories and jewellery, as well as being a fantastic event for meeting new customers and other Unconventional wedding suppliers.
Makers Assemble on Saturday 23rd October was my other event on the same weekend, a really different set up to my wedding fairs and even a notable difference to craft fairs, as I was giving demonstrations and offering opportunities for people to have a go at creating with copper clay and discover the difference between traditional clay and the reasonably new metal clay. Check out my blog, to find out more about metal clay. It was brilliant to be able to take part in Derby’s Festival of Making, although my lesson is learnt to make sure that I have a wonderful person with me for hands on support on the day! Makers Assemble also seemed a great opportunity to quietly launch my first Create with CRZyBest Craft Kit.
Filling a gap in the market I have created my own ‘Create in Copper Clay with CRZyBest’ Craft Kit, a box filled with all the things you need to be able to make your own creations in Copper Clay, without the
worry about how to fire it, as I do that bit for you. Once you get your kit, register it online using the link on my website, then I will know to that at some point your creations will coming back to me for firing and finishing. You can choose to post your creations to me or people are welcome to arrange a drop off and collection for their copper clay creations. If you feel that you need a bit more support than a box full
of tools, metal clay and instructions, than bookings for Create with CRZyBest 1-2-1 workshops also became more popular in 2021 and hopefully will grow even more this year. Get in touch to find out more about my workshops and vouchers which make ideal gifts as the recipient can organise a time with me that suits them.
To coincide with the season, Pretty and Punk Weddings published a fabulous Autumn shoot that I had been invited to be involved in by Bethan from Finishing Flourishes. Some gorgeous detail images were captured by Frances Millburn Photography and here’s a few of them. Take a look at the Shades of Autumn blog for all the information.
A few of my CRZyBest creations travelled over to Ireland with Lily Jones Events in October, although it is too soon to share photos, you may find a sneak peek over on Instagram!
After a busy October, November was beginning to look interesting with a mix of things happening. I got to attend another music festival with family and friends, this time instead of camping we stayed in caravans and much fun was had, although it was straight back to it once I was home, I may have even been answering emails whilst I was there! Following straight on from my festival break, I attended a weekend Christmas Craft Fair with The Derbyshire Makers, which made for a wonderful early start to the festive season. Before I started my own business, I wouldn’t have dreamt of talking about the festive season until after my birthday at the start of December, with CRZyBest Christmas comes early every year now, so be sure to get your orders in, in plenty of time for me to make them.
November is also the run up to Small Business Saturday, with lots of free training and support being
offered to business across the country by Small Business Britain. This year SBB had a team traveling across Britain using only electric vehicles, they started at COP 26 in Edinburgh and on Monday 15th, they were in Derby. I popped into town with Barley to say hello and ended up being interviewed which made for a great start to the week, if a little scary! That same week I took part in some more voluntary work for Inspiring the Future at a local school and on the Friday, I attended Creative Mornings at Quad, how I get any work done is beyond me!
On Sunday 21st I attended a workshop at Banks Mill, hosted by Sunter Studio and Mr PS Pots, which was a wonderful chilled out hands on making experience which helped me get my making mojo back for creating my own work, ready for The Derbyshire Makers Christmas pop up Gift Shop at Haddon Hall.
December is my favourite month of the year, that maybe because it is my birthday right at the start. I had a wonderful day starting with breakfast organised by my friends and I was even able to take Barley with me, so what could be better! A great day was had by all and I’m now looking forward to celebrating a few more birthdays, so long as I’m given enough time to make the bespoke gifts that are often requested!
The pop-up Gift Shop at Haddon Hall in December was a brilliant experience, it was so great to be collaborating with other Derbyshire Makers and helping each other out with advertising our venture and staffing the shop. I hope we get the opportunity to do this again.
Christmas went by in the blink of an eye and after a fleeting visit to London and some New Year celebrations, January 2022 was upon me and I started writing my CRZyBest review of 2021, it's took me a while and I'm sure I've missed lots, so feel free to remind me of anything that needs adding... I wonder what next years will look like?