Carol Horsington makes and sells beautiful products from home grown willow, and also endeavours to share her skills in basket making and willow work, by teaching workshops. Carol was kind enough to do a little interview with us, so that we could give you an insight into her world of willow. Have a read below to fin out about Carol and her willow business.
My name is Carol Horsington and I run a business called Cornish Willow. I grow willow and make baskets and other willow products such as plant supports and decorations. I also teach basketmaking classes.
How did you first come up with such an original idea?
“Basket making had been a hobby for many years but in 2014 I took redundancy from my work and decided to turn my hobby into a business.”
Is there any legislation or hoops you’ve had to jump through to get where you are?
“Apart from the normal legal aspects of running a small business there haven’t been any problems. I did spend a day a week training with an experienced basketmaker. There is no formal qualification to become a basketmaker so you are very much dependant on expanding your skills by learning from others.”
How long has your venture been going?
“I started Cornish Willow in 2014.”
Do you have a favourite product or one that you think sums up what your business is about?
“I love making baskets from willow that I have grown and harvested myself. I don’t have a favourite basket but log baskets and shopping baskets are always popular. I also like making plant supports as they are so useful in the garden.”
Do you attend craft fairs to sell you work? If not, how do you sell?
“I do attend craft fairs but have found it harder to sell at these in the last few years. Perhaps it is the economic climate. I also have a website which puts you in contact with a wide audience. People often pick up your card at a fair and will contact you some time afterwards when they want a basket.”
Have you found success with certain aspects of marketing more than others?
“The website has been very successful but also word of mouth is important. Magazine or newspaper coverage is also effective. “
Is there an achievement or new product you would like to shout about?
” This year we are opening a small shop at our farm. We will sell the meat that my partner, Dave, produces, my willow products and also barbeque charcoal. All products that we make or produce at Treovis Cross Farm.”
Where can we find you? Facebook, twitter, website etc?
” www.cornishwillow.co.uk and also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cornish-Willow/508862252481486 “
If you could offer any words of wisdom to other people just starting out in the craft world, what would they be?
“In your own mind be clear about what you want to achieve and stick to your aims. If you love what you do then people can see this and appreciate your products. The difficult part is making it pay. I have found networking with other basketmakers and craft people important, both for support and just a friendly chat when things don’t go so well. I have met some lovely people since I started my business and I may not earn lots of money but it has been a privilege.”