Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Highlights

Highlights of 2013 are popping up all over my news feeds so I've decided it's my turn to reflect upon what has been a magical year for Melissa Morgan Designs.  It's therapeutic, I feel, to look back and remember the great times of the year gone by and also to evaluate and learn from those things that haven't worked out so well.  Yep, not everything works out, and it's only by trial error that we can learn.   Bet let us not dwell on those, fortunately, we've had some truly amazing moments..

Here are our highlights...


We took it upon ourselves to organise a little shoot at the beginning of the year.  The gorgeous Zoe kindly modelled for us and the super talented Amy from Amy Lewin Photography worked her magic behind the camera.  This is one of my faves:

After this we were very proud to have been asked to supply pieces for numerous shoots throughout the year. We worked with some of the best local industry talent and got to visit some memorable locations along the way.  Seeing the headdresses and jewellery modelled on real, beautiful ladies always brings a smile to my face. 

Godwick Hall Shoot, Amy Lewin Photography, with Flower 30.

Sedgeford Hall Shoot, Rebel Heart Photography, with Norfolk Brides.

Hair and Make-Up Inspiration Shoot, Rekha Garton Photography, with Love Moi Make-Up and Hair by Tracey Ward

Happy Valley Wedding Venue Shoot, Rebel Heart Photography, with Vintage Deli, Norfolk Wedding Festivals and Faerie Wishes.

Bespoke Pieces

My favourite part of the business is without doubt making bespoke pieces for brides and their attendants.  This year we had some challenges but so much fun making unique creations for our beautiful brides.  Some of our favourites:

 Maddy's floral crown

Elizabeth's 'Mrs' comb and co-ordinating jewellery

Jennifer's brow band

Gemma's flower girl jewellery

Sioned's vintage 'something blue' combs

Karla's acorn accessories

Everyday Jewellery

In 2012 we were invited to sell with Not on the High Street.  This led to a huge increase in bridal accessory sales, so early in 2013 we took the plunge and asked if we could sell our everyday items alongside the bridal lines.  Within a month we had sold all of our vintage stock from the increased traffic to our page and our jewellery lines were a success too.  We built on this and have re-launched the range as 'Melissa Makes'.  Our Christmas range had many sell out lines and we are so happy to report our busiest month ever.  Adding a wider variety of products to the site was the best decision we made in 2013 and we're already well on our way to planning the 2014 collections - keep watching!

The Studio

The first two years of MMD were run from our small (and crowded) spare room and/or the living room floor.  As we've grown this became a difficult set-up.  I was always having to tidy away the pearls and wire, never had enough room to store my bits and pieces and photographing products was a tiresome task.  Added to this were many requests from brides to come and visit, browse the collections and discuss their orders.  Whilst we had many a bride welcomed into our home and non seemed to mind being in our living room/dining room/kitchen (open plan), it didn't feel quite right.  This year we were very, very fortunate in that our dream to own our own house came true.  We've had a lot of work to do but along the way found time to transform one of the rooms into a cute little studio, solely for the work of MMD.  It's a joy to be in, a beautiful, creative space and I absolutely adore it.  We've already had our first consultation and the feedback has been great.  I plan to post more about the studio in future weeks, so for now here's a little peek of the art work that sits by my desk:

A Wonderful Wedding Fair

We took a brave decision in 2013, and only attended one wedding fair.  After being at so many disappointing events, we felt the work and expense was sometimes not equal to the business gained.  There was of course, a risk, that we might see a dip in business over the following months, but luckily this hasn't happened - probably because the fair we did chose was an absolute cracker!  Organised by Norfolk Wedding Festivals , the first King's Lynn Wedding Festival was held at the Town Hall in King's Lynn and it turned out to be a truly memorable occasion.  We found the halls full of friendly faces, some familiar, some new, and the atmosphere was electric.  The place was packed and the brides were queueing at the door.  Massive congratulations go to the organisers - we are looking forward to returning in March 2014!


And so to my favourite part of the whole year.  If MMD fell apart tomorrow, of course, I'd be heartbroken but I know I'd be left with some pretty wonderful new friends that I wouldn't have had if I hadn't embarked upon this business journey.  2013 has strengthened old friendships and brought some wonderful new people into my life.  I won't mention names, through fear of leaving anyone out, but I sincerely hope you know who you are.  Thank you to you for your continued support and inspiration throughout the last twelve months.  It can be lonely doing this on your own, and the connections we make along the way most definitely make the ride a little easier.  

