This is the year penguins will fly.

Posts tagged “money

New Year, New Start.

I know this is something which is said every year, but for the first time I feel like it is actually true for me.

This year will be so much bigger and better than last year and it really will be a new start! I’ve just moved house, far bigger and better than the last place and I actually have a place I can call an office (I will have to take photographs soon!). After 2 years I finally seem to have a way out of the day job, which was only meant to be temporary in the first place, and seem to have bagged a job which actually excites me and makes me happy to go to work. And I’m more determined than ever to make The Penguin Theory a success.

Last year i’m afraid I only managed to reach one of my goals, but luckily I think that goal will be crucial for success this year. I am finally a lot more organised than I’ve ever been in my life, keeping to deadlines, sorting out paperwork, keeping notes in my diary. There is still a lot of improvement to be done but i don’t think myself or my family have ever seen or expected me to be quite so diligent.

I thought I should have some goals for this year as well, but this time maybe actually manage more than one. I decided to narrow it down to 5 big goals of things that definitely have to happen.

1) Make The Penguin Theory more successful 

Regularly update my blog and other social media. make an item and/or go on a photography adventure every week. Make more sales on Etsy and at craft fairs. I don’t have to be living off it (although that would be nice) but i definitely want to make visible progress.

2) Get a Job I actually enjoy

I need a day job to fund my penguin theory adventures (unfortunately) but whilst I can’t survive of The Penguin Theory for the moment, I should at least be in a job I enjoy. My current job was never meant to be permanent and yet i’ve been there for almost two years.  It’s time to move on to something I can look forward to everyday and I think I may have already found it! A couple of months ago I worked at Legoland for a week and loved every second of it. It’s a longer commute but so much more enjoyable which makes it an obvious choice for me. Not only are the hours more regular but they’re actually during the day!  The only problem is that Legoland closes for a few months every year as a lot of the rides cannot be operated during the winter months. I am still trying to decide if I should keep the pub job for 1 day a week so that I can definitely have work in the winter or just to quit altogether and hope that I can find a temp job or make enough money through penguin theory for the winter months.

3) Go travelling

I want to go on holiday and explore somewhere I haven’t been before. In all honesty even somewhere in the UK would be fine, but it would be amazing to go abroad.

4) Enter Wildlife Photographer of the Year

It’s something I’ve always been fascinated with and in these last few months i’ve realised that I really do love to take photographs. I’ve always followed Wildlife Photographer of the Year and seen the exhibitions whenever possible. This year I’m determined to enter. It doesn’t matter if I don’t win, or even get a mention, I just need to try.  I will most definitely be viewing the exhibition at the Natural History museum this year as well.

5) Pay off Debts and Start Saving

I wont lie, the end of this year has been horrendous money wise. Ash, unfortunately, had to leave university as we couldn’t afford for him to continue and with this difficult time in the job market he had to rely on me for a few months, the problem being that minimum wage is barely enough to cover my costs. Luckily I had a lot of savings but they are completely wiped now and we’ve even had to borrow money from my mum and our housemates. But now that Ash has, not one but two jobs ,we are slowly paying everyone back and can hopefully build up some savings between us again.

So did you reach your goals for last year and what are your goals for this year?


Vandem Freeride 2013

A few weeks ago I went to an event in Exeter. It was a downhill longboarding event called Vandem Freeride. I didn’t actually take part in it as I don’t think I would be able to keep myself safe but was there taking pictures for a girls sports mag called Boardettes (you can find their facebook page here).  Ash, however, did take part along with some other members of our skating group.

Pre Skate warm up

The event was run over two days, thats two whole days of skating down a steep hill with no worry of cars.  Skater heaven.

There were hay bails on the sharp corners to stop people hurting themselves too badly and at the end to make sure they stopped before the road that hadn’t been closed off.  A bus would then take skaters from the bottom to the top of the hill again.

The start line

There were marshalls at all the corners making sure the skaters were aware of any unseen dangers by waving coloured flags and the skaters we’re scattered at the start line, a group going off after every horn that sounded.

