Member of the Month: Becky Ackerman

Member of the Month: Becky Ackerman
Becky Ackerman
Becky AckermanI Do Handmade Ltd

Posted: Wed 27th Mar 2024

Congratulations to our Member of the Month for March, Becky Ackerman, founder of the pop-up business, I Do Handmade.

Becky has over eight years of experience managing events and comms in the corporate world. After being made redundant in 2018, she grew her side hustle business full-time. 

Since then, I Do Handmade has been popping up in corporate and commercial spaces, hosting markets and events. She explains:

Me and my business are on a mission to encourage the nation to shop small, creating opportunities for small businesses to pop up with us at our markets, events and creative workshops. 
We work with corporate and commercial organisations to host pop-up markets and events for their staff or clients, using our directory of thousands of small businesses. We do this all in a bid to bring a little fun to the workplace and improve morale, while supporting small businesses and giving their products and services the attention they deserve. 

Were you always entrepreneurial?  

I was always playing hotels and shops and building my own business as a little one. I remember for my sixth birthday, I wanted a proper shop till, not a toy one.

In my teenage years, I was selling my toys on The Swap Shop where you’d get credits and I loved the concept. You could make a business out of this. I then started at uni, where I used to buy products and sell them on eBay for a higher price.

It has always been in my subconscious and I've had various businesses over the years. I have dabbled in different things. When I see a problem, I like fixing it by creating a business to solve that problem.

I've been in business for about 11 years and it has transitioned over the years.

How did the idea for the business come about? 

We started decorating weddings after my wedding. I handmade all the décor, which led to I Do Handmade. Then we started teaching others how to make things in craft workshops.

Then COVID hit, so we had to cancel all the workshops and convert them into kits for people to buy.

I was looking for places to sell the kits and reached out to Westfield Shopping Centre to rent a kiosk, but it was so expensive. So, I asked if I could share it with someone and put an advert on Facebook.

About 180 businesses ended up wanting to share the space. I went back to Westfield with a proposal to create a market vibe and turn it into a flexible arrangement, where someone could be there one day and someone else another. We had a go and that became The Westfield Pop that we did.

I sold out and then did another. After advertising, we sold out 300 stalls in about 48 hours. The business came about organically and in the end, I didn't have a stall to sell my products because it turned into a business operation.

At the time someone from ITV walked past and asked if we could organise their Christmas market. And that is how we expanded into doing markets for corporates. Since then we have done markets at Lakeside Shopping Centre, Westfield Stratford and even Waterloo Station. It is about creating opportunities for small businesses to try and trade in these difficult-to-rent locations.


How is your mum involved in the business?

I know everyone cannot run a business with their mum but we run it together. She isn’t involved in the logistics but helps with guiding, wisdom and decision-making on how and when to do things. She helps with setting up the events and does some admin in the background. She is my right-hand gal and sounding board.

How do you deal with a difference in approach?

We both say our thoughts and opinions openly. I know that she is for me and not against me. I know that every bone in her body is not to harm. So that is a natural foundation that any opinion is always coming from a good place.

It's never an issue and if there is one, we chat it through and move on. It's never been a problem, but some friendships don't have that honesty and integrity. I'm just very fortunate.

How do you choose businesses for a pop-up? 

We generally work with handmade makers, creators and artists. Products that are unique and difficult to find and hard to source, things that you don't normally get on the high street.

It is a first come, first serve type situation when we've got hundreds of people applying but at the same time they have to fit the build, which is that the products are handmade. We make sure there’s no clashing of products and a mix of jewellery, stationery, beauty so there's a bit for everybody.

What are some of the challenges given the current economic climate?

People aren't spending their money in the same way as they were. It's a real hustle of a sale to try and catch people's attention, create enough interest and then convert that conversation into a sale. It's really challenging for businesses.

I believe there's space for everyone but there are also lots of businesses out there now. There are lots of jewellers and candle makers, it's just about how to stand out. So that's quite challenging if you are a small business owner.

The challenge for us is that there are only a few of us and we want to do more events. We're doing the Ideal Home Show this year in Scotland and London and I am struggling as I need to expand my team. It is about figuring out how to scale and grow.

I Do Handmade Founder, Becky with 4 other small business owners at Waterloo pop-up

What’s next for the business? 

We don’t do handmade stuff anymore, but we are branching out. We recently launched a platform called The Hub, where we have collated hundreds of opportunities into one place. This includes PR alerts from journalists or shops looking for stockists, there are hundreds of markets and opportunities across the UK. This way small businesses don't need to do the searching as it is in one place.

We do pop-ups as well but as part of being a member of the platform, they get first access to our events. We started to have wait lists for our events as we have a business directory of 2500.

We're creating an online membership community alongside setting up pop-ups and helping businesses set up their own pop-ups.

I am looking forward to the Ideal Home Show in Scotland in May and the Christmas one in London and there are still spaces available, although it is more expensive.

And we are also working on a programme that will help businesses take the leap into full-time self-employment.  

When did you first come across Enterprise Nation?

I would say halfway through last year, I started to see more things being published and was invited to the StartUp Show. We have now started to plug more Enterprise Nation events into The Hub.

It is such a great place, there is so much content and little nuggets of information. A recent example was the very helpful budget summary. I didn’t even read the news, I just read that.

Also, being on stage at StartUp Show was great exposure for me and the business.

Want to be part of the Enterprise Nation community like Becky? Sign up for free or upgrade to adviser membership.

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Becky Ackerman
Becky AckermanI Do Handmade Ltd
I'm Becky and I run I Do Handmade. We help create big opportunities for small businesses. We host popup shops, workshops, networking events and an online community platform all designed to helped grow peoples businesses.

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