Searching illustrated design by Kathy Hare, beautiful card by Dena.

Searching searching, surfing and searching ...................I am always looking for new undiscovered talent.
It has given me great pleasure over the past 3 years to invite SAHM's to illustrate for Sugar Nellie. I too was a WAHM (work at home mum) and it was my only escape from watching kids TV and nursery school runs. I still put in more hours at home than I do in the House Of Sugar and with a manic house full of children, pets, sales men and farmers, sometimes I "need" to go to the office if you know what I mean.
Sugar Nellie was a very small business which came about purely by chance and a lot of lucky, we were in the right place at the right time.
The boom in cute children's stamps started in Sweden before taking over the world of stamping. At one point there were on a few companies who specialised in cute kids but now I can not even count them  as there are so many the market is beyond saturated.
Digi has opened up a new format for stampers but clip art has been around for ever, the instant fix is good but nothing is better than inking and stamping. Which ever format you choose, quality of artwork counts more than format.
Things change very fast in our world, craft is now very much influenced by fashion and up to the minuet trends. Something can be popular for such a short time that it is scary to watch the trends come and go. The Big Guys, have their own style and do not follow the trends as much but stick to what they know works well for them, they are committed to be here next year and do not want to fall foul of fashion trends.

I have no formal training in this field, I was a crafter just like you and my inexperience and trust has no doubt caused a few issues, but my instinct has proven to be my best tool in this business.
Sugar Nellie is still a very small business, with no employees and just a few hours on the computer a week, I manage it the best I can. Cutting up rubber and packing it is where the time is spent and even then there are weeks where we have no rubber deliveries at all.
 It is very often the case that the business you see online is in fact nothing like reality, it cost very little to have an all singing and dancing web site but work it from a kitchen table. I myself have been surprised to see the real business behind a web site in the past and never fall into the trap of judging a business by its web site , that's my new take on "judging a book by its cover".

The standard of acceptable artwork for stamps has changed much in the last 3 years, customers are far more fussy now about which stamps they work with, its a reflection of themselves what stamps they use on their cards and with everyone watching what they spend it is important the the customer feels that they received the best illustrations to work with and they have an amazing amount of companies to choose from. The customers is King or in this case Queen.

The best part of my "job" is the excitement of launching a new range, some artist we name others we don't but I have found what I have been looking for and am so excited about it, its been a long time and  lot of searching but in the true words of a song "I have found what I'm looking for".
It will be a delight to launch our new artist in late September and watch as you all fall in love with her images, watch also as her etsy shop becomes busy and no doubt other opportunities will come her way. And yes before you ask she does draw boys LOL! i am thinking about lots of ways to promote this range and the artist, in the past we have always used magazines as a launching pad to get the new stamps seen, the web site and our DT. This new range may see the need to increase our DT as we will again have a regular supply of new designs to tempt you with. But first I have to come up with a name, today I am thinking Sassy Girls but tomorrow I might have changed my mind again.

But as one door opens another closes, Sugar Nellie stamps are sold online by Funkykits, our catalogue is now full of 3 years worth of stamps and it's time to let some of our older stamps retire, they have done their job but its time to make room for the new and out with the old. Funkykits will be reducing selected ranges in the near future, watch out for a bargain.

But for now its goodbye from me and I hope that today the sun shines on you.



Jane said...

Oooooo it all sounds very exciting...I can't wait!

Elaine said...

You've got me all excited this morning! I can't wait to see what you've got up your sleeve, and I shall look forward to seeing the new designer and her new images.
I know digital images have a huge following and yes, they do offer instant gratification with no waiting for the postie but I much prefer the the old fashioned ink and rubber. And Funky Kits is so fast with their shipping I find I have my order within a day or two.
I undertand what you're saying about smaller business's (I work for a small business myself) but for me that wins hands down because you still retain the personal touch, and you still care what the customer wants.
I shall be eargerly awaiting new rubber!
Love Elaine xx

Stefanie said...

I think you are doing a great job (from behind that kitchen table LOL!). Looking forward to see your new artist's work!!

Carol said...

Oooo how exciting Karen! If you're looking for any more dt members I'm putting my hand up in advance lol! Luv your stamps. Please feel free to browse my blog and see if my style of work is something that you would be interested in. Lotsa luv xxxx

Judy's Crafty Moments said...

Great post Karen!! fab to hera about you and how your started off! Please let us know which stamps are going to retire so we can get then before they are gone forever :((

Excited about the future with Sugar Nellie....always something good around the corner!

Have a great day!

My 2 hours peace is now to go collect the little 'un. Time flies when you are surfin'.

Judy xx

Suzi said...

I really enjoyed reading about you and the stamp industry and you've got me intrigued with what's to come. Don't tease us for too long. lol. Will look out for the wee lovelies that are coming up in the sale at Funky Kits. I've more than likely got them all, but they make great Candy gifts.

Suzi x

Paula said...

