Friday, 23 May 2014

Friday Finds - Kitty Kay


Today's Friday Finds is my friend Wendy from Kitty Kay - Make & Sew. Wendy and I met at the Country Living show in 2011 where we both had a stand in the WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) section. We hit it off immediately and I still get excited when I see her designs in department stores in Norfolk ( or anywhere else for that matter!)


© Kitty Kay

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how it came to be...

For over 10 years of my early working life I worked as a retail fashion buyer, for some of the biggest retailers on the UK high street.  At times it was an amazing job, and luckily for me the product areas that I worked in were very creative ones, however it was also incredibly high-pressured and full of long hours and stress!  So there were many occasions I would crawl onto a plane, exhausted and stressed out, and go lie on a beach for 2 weeks just dreaming of having something that was mine, something that I had created, and that I owned!   So when I had my first son, I realised that this way of life couldn’t continue and I had to find a way to balance my new family life, and fulfill these dreams that kept tugging away at me.


© Kitty Kay

I had no idea how that was going to work or what I was going to do, and it didn’t happen quickly, and therefore wasn’t really planned either!  But having left full-time and then part-time employment as a buyer, I started to lecture at a local university in Fashion Marketing, I set up running an after-school sewing class at my children’s school, and then signed up for a-one-day-a-week city & guilds textile decoration course.  And it was really from a combination of these three things that I started to rediscover my creative roots, and go back to what drove me to study fashion and textiles to an M.A. degree level in the first place.

So I officially launched ‘Kitty Kay – Make & Sew’ back in the Autumn of 2011, at the ‘Country Living Christmas Fair,’ but I had probably been working on the business idea and developing the product concept for at least a couple of years before that.  However, by getting back into designing, printing and starting to sell products at local craft and Christmas events, as well as teaching children to sew, it lead to developing the sewing and craft kits for children and then ‘biting the bullet’ to step up and do a big London show!

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

The initial reaction was immediately positive, which was a huge relief, but I had been determined to manage the business at my own pace, working around the family and not getting into a situation where things could ‘run away’ from me or become stressful; so in all honesty it has been a slow-burn, but deliberately so.  I decided to launch at a consumer show, in order to ‘test the market’ and get direct feedback on the product and ideas, and learn from the customers themselves what they liked and wanted.  It then took about another year before I thought I could take the product to the next level and do a trade show for the first time. 


© Kitty Kay

Do you do your business part time or full time?  

Kitty Kay – Make & Sew is now my full-time business.

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

I am looking to grow the business to be bigger, but again only at a pace that we can manage.  We are looking at some key opportunities that have been presented to us and which could fuel the growth we are looking for, but as the business is based at home and we manage it all ourselves at the moment, again we want to do everything in a considered way, with limited risk. 

Where do you sell your work? 

The ‘Kitty Kay – Make & Sew’ range of sewing and craft kits for children are available online at:
www.notonthehighstreet.com/kittykaymakeandsew and also at various independent retailers around the UK.  We also sell directly at key consumers shows, such as: The Knitting & Stitching Shows in London & Harrogate, The Spirit of Christmas Fair & The Country Living Christmas Fair – both in London.

© Kitty Kay

Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

I learnt very early on that in the world of retail you have to cover ‘all routes to market’, meaning that you have to cover all options, whether it’s being online, on the high street (via the trade shows), selling directly at consumer shows, or even having a mail order option.  And in todays digital age, it’s also about having routes by which any potential social media consumers can purchase through, such as a Facebook shop.  So they all go into the mix, but in terms of being able to talk about and sell your product directly to the ‘end user’, then it’s definitely the consumer shows.  Through these you are able to interact directly with your customers, chat to them and explain the products and garner fantastic feedback that helps shape the future of the products, and the development of the business.


© Kitty Kay

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

I have had some fantastic publicity in a lot of the national sewing and craft magazines, and the great thing is that they have usually approached me.  These companies often attend the consumer and trade shows, and are always on the look out for interesting companies and products to write about; so I have been very lucky that they come and seek me out!

Who do you think your typical customer is?

