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Jaide Lillie

A Farewell from Jaide

Hi everyone,

For those of you that don’t already know, I will soon be leaving Beads Direct to pursue a new adventure. On Friday 15th July, I’ll be saying my goodbyes to the fantastic (and a little bonkers) bunch of people I’ve been working with for the last 3 years. It’s a sad, but exciting, time for me as I move into a new chapter of my life.

In August 2013 I joined the BD team and I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown! I can remember having to ask what a jumpring was in my first few days – I had no clue how to make jewellery at all… A lot has changed in 3 years, so I thought that this is a good way to go back through my time at Beads Direct. Here are some of my personal highlights!

Shine Online

Shine Online magazine was a random idea that popped into my head almost 2 years ago – and it never left. Producing the magazine has let me work with hundreds of you, and I’ve had the privilege of showing off lots of your amazing makes. Shine now has a readership of over 50,000 people – by far the most read jewellery making magazine (that you can get for free). Our designer group on Facebook now has over 700 members and growing! It’s been an absolute pleasure creating this for you. I’ve recently passed Shine over to my lovely assistant, Holly, who’s put a fab new look in place and will be looking after it going forward.

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Published Pieces

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some of the lovely editor’s of jewellery making magazines, who have kindly published my work. My first published piece, the Strawberry Fields design, actually inspired me to come up with the idea of Shine Online. There isn’t anything better than seeing your handiwork included in a magazine, and I wanted to be able to do this for our beady family.

My first published piece 10469675_1634285703466477_5137022327126827251_n 10922597_1600594286835619_178058844838869650_n
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Online Parties

I’ve made some fantastic professional relationships over my time here at BD, including with the fabulous marketing ladies at Swarovski. I’ve had so much fun working with them on a variety of our online parties, and would like to say a big thank you again to them for supporting my ideas. Don’t worry – BD will carry on the party without me. It’ll be strange popping in as a visitor at the next one!

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Pulling my very best *yes Sarah, this is mine and not yours* face.

My Team

My job would’ve been a million times harder if it wasn’t for Katrina & Holly, my glamorous assistants. It’s been lovely watching them catch the beading bug and come up with some exciting new things for BD. Even though I’ll miss everyone here, I’ll especially miss this pair! Good luck guys.

Thank you for being part of my beady journey – I’ll miss you all! It’s been amazing growing such a wonderful circle of crafty friends. I’ve loved getting to know hundreds of you, and have been so very inspired by you all.

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Ps. I’ll still be making jewellery after I leave – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop now! If we aren’t connected already, do feel free to add me on Facebook if you’d like to keep in touch. I won’t be checking it as often as I do now, but I’ll check in from time to time 🙂

How To Create Beautiful Bridal Jewellery

Weddings are wonderful things, aren’t they? 

There’s nothing better than sharing such a special moment with two people who are in love.

I’m soon-to-be a bridesmaid for my mum in October, and I am so very excited. As I’ve got all things bridal in my mind at the minute, I thought I’d write up a quick post for those of you who want to design bridal jewellery. Whether you are designing for a family member, or 0ffering bridal designs as a bespoke service, there are various things you need to focus on. After all, you aren’t just creating jewellery, you will be helping to craft a moment of a lifetime.

With that being said, it’s easy to see why designing custom jewellery for a bride can be a daunting task. When every last detail of the big day has to be nothing less than perfect, how can you ensure that you create exactly what the bride is looking for? Here are a few things you should bear in mind, I hope you find them helpful! 🙂

The Dress
The dress will always be the star of the show, and the jewellery should only be added to emphasise and complete ‘the look’. If your bride allows you to see the dress, or a photo, you’ll have a great starting point to create complimentary jewellery. However, many brides like to keep their dress a sworn secret, so you may come up against this challenge. Find out what material the dress is made from, what shape it is, how it falls, what embellishments it has. Make sure you get as many details as possible. The dress will be a big factor in designing the jewellery to accessorise it.

