The Handmade Fair


Win Two Tickets to the Handmade Fair:

Fancy a creative day out at The Handmade Fair, Hampton Court? Well this year our sister company, Milly Inspired, will have have their first ever stand there so we are all very excited. The show runs from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th September 2017 and Gemma plans to diary her experience so she can share it with you once she gets back.

T0 celebrate this milestone we have two sets of tickets to giveaway.

To win, all you have do is head over to our Instagram account and click follow!

The closing date for our competition is midday on Tuesday 12th September 2017. We will then pick the lucky winner from the people who have clicked follow between now and the closing date.

Good luck guys and if you are going to the fair don’t forget to pop along to our stand to say hello!


PS Image by the team at The Handmade Fair.

If you are married, you may have already heard about the traditional presents you are meant to gift your husband or wife depending on the anniversary year you are celebrating. This is a very old tradition which has been updated in the past few years with a newly revised gift list.

Below we have created a graphic for you showing both the traditional and modern list of anniversary gifts.

traditional and modern anniversary giftsThe standard list of traditional and modern Wedding Anniversary gifts.

Why Design Anniversary Gifts:

What I love about this gifting theme is that it is very easy to incorporate your current range into this category without having to redesign anything or create a brand new range. You can see from our table above, the theme for a first-anniversary gift is ‘paper’. As we already create personalised prints, these would naturally make a perfect paper anniversary gift. So all we had to do was add a suggestion in the product description that this print would be the ‘perfect paper anniversary gift’. However on another occasion, we create a print specifically for this theme so we could title it ‘Personalised First Anniversary Art Print’. This was so we could make the most of those keywords, plus it enabled us to position a product in any anniversary gifting categories available to us.

First Year Anniversary Gift Design
Gift Design Inspiration for First Anniversary ‘Paper’ Gifts.

Paper may seem an easy theme to incorporate into your current gifting range, so what do you do if you want to offer a gift for the more complex anniversary themes? Personally,  I would suggest putting a twist on the theme. For example, for a Ruby Wedding Anniversary, we have a ruby coloured anniversary print. Following on from this, the theme for a 25th wedding anniversary gift is silver so we have a silver foiled personalised art print.

Designing gifts for a fifth wedding anniversary
Gift Inspiration for First Anniversary, Paper Gifts.

The key thing to remember is you do not have to design a gift for every possible year. Instead, just pick the ones which are relevant to your offering.

Finally, I would recommend starting with the first ten years of themes as these are the ones which are celebrated the most so there will always be a greater demand for those

How to Join Notonthehighstreet as a Partner

Website graphics by Milly Inspired

‘How can I join Notonthehighstreet’, is a small Business question that we hear all the time…

A lot of people want to know how to join Notonthehighstreet as a Partner. If you believe that you offer products that will appeal to their demographic, then I would definitely recommend applying. For many small business owners, working with has been transformative, and allowed them to finally leave their 9 to 5 and build a business that they love.

Official Notonthehighstreet ‘Sell With Us’ video. Created by Notonthehighstreet.

Before launching Milly Inspired, I used to work for Notonthehighstreet, so I’ve seen the acceptance process from both sides. Based on my own experiences, I cannot emphasise enough how important each of the following points are:

1. Innovative and unique product ideas

Notonthehighstreet is just what it says on the tin. They don’t want to be stocking items available in large retail chains, so the first thing I would say to anyone wanting to sell through Notonthehighstreet is that innovation is key.

These days, the company have a Curation Policy in place, which actively encourages individuality. If you can show that you’re innovative, this will really help you to get through the doors at

Unusual products have always been a key selling point for Notonthehighstreet. They want all of their Partners, old and new, to stand out from the crowd. There are several ways that you can approach this. Where possible, my team look to design items that are not yet available on the site. Others refresh their offerings with trend-led designs and photography, while others offer exclusivity to some or all of their range. If you are an independent boutique, make sure you present them with your more unusual offerings.

2. A minimum collection of ten products

To join, Notonthehighstreet will ask you to complete an online application. The team view a high volume of applications every day, so first impressions count – you need a good-sized selection of well photographed products to be able to do this. Generally, Notonthehighstreet suggests this is a collection of ten or more products.

3. Excellent Product Photos

In my opinion, this is one of the most important factors, because when you’re shopping online you are buying into the image of an item first, and the physical product second. If your budget is small, this is where you should be spending your money. I have heard about numerous products not making it to the site due to bad photography.

4. A good brand presence

The team at Notonthehighstreet are looking for small businesses who understand how important it is to provide an all-round exceptional customer experience. In your application make sure you tell them about your branding, the beautiful gift-wrapping you offer, and your excellent after-sales service.