Wow, that’s quite a tricky one to answer. In the main it’s women of all ages who want to buy a creative gift, or encourage their children/friends’ children/nieces/nephews, etc. to get making.  However, the biggest portion of my customers, particularly at The Knitting & Stitching Shows are the older generation of crafters/sewers/knitters - grandmothers and great-aunts - who are desperate to ensure that their grandchildren and great-nieces/nephews get to learn the key skills and the joy of making things, that maybe the parents missed out on.

© Kitty Kay

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most?

I most enjoy the pure pleasure of designing and coming up with new ideas, sampling and prototyping; but also figuring out a way to get ideas through to the finished, packaged product. 

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

I’m sure there are loads of things I could/would have done differently, but I see it all as part of a journey.  Developing your own business and product range is all about the ‘learning curve’ but equally it’s about learning from and about yourself.  You can’t afford to have regrets, or wish you’d done things differently, because all of it is and continues to be on-the-job learning.  You work out what not to do next time!

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

Probably a bit of both.  I’m a big one for lists and being organized, and thinking and planning ahead.  But then there are occasions where something will spark a gut instinct about a product or idea, which can be a light-bulb moment, and I have to act on it immediately! 


© Kitty Kay

Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do how did you find people who were the right fit for you?

The only people I currently ‘employ’ are my husband – Chief Felt Cutter - and my kids – great packers/helpers!  So far, everything else is managed by me!  But there will come a time, in the not too distant future, where I may have to source outside help, particularly to deal with the production side of the business, but in the meantime I’m keeping all the balls in the air!

Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that the way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

I work from home and I am usually alone most of the day, except for the cats!  I actually enjoy the solitude and peace of this, because with two active, sporty, growing boys and a very busy family life, I need this quiet, reflective time as balance; and it gives me the space and thinking time to plan and create.  Although I do make a determined effort to get outdoors and have human contact on a daily basis! 


© Kitty Kay

Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

I don’t have a mentor, but I do discuss and brainstorm my business on a regular basis with my friends, and with my husband; and with both of us coming from creative backgrounds, and having a strong working knowledge of product development, branding and marketing we work well together at planning and strategising what’s needed.  And particularly when I get ‘stuck’ at points in time, he will help me through these, and maybe get me to see a different view or perspective on things.

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

I think it’s fair to say that no day is the same, but that it also greatly depends on what time of the year it is.  September to Easter is my busiest period, with all the key trade shows staring in September and then rapidly followed by the key consumer shows in the build up to Christmas; followed again by trade shows in January leading up to Easter.  This is what I call my ‘mad time of year’, then followed by my quieter period, during the spring and summer, of reflection, development and planning to start all over again come the following September!  In fact I had my dream day this week and spent it with my creative buddies in London, doing the exhibitions at the Tate Modern and Fashion & Textile Museum, and shopping for fabric!


www.notonthehighstreet.com/kittykaymakeandsew

Thank you Wendy - smashing :)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

May - Bootcamp Assignment


This is my submission for the Bootcamp run by Lilla Rogers - all the artworks will be available to view from next Tuesday, the 27th May.

May's assignment was an editorial piece about Meditation for beginners.

I love to paint - whether acrylic ( as here ), watercolour or gouache. I realise that although I really enjoy adding decorative elements and using Photoshop and Illustrator as tools that it's unlikely I will ever create anything purely on the computer. I love painting too much to leave it behind and spend all my time wielding a mouse! 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Warm Weekend


© Gabriella Buckingham

What a gorgeous warm weekend! We were treated to a lovely meal by my MIL at a village pub nearby and I spent virtually all of the rest of the weekend at home in the garden - working in my summerhouse, flying a plane with my children, having races, cooking and eating outside. My husband put our annual giant circular pool up too. Heavenly. I also bought these beauties above and will be tottering around in them in Spain when we go on holiday next week soon I expect - not for long though! 


© Gabriella Buckingham

I sold this painting too. On Friday I started running every morning early on (ahem - bit of jogging with fast walking at this stage)). I haven't done it this morning but might - no will - do some callenetics or yoga in the garden later just before the children come home - if I've done all my orders.


© Gabriella Buckingham

This is a sprig of flowers that called to me as I ran towards them growing through hedge: 'pick me and take me home for a photo' they cried.

