I’m so pleased to be sharing a new and inspiring Behind the Biz interview today.
Every week I discover the stories behind amazing entrepreneurs and share them here on Prettygreentea. In today’s post we’re diving into the world of art and illustration.
Today I’m chatting to Anna Wright about her business journey.
Please tell us about your business.
I’m an artist and illustrator based in a beautiful studio in Kennington, London. Using pen and ink, fabric and feathers, I create animal and bird illustrations and produce a range of homeware and gifts with the designs, ranging from cards and prints to mugs, bags, cushions, books, aprons and more.
Where did the inspiration for your business come from?
I have always loved fabric, textiles and fashion and growing up in the countryside I am passionate about animals and nature. I started off combining these interests in my illustrations and when the prints and cards proved popular I decided to expand the products more widely and start to build a larger business.
Did you always plan to set up your own business?
It was never really the grand plan to set up my own business but after my degree show at Edinburgh College of Art I realised there was a demand for my artwork so I thought I would give it a go on my own. However, after about a year in London I realised it was not financially viable so I returned to my love of fashion and went to work for the wonderful coat designer Katherine Hooker.
While I was working there I was still getting requests from galleries for exhibitions and personal commissions so I thought I needed to give it one more shot. I left London and headed to my parents in Dumfriesshire, South West Scotland for a year, which allowed me to get started and save some money. From there I moved to Edinburgh to set out on my own, before moving back to London in 2014 to expand the business and I haven’t looked back since.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
I find it tricky to switch between being creative and business minded, as they are two different things. Ideally I would set aside different days for both, but this has yet to happen.
There have been various challenges along the way, particularly keeping myself motivated when there are down times. Learning the ropes with trade shows was also a steep learning curve, but after not having enough stock to complete the orders from our first show, we learnt fast to always be prepared!
And as you grow, learning how to manage people effectively can be a challenge, although I now get guidance on this which is a great help.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
The biggest highlight is now, seeing how far we have come and the great team we have become. I enjoy the camaraderie and creativity of it all and I always love getting feedback from customers who say my work makes them laugh or smile.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Social media is crucial to all business these days. I’m not a natural at selling myself so I have help in this area as I realise the importance of it. My favourite platform would be Pinterest, as I find so many inspiring visuals and you just create boards like scrap books. I love to look over them when I am lacking inspiration, it always helps. I’m also a big fan of Instagram which seems to be the platform where we have the most followers.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs and makers?
Something that has really helped me recently is talking to a small business advisor. Having someone impartial to bounce ideas off and talk things through with is greatly helping us sort out our plans for the next stage of business development.
I would also advise aspiring entrepreneurs to really think carefully about what they want for their lifestyle first and then work backwards, i.e if you want to make a lot of money then you will need to put together a rather different business plan to if you are seeking to build a business that allows you to create and have more time to yourself, but with probably a smaller income. Once you know what you are trying to achieve you can work backwards to create an appropriate plan of action.
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
Our business plan for next year is just that. Working out what we all want to take from the business, finding out how much that will cost and what we will need to do to achieve it. A marketing strategy is a priority too.
We are continually expanding our range of designs and products and hope to have some exciting new additions in prints, fabric and ceramic items in 2018. Watch this space!
I want to say a massive thank you to Anna for taking the time to be a part of Behind the Biz. I really enjoyed finding out about her business journey and I hope you did too. I truly feel inspired and can’t wait to see the new prints in 2018.
Aspiring entrepreneurs should focus on Anna’s words of wisdom – think carefully about what you want from your lifestyle and then work backwards.
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