Welcome to a new feature of the Æthelmearc Gazette: SCA Shop Talk!
With gift-giving holidays coming and the pandemic making it hard for small businesses to survive, we thought it would be great to help support our merchants by getting the word out about their shops. We’ll post interviews with SCA merchants where we ask them about their businesses and the goods they sell.
If you are an SCA merchant and would like to be featured in a future column, please write to us at email@example.com.
Our first merchant is Lady Nichola Beese, of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands.
What’s the name of your shop?
Bee & Elephant
How long have you been in business (online or at events)?
Since June of 2019.
What website do you use? What do you like/dislike about selling through that venue?
Our shop is set up through Square Up. https://bee-and-elephant.square.site/
I find the software intuitive and user-friendly, which is a major consideration. And Square makes card readers and hardware that are very useful for in-person sales. The major downside is that they don’t take Paypal, which means tracking those transactions separately.
What kinds of goods are you selling?
Handmade parchment, inks, and hide glue. Custom sewing, fabric painting, and embroidery, everything from Birka caps to ornate livery coats to shirts for ten man teams. Handmade pottery, jewelry, scribal tools and supplies, animal bones and hides, and the odd vintage piece that catches my eye. I’m currently working on establishing a partnership with a local potter for some exclusive pieces, and am very excited to have a source for handmade girdle books.
What are your most popular products?
The parchment is by far our most popular item, I think because it is a consumable item. We also have a very popular scribal pigment kit for folks wanting to experiment with making their own paints, and our first original product, the leather-cover needle book, continues to be popular.
Are you also the artisan as well as the seller?
For a number of things, yes. All the parchment, glue, and inks are my work, and so is the custom sewing and embroidery, to this point.
Do any other artisans sell through your shop?
Least Weasel Weaving provides our narrow goods, and I am working on a new pottery line with Terru Ceramics.
Do you offer any kinds of discounts or special offers? If so, what?
We offer periodic, and rather random sales, generally on our entire catalog.
How has business been since the pandemic, and has the pandemic made it harder or easier to make items to sell?
The pandemic, coupled with personal circumstances, made me really focus on parchmenting and establishing the business online the past six months or so.
I’m home more often, which is good for production, but so are the children, which is definitely not!
Is there anything else you’d like prospective customers to know?
I never thought I could be one of those people who turned a hobby into a job, but I really enjoy my work and creating things for the community to use. I love working with people on custom projects, especially the challenge of making reality match up with their dream.