Now I am not a natural speaker and find it easier to hide behind a screen typing than being in front of one or even speaking in person. However when I was asked to be on the show it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. I accepted the offer straight away.
I have to admit from when I accepted the offer until last night when I stepped into that studio I have been so on edge and nerves were seeping in. On the way to the studio my heart was pumping so fast with anxiety and nerves it felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. I had to give myself a stern pep talk in the car to try and relax a bit and stop worrying before going inside.
In the waiting room I was sat listening to Charlie live on the radio interview someone else feeling the butterflies in my tummy start swirling. I was texting Dino saying how nervous I was and he was trying to reassure me I would be fine.
Once I walked into the studio and met with Charlie I felt so much better he was so nice and friendly. As soon as we began talking I relaxed completely and started to feel a bit more confident. It is amazing how quickly fear and anxiety can disappear when you take on those fears.
Charlie was very easy to talk to and genuinely interested in finding out more about me, my blog and children’s books, being interview on BBC radio turned out to be an enjoyable experience.
In the end the interview went really well, I was able to answer all the questions without hesitating or mumbling and got to promote both my blog and my children’s books to the radio audience.
I was on such a high afterwards and buzzing from the experience. I am so glad that I accepted the invitation and pushed through the anxiety to show up and talk on the radio. The accomplishment of being interviewed over the radio will stay with me for a long time, it is an amazing achievement that I am so thank full for the opportunity.
“Everything you have ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear”. George Addair
I am honoured to be interviewing the inspirational Katie Silverthorne who is a best selling author and also the owner of a thriving business called Memory Zoo.
I have read Katie’s story a few times now from the bestselling book Mumpreneur on Fire 4 and every time I have read it I am blown away by how determined and positive she is in the face of suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. In spite of her health she has built up her business Memory Zoo where she turns old baby clothes or clothes from someone that has passed away in to beautiful handmade keepsakes. Her business has gone from strength to strength and she now employees 3 other seamstresses to help with the demand.
Tell us a bit about you?
I am originally from London but now live outside Bristol. I am married with one child and a lovely big dog. I love to sew, knit, crochet, write and generally create anything and everything. The whole family is very creative, and we have a lot of fun making terrible messes!
I also love walking – especially in woodlands or up in the hills. I find it soothing, relaxing, stimulating and enlightening all at the same time. It’s complete nourishment for the soul.
What inspired you to start making Memory Bears?
Initially, I made a bear for my daughter when she was 1-years-old. I was folding away all her baby clothes and putting them into a box in the attic. I couldn’t bear to see them disappear forever and never be seen again, so I made a memory bear to remember her baby days.
What is your favourite part of your business?
My favourite part is training my seamstresses – I am so incredibly proud of them and the work they do. They really are brilliant! I also love creating something for my customers that I know they are going to absolutely love. It’s such a thrill to see so many of the items I have made, so loved. I am particularly fond of the cushions that I make in honour of someone who has passed away – it’s such a privilege to be entrusted with something so special.
How do you manage your MS around your business and motherhood?
I’ve had MS for 15 years now, but I am continually learning and developing. My needs have changed over the years and so has my approach to dealing with it. To start with, I have realised that alcohol, sugar, late nights and stress play a role in how ‘bad’ my MS becomes at any given time. I am therefore careful about my diet and often say ‘no’ to late nights. This means that I have the energy to do the things that are genuinely important to me – going for fun days out with my daughter, planning and creating new ideas for Memory Zoo, walking with the family.
I also have acupuncture twice a month to help deal with MS-related pain and fatigue. Oh, and never underestimate the importance of planning! Life is a balancing act but so is everyone’s. I just have a susceptible early warning system!
How did you feel when the book you co authored Mumpreneur on Fire 4 became a bestseller?
It was truly fabulous. I had never really talked about my MS before I wrote for MOF4, but now that I’ve started talking about it, I can’t stop! It seems to be so helpful to so many people, and I am so grateful that something that has shaped my life and made it a somewhat rocky journey can be an inspiration to others. That’s a fantastic feeling!
What plans do you have for the future?
So many plans! The first part of this year has been about making sure that the new systems I’ve been putting in place for Memory Zoo work and my seamstresses are trained, happy ans ready to go. I am currently narrating the audiobook version of MOF4 in my home studio which will be due out for release in the next few months. I have more audiobook work following after this as well, which is very exciting. I am also currently writing my full autobiography as 3000 words for the MOF4 chapter wasn’t really enough. There is so much more to say!
I am privileged to be interviewing the lovely Catherine Greer from Somerset who runs her own business called Cats Creation, where she makes the most amazing arm and hand knitted items as well as stone art decorations. She also runs classes to teach others how to arm knit and does all of this around her young son.
Tell us a bit about you?
I always loved making things at school and was often the only girl in the woodwork classes. This didn’t put me off though and I was often much better than the boys.
I wasn’t sure what to do after sixth form so I went to college to study my other love, horses. I spent three years studying equine studies and completed a animal science degree at Plymouth university.
After uni I still wasn’t sure which direction to go in so I ended up driving HGV lorries for a international horse transport company based in Wiltshire. I spent a year on the road, attending races, stud farms and equine events all over the UK and Europe. This took its toll on me so I left. Skipping ahead a few years I decided to apply and join Hampshire Constabulary as a PCSO. I worked here for four years and loved it but I really missed being in the country and wanted my life to slow down a bit. Working shifts meant that if I wasn’t working I was sleeping. I decided with my now husband that I wanted to move back to Somerset and live the ‘good’ life! We bought a house, renovated it and now live in it. We try and produce all our own vegetables in our garden and recently got some chickens. I love taking part in the local flower and vegetable shows with our produce and have sometimes brought home some metal.