The hill itself went on for longer than you would expect and catered for the experienced riders, bombing it as fast as they could, to the less experienced, who started slow whilst they gained the confidence.  It is quite possible to reach high speeds though, most skaters we’re hitting around 30-40mph but the top speed recorded was around 47mph!

Some crazy people even luged down the course!

There were several places you could sit and watch from the sides and there was a really nice atmosphere amongst the spectators. I was sat with another one of the skaters girlfriends and friend who is also called Clare. It was really nice to have some girly time for once and to have someone to sit with too!

Lots of sliding to slow down

Sitting at the bottom of the hill was great as everyone who came of the course had the biggest grin on their face and would immediately highfive each other and talk about the run before sprinting to the bus for another run.

Some added to the fun by dressing up!

Lots of skaters were colour co-ordinated

Later that night we retreated back to Skirmish Paintball Centre which was on the road that had been closed off and had been rented out so we could camp there. They serve hot food which was excellent, they had the usual greasy burgers and chips but then they also had pizza and chilli which were delicious!

That night there was a party complete with heavy metal, dubstep, table dancing, a massive bonfire and even cake! Skaters really do know how to party!

Yes, there was even a mosh pit.

We didn’t drink anything, due to lack of money and not wanting to be hung over, but we still had a great time watching everyones antics.  A lot of the skaters found it fun to jump over the big bonfire.  But don’t worry even when a few didn’t quite make it over, there was a surge forwards to drag out any failures. No injuries, maybe just a few singed eyebrows and bruised egos.

The fire jumping also made for some great shots!

Because what’s a party without cake?

The next day we noticed a huge improvement in all of our friends riding.  Milan (the other Clare’s boyfriend) and Ash were both managing to pick up more speed and getting lower to the ground.

Ash and Milan after coming down the hill. Ash said he felt like he was going to throw up when this was taken.

As you can tell, Ash was sporting some Penguin Theory clothing! I made him a t-shirt and printed on an old jumper as well as printing on one of my t-shirts. I’m hoping to make more soon for my shop. I have lots of different designs in mind!

We also had a friend who was meant to be skating Vandem but unfortunately broke his leg and ankle in several places a couple of weeks before. We decided we would write him a nice message in chalk and I managed to get a few good pictures of people sliding over it.

Get Well Stel!

The whole event was really well run. They made sure that crashes were kept to a minimum, there was great communication between marshalls, when there were bad crashes the marshalls were quick to react, the paintball centre was a great idea and everyone was having a lot of fun. Seriously great job by the team and we will definitely be going next year! Hopefully I will feel confident enough to skate it by then!

Dat Slide…

One of the tamer crashes…

All in all it was a great weekend with some great company. I will have more posts soon focussing on the fashion side of skating including an interview or two so stay tuned for that!

‘Till next time!


How not to sell at a craft fair

Welcome to the new launch of my blog!

It even comes with some fancy new banners on mondays, thursdays and Saturdays!

Monday is now the ‘Back to work’section of my blog and will be here to help you and I learn how to do well in our careers. From finding a job, to promotions and even running your own business!

This first instalment will cover an aspect of the crafting business, that I am obviously interested in, craft fairs.

Craft fairs are essential to any maker as they seem to be the best way to make money and are able to reach a wide and local customer circle.

Yesterday was my first real craft fair and, although not a complete failure, there are definitely a lot of improvements needed to be made.

This instalment will take examples from the fair I attended yesterday and give you tips on how not to run your stall.

1. Get everything ready before hand

By everything I mean everything. Have all of it packed up and ready to go the night before at the latest. In my defence I was pretty ill and worked a 14hr shift the night before, but I ended forgetting to take a few important things (such as my info poster, carrier bags and even half my stock!).

Save yourself the panic of trying to get everything together that morning because you will definitely forget something.

2. Think about the little details.

Everything from decorations to levels and even packaging. You need to make it look and feel professional.

