Vivienne

Generating profits from a lifelong passion

When Vivienne Jackson put her first batch of crochet patterns onto eBay and they sold in under an hour, she knew she was on to something. 

Vivienne now supports her family by designing and selling her own crochet and knitting patterns, hosting popular ‘how-to’ videos and selling ‘hard to find’ yarns, through her eBay shop Peach Unicorn.

Proving that dreams can come true, during the past five years, Vivienne has built a thriving business and was named Be Your Own Boss award winner in the eBay for Business Awards 2017. We caught up with her, to find out more about how she successfully turned her passion for crochet, into a profitable business.

How did you end up launching your own eBay shop?

“Ever since the age of 10, when my mother taught me to knit, I have been crafty. I have merrily knitted, cross stitched, long stitched, and done tapestry and rug making as a hobby, for more than 20 years. 

“In 2013, we were invited to a barn dance and I needed cowboy hats for my two girls, then aged 3 months and 17 months old. I searched high and low for baby cowboy hats and the only thing I found was a 0-6 month crochet pattern. 

“I had never thought of crocheting before, and had always associated it with grandmas making doilies, but this cowboy hat was gorgeous, so I bought the pattern. The instructions were gobbledygook at first, but I was determined to make the hat, so I ordered yarn and crochet hooks and taught myself to crochet. 

“After a few days practice it became second nature and I successfully made the hat. I then managed to redesign the pattern to create a larger hat for my 17-month old. From that moment on, I was hooked. I started experimenting, trying out different shapes and textures, and it was then that I first considered selling my designs.” 

When did you sell your first item on eBay?

“I listed my first four patterns – a lion, cow, duck and horse pillow – and within just one hour, all four designs had been sold! It was very exciting and from that point on my sales continued steadily. 

“I listed my first four patterns – a lion, cow, duck and horse pillow – and within just one hour, all four designs had been sold!
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“But it was when I released my 'Precious Baby Blanket' pattern that things really took off. It quickly moved to the first page on the 'Crochet Patterns' best match eBay search and this saw my sales double. 

“I went on to add even more blanket patterns and they also moved to the top portion of the rankings. It was then that I realised my eBay shop was going to be a success and I could make a living selling my designs.”

How did you grow the business?

“Engaging with potential and existing customers has played a big part in the growth of my eBay business. I used to receive lots of enquiries from crafters who wanted to make my patterns, but who couldn't crochet. So, I decided to create my own 'How to crochet' video series. I uploaded them to You Tube and embedded them into my eBay store, to help beginners learn the craft and also talk other crocheters through my unique designs. 

“I also made free practice patterns to do alongside my videos, including my very popular Cancer Support lap blanket patterns, which I created to raise money for Cancer Research. This gave crocheters the chance to create a beautiful blanket for a loved one, while supporting a good cause. 

“Additionally, I started selling some wonderful, but hard to locate, Canadian and US yarns - which I use in all my new designs. Every yarn order is sent out in an organza bag sewn by myself, with a peach ribbon to add a unique personal touch.” 

“It’s fantastic to be able to do something I love. To be able to sit down and do something I really want to do, is just wonderful."
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Vivienne with Rob Hattrell, Vice President eBay UK

What does the future hold?

“My plan now is to keep expanding the pattern ranges. I have so many ideas, I just need to find the time to sit down and actually design, create and publish them. There is a massive market out there and I have so many ideas, the sky really is the limit. The business could go anywhere!

“I have also received many enquiries during the past few years, asking for a knitted version of my designs, so I have recently been working on converting the crochet blanket patterns into knitting ones. I have already released three and sales are looking very promising.

“I already sell my yarn internationally and plan to broaden my offering in that area too.” 

Why did you enter the eBay for Business Awards? 

“I don’t usually enter awards, as I never feel I have enough to offer. However, when I read about the eBay for Business awards, it could have been written about me! I seemed to tick all the boxes and I was also feeling brave that day, so I went for it – and thank goodness I did!

“The awards stood out to me as they were asking for people who have had a unique idea and started from nothing, with just an idea, going on to carve their own niche. I read it and thought ‘that’s me, I’ve done that’. I’m just an ordinary person who had a hobby and a passion, and have been able to create a business from it.”

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

“It’s fantastic to be able to do something I love. To be able to sit down and do something I really want to do, is just wonderful. That’s what motivates me – even on those days where I just feel like staying in bed. 

“I’m lucky, as I have a huge amount of support behind me as well and the positive feedback I receive from customers is also lovely. It’s wonderful to see so many people liking and relating to my designs and vision. 

“Overall, I’m proof that dreams can come true! I never thought I would one day be making a living from my crafting. I love my job and I’m very proud of what I have achieved.”

Vivienne's top tips


1.

Find something you love

If you don’t love what you’re doing, then it’ll be hard to get through the tough times and you’ll be more likely to just give up

2.

Stay organised

Keep your sales log updated throughout the day and do your accounts at the end of every month. This is especially important if you’re selling in large volumes. If you don’t stay organised, things can quickly get on top of you. This way, at the end of the year you’ll have everything you need and it’ll all be far quicker and easier. 

3.

Keep on top of courier changes

Ensure you stay up to date on the latest courier collection times and price changes. Things can change at any moment, but you need to be on top of them as they are key for successfully selling online. You need to give customers what they want and to deliver it when you say you will 

4.

Do your homework

Do as much research as you can, to ensure you’re on the best path and working with the best suppliers for your individual needs.

5.

Use your customers as a resource

Customers themselves can be a great source of ideas and inspiration. Listen to what they are saying and note down any ideas and suggestions they may make. Keep a list and refer back to it when you’re looking for new ideas or projects to get up and running



Meet Vivienne – an eBay for Business award winner who turned her passion for crochet into profits #ebayawardsuk via @eBayUK_News
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Established
2013
Did you know
Each pattern Vivienne makes can take up to two to three months
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