Throughout this blog I will be interviewing other creative designers to find out how they became successful and ask them to share tips with us all.
As this is the beginning of the blog I thought I would start with my journey as a designer. I hope it will be of interest and help you with your business.
1) WHAT MOTIVATED & INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
I have always wanted my own business, I remember wanting to be a fashion designer when I was thirteen and my teacher told me to stop dreaming, how stupid is that?
I think that I have always wanted to do something different and be my own boss.
Once I got to university and discovered millinery I was hooked and knew that this was what I wanted to start my business in. It's such a creative profession to be in and incorporates fashion, sculpture, design and art all in one.
2)TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS
I have been a millinery designer for over 15 years now and I absolutely love it, In the London studio I create hats for clients who are going to weddings, Ascot, Fashion events and parties. One day a magazine could call up for a hat they need for a shoot and another day we could be making for a celebrity if we are lucky.
I create two collections a year, one is the summer and the other winter, some designers create four a year but I find it easier to stick to two. I used to sell products via wholesale but now I concentrate on private clients.
About 5 years ago I started teaching millinery and have since met loads of creative inspirational people who have fallen in love with millinery, it's really fun to see what everyone creates. Due to the success we now teach corporate companies via team building and hospitality events.
Inspiring creative Women is my latest venture to help creatives like yourself start up, if I can do it, you can do it!!
3)WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER AS A PASSION?
I would definitely describe it as an obsessive passion, I am not an obsessive person except for when it comes to this business, once you find your passion and start you won't be able to stop. Most of our lives are taken up by working so you must enjoy what you do.
4)WHAT PART OF BEING A DESIGNER DO YOU PREFER? THE CREATIVE, SALES, SOCIAL, OR MARKETING SIDE?
I change my mind from day to day, I think most entrepreneurs like to chop and change, you have a great idea one day and the next you love something else, what we have to do is concentrate on one thing and make sure we finish it.
I love to create as long as I am in a relaxed mood, if there are lots of people in the studio I tend to work on marketing ideas (which I also love) because I can't always create when there are distractions.
5)WHAT IDEAS DID YOU TAKE ACTION ON/STEPS YOU TOOK TO GET YOUR BUSINESS UP AND RUNNING?
When I first started I went to the Princes Trust for a loan and then the bank matched it, I think the first few things I bought where my hat blocks, some fabrics, oh and a computer.
My first step was in designing a collection, I then photographed them on my two beautiful cousins so that I could have images to put on a website.
Once this was done PR was my next step and I was fortunate enough to get into Harpers, this is not the norm but I was very happy and it gave me a boost to carry on.
6)WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF BUILDING YOUR TRIBE FOR YOUR BUSINESS AND GETTING NEW CUSTOMERS?
Most of my followers have come to me organically via word of mouth, social media, press and putting on events with other people i.e. giving a millinery talk in a lovely hotel. The Corporate events have also been good for us because I can give a talk on the history of hats or teach millinery whilst meeting high end influential women.
I recommend that you network and show at as many places as possible without paying a lot for the exposure, if not the costs can run away with you.
Create a plan of action.
7) WHO DO YOU FOLLOW?
In millinery its Phillip Treacy and Stephen Jones, Noel Stewart and Pierce Atkinson.
Design wise I follow Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Zaha Hadid.
8)WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR?
In millinery you don't see the same client from month to month its usually year to year or every two years so I am always looking for new clients, what I should do is up sell other products to them.
9)WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE BEST ABOUT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
I am in love with the freedom of making my own decisions and being the boss, the creativity of being a designer and happiness it brings, being able to look at inspiration and put this into my work.
10)WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURS?
Hopefully you will read a lot of advice in this blog over time so please keep following but for now I would say, get everything in place before you launch but it doesn't have to be perfect, you will add to things over time.
Look at your business model, do you want to deal with private clients, wholesale, luxury or commercial and devise a plan to help achieve your goals.
Be creative and make some extraordinary pieces for press and attention, then make a few smaller pieces in your collection that will sell.
11)HOW DO YOU KEEP MOTIVATED WHEN YOU ARE HAVING A BAD DAY?
If I am having a bad day and don't want to go into the studio I force myself to go in and see people, that way I am kept busy and it all starts falling back into place again, don't stay on your own and wallow in your thoughts.
Try to work out why you feel that way and what you can do to fix it!
12)WHAT PLATFORMS DO YOU USE TO SELL YOUR PRODUCTS ON?
I use my own online shop to sell my products as well as the studio, most people find me through word of mouth or Google.
Indirectly I sell on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook etc, news letters, personal e mails.
Etsy is a good place to sell on and they also offer a lot of help.
Not On The High Street is also good for products especially personalised ones, however I don't think this is so good for high priced hats but someone might prove me wrong on this.
13)WHAT IS YOUR OBJECTIVE?
My objectives are to carry on creating sculptural hats, produce new designs, build up our events and the Inspiring Creative Women site so I can help you achieve your dreams!
I hope you got some useful information from this blog, if you did please share it.
Look out for the next blog post that will be on 'Selling your products' and sign up for the newsletter or your free Success Manual.
Thank you for your Time