Posted: Thu 29th Sep 2011
**"I thought my life could be more effective with monkeys," says Emma Maudsley wryly." I was working full-time managing a coffee shop and I'm a single mum raising two kids. Every night it was get home, put the kids to bed, make a monkey then go to bed myself. Then do it all again the next day.**Â "There was no quality of life," the founder of the Sock Monkey EmporiumÂ in Lancaster declares. "There's this ethos that you can do it all, but I thought 'Hang on a minute!'. So I decided to give up my job and make monkeys full-time. I'm not making a fortune, but it's picking up every day."Â Emma's commitment to monkeys (and assorted other colourful creatures) is proving to be a fruitful decision. Though she only started making sock monkeys in July 2010, she's already supplying two shops, shipping monkeys all over the world ("It's just normal now," she remarks) and doing in-store demonstrations for Hobbycraft. Emma's also due to make an appearance at the Oscars - or, at least, her business card is. This is where Fund101Â comes in.Â "I'm a member of The Artisan Group, based in America," Emma explains. "They promote artisans across the world and they participate in the GBK Gift Lounges held prior to big awards ceremonies. That's where nominees and other celebrities are invited to come along and meet the sponsors and organisers who then gift them items - usually an example of their products.Â "The Artisan Group gift 'swag bags' with handcrafted items made by an array of artisans. Â They've just done the GBK Emmys Gift Lounge and they're now doing events before the Golden Globes and the Oscars. My business cards will go into the swag bags given by The Artisan Group at the GBK Oscars Gift Lounge. My lowly little business card will get picked out and they'll say 'That's good. I'd like a monkey'.Â "That's why they need to have an impact," she adds. "I'm hoping to get them done with a felt finish so they are quite tactile and feel different from the other business cards."Â Emma also plans to spend her Â£500 from Fund101 on a camera to take good product shots for online marketplaces such as Etsy and Facebook. "A lot of people on Etsy have very professional-looking shots," she notes. "If you want to sell big league, you need to look like you can compete!"Â It's not just monkeys she'll be photographing either. "I made six giraffes, yesterday. I make cats, rabbits, anything really. I've even made a camouflage squid - I had to work out how to get eight long legs out a sock"¦"Â But that's another story. For Emma, whose enterprise started as a source of extra income to raise money for a car, monkeys really have made her life more effective. "Now I get to take my daughters to school and meet all the other mums in the playground," she says cheerily. "And I get to spend time with my kids after school. I'm a lot happier for it."Â
"It was predominantly Facebook," she explains. "And I've got just over 400 TwitterÂ followers, too. The Artisan Group were very helpful and a lot voted for me. I asked mums in the school playground, people at craft fairs. I'm involved in guiding, too, so I asked people there."Â
"Onwards and upwards. I've got to get through the ever increasing Christmas order list. Then I anticipate January and February will be quieter so it'll be a chance to stock up. I'd like a couple more shops, too - somewhere in the Lakes or the Peak District, and I'd also like to make a portfolio to hand out to shops. I've got a 12-month plan - my youngest will be going to school next September, so I'll make a decision then about whether to carry on as I am."