On the up · 19 June 2018

Crafty Arts: The Essex family-run business supplying discounted arts and crafts

The owners of Crafty Arts and recent winners of the Family Business of the Year Awards talk about how the second-generation push the business forward.

Jay Necati is the son of Crafty Arts founders and now is instrumental in the running of the close-knit company.

Business Advice caught up with Necati to find out about the back story and what makes it unique.

Who are you and what is your business?

My name is Jay Necati and I am the second generation of the Crafty Arts family. Crafty Arts is a supplier of creative products and teacher of how to use those products.

How did you come up with the concept?

My parents opened the first shop in 1991. My mum was a sign writer and wrote signs for companies like Fortum & Masons. Whereas my dad used to work for BT, he was business minded and she was very creative and so that was the perfect combination to start a creative business.

Both myself and my dad saw a change in the market and I decided to start the online side of the business in 2000 from home and on the weekends as my background was web designing. This was set up while I was working for a web design agency. This was a more of an informational site at first. In 2007, I decided to run the online side of the business full time upstairs in the Brentwood store. Crafty Arts began to grow rapidly. Fast forward to 2018 Crafty Arts is predominantly online, with a shop front and a Creative Hub where we help people express their creativity.

What was key in terms of getting started?

I think the key was having a concept and running with it. Very often we make a plan and it is years in the making. Sometimes we need to make a plan run with it and keep tweaking that concept as we go along.

What makes the business unique?

Crafty Arts is a family business and it is important for us to show this throughout. Whether it’s the day to day contact with 

our staff and customers to putting a sweet in every parcel.

Another thing that makes us unique is that we know our products, every employee that comes into contact with our customers has knowledge and understanding of our products. We have certain employees that specialises in specialist areas, so we are able to tap into their knowledge.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?

Learning the business and building new relationships and confidence with suppliers and our bank. Having an understanding of which suppliers wanted to help us grow our business and which suppliers that just wanted to sell us products and not be bothered if it sold. Ultimately business is about working together to grow the business.

What’s your biggest achievement to date?

In 2016 we celebrated our 25th Anniversary and we are proud to have hit that mile stone and are continuing to grow from strength to strength.

Describe your marketing technique – what strategies have you used?

It’s important to have more than one strategies, here are a few that we use at Crafty Arts.

  • Paid Per Click, it is important to widen your search through both organic and paid search.
  • Social Media is massive, it is everywhere and should be utilised through posting and paid adverts.
  • Seasonal Marketing, depending on what area of business that you are in. You will find that certain seasons work better than others.
  • Email Marketing, it’s important to have contact with your subscriber’s whether it is informational, promotions, news or events.

In five years’ time, I will be…

Known as a key online retailer in the Creative industry. We have some exciting plans for the next five years, we will be celebrating our 30th year anniversary. We are aiming to expand the business in different areas and grow the brand.

Who are your business heroes and why?

One of my business heroes would be Richard Branson because he is a multi-talented entrepreneur. I think the reason why he is successful is that he isn’t afraid to fail. He is also great at delegating, which is something that I am currently working on. I remember reading an article where he said: “The best bit of advice I think I can give to any manager of a company is find somebody better than yourself to do the day-to-day running.” This has stuck with me and will continue to do so.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

If you believe in your product or service, work on and in your business. The day to day is important, but so is the progression of your business. The success of your business is down to you and your team.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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