Notonthehighstreet love a good backstory too, so do tell them a bit about yourself, how you started your business and any obstacles you’ve had to overcome.

5. Desire to grow your business

For some Partners, selling on Notonthehighstreet will boost their sales overnight. Others may see a slower, but still very satisfying, increase in sales. As there will be so much opportunity for growth, Notonthehightreet naturally wants to work with companies who are enthusiastic about this. Don’t worry, you are not going to be pushed to do anything you are not ready for, so don’t let that put you off!

To conclude

I cannot stress enough how important joining Notonthhightreet was for our business, and I would whole-heartedly recommend this route to others.

To finish this post, I thought I would show you the results of a quick survey I carried out. The aim was to find out which factors other Notonthehighstreet Partners believe are important when applying to sell on the site. You can see that they agree with just how important ‘uniqueness’ is. They also said that being on-trend and offering quality products is important, with strong product photography being the fourth most important factor.

Facebook Competition

Factors that existing Notonthehighstreet Partners think they consider when assessing potential new Partners

*This post isn’t endorsed by – I’m just looking to give you more insight into life as a Notonthehighstreet Partner.*

If you want to apply to join Notonthehighstreet and would like a few specific pointers before contacting them, we’re happy to offer you some guidance.

The Importance of Gut Instinct

What is Gut Instinct?

Collins Dictionary: noun – an instinctive feeling, as opposed to an option or idea based on facts.

Having a ‘Gut Instinct’ about something may sound a little ‘woo woo’. But please read on because learning to follow your gut instinct (intuition) can do wonders for your business.

Milly Inspired is the third company I have launched. The other two did well but once they were up and running I felt something was ‘off’. That feeling (intuition) was right and although they made a profit, different aspects of the businesses were much harder than they needed to be. Those businesses and I were not a perfect match and so over time I moved on. When Milly Inspired Ltd launched I felt different, very positive, no negative inner dialogue. Opportunities also came quicker and easier. It just felt right (and it still does today).

Those feelings may sound familiar and they can come up in all aspects of your life.  You may be able to identify past feelings when you thought a relationship or situation was wrong. Maybe you felt some uncertainty about someone you had just met or a job interview that on paper was perfect, yet for some reason it still felt wrong for you.

Why using Gut Instinct is Useful in Business:

Learning to trust your instincts, using your intuitive sense of what is best for you, is paramount for lasting success. – Oprah Winfrey

You can see from the quotes in this post that many famous business people use their gut instinct when making day to day business decisions. Small businesses need to relying on instinct and experience to make business decision much more than these famous entrepreneurs as they are unlikely to have the funds to research ideas before moving forward on them.

I have already explained how I felt much more positive when launching Milly Inspired, compared to previous business ideas. This feeling I now use on a daily basis when making decisions large and small. For example, I start planning our next collection by brainstorming all the ideas I have. I then highlight the ideas I feel are the best (using only gut instinct to select them). From there I use my learnt experience to eliminate any ideas that for whatever reason are less likely to be successful. Finally I use my intuition again when deciding what ideas to progress first.

The Science behind Gut Instinct:

I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of Statistics. – Richard Branson

TED Talk Video: Food for thought: How Your Belly Controls your Brain, by Ruairi Robertson

This is a big topic and one I’m not qualified to answer. Instead, I’m going to give you a quick overview of the science behind gut instinct and if you want to learn more please listen to the TED Talk video above.

Intuition is nothing new. The feeling of approaching danger would have been present in prehistoric man. This means it has been past down with our genetic history and is reinforced in us by our parents and our environment. In the last few years, Scientists have found there are more neurones in our stomachs than our brain. These cells react to uncertainty and warn our brains of danger or even bad decisions. Making ‘Gut Instinct’ an actual physical reaction.

These reactions can appear to people in many different ways. Here are just a few:

Thoughts: This thought could be as simple as feeling a new idea should not be progressed. However, normally these feelings are much harder to decipher. You maybe thinking about a dismissive reaction a business friend had to your new idea. When thinking of their reaction, out of nowhere you may get the thought ‘your friend was stressed or unwell‘. That thought is a little out of context (it is nothing about business) but that would be your intuition picking up on the situation and explaining their reaction. Or the thought maybe less detailed like ‘there are other things going on in their life’. Gut instincts are thoughts that come into your mind naturally and although you have no reasoning behind that thought, they still feel true to you.