A large sheet to cover the table is a must! Also play with arranging boxes under the sheets to create different levels and to add a bit of interest. Try and think of exciting ways to display your products, little bowls, stands or anything you can hang your items from. As you can tell from my images I forgot to pack those kinds of things and so had trouble really arranging my stall. It didn’t look the neatest it could have done but I don’t think it looked terrible. I will definitely think more about how I can really show off my items.

You also need to think about what you’re going to do if you make a sale. Customers will expect a bag at the very least. If you want to think about wrapping you products as well that’s also a good idea.

3. Take someone else with you

Craft fairs usually last a few hours and there’s not really a point when you can leave your stall unattended.  You will most likely need the toilet and/or food whilst there and so will need to leave your stall at some point. Plus it’s always fun to go have a look around at the other stalls and spend too much money see what they have for sale, maybe swap a few business cards.

If you can’t get anyone to keep you company you should definitely pack yourself some drinks and snacks. Usually you will be able to ask the stall next door to just keep an eye on your table whilst you nip to the loo at least.

Unfortunately I couldn’t take anyone with me and forgot food and so was feeling pretty rough by the end of the day, especially as I was ill as well.

4. Have a varied stock

Don’t just cater to one price bracket. Have smaller, cheaper objects as well as the larger/more expensive ones. It’s always good to have something kids can spend their pocket money on, or adults can buy without worrying about how much money they will have left. With smaller objects it will be a lot easier to make more sales, how ever you should still have some more expensive items as then one or two sales could cover the cost of the table. The table next to me had lots of little items and sold a lot of products, I had forgotten all my smaller products and didn’t make my first sale until a couple of hours before closing.

5. Be polite and engaging 

If work in sales and retail has taught me anything, it’s that if you’re smiley and engage the customer in conversation they will ultimately feel welcomed and be much more open to spending money. Think about it, would you buy from a grumpy stall holder who didn’t really seem interested in your custom?  Of course not! Engage the customer in conversation, ask them how their day is, if they’re enjoying the fair, talk about yourself and explain your products and what makes them special. Take an interest in the customer and they will take an interest in you.

6. Business Cards

A lot of people might not buy on the day but might want something later on. Take business cards and hand them out as often as possible. I was a little slow on the up take with mine, I just kept forgetting about them. But there were a couple of potential customers who seemed really interested in commission pieces. If they do get back to me it’s possible I can make back all the money I spent on my stall!

Plus business cards are useful to swap with other crafters. You can keep in the loop together letting each other know of  upcoming craft fairs, advertising each others wares and generally giving each other support.

7. Change

Always always always have a float. People will be paying money for things, if you don’t have enough change to give them you may well lose a sale. Deciding how much money to take is hard and really depends on the event and your prices. I took £30. £10 in pound coins and the rest in £5 notes.

8. Multi-buy Deals

Everyone loves a deal and, if it doesn’t mean you’re under selling yourself, there is no reason why you can’t have one on your stall. Maybe you have some little hair grips that are £3 each. Why don’t you sell 2 for £5? It shouldn’t affect your price so much that you will lose out and more people are likely to end up buying a second hair grip that they wouldn’t have necessarily have bought before! Of course these deals aren’t for every shop, but it’s a good way to get a few more sales under your belt.

9. Offer Solutions

If someone wants one of your items but isn’t sure, why don’t you offer your services to create one that suits them perfectly? I had one woman want my cupcake apron but it was too small for the child. She almost bought my pink and brown striped apron but wasn’t sure if the child would like it as much. I said I could make her the cupcake apron in a larger size if she wanted and gave her my email. I  missed out on doing this with a few other people which could have resulted in more sales, if not on the day then at least in future.

10. Enjoy yourself

I was a bit mopey all day due to my insides trying to fight to get out, but sitting there and looking bored is not going to attract customers. Sure you’re sat there for a long time and it can get boring, but at least don’t let everyone else know you’re bored. Maybe take some work to do with you. The table next to me were busy sewing little ornaments whilst running their stall and got quite a few good comments about it. People like to see the artist at work and it means you can add even more stock to your table.  Of course not every craft will allow you to do this in which case you’ll have to find some other way to keep yourself amused.

