Today’s special guest is Bridget Gallagher. Bridget is the brains – and beauty – behind HoneyBridge House.
Bridget is one of the kindest people I have ever met and I can totally recommend her as a workshop leader. If you fancy learning a new skill, get in touch with Bridget!
Tell us about HoneyBridge House, Bridget.
I set up HoneyBridge House back in April 2016 making hand-made books.
I began with Heartlines, a decorative book of love poems written by my husband Harry Gallagher and full of handmade papers and embellishments. I then progressed to making a range of hand-made journals and notebooks but I soon discovered that the stationery market is a hard one to crack, so I turned my hand to running workshops showing people how to make their own books instead.
I then started offering workshops in a whole variety of different crafts, but have eventually realised that it’s much more enjoyable specialising in just one or two, so the majority of my current sessions are focused on knitting and crochet.
As I don’t have premises of my own, I run the HoneyBridge House classes from a couple of local shops – Re-Create Today in Whitley Bay, and Black Cat Yarns in Morpeth, and I’ve recently started offering 1-2-1 and small group sessions in peoples’ homes.
What inspired it?
I’ve always loved crafts since being a young girl when my mum taught me how to knit. Over the years I’ve tried my hand at all sorts, from basket making to decoupage, lace-making to macramé and just love the feeling of creating something from scratch.
I set the business up when I’d left teaching and was working as a PA. I wasn’t getting much job satisfaction so, with the support of my husband, it seemed the time was right to see if I could make a go of turning my hobby into a business. I can honestly say I’ve never worked so hard in my life, and working for yourself can be quite lonely sometimes, but I love it.
Teaching someone to craft is a real privilege and I feel extremely lucky to do what I do.
What’s been your favourite assignment and why?
I think one of my favourite moments was teaching my mum to crochet last year. Mum taught me to knit as a young girl but she’s never been able to crochet, so it was lovely for me to be able to teach her a craft in return.
How do you choose what workshops to run?
Knitting and Crochet have become really popular again in recent years, so I always offer a range of complete beginners’ sessions as lots of people are keen to learn. In addition I’ll have a range of seasonal projects (such as Christmas stockings or Easter wreaths) but I also like to teach folk different techniques like Fair Isle, knitting in the round, corner to corner crochet, that they can use in other projects too.
I’m always open to suggestions for new workshops and I run one off workshops as well as 4 – 6 week courses.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and who it was from?
When I first set up HoneyBridge House, I went along to the Business Factory in North Shields and had a session with one of the advisers there, Janice Ross. Janice has given me some great advice since we first met, but perhaps the most useful tip was to always plan ahead. For example, I had to make sure that I’d made the Christmas projects I’m teaching this year way back in July so that I’d have enough time to photograph them and advertise the sessions. I have a planner with key events marked on for the coming year so that I can see at a glance what I need to be working on.
What can participants expect when they attend a workshop?
Anyone coming along to a HoneyBridge House workshop can expect to learn whilst having fun! All the materials and equipment are provided, so you don’t need to bring anything with you (other than reading glasses if you need them) and there’s always plenty of tea/coffee and cake to help you along. I’m known for my patience and understand that everyone picks things up at different speeds. There’s no need to feel stressed and worry about keeping up with everyone else. You’ll go home having had a relaxing time with like-minded people and a beautiful hand-crafted item into the bargain.
Have you got any advice for aspiring crafters?
If there’s a particular craft you fancy trying, I would definitely recommend attending a workshop. There are so many people out there offering tasters in so many different crafts. It’s an ideal way to try something without having to spend a fortune on all the equipment and materials. If you like it, then great, but if not you haven’t wasted your money.
What do you like and dislike about running workshops?
I absolutely love getting to meet so many different people and hearing their stories. It’s wonderful to hear people say how relaxing they find the sessions, and how lovely it is to just be able to switch off from everything else for a few hours and have some ‘me’ time which is often so difficult to come by nowadays. I always get a buzz from helping folk learn new skills and create beautiful objects.
The only thing I don’t particularly enjoy is the marketing side of things. I’ve been surprised at just how long it takes setting up events on Facebook and keeping the website up to date. I’m gradually getting to grips with it all though and have attended several of the free sessions run by the Business Factory which are really helpful.
What’s your favourite HoneyBridge House moment?
It’s hard to pick one moment in particular.
What I really love is when people come in who are nervous and say that they’re not very creative, but over the course of the workshop they relax and end up making something gorgeous that they’re really proud of. There was a lovely lady who came along to a workshop recently to make a proggy heart to give as a present for her new granddaughter. She was really unsure about what colours to choose, but not only did she create a beautiful heart, she then went on to embellish the picture and framed it. The finished result was a truly unique gift that she was delighted with, and it was something her granddaughter will hopefully treasure for years to come.
I love it when people send me photos of what they’ve made too!
Whilst I don’t enjoy marketing, I do love the weekly ‘Where Is HoneyB?’ challenges on the HoneyBridge House Facebook page. HoneyB is the HoneyBridge House mascot, and each week I post a photo of her in a mystery location. The first person who correctly identifies that location wins themselves a personalised verse written by the lovely HoneyB herself! Mr HoneyB and I have great fun taking her on our travels and photographing her. To-date she’s been to various locations in England, Scotland, Ireland and France – who knows where she’ll end up next?!
How do people book?
Bookings can be made via my website, www.honeybridgehouse.co.uk, or directly at the workshop venues.
I’m busy putting together the Spring schedule of workshops and courses and will be updating my FB page and website shortly with all the details.
I’m also keen to increase the number of 1-2-1 sessions that I’ve started doing. Often folk would like to come along to a workshop, but can’t make the day or time, so I now offer a service where I will go along to someone’s house and teach them at a time to suit them.
Something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the past few months is my ’52 and Thrifty Too!’ project. Basically, I realised that I had acquired far too much in the way of yarn, fabric, buttons, ribbons, beads etc and needed to do something about it before it completely took over! I decided to set myself a target of using my stash to make 52 projects in 52 weeks without spending any more than £52. I’m definitely a bit behind at the minute, but I’m determined to get back on track in the New Year. I’m chronicling my progress in my blog so you can see how I’m doing and have a go at some of the projects too as I post details of how I make each one. As always, I love to see photos of what other folk have made!