Updated: Mar 10, 2020
If you're thinking of starting a creative business, you most certainly can. Just be prepared to work work work, and always have a plan. There's also few other things I have learnt since my first voyage in the crafty caravan.
People will think your crazy (or just very brave) I've been running craft workshops for nearly six years now. It is my full time business and is something I love doing - I feel lucky that I get to call my creative passion a job. It's certainly has it's set of challenges.
In the beginning when I told people I wanted to travel around in a caravan running workshops in the craft I love, well, I admit people thought I was mad. But I stuck at it. Sometimes being stubborn can have its benefits.
There's always a reason that pushes you (mine was family)
A catalyst for the traveling craft van idea came from my need to connect with family that had moved away. My daughter and grandchildren had relocated to Byron Bay, far from our home of Healesville in Victoria. Being a doting grandmother I wanted to see them as they grew - none wants to miss their grandbabies growing up. So, I decided to run my basket coiling workshops up and down the east coast of Australia, starting in Melbourne, then Sydney, then Gold Coast with a bunch of little towns on the way. I was teaching my craft and offsetting the cost of the travel! Win Win.
Organisation and planning is key
I built my workshops using techniques I'd learnt from years as an educator - I spent hours planning and organsing them, making sure I tested them on friends and family. I sorted quality materials - making sure we had space and accessibility for craft supplies was important. With eight workshops organised on our trip it meant there was a substantial amount of materials we needed to fit in our vintage caravan, and we somehow made it work.
My traveling workshops were a success, but it was definitely a working holiday with more working than holiday- I was constantly thinking and planning for the next workshop. In between workshops I would spend as much time as possible with my grandchildren.
On the road, one of the challenges was getting access to acceptable internet speeds. I was always having to check emails and post to social media to promote up-and-coming workshops as this was essential for enrolments (and income). My spare time was spent spreading the word that Craft School Oz was coming to town! We used data on our phones but chewed through it constantly. I hate to think back on how much we spent on extra data. When we could we'd use Wi-Fi in cafes and pubs, getting a bit of local insight as we went.
You meet amazing people
When I began this little business, the thing I loved the most was meeting all the lovely people who participated in my workshops. People love to create - it's the perfect incubator for friendliness and connection. We would share knowledge whether it was craft related or not, and there was lots of laughter and stories told; some I cannot repeat!
I feel very lucky to teach something that I love and enjoy. But it's not always easy. There's lots of planning. You learn a lot through getting things wrong. You are always worried noone will turn up, even when you've sold out a workshop a month before. Being on the road also makes your work constant. You absolutely have to be flexible, organised and be able to think on your feet - but the people you meet, the friendships you develop along the way makes it an interesting journey every time and I'm constantly learning from others and visiting beautiful places along the way.