I have a lot to do before my next craft fair and a lot more stock to make. I did manage two sales though and handed quite a few business cards so hopefully I will see interest in my products picking up in the next few weeks.

For now though it’s time to keep sewing and planning for my next craft fair!

‘Till Next Time!


Another Job Search Begins

I’ve decided that once this craft fair is done I will be looking for a new job.

I need more regular hours, I need better pay and I need to feel like my needs are taken into account.

Thats not to say I don’t like my job and the people there and they don’t look after us (most of the time), but I have been thinking of leaving for a while and last night I felt like I really didn’t want to be there.

In all honesty the main reasons I’m leaving are because of money (especially now we’re hiring more staff and my shifts are going back down to 20hrs from working 40+ hrs) and because I’m finding the constant change in my sleep pattern is taking it’s toll.

I would like spare money to put aside so that I can afford holidays and other nice things, I would like to have a routine to my day so I feel I can be more productive. This job allows neither of these things and so I know I need to look for fresh new pastures.

The thing that has tipped me over the edge though from it being a ‘I should, but I like it here’ to a ‘Yep, I need to leave now’ is the fact that it’s so hard to book any time off. I know it’s probably because we’re so understaffed for the moment so not really my bosses fault, but I never seem to be able to book any time off. Sure I had my trip to China, but i’d told them about that in my interview and so they knew about that before I even started and knew there’d be no way for me to work. I’ve only tried booking time off twice since and both times the rota has been changed a couple of days before making it hard to find cover or even cancel the thing I was booked off for (or at least cancel with a chance of getting my money back).

This time I’d booked off this sunday for the Frost Fair in North Finchley I will be attending. I’ve put down money on a table and with 2 days notice there would be no chance of me getting money back and would have created a pretty bad name for myself with my first big craft fair.

I spent my whole shift last night trying to figure out a way to get it covered and asked everyone I could, but they all had good reasons as to why they couldn’t cover. Eventually one of the new staff agreed to swap. She’s now doing my day shift and I’m doing her close down (pretty good swap for her! Everyone hates closing down).

However this does mean I’ll be working a finish on Saturday (so wont be home until about 2 or 3am), getting up at 8 for the frost fair and then doing another finish that night. I might not be functioning at my best but I will just man up and deal with it.

I think i’m just getting tired of this job in all honesty. I love the people, I love the sociable aspect, but i’m just tired. Constantly tired.

I would like to find a new job in something creative, maybe in a small shop, or in a theatre. Sure they might not pay much better, but at least the hours might be a bit better suited (i.e. no 3am finishes as well as 8am starts). Plus I think i’d have more time to put into this Penguin Theory, or at least I’d spend less time procrastinating through tiredness (as of now it is nearly 1pm and I’ve done nothing on my list of things to do for sunday).

So if anyone out there is looking for an assistant, a receptionist, a saleswoman, even a coffee maker in London/North London. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. All I ask is that there will be no early morning finishes! (at least not on a regular basis)

‘Till next time!


Exciting News for my Boyfriend

Recently money’s been extremely tight, i’m only working roughly 20 hours a week minimum wage and my boyfriend can’t seem to get a job no matter how hard he tries, although he’s good at getting interviews for jobs he’s not completely qualified for surprisingly. When we first met he was in his first year of University and I was in my last, he quit his course though as he didn’t really enjoy it, I don’t think it was exactly what he was expecting.

Since then he’s been working at a sales job, basically being one of those annoying people who come to your door and try to sell you insulation. He didn’t really enjoy it and the long hours (he would usually work 10 to 12 hours in a day if not more) to make little to no money were just draining him. We knew he just couldn’t keep it up any longer. He decided to quit so he would have time to look for a new job, but hasn’t really had any luck.

Then he started thinking about university again. Maybe there’s a course more suitable out there? He began looking and almost immediately found a course right by us which sounds like exactly what he wanted to do in the first place! Unfortunately by this time applications had already closed and so we had to wait until clearing started. Luckily we heard that his course would be available when clearing opened so then it was a mad rush to get all his UCAS and Student Finance things filled in asap, followed by waiting. A lot of waiting.