Image, Norfolk Wedding Festivals

So there they are, the highlights of 2013.  There have been a few more gems, that I plan to share in more detail in 2014, but those above really help to build a picture of what it's been like over the past 365.  If you haven't already, please do take the time to reflect on the successes of your year - I promise you there are some and once you realise how many, it makes you feel tremendous!
Wishing you all a very, very prosperous and happy new year!


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Hosting a Jewellery Party at Home

The week I launched the blog, I created so many blank posts, hopeful that I would find the time to fill them with wonderful words and pictures, then share them with the world over the forthcoming weeks.

As I'm sure many a blogger/entrepreneur will understand, this dream does not very often come true.

Reality took over.  We are currently doing up a house in need of vast amounts of love and attention.  I have another job that can sometimes take over.  I've been ill.  I've had orders and enquiries to deal with.  It's a list that could go on forever.  So I apologise (mostly to myself) for not being pro-active with the blog.  Let's hope I can get it sorted!

Here's what I've been up to of late...

Our first Open House Jewellery Party

On top of the above, I've been busy organising an Open House Jewellery Party at my home.  Previously I've held a jewellery party evening and invited friends and family.  This time I went for a whole day, with guests invited to turn up and have a browse whenever it suited.  This is a grand task to undertake at the best of times, but when you have only just finished decorating the room where you wish to hold the event, the new sofa arrives days before and half your house is still upside down, it only adds to the pressure.  The pressure of course, was self-created.  I know nobody minds a bit of dust and piles of tools in the hallway, but wanting to present a clean, tidy, welcoming space for those you've invited into your home is only natural.  I was behind with making stock for the event (to the point that some of my supplies arrived the day before) and I had the added worry of having strangers coming too.  Yes, I had decided to invite some of my local customers who had expressed an interest.  Some of these I had met before, others I had only spoken to online.  This makes for a daunting experience.  Having friends and family over for coffee and some cake, plus a little browse of my everyday ranges, that's fine. Friends and family are forgiving (or at least they should be).  Customers/clients who you've never met, who have come to look and expect to see a professional business operation?  That's quite scary!

Luckily, we pulled it off!  Mr. Morgan did a great job providing our lovely visitors with tea, coffee and mulled punch.  We offered them an array of cake and mince pies.  Our visitors browsed, chatted, purchased and made orders for Christmas.   They all arrived and departed smiling and happy.  Not only this, but we had a chance to catch up with some of our nearest and dearest (sisters, nephews, friends, aunties, uncles, mums and dads - all in one day).

In all of the excitement (panic) I forgot to take pictures of the jewellery items set up.  I do however, have few images from the day before that, if you excuse the camera phone quality, I'd like to share.

The first is of my studio on the eve of the event.  I really want to tell you all about the creation of the studio, and have some rather polished, tidy pictures.  In reality, this is how my studio looks quite a lot of the time.  I think it's better to show you this.  A messy desk is a sign of  a creative mind after all!

And then of course, you can't invite people over without offering refreshments.  The cakes:

If you run a small craft business from your home, I can thoroughly recommend having an Open House, especially at this time of year.   People love to by from local craftspeople and enjoy knowing they are supporting small businesses.  Yes, it's terrifying at 10am when you're expecting your first visitors and are still untangling necklaces and adding earring backs, but at 4.15pm when the last group leave, you feel tremendous.   It's another step forward in your route to success and gives a wonderful confidence boost.  Thank you to all of those who came and supported our venture.  It really does mean so much.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Product of the Week - Foxy Little Things

Fox Mad!

If you've not noticed the recent invasion of British woodland creatures, then the question has to be asked, where have you been?

Owls have graced us with their quirky-but-wise-chic for a year or two now, but Autumn/Winter 2013 is all about a furry kind of critter - leave your feathers behind!  Squirrels, badgers, deer, foxes and many more... it seems they are here to stay for a while!  Whether you're looking for a badger bag, antlers for your mantle piece, squirrel mugs or fox cushions, you're pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit on the high street right now.

With my new collections I've embraced the woodland wonderland trend and if you'd like to see, just visit my Not on the High Street Storefront.  For today, we are focusing on my favourite furry creature, the fox...

Sometimes they get a bad rep, but really, I can't resist a cute red fox.  They're so elegant, so handsome and such a beautiful colour.  Childhood memories of 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' and the thoughtfully named 'Fox' from 'The Animals of Farthing Wood' really make me believe that if animals could talk, a fox would be the kind you'd want to know!