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The Hair
Head pieces are a firm favourite at weddings, including tiaras and combs. Whilst they can be beautiful, they can be impractical dependant on the hair style the bride is having. Although it might not be apparent initially, a tiara won’t sit atop a voluminous up-do, the same way a delicate crown won’t look right getting tangled in a full fringe throughout the day. Discuss the look of the ‘do, and you’ll be able to suggest appropriate choices.

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Themes
Many weddings have a theme. As the bride will be the beautiful ‘centrepiece’ of the whole event, the decoration of the bride should also tie in nicely. Make sure you find out if your bride has decided on a theme, as this can also be a great starting point to find out what type of jewellery would be the perfect match. (For example, a 1920’s theme and flapper style gown would suit a very minimalistic, draping headpiece with subtle sparkle).

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Honesty
There are times we are asked to design things we don’t think are going to be best for the situation at hand. Many brides walk into a bridal shop expecting to fall in love with a certain type of dress, when more often than not, the one they choose if the one they never expected! The same can apply for the jewellery. Make sure you are totally upfront and honest, making suggestions every step of the way. Without being pushy, you can ensure that you both know exactly what the end piece should look like. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t think an idea will work.

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Materials & Pricing
Although bridal jewellery is only going to be worn for one day, it needs to be of the highest quality. Bridal jewellery should last a lifetime, and provide an everlasting heirloom that can be passed down to loved ones. There is no room for error, so you should be absolutely meticulous with every bridal piece you make. Can you imagine the horror of a pearl necklace shattering to the ground on the big day due to a loose clasp? Even the thought makes me cringe!  Make sure you factor in the extra time you’ll need to spend making. Us jewellery maker’s are notoriously good at selling ourselves short, often forgetting to pay ourselves fairly. If you aren’t designing as a gift, then you need to still price your pieces at their worth. Don’t feel pressured into offering your time for free and quoting less just because you know your bride is on a budget.

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If you keep all of these things in mind, you’ll be sure to get the best outcome – a very happy bride! Trust in your creative abilities, and don’t be put off by the importance of perfection. If you’ve been asked to design someone’s wedding jewellery, you’ve already proven yourself with your previous work. If you’re just getting started and haven’t yet made any bridal jewellery, have a play around with different techniques and materials. Although their will be an initial cost in creating some pre-made jewellery, you’ll be able to start a portfolio in order to attract new customers.

Do you design bridal jewellery, or maybe you’ve had a loved one get married and you designed something? I’d love to hear about it – drop a comment below.

Speak soon,

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Bridal images – Pinterest.

8 Reasons You Should Support Your Local Crafters 💜

Buying handmade is one of the most rewarding ways you can shop. Whether you commission a piece to be made just for you, or buy from a selection already on sale, you can’t beat the craftsmanship of something made by hand. As a crafter myself, here are just a few of the reasons why I believe you should make the effort to buy from your local makers!

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1.  Handmade is made with love.

As crafters, everything we make is created with love and dedication. No matter how big or small the item is, or how much time it’s taken to make, we give everything the same care. Buying from us means that whatever you order from us has been made with skill and a real passion for what we do. We put our heart into every piece we make.

“When buying from an artist/maker, you’re buying more than just an object/painting. You are buying hundreds of hours of failures and experimentation. You are buying days, weeks, and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You aren’t just buying a ‘thing’, you’re buying a piece of heart, part of a soul, a moment of someone’s life. Most importantly, you’re buying the artist more time to do something they are passionate about.” – Rebecca Joy Plett

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2. We ask for a fair price.

As makers, we will never ask for prices that are unrealistic. Our materials, time and skill are factored in to our prices, but most of us won’t make much profit. We’re notorious for cutting ourselves short, and we do so because we love what we do. Please don’t try and haggle on price when buying handmade, we don’t make much on the first price we give you! Unlike big companies, money isn’t the reason we do what we do.

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3. You’ll get our total, undivided attention.

We will always give you the red carpet treatment as on of our customers, or even just a potential customer. No matter what you’d like us to make, from a pair of earrings to wedding invitations, we’ll always go the extra mile for you. We’ll give you our time, for free, to ensure what we design and make is exactly as you’d like. From the initial ideas through to receiving the finished piece, you’ll have been involved every step of the way.

