By September 1, 2014 Read More →

Unusual home working jobs – personalised towels

Unusual home working jobs - Jane Hamerton, personalised towelsI bumped into Jane Hamerton on Twitter, and pounced when I realised she runs her personalised towels business at home!

She’s now been going strong for over 20 years, not bad for a business that grew from a friend’s gift!

Jane, I believe your business was more of a happy chance than a grand plan – how did it come about?
This is definitely true. My passions have always been sewing, creating and re-cycling. I had a friend’s daughter doing work experience recently and I told her that as a little girl I loved playing ‘shops’ with my sisters and I realised that is what I am doing now.

For the birth of my first child a dear friend gave me a towel with a motif she’d sewn on as a present – the seed was sewn! It was a joy to receive something handmade and my friends were having babies so I decided to give them gifts of towels with their names appliqued in different fabrics on to them.

When our children were very young we moved to Essex and I started taking my personalised towels to gift fairs and the business took off from there. I could look after the children during the day and sew at night.

Whereabouts do you work in your home, and how do you contain the spread of towels and fabric?
My main office and work room is the dining room but I spill out in to the kitchen to gift wrap and pack the towels, it sometimes drives my family mad. The garage is filled with towels and gorgeous fabrics too – so no problem if we spring a leak!

Christmas goes a bit mad and the children are now used to me giving them a pair of scissors and envelopes full of fabric letters to cut! They know they have to be perfect!

Jane Hamerton - personalised towelsWhat’s the most unusual order you’ve ever fulfilled?
As each towel is uniquely made for that person I have had many unusual requests over 23 years. Lots are funny little nick names or romantic sayings, the odd one in a strange language and some a bit too rude to mention here!

My favourite, but very sad, order was for a lady who spent ages choosing material for her three grandchildren. I did not realise she was very ill at the time. I then got an email from her daughter out of the blue who said that they were the most amazing and special presents she had ever received. She told me her mother had sadly passed away and that those personalised towels would be treasured forever by her family.

How do you balance work and time off?

Ahh – always a tricky one for those who run a business from home as it is hard to ‘shut the door’ on work. I take customer service really seriously and many of my orders are repeat business or recommendations – so I am known for this. If the work ‘phone goes and I am around I tend to answer it especially as it might be a query on an order or someone has got stuck on the site.

I now realise it is not ‘selfish’ to take time off to re-charge and when I go to do yoga or play my sport. I turn my ‘phone off and when I take time for family and friends I am strict about not looking at my smart phone. Voicemail is brilliant.

I limit myself on social media as it can eat into precious time. I tend to start work very early as I can get a lot done when it is quiet. The joy of running your own business is it does enable you to be flexible which I love.

Any advice for makers who would like to set up a business at home?
1. Always write a business plan – you may not stick to it rigidly but it really makes you focus.

2. Don’t waste money when starting out – for example you can use a spread sheet for accounts not some fancy package, also there are some good ‘off the shelf’ packages for simple websites now.

3. I think some local networking is important as it is a useful source of information. Local business owners are incredibly helpful and it can be lonely working from home.

4. Embrace some form of social networking. It does help you to be ‘found’ on the internet especially as most businesses now have a website. I love Twitter and joined five years ago, it changed my life! Please come and say hello @janehamerton.

5. Don’t waste precious time, find out what really works for your business and your bottom line and concentrate on that. For me it is looking after the customers I have and if you keep them happy they will refer you to their friends and hopefully keep coming back and buying more. My quarterly newsletter has a 40% opening rate and works well for me.

What would be your dream order?
Of course my first thought would be ‘Oh a lovely white, fluffy towel being sent to Prince George’, – the only problem is that I would never ‘tell’ or if the word got out I know I could not cope with the resulting orders. So, actually my dream orders are those from my customers who keep coming back for more.

work from home secrets

Jane has been making personalised towels for 24 years delighting generations of customers. They make perfect gifts for any occasion. She can help you celebrate life’s special moments.

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