Eventually it was time to ring up for clearance. The first day they were having trouble with their lines, he couldn’t get through. Then there was a bank holiday and so they were closed. It was so frustrating just having to sit and wait, not knowing if the course would be filled up or not.

Then yesterday he tried again. He kept ringing and ringing but the phone lines were busy and every time he managed to get through he’d give some of his details before being accidentally cut off! At one point he was left on hold for 40 minutes only to be cut off when the person came back…We were really not very impressed by this point.

When he eventually managed to get through again it went a lot faster. The guy on the other end seemed a lot more competent than the one who had left him on hold for 40 minutes! I tensely watched Ash’s face during the conversation until i heard ‘That’s great thank you!’ and saw probably the biggest smile i’d ever seen on his face.

After he hung up i asked ‘Well?’

His reply: ‘I got in’

It was so much of a relief, after so long just having to wait and so many annoyances and things seemingly going wrong. Now we just have to wait for the offer to come through on ucas and for Student Loans to confirm.

So as of October Ash will be enrolled on ‘Internet Application Development BSC’ (or to you and me – web development).

We celebrated by buying chocolate bars.

‘Till next time!


Pyjama Parties and Market Stalls

This weekend I ended up staying over at my boyfriends bosses house. He was having a ‘pyjama’ party with lots of games and alcohol and invited us both. (Quite a big thing for Ashley  as not many people are usually invited over to his bosses house) The job seems to be going well for him at the moment and he’s improving a lot. He thinks he might have made nearly £300 last week (pretty big thing with it all being commission based), hopefully he can keep up this good streak and doesn’t get many cancellations. I have my fingers crossed that he can work his way up to management soon.

The night was really fun, I had lots of drunken girly chats and we played lots of fun games and became very tiddly. In the morning we woke up and all watched team america, a film that never fails to make me laugh. Then Ash and I wondered off to the delights of Brick lane for some lunch. We had some lovely curries and a nice little chat to the friendly people on the table next to us. Then we went to the nearby market hall, for ‘research’. They had some lovely stalls, but as I was there for research I didn’t allow myself to buy anything. I spotted some little earrings in a bargain bin that were just adorable! I really wanted them but just couldn’t justify buying them despite them being reduced and really not expensive at all. Luckily Ash noticed how much I wanted them and decided to buy them for me. I was so happy! Sure they didn’t cost much, but just the fact they were a present from him has made me really happy.

Cute little earrings.

The rest of the day was spent giggling, visiting his parents and giggling some more. We haven’t had a giggle like that in ages and it was really nice to finally spend some time together (without being stressed out or ill).

Oh and I of course sent some flowers over for my mother on Mothers day. A big bouquet for being amazing and always supporting my sister and I when ever we’ve needed it. She’s really been a rock in this last week and I hope she realises how much I appreciate her. She definitely appreciated the flowers and claimed to have teared up a bit when she received them.

Flowers for Mum

Until next time!

Claire x


Exciting Times Leave no Time to Blog

So I haven’t blogged in far too long, but things have been, well, hectic.

I’ve been searching for flats in London for the boyfriend and I to move into. I managed to find one gorgeous (yet small) flat in the north and have put a deposit down on it. We’re hoping to move very soon, just having to sort out the paper work (which has been very stressful).

Should be living here very soon!

I’ve also been working with a sales and marketing company temporarily. It’s taught me a lot about how to sell my own projects and hopefully will help me gain a few sales. Unfortunately I’ve had to leave after my mother refused to be a guarantor for the flat unless one of us had a regular paid job (we were both earning by commission so i understand her worries). I went for a few interviews around and finally managed to get a job in a Weatherspoons, just a 10minute bus ride away from our new flat! I’ve always wanted to be a barmaid at least for a little bit! The only problem is that now I will probably be earning less money, definitely not enough to cover expenses, and so we are, unwillingly, looking into receiving some housing benefits to help us along for the time being. I am also  considering keeping up the sales job on my days off as well, but this is depending on another exciting development in the form of a stall for my crafts!

