A talented group of crafty people gathered in a local hall recently to prove hobbies can turn into businesses that can help beat the credit crunch.
Times are tough for everyone at the moment, but the people who filled the 25 stalls in Grangemouth’s Bowhouse Community Centre on a Saturday afternoon earlier this summer are not giving into financial hardship - instead they are using the skills they have learned from pastimes to supplement their income or earn some much-needed cash for a rainy day.
The stallholders have been making everything from “nappycakes” to sock monkeys, cute crochet clothing to handmade designer handbags, scuba diving cards, jewellery and lots more.
Organised by Mhairi Skene, also the boss of Bubbalicious Bath Candy, the Saturday fair could become a regular feature if there is enough demand.
Mhairi said: “I had been going to craft fairs myself for about a year and I thought I would try to organise one of my own in Grangemouth. I really want to try and get a monthly fair going here.
“There aren’t a lot of interesting things like this happening in Grangemouth.”
Mhairi began creating her own range of soaps to initially help her own condition.
She said: “I’ve had eczema since birth and a lot of soap products on the market just weren’t helping, so I thought I would try to make my own.
“It’s a great feeling when you make something that someone else wants to buy - you look at it and say, I made that.”
Two fledgling firms who were making their craft fair debuts were Caroline Nappycake - which takes everyday practical baby items and presents them in the shape of a decorative cake - and Sockritturz - which makes a wide selection of crazy, colourful stuffed animals out of pairs of socks.
Here are some of the other crafty people who filled the community centre:
Sandra Cunningham, from Camelon, is a craft fair regular and admits there is hardly a weekend in the year when she is not out selling her crochet creations.
She said: “I started doing this a couple of years ago when I was off work for eight weeks.
“It definitely helped me get on with my life.”
As her confidence and skills grew Sandra turned her hobby into a business - but she still gets a lot of fun out of making her clothes and attending the fairs.
“Craft fairs are very social events,” she said.
“You meet new people all the time and Facebook is full of people on the craft scene.”
One woman used the skills she had picked up to set up her own bag making firm - Lapion Handbags - going it alone as boss of her own business with help from her family.
Mike and Elizabeth Hayes, from Tillicoultry, sell decorative driftwood and beautiful framed photographs.
“We needed something to occupy our minds when we retired,” said Mike. “It’s still just a hobby really - I take my camera everywhere with me.”
Rosie Ballantyne, from Grangemouth, made up wedding invitations for her daughter’s wedding.
She did such a good job family and friends soon started asking her to create cards and invitations for them and Rosie’s Creations was born.
She said: “This is my first craft fair and I’ve had people giving me orders for cards. In the past I’ve had a request to make a special scuba diving card for someone.”
Anne Graham, from Carronshore, was a talented artist until she suffered a stroke which made painting difficult. She began designing cards during her recovery and admitted she is now “hooked” on the craft.
“I just enjoy creating things,” she said.
Lorraine Brown started up her own Crafty Cakes business after taking part in cake decoration course. She said: “People started asking me to make cakes for them - I’ve always loved baking since I was at school. I get a lot of orders online from Facebook but I go to craft fairs to get the company name out there into people’s minds.”
Davina Stables, from Airth, has been making her own clothes for years and her speciality is aprons. People say I spend too much time sewing, but I love it,” she laughed.
Mhairi has already organised her next Bowhouse Community Centre craft fair, which will take place on Saturday, October 13. If anyone wants to book a stall they can call her on 07881273465.