Paula Gorry, UK Business Development Manager, Stampin’ Up! UK explains how starting a part-time creative business could be your window back into the world of work.
One of the most important criteria for mums hoping to return to work is a job that offers flexible working hours. But with the cost of childcare continuing to rise and an increasingly competitive job market, it is becoming ever more challenging for mums to find work suitable to their needs.
In these circumstances, more and more women are finding that their ideal solution lies in direct selling. Direct selling is the UK’s largest provider of part-time work, with over 400,000 individuals currently involved in Britain. The industry contributes around £2 billion to the UK economy each year (1).
In simple terms, direct selling is where goods are sold directly to consumers outside a fixed retail environment like a shop. This model means that the seller is given greater flexibility when running their business. Parents in particular benefit from the freedom of choosing exactly how much time and effort they devote to building their business.
This entrepreneurial phenomenon harks back to the days of the Avon lady, when the concept of women at work was far from the norm. And the success of direct sales since gives testament to the entrepreneurial prowess of women. Direct selling companies in the UK now range from cosmetics to cook wear and beyond.
In particular, the continued growth of the crafting industry has provided the perfect window into the world of direct selling for many creative entrepreneurs. In the UK, the estimated number of contemporary craft making businesses stands at 23,050 with an estimated total income of £457 million (2). Meanwhile popular television shows such as The Great British Sewing Bee have paved the way for a handicraft revolution.
Suffice to say that crafting has come a long way since its origins in the “make do and mend” era. It is now commonplace to see groups of people of all ages knitting or crafting together for social as well as practical reasons.
Turning crafting into a direct selling opportunity offers the chance for many mums to combine their enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit with a flexible and effective employment model.
Traditionally direct sellers offer their products to friends and neighbours in their homes but choosing a craft-based business can widen the scope. As well as parties, there is also ample opportunity for Stampin Up demonstrators to share their newly developed skills by holding regular classes and local events.
Direct selling can be the ideal part-time work solution for many, but for parents exploring their direct selling options, the most important aspect is to pick a product you feel passionate about. Crafting is something that many mums find both therapeutic and invigorating and they relish opportunity to share their passion with others.
(1) Figures from the Direct Sales Association
(2) Crafts Council, ‘Craft in an Age of Change: Summary report’, February 2012