I hope you had a good week x

Friday, 16 May 2014

Friday Finds - Nikki Golesworthy - Designer


I first met Nikki Golesworthy in the late 1990's when I was the Product Manager for Card Connection Ltd commissioning illustrators to design greeting cards ; I always admired the way that Nikki managed to engineer her life to have each time off to travel and her versatility and cute characters.


© Nikki Golesworthy

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how you got started..

I became a freelance designer when I graduated from Polytechnic with a degree in Surface Decoration. There was a recession and very few jobs. I got a fab start-up studio with a fellow graduate and started trading under my own name for furnishing textiles and then the stationery markets. I also became a part-time surface pattern design lecturer at De Montfort University and freelanced for many card companies.

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

Being a freelancer was a slow start. Initially I relied on the Enterprise Allowance which gave us a ‘pay’ each week.(oh yes Nikki  - same here)) But slowly I began to make good contacts and get regular commissions. I also became a part time lecturer at the now De Montfort university. As the years have gone by I've remained a freelancer. I have also had a part time position as a Design Manager at a company that supplied Christmas cards to the charity markets - those little brochures that drop out of mags at Christmas every year. Great fun, until the art team all got made redundant and then they went bust! At one point I was also made redundant from uni - but I've been back teaching again there for the last 3yrs.

Freelancing has changed as companies have ceased trading or been bought out by the big boys. So you never get to sit back and relax as every time you start getting settled buyers change or companies change!



© Nikki Golesworthy


I have loved the fact that my ‘industry’ and my teaching at university have all been quieter for me in the summer. So I spent many years travelling, back packing every summer from May-Aug, seeing soooo many fab places,countries and people. I couldn’t have done that in a 9-5 job. My parents kindly emigrated to France 20yrs ago and so I have visited regularly. Since I have had kids (Amelie is 11 and Daniel 9) we have stayed with the grandparents every year. Now we live there for the summer months when school finishes and with broadband I can work and email clients and Dropbox work to my husband in our studio back in Leicester. Kids learn French, eat out, get lots of country living and it’s great. I am typing these answers from my studio at mum and dad’s right now on a quick 7 days away for some R&R!


In 2006 I branched out and set up a little company making wedding stationery too (www.wearetickledpink.co.uk) - a lovely change from lots of Christmas Cards all year long, and I like dealing directly with the public. Love creating for them, but again a slow-burn! We do make stationery for about 250 couples a year, my husband joined me running it 3 yrs ago- and loves his job, cutting, sticking, managing, accounts, singing along to BBC6 Music and working on Photoshop if I am busy.



© Nikki Golesworthy


I also set up a side-line so that I could ‘make’ (www.saveoursocks.co.uk ). Most of my other commissions now are created in Photoshop or Illustrator and my paints have dried up! So the second side-line is making Sock Toy kits. Great fun and I love ‘making'.

Do you do your business part time or full time?

I work full-time. I love the freedom of freelancing, but as you are constantly marketing for the next contract I am a bit rubbish at switching off. My husband joining me has been great, but it means we don't have a 'secure' income to support us, so I don't stop enough!
                                                                   
Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why?

We need to be bigger for financial security, those mortgages and two kids don’t come cheap!

If this is your full time job do you mind saying what your approximate turnover is annually (before costs and expenses)?

This varies every year. That is the hardest to contend with. Some years my profit has been £20K others, it has been £6k. Some years we are flush, some we have survived with Tax Credits and living on a very tight budget, some we have been very happy. That has been the hardest part, not ever relaxing and being confident financially!


© Nikki Golesworthy

Where do you sell your work?

I sell my freelance work directly with card companies or via my lovely agent at Portfolio Select. I sell Tickled Pink via Etsy, Folksy, our website, our Facebook Business page, our Pinterest pages, eBay and Wedding Ideas Magazine and Wedding Fairs. We sell "Save Our Socks" via our website and Craft and Street Fairs. As Nikki Golesworthy - stationery designer I freelance in house in Bradford too, when they are super busy in Oct - April and have done for 8yrs now; firstly for TailorMade Designs who supply the ‘grocery market’ like Wilkinsons’, Tesco, Sainsbury and most of the rest! Currently I am working at Hallmark. I love finding my work in those shops on sale. I work on Mac designing and doing whatever is needed. It is great fun and improved my use of Illustrator no end. But it is seasonal and insecure and I chose to work long days there to cover my expenses - diesel/ hotel away etc!

Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is? 

Ebay is brilliant for us. We have yet to dip our toes into NOTHs although they keep asking TickledPink to join them. I have to find the time to create a range for them!

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

We get featured every month in Wedding Ideas Magazine and that works very well for us, I love meeting brides at Wedding Fairs and they recognise our work from spotting it in the mag. We have consultations with brides who have shown us their wedding scrapbooks and they have cut one of our pics out, sometimes without even reaslising it is us! I think the mag also gives us a bit more credibility as brides seem to realise were not just a hobbyist making some pin money!



© Nikki Golesworthy


Who do you think your typical customer is?


For Tickled Pink it's brides with a sense of personal style who want an invite that is a bit fun. We rarely get Bridezillas, just lovely couples who like our colourful designs.

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy the most?

I love creating, I can lose hours, wrapped up in making something, then suddenly realising my tummy is rumbling and I should take a break to eat- or go home!

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today? 

No, I have enjoyed the freedom my career has given me, the variety, time to travel and explore the world.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more are you more instinctive? 

I love working to commission, love being asked to create something and getting wrapped up in it, but I do a lot of lists and goals!

Do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, bookkeeper, accountant, packers? If you do how did you find people who were the right fit for you?

No. Maybe my husband might fit the bill- he is cheap, but very good at what he does!


Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

I worked from home for the first 4 months and hated it. I need to get out and see people and chat. So I have  always ‘gone to work’ and had a studio. I have had my current studio for 14 yrs and it is above the shops overlooking Leicester High Street, massive space, Victorian so cold in winter, but I love it! I am there alone with my husband and Facebook for company! I love freelancing in-house though to meet other people as I have found my social circle has shrunk being just me and him all the time! Radio 4 keeps me company too. I have many friends who say they get people dropping in for coffee or being distracted by cleaning or getting the dinner ready when they work from home. Friends drop in for coffee to our studio in town too, but seem to realise it is still our work environment.

Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

I do belong to some wedding networks, they are useful, one secret group on Facebook has been a great way to meet other wedding suppliers, get advice and let off steam in private when needed as well as working together and sharing advice and contacts.


© Nikki Golesworthy

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

I love the variety of my days and weeks. A 10hr day is typical, but I love that I am never sure what work will come in each day. I can have my schedule for designing mapped out and a bride can ring in a panic as she has forgotten to sort invites or my agent will need a commission for the USA with a tight turnaround, so I am very flexible. When I have freelanced in-house for a solid week I do find myself missing the freedom of planning my own day and being tied to other people and their deadlines! I love the way a working day pans out and changes as the day progresses depending on emails from Brides in Australia or orders coming in where the bride needs a quick order processing or a sock kit has to be packed and sent off.

Anything else you want to add… tips or plans or ambitions or even special offers to my blog readers? 

I have loved my career, loved the freedom to travel and do what I wanted. My major dislike, probably the financial insecurity. Freelancing is not a stable career path, my freelance friends and I often discuss that. But I enjoy what I do! My ambition is to work less, chill more, but that’s probably not in my nature- I often gets cards/books and even a t-shirt once – those ones about ‘if you need a job doing, give it to a busy woman’ I have never been one to sit back and relax!

Anyone who found us via your blog can have a 10% discount - just quote "Friday Finds"

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work or find out more about you:
            
www.wearetickledpink.co.uk
www.saveoursocks.co.uk


Thank you so much Nikki, you have a really interesting portfolio career that I can relate to!


Friday, 9 May 2014

Friday Finds - Walkyland - Monika Fosberg



Today's Friday Finds features WALKYLAND - the illustrative world of Monika Fosberg who has an incredibly distinctive, decorative style. I met Monika on line and in person through the Make Art That Sells course we both took part in and it became clear early on that she has a highly recognisable style that is truly unique to her. And she is also prolific!!