I've hung on every word Karen - circumstances beyond my control mean I have to stay at home & & don't get out much BUT SN was the catalyst for my discovery of colouring, blogs, challenges etc...... & that has given me direction & encouragement. I had one SN image from the Craft Stamper - won a second in a blog hop & entered every single SN challenge I could until I won 3 more & I sold my languishing Cricut to buy a Strimmer for my husband & some Gorjuss Girls for me. I am taking tentative steps but the encouragement & camaraderie I have found through the SN forums & another Challenge blog (again the catalyst was a SN DT member) continues to inspire & help me to focus on what I CAN do not what I cannot.

I leave it up to you Karen whether you wish to publish this comment or delete it. There are other members of the SN wider team who also continue to influence me greatly.

With much love & enormous gratitude.
Paula (PEP)

Max said...

Hi Karen, sadly no sunshine here ... only grey skies for the moment. Nothing new there though.
Enjoyed reading your post today and very much agree with a lot of your points.
It's true that success in business is often a simple case of being in the right place at the right time, but you also need to have a good idea in the first place ... recognise it as an opportunity and have the confidence & determination to seize the chance to follow it through. You MUST accept those points as facts and take full credit for Sugar Nellie's success!
We crafter's are definitely more fussy nowadays and demand high quality supplies and good value for money. No longer will we be 'fobbed off' with sub-standard products, (eg glues that don't stick, poor quality card/paper or stamps that don't give a clean impression), as we have had to in the past. We vote with our purses and if we feel let down or disappointed, will simply buy elsewhere. Not only that but we will tell others if we have had shoddy service or a bad experience and that can be very damaging ... not just to the small companies either. The flip side of that though is that we also promote good products and praise companies who care about their customers.
As for digi ... it has it's place in craftland but will NEVER take over from stamping with ink in my opinion - not for me anyway.
Maybe if I had an all-singing, all-dancing top of the range printer, I would feel differently but ours is a tad elderly and can be unpredictable in it's performance which can be frustrating.
Anyway, better leave some room for everyone else to reply *blush* ... am looking forward to the launch of your new artist next month and if they appeal to my taste and finances are healthy enough then I may be tempted.

Max's Craft Creations
Bah! Humbug! Challenges DT

Carole said...

Wonderful news Karen - so pleased that you have found what you are looking for.
I can't wait to see - and buy - your new stamps!
Carole x

Sharon Keanly said...

What an absolutely interesting read. I cannot believe that all this work is done from behind your kitchen table! Wow, you rock girl! I take my hat off to you. I'll be watching for further news re those 'soon to be' retired stamps. Love the Sugar Nellies and if you'd like to view my work, please visit me at Should my work appeal to you, I wouldn't mind being considered for a DT post, when the need arises. Hugs Sharon x

Juls said...

Hi Karen,

Great post....I am definatly a fan of rubber over digi (although I do own a few) when all is said and done I love to get inky...and there is so much more you can do with a stamp!!!

your new collection sounds fab and exciting I cannot wait to see the images..i konw I will be very tempted, you always get it just right!!!

I think you provide the best everything you do, part of the reason why I drive all the way through to Elgin, to buy boxes and boxes of white card!!!!!! LOL!!

Hugs Juls

weewiccababe said...

well I learned lots I dodn't know about you there Karen, nice to learn about the boss. Am all excited about these new stamps, need more room to store them all though lol

Riet said...

What a beautiful card Karen,I love the image and the colours.
So gorgeous papers.

Hugs Riet.xx

Kim@ScrapDragon said...

Oh no! You cant retire some of the lovely Nellies! they are all dear friends of mine.

Deb said...

hope you give us some sneak peeks, can't wait to see the Sassy girls or whatever you decide to call them, I like the sound of Sassy girls, have a couple of them living in this house! hugs Debx

debra said...

fantastic,i cant wait will be watching you.
hugs Debra

Gayle said...

Ok Mum...

Having seen the new artist, I am so excited I may actually wet myself...but realy not sure about the name 'Sassy Girls' will get thinking cap about Gallus Girls??? C'mon, we are after all Scottish!!!

Sure I can think up some can blam me if people think the names are weird!!!

Luv ya

G x

Julye said...

This all sounds intriging and exciting , oh and I love girls with a bit of spunk and boys with attitude too. Hope I get lots of pennies for my birthday for some of those retiring stamps as I didn't find you long ago and I have such a long wish list but love the excitment of new images too. Don't keep us in suspenders( sorry my way of saying suspense) for too long will you.

Alex said...

Looking forward to seeing the new artist and BOYS :). Sad to see things retire, but understand it and will be watching to be certain I don't permanently miss out on a wish list item!!!

Danielle Daws said...

Wow, that was really interesting reading. I really did assume that Sugar Nellie was a much bigger business. It makes my little collection of stamps all the more valuable, knowing how much time and care has gone into it all! Thankyou!