From craft teacher to hobby empire: ‘I am very precise’

On the table in the conservatory of the Apeldoorn villa, where Marianne Design lives, are sketches, drawings and plastic containers with samples. It is the collection under construction for September. And no, he must not be in the picture. “Otherwise, it will be on AliExpress before it’s even in stores here,” says founder Marianne Perlot (68).

Handicraft teacher at trade fair school

It is indicative of how times have changed for her business. “My first book was published in 1989: Making decorative dolls of fabric and thread. 160,000 copies were sold in a short time. Everyone had such a doll hanging in a glass ball,” says Perlot. The publisher was thrilled and asked her to write another one.

In the years that followed, dozens of books by her came out with the most diverse craft and hobby ideas. “In total, nearly a million copies have been sold,” Perlot says. “At first I also worked as a craft teacher at the trade fair school here in Apeldoorn. And I was a notary clerk. I stopped after the first book to focus on writing full time.”

The booklets were a springboard for Perlot to start his own company. She worked for years with two wholesalers for whom she designed hobby products. She received royalties on these designs and the associated booklets. “Those collaborations have become more and more loose. I now supply to fifteen wholesalers. Four in the Netherlands, the rest worldwide: Canada, Australia, South Africa.”

Nice stitching

The products she supplies range from cut sheets and cut templates to transparent stamps, templates and printed paper. You will not see them in shopping buckets or on Action, Perlot says. “I do not sell to buyers. If I have stock left over, I make goodie bags for merchants. I refuse to be in such a white bookstore. Gucci is not in Hema either.”

Over the years, she has introduced hobbyists to Holland with all sorts of techniques. Ornare for example: dot with a finger dot, but not for eye-hand coordination, but to get a nice pattern. “Many people can not prick very nicely, so I made metal stencils with the holes already in. The needle could only go one way and it gave a very nice pattern.”

In the 1990s, she had a special team of volunteers for this, who held demonstration evenings in hobby shops. Perlot provided the materials, the store owner gave them a coupon or money. “They loved it,” Perlot recalls. “Now all this can be done via a video on the internet. Like asking questions. We have such an enthusiastic crowd of fans that we rarely have to answer questions on our Facebook page ourselves. They even dive.”

She has not published the booklets with patterns, examples and techniques for a long time. “It’s all been taken over by the internet. Blogging, vlogging. We still have a magazine that comes out four times a year. You used to spend days browsing fairs, now everything is online.”

You can throw away a greeting card

With Marianne Design, she now focuses on greeting cards, in all possible variations. “A big painting, embroidery, pillows: fun to make, but who do you give it all to? And who wants to keep all that? But a greeting card, you’re done with it after a few weeks, and it’s legitimate to ‘throw it away’ gone. Nobody cares. “

Each month, she releases about 25 new designs and products. “People have often invested in their hobby articles for years, I try to build on that. That a design from, for example, three or four years ago also fits well with it. Many things remain good, metal templates do not wear out. So quickly.”

She still designs a small part of the collection herself, and she also works with a number of freelance designers. It was a conscious choice, Perlot says. “If you do your own thing in all those years, it remains: your own thing. I have preferences, a certain style, at some point you have to expand it. I can not do everything with a long shot.”

No penalty for working

‘Her’ self-employed are given great freedom. “I really do not intend to check everything or ask for an explanation if they waive a certain number of hours for their work. I also do not want to argue for hours about their hourly rate. What are you worth? That’s what you get. Unless they send invoices for eighty hours send the week. It’s not possible, they never lose that much time. “

Perlot still works four days a week. “I’ve been looking for one day less work since I was sixty, but it has not happened yet. I certainly do not think it is a punishment to work; it still makes me very happy that I can stimulate and inspire people.”

Crafts connect people

She employs three people, including her daughter-in-law. “She started updating and maintaining the website, but now she’s also involved in everything. And she’s very precise, just like me. We have a lot of hats on together: purchasing, sales, accounting. I have all logistics outsourced, though. It costs a little, but my core business comes with new things. I do not have time for that anymore, if I have to do it next door too. “

Needlework teaches you to think creatively, Perlot says. “Because you have to settle for what you have. It’s not wrong to be able to do something with your hands. Many people look down on it, but if you can not hang a painting because you do not know tools, where are you?”

It gives many people a meaning in their everyday lives, she adds. “So many people who are stuck at home who can’t work but who have so much fun keeping their blog learning techniques from other people too. It connects people when a hobby means so much to you.”

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