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In the Hot Seat – Stamps By Me Founder Toni Darroch

Q1. Have you always been creative?

Yes definitely, from a very young age. My mum used to buy me colouring books and I would sit for hours colouring and drawing. She used to call them my masterpieces which obviously they weren’t, but she did encourage me and that made me want to always improve. If I wasn’t busy creating the next masterpiece for my mum, I would be searching for inspiration, which to be honest I find in almost anything around me.

Q2. What is the first thing you can recall making as a child and who was it for?

I was about 13 years old when I discovered the absolute joy of putting something together. I made my Nana a clock using a big circle cut out of cardboard, and pipe cleaners for the hands and numbers. I also painted a smiley face on the clock face. My Nana always used to put it to the right time when I went to see her, and then change it again to the right time when I left to go home. She loved that clock and it made me realise the happiness of making something precious for a loved one. I don’t think you can ever underestimate how the time, energy and effort you spend on your projects often pales compared to the happiness it can bring to a loved one, knowing that you did it just for them. Sadly my Nana isn’t around anymore, but I filled her home over the years with many of my little creations and it made her the happiest Nana around.

Q3. What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

I wanted to be a writer, but as most writers know it’s very hard to earn a living at it unless you write the next Harry Potter. I think that’s probably still the creative side of me trying to escape.

Q4. Why/when did you decide you could make a living out of crafting?

Well, I don’t know any crafters that make huge sums of money, but it is possible to get by. I think it’s one of those trades where you choose to do it out of love rather than riches. I started my company in 2011 whilst I was still working in a full-time job, which gave me a bit of a fall back. The economy wasn’t doing very well and I didn’t have the confidence to take the plunge on my own. I dreamed about it for many years and I saved all my pennies up so that I could give it the best chance of succeeding. For years my workshops have always been really popular and in high demand; I think it got to a level where I really believed I could have a shot at it. Also, I’ve only ever sold products that I really believe in and I think that’s helped as well. People don’t have money to throw away any more, so it’s really important to provide something that you can be proud is fantastic value, quality and most importantly, does a fabulous job from stamps to paper to glue or whatever it is. I left my job earlier this year and it’s the best thing ever. My days are now filled with crafting, oh and my son running around throwing glitter and glue everywhere, which is awesome!

Q5. Do you have any other hobbies?

I absolutely love dancing; it’s also a great way to keep off the pounds. Our house is definitely a ‘Strictly’ fan. Thankfully my partner loves dancing as well and it’s a great way to spend time together. I think my little boy is going to be a dancer as well; as soon as some music comes on he leaps into action and starts pushing out shapes, it’s so funny to watch!

Q6. What craft item can you not live without?

It’s got to be Collall glue. I’ve been using this for some time; its super strong, stays wet enough to get your project straight, and best of all, it wipes off if you happen to use too much. I’m a massive Scrapbooker, creating projects that sometimes take weeks to complete, without my trusted Collall I’d be completely lost.

Q7. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 5 items, what would they be – and why?

Other than my IPod because I cannot live without music it would be: Plenty of white card, Watercolour pencils, Quicki glue pen, White glitter and a pencil sharpener - just in case I’m there for a long time!

Q8. What’s your biggest ambition in life?

I do an awful lot of free classes in my local community and it makes a massive difference to some of the people I know and love. I think my biggest ambition would be for my business to grow and grow so I could do even more. There’s lots of people out there who don’t have very much money, but they have almost found themselves through crafting. That’s not an exaggeration and I’m sure if you came to my classes you’d see it instantly. Life really is about people and the relationships we make along the way and I think that’s why crafting is a beautiful and amazing way to earn a living.

Q9. What’s been the highlight of your crafting life so far?

It’s got to be when I made my very first sheet of stamps. It’s not an easy process to master and it took quite a bit of jiggery-pokery but when I’d cracked it I felt amazing. I’ve never looked back. The process of being able to design art and then see take that journey to the high street packaged in a crafting stamp is the best thing ever.

Q10. Any advice for beginners?

If you’re a beginner then you’re embarking on possibly one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences of your life. Therefore, don’t hesitate, and don’t let the little setbacks and frustrations upset you. My top tip: Before you start ‘sticking’ make sure you’ve got all your components in front of you and placed more or less where you want them. Then start sticking. Most importantly, if you make a mistake it’s only card and you can cover it over with an embellishment or start again. The best cards are often made from happy mistakes.