© Monika Fosberg
When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how WALKYLAND came to be!
I had left the art world for a few years (trained as an animator, made films, freelanced and lectured) and then returned via craft making (went through the phases of jewellery making-knitting- crocheting-embroidery-basket weaving) before coming back to drawing at around the time my youngest son was born.

I decided to learn everything from scratch and so for a year I just drew what I saw, observational pen and ink sketches of houses trees, and people I saw when out and about with my littlest son (him asleep in the sling on my hip). I kept posting my stuff on fb it became sort of a journal/diary and most of it wasn't very good but I had fun and i think that was appreciated. Then I moved onto drawing doodles in really bright colours ,monsters and patterns, drawing things that didn't mean anything or had any point to them, they were pure doodles. 



Two Blue Pigs ©Monika Fosberg

At the same time I was commissioned to make an animation for Channel 4 ('Mummy needs gin') and it was nice to return to animation, to tell a story and to make something from idea to finished 3 minute film with sound and pictures. Animation is crazy and extremely time consuming and quite a long process and with kids it's hard to dedicate the time needed to be a full-time animator. When the film was finished an illustrator friend and I decided to become commercial, to take our art seriously and we set about sharpening up and get a grip and sort our websites out and at around the same time I came across Lilla Rogers 'Make art that sells' e-course. I couldn't afford it but kept going back and looking at the blurb about the course and it sounded really good and I ended up signing up. And this was a turning point in my life. 

I learnt more in five weeks than I was taught 5 years at university and maybe being as old as I am now I'm no longer stubborn and reluctant to change but gave myself wholeheartedly into the assignments, looked at what I was doing and noticing what worked and what didn't. And I found an amazing artist community, beautiful supportive and talented.



Trio © Monika Fosberg

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?
I always had it as a goal that I would having a flourishing career by the time my son started nursery. I reckoned that 3 years would be about the right time it'd take to build up skills, confidence and client base and I'm not far off the mark. My son started nursery in January and my drawing career (rather than animation career) is starting to take off. i'm not a millionaire and not yet making lots of money but I am successful. Do you do your business part time or full time? 

I work the 3 hours my son is at nursery every day (actually sitting down drawing/making) and i draw at night and in truth probably spend all waking hours thinking about stuff and observing the world, looking,thinking wondering, collecting. 


Amended Butterfly © Monika Fosberg

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

For the money earnt making the C4 film I invested it all in a new computer and other equipment and the guy (Curtis) at the mac store asked me what I was gonna use my computer for (so he could find the right one, a computer that was suited to my needs) and I said I was building an empire. So yes. Definitely growing.
If this is your full time job do you mind saying what your approximate turnover is annually (before costs and expenses)?

Less than 15k and every spare penny goes into the "business" so I'm still a LONG LONG LONG way away from being finically successful.

© Monika Fosberg


Where do you sell your work? 

I started doing some licensing of my work recently and commissions and is yet to set up an Etsy shop (I've simply been too busy) but soon it should be up and running. Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?
Selilng is one of my weaker points, I am looking into doing a business course and learn how to in the simplest way possible make a good business. Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

I've been on telly a few times. Does that count? Haha. I'm working on a project for a magazine right now, but cannot speak of it yet.Keep your eyes open...


© Monika Fosberg

Who do you think your typical customer is?

Someone like myself...? Women rather than men and maybe grown ups rather than kids.. Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

The making, the journey the not knowing what the outcome will be. Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

Probably not. Maybe started earlier. Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I do find setting goals really important, because once you set a goal they tend to happen sooner or later. When making the C4 film "HIs passionate bride" my goal was to be nominated for a BAFTA and ...Ta-dah- I was. I decided to become commercial about a year ago and - Yeah, I think I am! Not sure what other people think. I think it good to set goals but to then leave them behind subconsciously unconscious in the mind and if they don't happen its not the end of the world (and something else, more exciting/better/more fun is sure to be happening instead).

Love © Monika Fosberg

Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do how did you find people who were the right fit for you? 