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4. We buy from crafters, too!

If you ever need a recommendation on where to buy something handmade, ask another crafter! If you know someone who makes greetings cards, you can bet they’ll be able to recommend another artisan if you’re looking for handmade soaps. We spend a lot of our time networking, attending craft stalls, and posting in Facebook groups to build relationships with other crafters. We won’t be offended that you’ve not asked us to try out a new craft. Networking is how most of our orders come in. Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll almost always be able to recommend the perfect person for the job.

“The biggest reason I buy handmade is to support the many talented people out there who are trying to get started with their business. I find the care and love taken in making everything I buy comes through when I get it. I feel a sense of extra worth and pleasure with each purchase knowing I have helped someone get one step closer to their dream. Supporting each other is after all the most rewarding gift we can give each other!” – Bueller, Bueller.etsy.com

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5. We’re honest.

We’ll always give you our honest opinion. If we think your design will turn out differently to what you have envisioned, or if we don’t think you’re 100% sure of what you want – we’ll help you. If you’re buying for yourself, or for a gift, we’ll work with you to suggest the best. If you’ve chosen pieces we think won’t work together, we’ll make recommendations. Of course, we’ll always take your final word, even if we have suggested something else. As we are so passionate about getting our work 100% right the first time, you can expect us to discuss a variety of possibilities with you. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by what a crafter’s imagination can add to your ideas!

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6. We’ve learnt from our mistakes.

Before we sold our items, we spent hours trying and failing. We’ve used up rolls of ribbons, bags of beads, and hundreds of pounds worth of materials to find our niche. We’ve learnt our craft the hard way, but are completely grateful for each error. Even when we are experts at what we do, we’re always buying new materials to experiment with new techniques. It’s very rare to find a crafter whose home isn’t stuffed with materials from their previous and ongoing projects.

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7. You’re supporting more than just a small business.

Some crafters decide to take the leap and go full-time with what they do. Whether that be working from home, running a website or even opening up a bricks and mortar shop. When you buy from us, you’re directly supporting us to keep doing what we love. As our craft is our main source of income, you’re helping to keep food (and materials) on our tables! As well as all of the lovely benefits you get from commissioning a crafter, you’re ultimately helping someone keep their small business going. It’s a totally win-win scenario!

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8. Crafters take the stress out of shopping.

We’ve all been there – frantically wading through a sea of people looking for the ‘perfect’ gift. You might not have realised it, but every time you decide to venture out to the high street to buy a gift, you’re already limiting your options. When you choose to commission a crafter you’re not only going to get a bespoke piece, you’ll be able to work together to create something the recipient will cherish forever. Handmade gifts are so much more personal and buying them mean you can sit back and relax, and avoid the chaos of the shopping centre!

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So there’s just 8 of the reasons I’ve thought of as to why you should be buying from your local crafters, and most importantly, buying handmade.

Are you a crafter, or do you regularly purchase from local makers? Let me know what your thoughts in the comments!

Speak soon,

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Featured image by Anna Alekseeva.

PANTONE: NEW Colour – Minion Yellow

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Providing us with annual Colours of the Year, trend reports and inspiring designers globally, Pantone are unarguably the voice of colour. It seems for 2016, Pantone are getting into the habit of breaking all their own rules – and I’m totally okay with it!

Recently, for the announcement of their coveted ‘Colour of the Year’, they broke the mould and for the first time ever chose two colours – Rose Quartz & Serenity. And as if this wasn’t enough to keep us inspired for the whole year – they’ve recently announced a brand new Pantone Colour and it’s pretty ba-na-nas.

Teaming up with Illumination Entertainment and Universal (Partnerships & Licensing), Pantone have worked to create Minion Yellow. Yep, you heard it right! Marking the first time a brand new colour has been developed and named after a character. Whether you love the little guys or not, there’s no denying that Minion Yellow is a wonderful hue for Spring/Summer.