A few of my favourite foxes

And so I've spent the last six months lusting after any and every fox accessory I can find!  My first foxy discovery were these gorgeous sterling silver earrings from Caroline Cowen Jewellery.  I asked for these for my birthday earlier this year, and I can honestly say that I've lost count of the number of compliments I've had whilst wearing them!  So easy to wear and yet so unusual. 

This red scarf from Lisa Angel has recently been added to my wish list.  I love the vibrant red, and the way it clashes with the ginger foxes!  I've already got a cat version in cream/navy but these warming colours would be perfect for the changing season!

Our foxy creations

For Melissa Makes, my first fox creation was this bronze charm necklace.  Easily put together, the basic fox silhouette sits on a simple chain.  I've had customers buying several at a time, and telling me they are getting so many compliments on their bronze foxes, that I think I've got to get even more!  There's clearly something about this one! 

Personally, our 'snoozing fox' is my favourite, and so he takes the title of 'Product of the Week'.  These foxes are made from wood that has been laser cut to add delightful detail.  I loved the bushy tale and peaceful sleeping eyes on this one, and just knew he had to be turned into a pretty necklace.  

I hope you love him too!  

Monday, 28 October 2013

Launch Competition

It's really lovely to be able to give something back to all of the wonderful ladies and gents who take the time to like and comment on my facebook page.  Each facebook 'liker' and every click, comment and share they make means so much to page owners of small businesses.  Not only does it increase the audience of our posts and our work, it's also like a little 'thumbs up' to what we are doing.  Knowing that somebody out there appreciates your craft and what you are trying achieve is sometimes all it takes to boost the mood and encourage us to keep going.  That's why I often like to host a 'giveaway' on the page - my way of saying 'Thank You'.

When planning the blog, the first thing I knew I wanted to do was change my giveaways from being sporadic facebook events to something more permanent - a monthly competition that takes place here!

So to celebrate the launch of the blog, and our very first competition, we are giving away something rather special...

If you decide to take part, you could win this beautiful 'Melissa Makes' charm necklace.  It's made from a silver plated bee charm, carved amazonite flower bead and smooth amethyst nugget.  I've chosen this piece because I feel it beautifully reflects the new colours and branding for the blog and Melissa Makes - cute bees, deep purple and glorious seafoam!  The one in the photo is mine (I have a slight bee obsession and 'Melissa' is Greek for 'honey bee') but the lucky winner will have their very own - hand made just for them!

All you need to do is make sure you pop over to our facebook page, give us a 'like' and then comment on this post to let us know you have done so.  Each comment will be given a number and these will be entered into a random number generator at the end of the month, when a winner will be chosen and announced on here, and on facebook.

Terms and Conditions
1. Only one entry per person.
2. To enter you must like the Melissa Morgan Designs Facebook Page and comment on this post.
3. The winner will receive one pretty charm necklace, on a silver plated, 18 inch chain.
4. Your prize will be posted within two weeks of the competition closing.
5. The closing date for entries is 30th November 2013 at 12 midnight.
6. The winner will be announced on 1st December 2013. 
7. After the announcement, the winner will be expected to get in touch via e-mail to claim their prize.
8. The prize must be claimed by 14th December 2013.
9. All entrants must be from the UK and Ireland.  The prize will not be posted outside of these areas. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013


Hello and welcome to the new home of Melissa Morgan Designs, and my newly named 'sister' business, Melissa Makes.

You've probably arrived here because you already know a little bit about Melissa Morgan Designs, but if not I'm going to try and (quickly) explain everything you need to know!

Melissa Morgan Designs is a small business (although we work with clients all over the UK and further afield) that specialises in creating vintage and vintage inspired, special occasion adornments.  Think bridal headdresses, reworked vintage treasures, pearl jewellery and lots of sparkle!  We have a range of ready to purchase pieces but we love bespoke orders too!

Over the years, we have added a range of affordable, everyday jewellery.  It has a hint of vintage and a splash of high fashion.  It meddles together quite beautifully, so that you can have something a little different, that is both fun and fashionable!  We've dabbled with different names over the the past few months, but finally settled on 'Melissa Makes', which we hope reflects the simple, yet pretty nature of our products.
Through this blog, I (Melissa) hope to bring  you a little closer into the worlds of both businesses, and what life is like for a part-time entrepreneur/designer/maker.  You can expect posts on our latest products, weekly adventures, suppliers that we love and pretty much anything I think may be of interest!
Oh, and there's a monthly competition too - a rather good reason to stick around!