[gallery type="slideshow" ids="4480,4481,4482"] I love to highlight business stories from home-based businesses.
So it was great to hear from Emma Morley, who has just launched a business with her mother Jayne. They’re both fans of vintage (or shabby chic) china and having amassed a fine collection, decided to turn their interest into a business.
Inspired by Jayne's own vintage wedding in 2013, Dorothy’s Vintage specialises in the hire of ‘beautiful vintage china as well as providing afternoon tea services for all type of events’. Mum and daughter can't wait to share their ‘wonderful collection with the world!'
What’s different is that these two vintage fans invite potential customers to their 60s garden summerhouse, named Sheila, to get a feel for the service. Here they experience the afternoon tea while discussing what they want for their event and their budget. Customers go away knowing Dorothy's Vintage have built them ‘a truly bespoke service' for their special event.
While Emma takes care of the social media and marketing, her mum cannot help but find amazing china to add to the collection!
Success for me is unlikely to be defined by money.
- Success means the freedom to take on the projects you want to work on. Would you like to choose what you work on every single day? As long as the revenue is steady, you can work on whatever you want to.
- Freedom to engage in any industry, not just the one you have experience or qualifications in. This has enabled me to create niches for myself despite not having experience from the corporate world. It is unlikely I would be doing the work I'm doing now, specialising in supporting the micro business, if I was a full time employee. I know many people who are working for themselves in completely different fields to their corporate worlds from copywriter to photographer, social worker to baker and nurse to marketing.
- Working with people you want to and choosing your own clients, suppliers and partners. This enables you to work only with inspiring, positive and helpful people. Would you like your world filled just with these great individuals?
- To spend your time working the way you want to, trying out methods, tools and ideas as you go. Success for me is loving all seven days of the week. I love Mondays!
- Being productive whenever and wherever you like. Every day, my trusty laptop and I work from my favourite local indie coffee houses and quite often on the train. A few times a year, it comes with me to the countryside, another city or abroad. If you love what you do, why stop doing it? If you are productive and your clients like you enough to come to you, you decide when you want to work, whenever you are inspired to do so.
Personally, success means I get to travel around the world, several times a year, working or not working. As I always say, all I need is coffee and travel!
A few weeks ago we featured fantastic 5-9er Yvonne from Kake and Cupkakery. [gallery type="circle" ids="2807,2843,2839"]
This week, she has kindly agreed to share her 'top tips to starting up a cakey biz':
- Research you area, find out about the competition, what they do, what they charge and build a local network. Just because another business is competition doesn’t mean you cannot support each other.
- Know your skill set and limitations, if there is an area you’re not confident in practice, go on course. YouTube is amazing for free tutorials as is Facebook.
- Know your cost and be honest with yourself regarding quoting and charging for cake. You have to earn some money!
- Find your niche, is it wedding cakes, cake pops, novelty cakes, macaroons or cupcakes?
- Use social media, it is absolutely free and remember you get out of it what you put in.
- Network! I have met and made some amazing contacts through networking.
- Get friends and family to recommend you and get them to keep their ear to the ground about any events where you can get to promote your business.
- And remember people buy from people. It’s your character and customer service that will play a big part in your business.
Researching for this feature on those working full time while building their business, I’ve come across two very interesting home-based jewellery makers. Both NJs Gems and EJ Jewellery started their business earlier this year but for very different reasons. Neither have borrowed money and plough revenue back into the business Nicola from NJs Gems loves her work for the Child Protection Service but started making jewellery for enjoyment a few years ago. The business started, as it so often does for handmade crafts, because other people loved the work when they saw it worn.
Emma, who may wake up at 5 in the morning with design ideas so has a pad by her bed to quickly sketch them, designed jewellery for a company for a few years before deciding to go solo. She now works for a bank during the day to pay the bills. So let’s take a look at how Nicola and Emma juggle work, home and business life.[gallery columns="4" ids="2657,2656,2658,2655"]
Social media ‘is practically a full time job in itself’ according to Nicola but both businesses are fully reliant on this method. Emma also contacts everyone she meets at craft fairs to email them and especially loves getting orders from customers’ friends ‘which is a great feeling!’