As an animator I hired and fired people. Making low budget films = being a producer/director/animator all in one, making budgets, finding the right sound people (for the right money) and getting help with script editing, animation assistants etc etc. In my so far very short illustration career I'm doing it all myself. For now. Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?
I work sitting on my bed like a teenager. I get a bad back if I sit working at a table and I can't think if my back hurts and if curled up on a sofa or sitting in bed its like being a kid again. So wherever Ive worked in the past 10 years Ive always had a slouchy place to sit. I work alone. Spending so much time with ones family I relish in disappearing into the introverted place of drawing and being totally anti social.If i had the money id build a shed in the garden.



© Monika Fosberg
Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

I think I may need a professional mentor but for now I have a bunch of friends (in similar position to myself) and we talk/discuss/support/help each other. Its invaluable. What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

My day is going for a run in the morning then the kids are at nursery/school then pick up from nursery and park/forest/playground until my eldest son gets back from school and then thats house work/cooking time and when the little gone to sleep i might work some more whilst were on the sofa watching telly. Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! Links please . . . 


You're a star Monika. Thank you :)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A painting to uplift your spirits - Cy Twombly - Untitled 2001

Untitled 2001 - Cy Twombly

Isn't this painting glorious?

I discovered this picture on Pinterest and thing the colours are wonderful. It reminds me of a nest of moss my daughter made which she then decorated with flower petals.


I'm off to see some dear friends today and will be publishing another Friday Finds treat from Hampshire tomorrow if I can achieve it on my phone - a fabulous illustrator with an incredible style..

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Getting clear



Such a simple statement but it's everything really.

My theme for this year is 'Evolve' and it's not easy. I am making small shifts and really, really trying to work out what I want. So much choice. I am lucky.

I took part in a personal development course last week called The EOS Programme; it's simple but profound and confirms things I know deep down.

Don't you find that really you always know what you need to do to change things. It's doing it and recognising it that's the difficult bit.

You choose your state of mind. Of course if you have clinical depression that's a whole other battle and I really understand that.

As part of my homework I am writing a gratitude journal and success journal daily.

My business Moobaacluck isn't the biggest and I think I felt that I should have a trade range shortly after I was invited to join notonthehighstreet but I never really felt comfortable with that. In retrospect that was the right decision for me... I did go quite far a long that road - even taking part in the BCTF in Yorkshire in 2011 and realising while there that what I was showing wasn't the sort of work I wanted to be doing on a mass scale!

I love painting personalised wood pieces for customers - but that's what they are personal! They have individual meaning to each person that orders from me. It loses soul when repeated over and over ... without personalisation. That said there are a few small items like my little chickens that could perhaps be trade items but when you look at similar items in shops they are often made abroad en mass and those that aren't are probably not making a lot of profit if they are competing with those companies.

My background is illustration and there is so much potential to get into that again. I'd love to. As well as develop more prints for Moobaacluck, textile design under my own name, design for ceramics ( I've made a few of my own but perhaps a visit to some factories is in order )), maybe even rugs! Painting and drawing for pleasure.

Virtually all business books and courses say Focus!!!! It's true but the most important thing is freedom and personal happiness, being there for your family. I'm so grateful for the fact that I earn a living working from home doing what I chose to do and clarity will come. You can't rush it.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Friday Finds - Gabrielle Treanor of The Green Gables


Good morning! Today I have interviewed my friend Gabrielle Treanor who has built a wonderful business The Green Gables; I've met Gabs a couple of times now at the Notonthehighstreet.com get togethers and she is lovely. So is her work.



 © Gabrielle Treanor

When did you start your business and why?

The green gables proper has been in action for nearly three years since I became self-employed and concentrated on developing the stationery ranges. For years (while working in my ‘first’ career of publishing) I tried different courses and experimented with a variety of crafts but I never quite managed to find exactly what I was looking for. Finally hitting my groove was a wonderful thing! Through the green gables I help people to get organized and connect with others in a meaningful way, while spreading a little joy and positivity at the same time. 

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

It’s been a slow burn but I’ve happy with that because I needed to take things at my own pace while I learned and developed my style and product range. It’s an ongoing process, I’m learning all the time and I have so much more to learn! I can’t imagine anyone who runs a business ever gets to the point when they have nothing left to discover or develop.


© The Green Gables

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

There’s a lot more I’d like to do with the green gables, I want to help many more people feel more organised in their lives and find the time to get in touch with their loved ones. 

