... Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse ...
... well ...maybe a computer mouse
on a mouse mat! ...
was creating a jingly moo-ing
noise, getting all it's beads
ready for bumper sales in 2011!
If you haven't already heard of
I hope you will take a look at their online shop
in 2011. There's everything you could want
(and more) for creating wire and beaded jewellery.
You might have heard me sing the praises of one
the best WIRE CUTTERS in the world ...
(well, in MY opinion!) of which Madcowbeads
are the only UK suppliers of these fantastic
Not only are their products mooingly great, the service
is personal, efficient and helpful and this is all down to
Georgie, the owner.
In fact, Georgie very kindly agreed to be
interviewed for The WireWorkers Guild,
even though she was heavily snowed in
and coping with last minute
So read on,
to find out
Georgie set up www.madcowbeads.com
How she has created an extremely
successful and popular on-line Bead Shop
and the hard work that goes into keeping
a high profile amongst stiff competition!
WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW
DID YOU BECOME A JEWELLERY SUPPLIER?
I have a rather varied history - I came to self-employment
via sales and sales management - all for very big companies.
My last 'proper job' was staff trainer for a well known
mobile 'phone company. I was tired of corporate politics
and there always seemed to be 'redundancy' hanging over
my head, so I started to look around for something else I
could do. I bumped into eBay and discovered the Internet!
I built up a business selling horse and rider equipment,
sold that business, took a little career break and went
travelling and then came back from that with lots and
lots of ideas. Those ideas eventually turned into
(Left - Jolie Vache
AB Crystal Heart)
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CALL YOUR COMPANY MADCOW BEADS?
Well, I looked and looked and looked for a logo ...
I had a very clear idea of what I wanted in terms of
'feel', but nothing concrete. It was hard to explain
to a logo designer why I didn't want some beads or
jewellery as a logo -
so when I bumped into the
'famous' Mad Cow -
star of many magazine
adverts, as an 'off the peg'
design at a print company,
I thought she looked lovely!
A bit mad, but definitely
friendly, quirky and a talking point.
Before going ahead, I tested her out
on some friends. They were mostly
puzzled and couldn't see the point! However, I'm a
bit of a stubborn mad cow, so I thought about it for
a week or so and then stuck to my guns. The company
name came straight from that cow image. I get loads
of comments about the name, so I think it's memorable
Coincidentally, my premises are called 'The Bull Pen'
(we just call it the Bead Barn!) and my dear husband
has been known to refer to me as a mad cow ...
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR
FAVOURITE COMPONENTS AND
STYLES THAT YOU STOCK?
When I'm sourcing stock I have two goals - firstly,
to keep jewellery making as a hobby very accessible
to beginners. This means I am looking primarily for
the best quality findings and components possible
for a price per pack budget of around £1. It's a
continual challenge to keep the quality up and the
My second goal is to always have something new
and interesting around. Quite often I actually
manage to fulfill both goals with one product.
My current favourite has to be long 'floral cones' -
these are a great way of finishing a multi-stranded
piece, they're pretty, unusual and 99p for a pack
of 6! I also like the delicate connector findings.
These are so cute and very versatile and again
meet my '£1 a pack' goal!
Above: Floral Cones
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE BEAD AND WHY?
Gosh that's tricky! My favourites change a lot...
If I'm forced to pick just one bead, I'd say my Czech glass
Pearls are my favourites. I love these because they can
look glamorous or casual. They're amazingly flattering
- they reflect lovely warm light upwards onto your face
and there are some gorgeous colours in the range.
(Czech Glass Pearls)
HOW DO YOU PROMOTE YOUR SHOP?
When I started, I didn't have the budget for big 'Google
Adwords' campaigns or print advertising, so I put a flier
in each eBay order announcing my new website and that
worked well. I also did a lot of 'cold calling' to magazines
offering bead projects and prizes to raise my profile.
I also have a regular email newsletter with 'Special Offers'
and 'Projects' that seems very popular, especially now
as the email has expanded to a much larger readership.