Nicola makes a note of what products get ‘likes’ or retweets to test what’s popular and Twitter is a quick medium for getting feedback on ideas.
- ↗Crafty Tip Jewellers: ask your friends and family to wear your work and most importantly, wear it yourself to promote it!
- ↗Crafty Tip Use platforms such as Hootsuite to keep a check on who to talk to on social media as well as scheduling tweets through the day when you are working but your potential customers are checking messages.
Emma had dedicated time around her day job. She finishes work early on Mondays so the afternoons are for making jewellery as is one night in the week plus any available weekend time worked around family and friends. However, when she has a big order or an event, it’s full on with the help of a very understanding family!
Nicola is one of those people ‘who just likes being busy’ and comes home from the day job and gets on with it. ‘Having a regular base of returning customers’ keeps her ‘motivated and excited for each new project.’ This along-side a very active rowing life makes Nicola a very organised person indeed!
↗Crafty Tip Have dedicated hours when you lock yourself away to work on the business and make every minute count; answer emails in the supermarket queue and save helpful business articles to read in the bath or on trains.
[gallery columns="4" ids="2666,2665,2664,2688"]
Emma plans to make her jewellery making business full time, hopefully within a year, and sets herself goals along the way and is pleased to be ‘on target!’
Nicola loves her ‘mentally and emotionally exhausting but also so rewarding’ job in child protection. Perhaps spending equal amounts on both careers will mean the ultimate balanced career?
- ↗Crafty Tip Do what you love and mix it up if you want to!
- ↗Crafty Tip Write goals and refer to them daily. After all, you can hit a target you can see.
Lack of time and money come up again and again as do learning about pricing, PR, SEO and online presence.
Nicola has learnt “by asking questions to like-minded businesses online and having an uncle as a tax inspector has ‘been a godsend’. Emma has built up skills from her previous employment and by asking a great jeweller friend. Next, Emma feels the need to learn more about the financial side of running the business.
Nicola is an ‘80's child at heart’ and relies on her Filofax but ‘can't be without a smartphone for enquiries on the go and to keep up to date with social media.’ Gemma ‘would be lost without her iPhone and diary!'
What's the one piece of advice you'd give anyone who is contemplating giving up their social life and starting a business instead?
‘…a night out for me is part of the business!’
Nicola: “It's definitely worth it and if you keep on top of the little things you can still have a social life. Log all the receipts for stock as soon as they come in, file them away in preparation for tax time and list new stock items straight away. If it's done that way it doesn't take long to do which in turn then means there is nothing nicer than a night out with friends or family wearing jewellery I have made and have people comment or be interested in a piece for themselves....means a night out for me is part of the business :-)”
Emma: “I'd say ask yourself the question do you really love whatever it is your thinking about doing? Will you always regret not giving it ago? If the answer’s ‘yes’ to both of those questions then you have to try it. Do get honest feedback from people about your work but not your friends and family! If you love what you do, the hard work will be worth it!”
Final thought from Nicola who feels being interviewed for the piece has given her ‘a chance to have a re think about why I have chosen to do this and what makes it all so worthwhile’.
Let’s catch up with them next year and see how they’ve progressed!
Freelance Artist. Established 2009
Naini’s motivation is simply to have ‘personal freedom through being creative and independent.’ Naini wanted to challenge herself and see where the road leads.
However, the biggest challenge has been over coming self-doubt. Its taken time but Naini has learnt to listen to her heart and follow her instincts, which somehow always lead her in the right direction.
Naini has learnt to market by trial and error and her best advice is to use more than one avenue rather than sticking to one limiting strategy. “In my view there is no such thing as 'best advertising' since the dynamics between product/service and the target market are constantly changing - especially in the art market. Change is the key; what works another may or may not work for you, and vice versa.”
The comfort of the first customer
“The first customer came literally through a gallery” which goes to prove how important it is to exhibit your work where people can see it. Naini is in galleries but you could also try coffee shops, offices, train stations – anywhere that people pass is always a good thing, remembering to clearly display your name and contact details should a passerby wish to buy.
