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Crafty Arts: Maintaining a creative and professional partnership

A Crafty duo tells Real Business that the best part of combining business and marriage is getting to experience the highs and lows together.
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Jay and Natasha Necati run Crafty Arts, a family business specialising in teaching and selling creative hobby materials online and in-store in Romford, Essex. 

Created in 1991, Crafty Arts has kept up with the times, ensuring the tech-savvy and experience-craving audience of today can pick either a digital or in-store journey. Of course, its success is largely down to to the creative flair of Jay and Natasha.

Real Business finds out how their individual skills contribute to the every-day running of the company – and what celebrity couple they would be.

How did you both meet?

Funnily enough we met at church. Jay fell in love with my singing voice.

What inspired you to start a business together?

Crafty Arts was originally created by Jay’s parents 27 years ago. His mum used to write signs for retailers like Fortnum & Masons, but would struggle to get art materials. So both her and her husband decided to open a local art and craft shop.

As a teenager, Jay worked in the shop on weekends. He trained as a web designer and worked on Crafty Arts’ first website. As retail began to change, Jay decided to grow the online side of the business by focussing on it full-time.

In 2007 we got engaged and I started to work there on Saturdays to help save for the wedding. A year after that we wed. I left my job to work for Crafty Arts and have never looked back.

It was years ago that we came to the end of our 15 year lease at the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent. We found a premises to run a warehouse, have a shopfront and have the facilities to teach as well.

What specific roles do you both have?

We have a creative partnership. Jay overseas the the business from the day-to-day and the progression side in terms of technology. While I also focus on the day to day, I’m more involved with boosting awareness around who we are and what we do as a company.

We work really well together. I sometimes have ideas or concepts in my head and Jay is able to make them come to life.

How do you separate work disagreements from your personal life?

If one of us doesn’t agree, we discuss it. We look at both side of the issue. In some cases we agree to disagree or one of us will end up agreeing and then we move forward. We both agreed that we would never go to bed angry as it is not healthy.

Do you have any rules to leave work at work?

Not really. We talk about home life at work and work life at home. We do, however, make a conscious decision to maintain our professionalism in the workplace and always aim for our staff and customers to see us in that light.

What are your individual strengths?

Jay is an introvert, a thinker and an undercover genius. He likes to focus on improving current systems or systemising other aspects of the business to ensure better results for the now.

I am an extrovert, I like to plan and to look ahead where we should be in the future at Crafty Arts with a larger goal to reach.

Crafty Arts can be found in Romford, Essex

If you could swap your business partner for somebody else, who would it be?

I would swap Natasha for Anthony Robbins, the motivational speaker, because he has worked out ways to run multiple businesses at the same time and would keep me at higher level of motivation.

I would swap Jay for Sir Richard Branson because when I think of an entrepreneur his name comes to mind. I would glean a lot from him and I’m sure that he would keep me out of my comfort zone. It would be interesting to see how he runs multiple businesses, charity work and yet still have so much energy.

What’s been your biggest business achievement to date?

Last year we hit a £4 million turn over, which is a huge achievement as the business has evolved and grown over the years. It’s amazing to think that 10 years ago I was adding products to the website in my bedroom.

What are the perks of running a business together?

You spend so much time in your life at work and it is fantastic that we are able to run a business together – and for it to work. We get to experience both the highs and lows together and make sure that we have fun in all aspects of our lives.

What are the downsides of running a business together?

We can’t switch off. You always have the business in the back of your mind and always thinking of ways to better it. 

What celebrity couple are you most like?

Jamie and Jools Oliver. He is fun and is passionate about his work. Jools is a women who has a drive for business and does charity work. They are both family orientated and have a love for food. We love food.

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About Author

Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is the deputy editor of Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

Real Business