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Find out more about the new release in Pantone’s video:

What do you think of the release? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Speak soon,

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Join Our Team of Writers | Apply Now

Here at Beads Direct, we’re always on the look out for the latest fashion trends in jewellery, innovative tutorials and beyond! On our blog, you’ll find all of our inspirational posts – however we also think now is a great time to allow talented writers and creative folk to come and join in with us. 

We’re looking for some fresh faces to come on board and join our team of guest bloggers – you don’t have to be a jewellery maker, we’ll happily accept posts on any handmade or creative theme. Of course our guest posters will be allowed to promote their own website, or blog, using a link within an author bio (or logical placement within an article).

You don’t need to have a massive social media following or lots of traffic in order for you to be accepted – this is all about enriching the blog we already have. There are, however, some musts which you will find below.

– Any content submitted must be 100% original and written by you.
– This content cannot have been published anywhere else, or be a re-worded
version of another article.
– We suggest a minimum of 800 words, however this isn’t essential if the article
is picture or video based (any images provided should be your own, otherwise
full credit with permission only).

HOW TO APPLY TO BE A GUEST BLOGGER:

Once you’ve read the above and are happy you’re suitable to apply, send an email to the below address.

– Enter the subject line ‘GUEST BLOGGER’

– Pitch us an idea for your blog post, and be as specific as possible. If you’d like to send an unpublished
piece directly to us, you can also attach a .doc file with your email.

Send your application email to: jaide@beadsdirect.co.uk

We take care creating and curating all of our content so we’ll be moderating all applications – please allow up to 7 days for us to get back to you. Although we will allow a link to a blog or website offering tutorials or further information that the Beads Direct readers will enjoy, we cannot accept posts promoting a specific product or service – natural and engaging posts only.

(Link building agencies kindly need not apply.)

HOW TO: Candy Canes – Card Embellishments

Whether you make your Christmas cards from scratch, or you’ve bought some from a
shop and wanted to give them a little festive pizzazz, why not make these super cute candy cane
embellishments?

Using just two colours of Fimo (polymer clay) in Red and White and a little amount of thin
red ribbon, you can brighten up your cards easily using just a handful of materials.

In this tutorial we’ve used a lovely card from Sainsbury’s.

STEP 1.

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Roll out two strips of clay approx 7cms long
and 0.5cms thick. Trim off the ends.

STEP 2.

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Place your clay strips next to each other and wrap
around each other by gently twisting them from
one end. Roll them out so there are no bumps or
obvious separations.

STEP 3.

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Shape your clay into the candy cane shape!
Bake your clay according to the instructions on
the packet.

STEP 4.

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Once baked, tie a small bow using thin ribbon
and glue onto the cane.

(I used this ribbon and also glossed my candy cane
with clay varnish – note this takes 24 hours to dry!)

STEP 5

Glue your candy cane onto your card, only use a small
amount so you can’t see the glue from the inside.

Ta-da! We think this penguin looks much happier
with his candy cane.

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What do you think? Have you been making your own
Christmas cards or adding to ones you’ve bought?
Let me know in the comments.

Speak soon and Merry Christmas!

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Helpful Tools To Support Your E-Commerce Store

Simple tips to help your online marketing…

Selling your own handmade items can be a profitable way to turn a hobby into a viable business – using the power of the Internet. But, as powerful as the World Wide Web may be, it’s hard to get noticed by potential customers when there are thousands of other people trying to get their attention too. Just how can you harness this to work for you and your business?

You may have the best products in the world, but  how can you successfully let the world know about it if everyone is shouting at once? If your potential customers don’t know you exist – they aren’t going to buy from you. Simple right? Maybe so. But, as simple as it seems – it is a very real problem that faces many independent crafters with online stores. Whether you’re selling bespoke gift cards or grunge jewellery – you need to find a successful marketing mix and use the right tools to help you along the way.

So, just how can you go from zero to hero with little-to-no budget to invest in online marketing? Using relevant tools and tech available to you, you can make the difference between your business flourishing or flopping. There is never a definitive answer when it comes down to marketing your own online business, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy. It needs to be as unique as your business is. You may be an expert in your craft, but have no clue about successful marketing. So what do you need to do?