I do run adverts in selected magazines, but for some
reason, online advertising hasn't been that successful
for me - which seems a bit odd, given that we only trade
(Above: HOT BOX - Microwave Kiln)
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ANYONE STARTING AN ONLINE BEAD SHOP?
The most important thing is to think carefully about WHY your
customers should shop with YOU.
What can make you different?
Fast delivery, good customer service and a great product range are
expected nowadays, they don't set you apart from any other competitor,
so, what can you offer?
I think about this each week and always come up with something!
Try and avoid having 'cheapest prices' as the only thing that sets
you apart, because that can often end in a price war, which can be
disastrous. How can you 'ADD VALUE' for your customers and
be DIFFERENT at little, or no extra costs?
... Answer that and you will be successful! ...
My other advice is far
more general -
put your business head on
and examine your margins
and your cashflow in depth!
If you're not able to do this,
get some help right from the start -
try your local BusinessLink
for free help.
If you're importing from overseas, factor in DUTY and VAT
and also that you are likely to have to pay for your order
3-7 weeks BEFORE it arrives and you can start selling it on.
Make sure your cash situation can manage! If it can't cope
with such a delay, use local wholesalers, or pay extra for
air freight - but again, check your MARGIN is sufficient.
You will disappoint far more customers by closing down
because you were unprofitable, than you will by charging
5p more per pack!
WHAT IS YOUR AVERAGE DAY LIKE?
I'm lucky to have great staff and I currently work 'sort of'
part time. Weekday mornings are spent with Eirwen, my
baby daughter and we do lots of activities - swimming, music
and quite often a nice walk around the farm with the
pushchair, chatting to the cows (!), pigs and chickens.
My husband starts work early and is finished for lunchtime,
so I am in the bead barn by 12 noon and Eirwen has
'daddy-time' each afternoon.
Once in the bead barn, I deal with any queries and return
any calls on the answerphone from callers that rang in
when the 'phone line was shut. We open the 'phone line
from 4.30pm-7pm as this means we can dedicate our
time to accurate packing before 4.30pm and then 100%
to incoming calls after 4.30pm. It also means that
customers can ring us on an evening, when they're home
from work, rather than using up their lunch break!
After I've done queries, I might liase with Steph, my
freelance designer, about new magazine projects, or
decide on new ranges, do some book keeping, or have
a tidy up and clean the loo! During busy periods, I also
run off orders, process card payments and help pack
orders. It's 'the cow law' that orders paid by 2pm, ship
out the same day. Therefore, I am often armed with
a tape gun and some bubblewrap to get the last few
orders ready. The mail is collected at 4.20pm and then
I am on my own, manning the 'phones and sorting out
stock ready for another day. It's my 'thinking time'
in between taking 'phone calls!
I shut up the bead barn at 7pm and go and have dinner
with my hubby. On Saturdays there's a 'no work' rule
as it's our family day - but I do check email queries for
30 minutes. On Sundays, I print off invoices and
pre-process orders from about 4pm-8pm. If I don't
do this, then Monday rapidly descends into chaos!
WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS AND GOALS FOR MADCOWBEADS FOR THE FUTURE?
2011 will be a very exciting year with some great
developments, so watch this space!
We're working on some super new lines - particularly:
HANDMADE LAMPWORK BEADS
which have proved so popular and a
new range of SEED BEAD WHEELS
in co-ordinating colours.
My personal aspiration is to continue with that
delicate life/work balance: I need to ensure that
every customer is surprised by how quickly their
order arrives and delighted with all their Madcow
beads - whilst making sure that I keep the quality
of life with my family. I think I managed that in
2010 - so I am sure that 2011 will all work out fine!
H A P P Y 2 0 1 1 to all MADCOWS
on the Big Bead Planet!
Monday, 13 December 2010
(Above: My 'Frosted Branch' Xmas Card for the WireWorkers Guild)
I would like to wish
each and every member of the:
THE WIREWORKERS GUILD
an extremely happy and peaceful
Christmas and here's hoping
the New Year will be full of
creativity and positivity ...
not to mention, wire-activity!