Feelings: This is a feeling that can appear in one area of your body or all over. I know some people can get sudden pain or sickness feelings when they know an idea or situation is not right for them. Personally, I literary feel it in my stomach (a proper gut instinct moment). For me, a bad idea also feels foggy, like I have no energy and even slightly saddening or nauseating. Over time I have literally learnt what the feeling of a negative idea is to me. In contrast, a positive idea gives me energy, makes me smile and I feel light and ready to work.

Steps to Following your Gut Instinct:

You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

By now you may have noticed there would have been times in your life that you would have been using your intuition but you may not have been aware of it. Below are a few tasks that help directly engage your intuition when making daily business decisions. The more you carry out these tasks, the more you will be familiar with your intuitive feelings, until one day it becomes second nature:

Ask a Question:

The easiest way to directly engage your intuition is to ask a question and receive the answer. To do this simply take a moment to shut your eyes (optional) and ask the question in your head. Take a deep breath and then your next thought will be the reply. You can also write down a question and then automatically start writing the answer.

Modern Meditation:

Calming the mind through meditation will help access intuitive thoughts. However, I know not everyone can follow this traditional practice. Instead, going for a walk alone or even taking a relaxing bath can also be a form of meditation. To get guidance while doing traditional or modern meditation, simply start the activity with the intention of getting the answer to your question before that activity ends. As you progress through the activity be aware of your thoughts and feelings and see where they lead you.

Ask for a Sign:

A fun way to search for guidance is to ask for a sign. For example, I always see white feathers when I’m on the right track. Simply pick what your sign will be and affirm to yourself, if this idea is a good idea then I will see that sign at some point today.

The Rules:

Here is some extra guidance to help you on your way:

  1. Don’t push for an answer: If you actively look for your sign, chances are you won’t see it. If you ask yourself a question and then think up the answer, that is you, not your intuition. You need to keep your mind clear and then the answer will come.
  2. The answer may not make sense: Sadly we don’t always get simple yes or no answers. Instead, another better idea may come into your mind. Maybe you think of a person you need to contact for the answer. No matter how the answer is delivered, you will feel uplifted when you receive it.
  3. No answer is also an answer: Yes this is true. If you ask a question and don’t feel you get a reply then that is the answer. You can wait a while and try asking again in a different way but if you still don’t get a reply then that is your answer. At that point try asking if you are on the wrong path or what the right path is.
  4. Remember the answer maybe a feeling and not a thought: When asking questions be aware how you feel immediately after. A positive or negative, happy or sad reactions can also be your answer.

To Finish:

To finish off I wanted to show you this video by Jess Lively. US Business Owner turned Life Coach, Jess will explain what intuition is and how to access it in her own words. She also explains how she converses with her intuition:

Do you use your gut instinct and intuition when making life and business decisions? We would love to hear your intuition stories in the comments field below.

Gift Design Guide infogram

The ‘Small Business Gift Design Guide’, by Creative Business Gems

Early this year, we went through our Milly Inspired sales data to identify the most popular occasions, themes, and relationship types, in terms of gift purchases. We then looked at other small gift design studios and carried out the same study on their more popular products. The infogram above shows the results.

To help you understand the guide, I’ve defined the key terms:

Occasion Gifts: This is a product that has clearly been designed for a specific occasion, like a Christmas hamper. Alternatively, it could be a more general gift with occasion-specific personalisation or graphics added to it. A photo album with ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ on the cover would be an example of this.

Themed Gifts: These are similar to occasional gifts. However, the themes are less seasonal, and not attached to one specific gift-giving event. Examples might be a personalised print with a friendship theme. It could also be a keepsake box with ‘Memories’ engraved on the lid.

Relationship Gifts: This category includes gifts that physically state the recipient’s relationship to the customer. For example, a keyring that says ‘Happy Birthday Dad’, or a bracelet with ‘Daughter’ added to it.

The results of our study also revealed a number of additional insights I will share with you over the coming months. But for now, here are a few little sneak peeks:
Popular pendants:
1. Letters
2. Birthstones
3. Snowflakes
(Crystals came out at the bottom of the list.)

Common words used in gift design:
1. Story
2. Family
3. Thank You
(The word ‘Gardening’ emerged as the least commercial phrase.)

What do you think of our findings? Would you like more information like this? What kind of information would you find useful? Let us know in the comment field below.

keep looking »

Welcome, I’m Gemma

If you are a Craftsperson, an Artisan, Design-Maker or Micro Manufacturer, looking for product design inspiration then is a blog written for you.

I have run my own Designer-Maker Business, Milly Inspired, for over 7 years now. Today our six-figure company is still growing at 50%. Learn how to get the same results right here!

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