There are 5 points that you should address even before you decide to set up shop – and they all start with a ‘W’. They may seem obvious, but you may be surprised at the amount of questions these points then generate themselves. The 5 ‘W’s’ should act as core business questions, and you need to ensure you can answer each one to lay solid foundations before you add in a marketing strategy. So, let’s take a deeper look into what they each mean;

WHAT?

What are you going to be selling? Identify the type of products that you want to stock, and set them to a theme that matches your brand. If you’re selling jewellery, for example, do all of your pieces fall into a general theme? If not, perhaps you should consider setting up collections. If you sell one off pieces, why not focus your brand around you as a designer? Establish a tone for your business.

TIP – Take a notepad and a pen and begin to draw what you think your business would like like if it was a person. Are they serious? Glam? Quirky? This can be a fun little exercise to also help determine who you’re going to be selling to. Which takes us to…

WHO?

Who are you expecting to want to buy your product? How old are they? What is their income? Are they likely to be tech savvy – would they have a Twitter account, or Instagram? Perhaps they’d be more likely to warm to a Facebook group. Identifying your target audience is crucial before you can start figuring out where you want to market your items. Do you have an awareness of the kind of messages these people will be receptive to? If you’re not a member of your target audience – chances are you won’t. You’ll need to research similar companies’ tactics to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.

WHERE?

Where will you be selling your items? Are you going to sell on a platform such as eBay or Etsy or do you intend to set up your own website? Perhaps you’ll need to employ web designers? There are pros and cons to both – and you need to accurately weigh them up before you make a concrete decision. Are you going to ship globally, or in a specific location? If you only ship to the UK, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t promoting to non-UK residents inadvertently. Are you going to focus on one particular Social Media channel, such as Facebook, or are you going to cast the net wider to cover 3 or 4?

WHEN?

When are you going to launch your store? When will you promote your items, and how long for? If you aren’t initially able to set up paid advertising, you won’t be able to choose targeting and times. Does this mean you are going to be more active during the night, or throughout the day?

WHY?

Why are you going to do the above? What will be the results? For example, if you decide you want to use Instagram – is this because you believe your target audience are actively looking to purchase on there, or just for brand awareness? Any time you invest into promoting your business should be justified. Make sure you have targets in mind for every element of promotion that you choose.

Top Tech Tools

Knowing how to use Social Media, send emails, and take photographs is just the tip of the iceberg. How can you maximise on all of these skills and turn them into money-makers? Here’s a few of my favourite tools to get yourself marketing your online store.
All of these are free for basic versions, which should be more than enough whilst you test them out.

1. Email: MailChimp

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In this day and age, email is one of the top methods businesses use to get in touch with their customers – not only is it quick, it is also cost effective. You’re probably signed up to some of your favourite store’s emails’ yourself – what attracts you to them? Have you ever made a purchase directly from an email? What would make you remove yourself? These are questions you need to consider when creating your own email campaigns. Building a mailing list and sending out exclusive offers, new product info and news can be great to drive sales. But there are cons, too.

You don’t want thousands of people on your list who probably won’t go on to purchase – quality is everything. Offer an incentive for people to join your list. This could be a percentage off their first order, or a free delivery code. This way only the people who would consider themselves as potential customers will join your list. Giveaways are quite popular to entice people to sign up to a mailing list – but is this really going to attract relevant people? You want these people to stay on your list and ultimately, make a purchase.

MailChimp is a powerful, yet simple to use, email marketing platform. For a beginner, it is perfect. You can have up to 1,000 subscribers before you have to pay a subscription fee – which should be more than enough for you to get started and start to see the results.

MailChimp uses a simple step-by-step process to get your emails set up. When you’re producing the email, it’s simple drag and drop editor is the perfect set up for even a beginner to use.  Here’s a couple of screenshots with a test email showing the initial set up page and the editor in action.

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2. Photography: PicCollage (App)

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piccollage-main-home-screen-settings-120618You don’t need to be a trained photographer to take photographs that sell products. Most smartphones these days have a more than adequate camera quality, at least for when you’re starting out! Play around with what you have and read up on how to get the best results.