“Life itself is an inspiration. Everything that we experience, see and feel without exception is nothing less than a miracle - a marvel of nature and mankind.” These are lovely words from Naini in describing what motivates her.
Naini has her studio at home and prefers to work from there, “I would say working at home in very quiet surroundings would be an ideal working environment. It's what allows the creativity to flow in full.”
Finally, I asked Naini, if you could look back and give one piece of advice to yourself before you launched, what is it?
“Listen more to my inner instincts. It's the one voice that can guide you in the right direction. The more you use it the better it gets. It requires fine tuning through trial and error before you can trust it completely”.
Find out more on http://www.naini.co.uk/
Follow on Twitter @naini_art
Make friends on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nainiartstudio
Contact on email@example.com
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Designer/maker of bespoke fused glass and tutor. Established 2009
The Boss from Hell
“The last parting words from my boss were “you can now go and find a job which you’re actually qualified for.”
At 40, as it turned out, these words spurred Allison on from being in a bad place where she was bullied at work to starting in business.
Allison says “I had two options, believe that I was completely useless or I could look at the positives I had to offer. I decided to look at my qualities, I love working with people, I am creative and missed the time I had spent in higher education getting my BA Hons. So I combined those qualities together and decided to set up an arts business, designing and making bespoke kiln cast and fused glass while also delivering creative workshops within my local community and schools”.
At this time, Allison was asked back to a previous position. “It was on a part time/temporary basis which was perfect and it gave me a boost personally. I was working with colleagues who knew me and knew what I had been through, I also had an income!”
Working part time, Allison started to develop her business plan with help from a local support agency SWEDA which helped when asking the bank for a business start-up loan.
Allison continues “within weeks I had my first workshop booking and I will be celebrating three years in business this May”.
So just how did Allison find her very first customer?
“My first workshop booking was for West Bromwich Learning Co-OP, through my links in the community I had a connection who worked in Adult Learning”. Allison called her contact was surprised to be asked in for a meeting which lead to her being asked to deliver some creative workshops during the School Summer Holidays. “It was fate and pure luck that everything fell into place and that’s where it all started”.
Allison’s previous career helps in her growing business too: “I have worked and volunteered within my local community for more than 16 years. This has given me experience of working with people from different back grounds and of abilities which is part of my work which I love.” Clearly Allison has also developed great links within the community.
Allison returned to higher education as a mature student in 2000 and graduated from Wolverhampton University with a 2:1 BA Hons degree specialising in Glass in 2003. “Upon graduation I was awarded a Studio Bursary which included studio space, use of the universities facilities to develop my making skills and an NVQ in Business start-up in the creative industries”.
One of the hardest habits to deal with when self employed is when to focus on work and when to switch off and refresh. Allison agrees, “I have tried working to regular hours but find it impossible; I’m either really busy or quiet depending on the school holidays and seasons. During the summer I seem to have more bookings than the winter, so I have to be flexible in my working.
Allison has some advice those wishing leave the corporate world. “Anyone who is thinking of becoming self-employed, should go into it expecting to put in lots of hours, you have to be able to adapt to situations and job roles. If you work as a sole-trader you are reliant on yourself for everything from administration to book-keeping. It is a massive learning curve and you have to learn to do a little bit of everything, but it’s also very rewarding, you learn something new every day!
If you could look back, Allison and give one piece of advice to yourself before you launched, what is it? Believe in yourself!!!! I am my own worst enemy when it comes to doubting myself. I should also trust more in my instincts, they are normally right. I recently made contact with a supplier in the US who was interested in what I do and my design work, he told me “You hold your own destiny” now when I start to doubt myself I just remember what he said.
To be featured here or to recommend a business you admire, please email me on email@example.com
We're pleased to introduce Marie Nemeth to this months Birmingham Vintage Festival. Originally from Lancashire, Marie studied Fine Art at Birmingham Polytechnic creating large semi-abstract paintings and collages influenced by bands and she states, musical instruments and the rock ‘n’ roll scene of Birmingham. Having worked as a graphic designer since, Marie has now returned to her roots and will be showing her work at Birmingham Vintage Festival on Septemebr 24th.