I’m very keen to show my son how to grow his own vegetables and would love to see more people growing their own too. You can follow all my adventures on my Facebook page.
What inspired you to get into making hand knitted items and what made you decide to start a business selling them?
I got into arm knitting after trying to use knitting needles once. I got very frustrated with how long it took to make anything so I googled how to knit quickly (or something similar) and up popped a video demonstrating arm knitting. Let’s just say the rest is history! That was 6 years ago!
I’d always been involved in my friends Christmas fair and every year I used to find a product to make for it. One year I took snoods and sold out on the first day. This gave me the fuel to think I could make more and sell them properly.
If you had to pick one what would you say your favourite item you make is?
Snoods are definitely my favourite items to make. Even though I now make hundreds every year I still get great pleasure in knitting them and seeing people enjoy wearing them. I get very excited when I find a new wool too.
Don’t get me wrong I love knitting the luxury giant blankets and cushions too but snoods hold a special place in my heart.
Where do you get the inspiration from for new creations?
Most of the things I’ve ever made, I’ve made them because I either couldn’t find them on the market to buy or I couldn’t afford to buy them, So I’ve often just given them a go. Sometimes my mind gets a bit carried away with ideas but I love experimenting with different materials and products to see what happens.
Where do you want to see your business in the future?
I’ve only recently gone self employed and taken my business on full time. I would love to be able to continue to work from home to fit in around my son. In the future I would like to see my items and products in more shops across the country. I want to keep the handmade feel to my items so I want to keep sales at a manageable level without sourcing more staff. Hopefully I can achieve this and maintain it.
How do you manage your business around your son?
Up until recently I’ve only managed to work when my husband is around to look after our son or when my son is asleep in the evenings. He’s never allowed me to work during the day when it’s just the two of us so I gave up trying. I would spend the few hours in the evening knitting as much as I can whilst also promoting my items on social media. He has now started nursery a couple times a week so I’m using these periods to spend quality time in the HQ producing stock and completing orders.
Catherine is offering all readers a 10% discount on her products if you buy via herFacebook page using code simple1.
You can find Catherine’s beautiful handmade products by using the below links –
He is here to share with you an insight into children’s book publishing and how Blue Falcon Publishing can help authors get their children’s stories out into the world.
Tell us a bit about you and how you got started in the children’s publishing industry?
“My desire to write is very much rooted in my love of reading and writing a book is something that had been on ‘life’s list’ for many years!
Wanting to pass this love of books onto my children, I started to play with the idea of writing a children’s story. After completing a writing course, and after much coffee drinking and many screwed up pieces of A4, Escape from Nettle Farm (in its first incarnation) was complete! It then went through many painful re-writes and edits to get to the stage where I was ready to say, ‘Finished!’
I wanted to write something that would be fun and exciting for parents to read to children, or for children to read independently. I was delighted with the feedback – Escape from Nettle Farm was a finalist in the 2017 People’s Book Prize and received the Red Ribbon Award in the 2016 Wishing Shelf Book Awards. It was also reviewed by American magazine Story Monsters Inc – ‘Written well, and paced perfectly to keep young readers engaged.’
I had more books to share with the world, but my publishing experience hadn’t been brilliant. I wanted a publisher who gave a fair deal for the author (lower prices, good royalty rates, advertising post publication, etc.) I couldn’t find one, so I created one!
I published my second book through Blue Falcon – My Bunny, a rhyming picture book that was a finalist in the 2017 Wishing Shelf Awards. The process was so much better, and I decided I wanted to help other authors on their journey. I have since appointed a marketing director and we are currently working with 5 other authors. I have also just released Spy Danger, the second in the series to Escape from Nettle Farm – all since March this year!”
Can you tell us a bit more about Blue Falcon Publishing?
“Blue Falcon Publishing are a small, independent company based in Northamptonshire whose focus is the publishing of children’s fiction books to encourage precious family time reading. We are passionate about bringing together enchanting stories with phenomenal illustrations to inspire imaginations and encourage a love of books that will last a lifetime!”
What is the difference between Blue Falcon Publishing and traditional publishing and what can you offer authors?
“Our vision for the company is to give our authors the best possible experience. We offer contracts on a partnership basis, which means we occupy the space between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Put simply, the main difference between us and a traditional publishers is that as the author, you bear some of the financial risk of publishing your book. The reward for this is a fast, effective and professional service with very generous royalty shares – far higher than you would enjoy with a traditional publishing contract.”
What makes Blue Falcon Publishing stand out from other children’s publishers?
“We are working hard to build an exceptional brand reputation, and we take customer service very seriously. We believe that a satisfied customer is the best business plan of all, so we want our clients to be delighted with their experience. Another aspect of this is the quality of our books. We are selective about what we publish. We are not a self-publisher, and we seek reward and recognition for each title we take to print. To work with you we need to believe in your manuscript as much as you do.”
What are you looking for in the authors that come to you?
“We are looking for talented, self-motivated children’s authors who are ready to invest in their own success and make their dreams of becoming a published author a reality. If you think you have what it takes, you can find lots of information at www.bluefalconpublishing.co.uk or alternatively, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
What I have received from my service with Blue Falcon Publishing
The service and knowledge that I received from Blue Falcon Publishing was well worth the fee they charged. They have been amazing from start to finish helping me every step of the way and have always been on hand to ask any questions that I had. They also arranged for the very talented Stephanie Jayne to do the wonderful illustrations for my book ‘Pete the Cheeky Parakeet’.
Their service hasn’t stopped there either since my book was published in October they still keep me up-to-date on the sales process of my book and what they have been doing behind the scenes to help promote it. They have also been on hand to help me with marketing ideas and to contact local schools and shops on my behalf if needed.
Why not take a look at my other posts on inspirational people –