In practical terms I have no plans to grow my business into a great big world-dominating company! A very good friend has been helping me with book-keeping for the last 18 months which has been brilliant as I’m not a natural with numbers. And recently I took the (enormous to me) step of finding someone to help with preparing and making up orders for a few hours a week. Having done everything myself for so long it felt quite alien to have someone else working in my studio but it’s working out brilliantly! 

An important part of my business is making a positive contribution to society and I want to continue growing how I support charitable organisations. I’ve supported a number of charities for a couple of years but I recently created a few products the sale of which donate to a charity, Fresh Start Foundation, who work to educate children in the The Gambia. It’s a poor country and paper is very expensive so I’m working to provide pupils with the school supplies they need to study. I want to make a difference and the more successful the green gables is the more I can make a postive impact in the wider world. 



© The Green Gables

Where do you sell your work? 

I sell on my own website thegreengables.co.uk, notonthehighstreet.com and I’m stocked in a number of shops around the UK. I also have an etsy.com store but I’m not very good at maintaining it. 

Have you had publicity in national magazines? 

I’ve had quite a few pieces of printed press which has been great. They vary between products being used as props in photoshoots to featured in shopping pages to interviews. My previous life was in youth magazines so although I have no contacts at ‘grown-up’ magazines I’ve received enough press releases to have a good idea of what gets a journalist’s attention and what’s a turn-off. I don’t want to go on for pages and pages of your blog so if any readers want my top tips on getting press they’re very welcome to email me!

© The Green Gables

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

Unsurprisingly I love designing! I also really enjoy talking with my customers and other stationery fans, hearing their feedback and how they’re using my products. I don’t really mind the boring bits either (although number crunching is way down my favourites list) because every day I get to work for myself on a business I love and for that I am very grateful!


© The Green Gables

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

I don’t think there is. It would be lovely, but unrealistic, to have everything go smoothly with instant success. All the business books and blogs I’ve read say that you have to make mistakes in business to learn from and I totally agree. Ideally you’d like to not make any enormous, scary mistakes but as long as you learn from them, mistakes aren’t a bad thing. 

Could you describe where you work?

I work in what is essentially a brick built shed at the bottom of our little garden, but I call it my studio! My sister-in-law gave me a lovely wooden sign that says ‘Garden Studio’ for my birthday a few years ago and it hangs proudly outside. 

Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with?

I don’t have a mentor, I’d actually quite like one but I don’t know where to find one! I have met lots of lovely people through blogs and twitter, or by exhibiting at craft fairs or trade fairs, as well as other sellers on notonthehighstreet.com, such as our lovely self! Having other people to talk to who understand what you’re going through, who have similar worries and questions, is absolutely invaluable. Having a couple of people with whom you can share ideas, give honest feedback, boost each other up and cheer each other on helps enormously. I also have a super supportive husband and we can talk for hours about my work, he can think of things no-one else has because he sees it from a different point of view.


© The Green Gables

Anything else you want to add?

One thing I want to say is that if you’re reading this and you’re thinking about starting your own business and are feeling wobbly, or you’re up and running and are feeling overwhelmed, just believe me when I say you can do it. You absolutely can do anything you want to, it is within your ability and you are the person who determines the path your life takes. Working for yourself and running a business is very hard work, it can be risky, scary, you might have to make big changes in your life. But it’s also rewarding, fulfilling, fun, freeing and if it’s what you want to do, what you really want to do, then go for it. 

And, really I will shush after this, there’s one phrase that I heard in a TED talk by Simon Sinek (http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action) which sits in the back of my head at all times: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. Find your purpose, find what sets you alight and go after it with all your might.

Links:
thegreengables.co.uk
thegreengables.co.uk/blog
gabrielle@thegreengables.co.uk
Twitter: @thegreengable
Instagram: @thegreengable

Facebook: facebook.com/thegreengables

Fabulous - thank you so much for what you've said Gabrielle, I think you've hit the nail on the head with that phrase by Simon Sinek. We all have to question why we do what we do. Often if we are unhappy it's because we are doing something or behaving in a way that is totally at odds with our values and what deep down really matters. It's essential to question ourselves as we grow and ask ourselves why we do what we do. I feel a think coming on ;)