Product photography may work for your website images, but you need to go one step further to stand out on Social Media. One of my favourite apps is PicCollage, it’s a simple yet effective app allowing you to combine multiple images together, clip out sections of your images to create ‘stickers’, add text – and much more. The free version does add a subtle watermark, however you can turn this off by paying $1.99 (around £1.27) which I’d recommend. There’s a cheeky way around paying this which involves simultaneously pressing two buttons on your phone – but I wouldn’t want to encourage that…

This app is brilliant if you’re planning on using Instagram, but also helps create pretty visuals that people will want to engage with for other Social Media channels.

Get it here for iPhone and iPad
or here for Android devices.

3. Workload Management – Trello

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Running your own business can leave you rushed off your feet. With so many things to manage, it’s easy to forget things that need to be done. This is where Trello steps in and makes everything a breeze. Trello is a dashboard that lets you set up tasks in handy ‘to-do’ list styles. You can open up these task cards and add notes, dates (it will alert you if the deadline is running out), and even invite other people to join the list.

This can make organising your workload much easier, and even works for your home life too. I’ve used it to collect recipes, shopping lists, voucher codes and more. It’s completely free to use. Here’s a little look at one of my ‘boards’ and how you could make it work for you. Handy, huh?

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Although running an online business can be difficult at the best of times, hopefully putting some of these things into place will help you achieve success in your venture. Don’t be disheartened if certain things don’t work for you – tried and tested is always the most reliable method. Keep on moving forward with your marketing efforts and you’re sure to see the rewards!

Are there any tools you currently use that aren’t on this list?
Drop me a comment below!

Speak to you all soon,

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Add a little glamour to your fave bag…

Handbag charms are a great way of changing the look of your favourite bag without having to fork out for a new one. Inexpensive and reasonably simple to make, you can create a whole range of handmade charms to clip on and off as you please! In this 5 Minute Make we’ll be using gorgeous rainbow Pyrite beads…

I’ve not stopped using Pyrite nugget beads in my designs since they arrived a few weeks ago – because they are just so gorgeous! They have a glittering spectrum of colours which really come out when they catch the light. The best part? These are totally natural and haven’t been coated to give them a faux effect.

For this handbag charm I’ve only use a handful of  materials to come out with a really pretty end piece.

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You will need:

Pyrite Nugget Beads
Beading Wire or Illusion Cord
(Turquoise) Size 11 Seed Beads
Heart Lobster Clasp
Leather Tassel
Crimp Beads
Flat Nose Pliers

Step 1. Crimp a 30cms length of wire onto the Heart Toggle Clasp (squash the bead flat and flush to the clasp).
Trim any excess wire.

Step 2. Thread on your Pyrite Nuggets and Seed Beads in the pattern 1 x Pyrite, 1 x Seed Bead. Add until you have approximately 15 beads in total, finishing on a Pyrite bead.

Step 3. Crimp the other end of the wire onto the tassel and trim any excess wire.

And that’s it! In less than 5 minutes you can create a really pretty charm to attach to any metal findings on your favourite handbag. If your handbag only had thick handles, you may wish to purchase a large ring to then attach your handbag charm onto.

This is just one design – the possibilities really are endless and you can have lots of fun matching yours to your favourite handbag or outfit!

Why not create one using a Gold Tassel and use Swarovski Bicone beads for a real glam gift?

Love this design? Leave me a comment below.

See you soon!

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Your Exclusive Invitation…

Beads Direct & Swarovski Elements are delighted to invite you to the sparkliest event of the year…

For a limited time only we will be coming together to bring Beads Direct customers, familiar and new,
a beautiful myriad of daily festive fun. ’12 Days of Crystal’ launches on December 1st at 10am (GMT).

From giveaways, to exclusive products and tutorials through to
competitions – this is the event you do not want to miss.

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Make sure you visit our Facebook page on November 20th for our pre-launch celebration
with all the info you’ll need to know.

Are you a busy bee but don’t want to miss out on anything?
Sign up to the exclusive 12 Days of Crystal mailing list and
we’ll keep you posted with all the latest about the event…