My Christmas card to you was created using:
small seed pearls, plus a few larger
pearl beads, 24" x 0.4mm silver-plated wire,
round and flat nosed pliers and wirecutters.
Materials & Tools required for the 'Frosted Branch'
1. To begin: Place your round nosed pliers
at the CENTRE of the 2ft length of 0.4mm
wire and bring it around one of the cylindrical
shafts to create a loop.
Using your fingers, twist the wires together
to create a short twisted stem of about an 1".
2. Thread one of the projecting wires
with approximately 24 small seed pearls.
3. Double the beaded wire around and
twist the wires together back to the 'working'
stem to secure into a beaded loop.
4. Using your fingers, carry on twisting
until it meets the other wire and then twist
both wires together for about an 1".
(Apologies for the wool on my jumper that is also on the image!!)
5. Thread another 24 (or so ...) small seed beads
onto the longest projecting stem and create a
second beaded loop (repeating steps 2-3),
twisting the two wires together to create
more twisted stems.
6. Instead of beaded loops (or leaves) this time, you
can thread a bead onto the longest projecting wire
and repeat all the twisting again ...
7. You're getting the hang of it now!
Just carry on making beaded loopy leaves
and threading beads, until you've used all
the wire up!
8. ... and here's yet another beaded loopy leaf!
(If you wish to have music in the background whilst you making this:
I recommend: 'Let's Twist Again, Like We Did Last Summer!'
by Chubby Checker:
9. We're nearly there now! Last bead
just going on ...
10. To finish off, just twist the wires
until they meet and snip with cutters,
to remove any projecting ends.
11. This is the fun bit! Spend a little
time shaping the unit using your
fingers and pliers, until you are
satisfied with the overall piece.
12. To fix your unit onto a card:
create a small spiral with projecting
stem and thread this through the
top loop of your beaded branch.
13. To finish the card, I have threaded the post of the
spiral through the top of the red card and secured it
at the back with a piece of sticky tape.
I have then secured the red card to the white backing
card with double-sided tape and fixed that (and the
torn red edged sides) to the green blank greetings card.
HAVE A GO AT MAKING THIS WITH DIFFERENT
COLOURED BEADS and WIRES AND VARIOUS
BACKING PAPERS AND CARDS!
H A P P Y
X M A S !!
Sunday, 5 December 2010
F L O W I N G
S T R E A M S
I was hoping for a flurry of stunning swirly whirly
designs, but only 3 of you were up for the challenge
and without doubt, all 3 are WINNING entries in
their own right!
Here they are, in the order that they were sent to me:
Designer - JOANNE PEARSON
KNITTED WIRE BRACELET AND EARRINGS
Joanne has cleverly knitted her designs in 28g blue
coloured copper wire, threaded with a selection of
4mm Swarovski and seed beads. She has knitted it
in garter stitch with two to three beads per stitch.
To secure the ends, Joanne has used 30mm ribbon
crimps for the bracelet and 16mm ribbon crimps for
Joanne has only been making jewellery
for about 12 months and experimenting with
wire has been very recent. She hopes to do a lot
more and has just set up a Facebook page called:
JEWELLERY by JOANNE PEARSON.
Well done, Joanne! You definitely win the best
knitted wire design category!
DESIGNER - SALLY PITMAN (aka "Skypixie")
LIQUID WIRE NECKLACE
Sally's necklace shows great artistic skill in its randomness
and simplicity. It has been created out of 1.5mm silver-
plated wire. 6" lengths were cut, then hammered flat and
then formed into swirls, ovals and rounds ... giving the
feel of a flowing stream of swirling water, or, as she likes to
call it: LIQUID WIRE!
Quoting Sally: "Each unit, once randomly swirled and formed
measures approx. 1.25" and I was really pleased at how the
whole thing flowed once linked together. This thick flattened
wire seems to find it's own journey around the mandrel, or
pen, or knitting needle ... all of various sizes and without too
much help from me. Apart from the odd tweak here and
there! I do find that some of the units that are most pleasing
to the eye are created if I'm gazing at the ceiling or out of the
window and not looking too intently at what I'm doing!"