My sisters-boyfriends-mother also does crafty things (making some amazing aprons like this one: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200727530177?ssPageName=STRK%3AMESOX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1559.l2649#ht_1441wt_1348) and was thinking of opening a stall in camden market. However she lives in the north and so would need someone to run it for her. That is where i come in, she’s asked if I can run it for her and in return i will be able to place some of my items along side hers. Obviously i jumped at the chance to say yes but it could be a while before all the logistics are figured out and I know if it’s really going to go ahead.

In other news, i’ve been celebrating my sisters birthday. We went to watch Les Miserables, then had a nice posh meal before going out for some drinks. I would have loved to stay out longer but the last train back to Essex was 12:40 and I really didn’t want to sleep on the floor. I also made her present, my first ever clothing item! It didn’t exactly go to plan and wasn’t really the best thing ever, I definitely feel I should buy her something to make up for it. At least i’ve learnt for next time, a bit more practice and it should be fine i’m sure.

Today i have been making things again for the first time in weeks! I had a brainwave with an old brcelet i never wear and started making some earrings. However i’m a little unsure of how to finish them off…I know what i want, just not how to do it.

I also started my first tiara which isn’t turning out too badly, but could be better. I think it needs more of the pretty stones on it.

Not the best photo’s i know, but my camera is re-charging.

Hopefully my next blog will be sooner, but, as we’re expecting being able to move any day now that might not be the case.

Until next time!

Stay happy!

Claire x


Getting Organised

I’ve had a busy few weeks including going to V Fest and Amsterdam.

Needless to say lots of monies have been spent, now I should probably get round to making some.

V fest was amazing. Saw some amazing artists and just generally had an awesome time! Would totally go again!

Dancing at V

My bag served me well, but alas after a weekend of carrying my (and my friends) life around, it was definitely beaten. I think this was mainly due to the fact i can’t seem to find any strengthening stuff to iron on the inside before sewing. That would have definitely made a world of difference. But my lesson has been learnt before making any more big bags.

Literally a few days later i was jetting off to Amsterdam. Obviously fun and messy times were had there. We rode bikes, drove a boat, got extremely lost, went to the zoo, went to the vodka museum, looked at hookers. Was hilariously awesome. Good good times.

Riding the bike that made me feel like a Queen.

Since i came back I’ve been busy spamming my jewellery every where so as to try and sell some. This includes:

Making a facebook page

Updating my Tumblr

And being a lot more active on the craft forums i was a member of.

[/shameless plug]

I’ve also been making lots of little bags similar to this one:

Now if you buy some thing from me now it will come in something similar to this 🙂

Speaking of selling. I’ve now moved to folksy, being british and all that. Just thought it would be easier as the conversions kept messing things up and was getting pretty annoying.

I have 3 items on there already. More will follow soon.

Oh also, today I went to the first of the acting work shops. We we’re meant to have got an email explaining that we needed a short exert to perform, but alas the email doesn’t seem to have made it to my inbox, and I wasn’t the only one. Luckily i just used inspiration from the last piece I performed at Uni, I couldn’t remember exactly what I said in it, so it was nothing alike, just a similar character. I think it went ok.

Till next time!

Stay happy!


Not a lot to say…

Got up early this morning to go the the dentist, this time i didn’t miss my appointment. I was pretty lucky they could fit me in before i go back to uni really.

Anyhoo, I must have spent less than a minute in that chair and it’s cost me £16.50. Dentist are such rip offs.

Cheered up when i got home and found that I got £100 back from the tax on my pension. And then went to work and got paid loads because of working a lot, particularly on the bank holidays after christmas. Now just to get the money my housemates owe me and i’ll be rolling in it!

Well as ‘rolling in it’ as a student can be without winning the lottery…

Anyways, nothing else particularly interesting has happened today so i better go and pack ready for my 2 1/2 hour drive down to Bedford tomorrow. Fun times! :/

Lets hope i have more to write about tomorrow…