You can see more of Sally's work on her website:
Well done, Sally! This is a stunning creation and wins
the Hammered Wire category!
DESIGNER - SUSAN AVERY
FLOWING RIVER NECKLACE
This beautiful swirling necklace creation by Susan,
has great originality. Susan has used 0.8mm silver-
plated wire and wire-wrapped her curled units in a
random, flowing fashion.
Susan is very new to wirework, but is keen to learn and
hopes to use her skills to start a jewellery business in
the near future... watch out for her!
Well done, Susan! You have definitely won
the category for new up-and-coming designer!
I just want to thank the three participants
for their great efforts and stunning designs
and I'm sure they will inspire everyone who
never got around to entering the competition:
to pick up their PLIERS and WIRES!
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
It's DECEMBER and IF you're
living in the United Kingdom
the chances are ... you're most
probably snowed in!
So, here's an apt project
to keep you busy and warm ..
S N O W F L A K E
This can be made into:
* a Xmas tree decoration
* window adornment
* embellishment for a Xmas card
* or suspended from anything you fancy!!
1. Cut 3 x 3" (7.5cms) lengths of 0.8mm (20-gauge)
2. Cut a length of 0.4mm (28-gauge) fine wire and
bind 2 of the lengths at the centre in a X shape.
3. Place the 3rd length at the centre and
continue binding together, weaving the
fine wire in and out of the star shape to
4. Dig out some sparkly crystals and bugle
beads from your stash and begin threading
each of the projecting wires.
5. Once you've threaded one wire, create a link
with your round nosed pliers at the end. Then
start threading the opposite wire, creating a
headpin by the last crystal bead.
6. Continue threading the other projecting wires
with crystal and bugle beads, creating headpins at
7. Fill the entire the frame with beads!
8. Just when you thought you'd finished ... Cut approx.
7" (17.5cms) of 0.4mm (28-gauge) wire and secure the
centre of the length just under one of the top crystal beads
(between the clear, round crystal and the bugle bead).
9. Thread some small crystal beads onto this fine
wire and secure under the neighbouring bead.
10. Once you've completed the outer beaded frame,
secure the end of the wire and cut off any excess.
Using your fingers, push the beaded area in towards
the centre to create a 'star' shape.
11. Cut approx. 7" (17.5cms) of 0.4m
wire and thread this with small, clear
seed beads, securing and threading
around the top of the frame - between
the top bead and the headpin.
12. Once you've filled the entire frame with
small beads, cut off any excess wire and neaten
13. To create a centrepiece for your 'snowflake' - thread a
round crystal (or bead of your choice) with some 0.4mm
(28-gauge) wire and using the very tips of your round nosed
pliers, create very small doubled-links at each end.
14. Cut approx. 5" (12.5cms) of 0.4mm (28-gauge)
wire and thread through one of the links.
Thread this wire with some small seed beads until
you've covered one side of the bead. Then thread
through the small link at the opposite end.
15. Continue threading the fine wire with more
small seed beads until you've framed the entire
perimeter of the bead.
Thread the end of the wire back through the end link.
16. Secure the wires together by twisting. Use your
cutters to snip off the any uneven ends, leaving approx.
1" (2.5cms) of twisted wire projecting.
17. Push the twisted stem through the centre of the unit
and create a spiral which can be flattened at the back.
To ensure that the central bead is completely secure,
thread another length of 0.4mm (28-gauge) wire through
the beaded sides of central bead decoration and secure
once more at the back of the unit.
18. Spend a little time re-arranging the overall
shape until you're ready to connect, or
suspend it from whatever you wish!
There are so many variations to this theme: try using
different coloured and shaped beads ...
... a pearl as a centre piece and bugle beads
around the frame ...
Keep experimenting to come up with your own
original SNOWFLAKE design!
Happy WireWorking and Keep Warm!