I've never really been one for new years resolutions as I believe that personal growth should be a constant, however, a year into running my own business I've realised the importance of reflection.
When the pressure is all on your shoulders it’s easy to keep just pushing forward, but without stepping back and reviewing 2018 I would not get the opportunity to gain perspective, learn from my mistakes, and grow from my successes.
So here’s how my year went – hopefully you can take something away from my experiences;
My first valentines collection - after the Christmas rush I left myself too little time to bring out a full valentines set and instead I just added two designs to my store. This lack of preparation showed in slow sales.
I’ve learned the hard way that forward planning is key to selling.
Talking of romance, we had an unconventional trip to Paris; wandering the rain soaked streets in search of art, graveyards, and abandoned buildings left me with plenty of inspiration for my sketchbook.
Not gonna lie, I felt a bit sorry for myself after such slow sales but instead of moping I signed up to join the Princes Trust Enterprise Programme.
I also realised that working from home wasn’t working for me so I got a hot desking place at Camden Collective
I took a break and went snowboarding for a week.
This break took me off track in the best way, I found inspiration in the mountain scenery and sketched for the love of it again. This resulted in my mini prints travel set documenting some of my favourite places; LA, New York, The Alps and The Arizona Desert.
I was right back to work as soon as I landed and started my week long Prince's Trust course. A classroom feels like a prison to me so I wasn't sure how I'd get on back in that environment. Despite my reservations and restlessness I learned a lot about my own ability and gained focus on where I wanted my business to go.
I tried to use what I had learned at the Enterprise Course to get my business into gear which meant less drawing and more admin.
In between all the spreadsheets and word documents I managed to launch a new set of birthday cards!
I had my first meeting with my Prince's Trust mentor and started work on my business plan.
I invested in a Canon 100s and started selling prints!
I also upgraded my packaging to be plastic free, recycled cardboard and made a new logo.
I got stressed about how much work goes into a business plan and learned a lot about numbers.
I’m gonna be honest I HATED being pulled away from my sketchbook to focus on spreadsheets BUT it was a huge learning curve for me and has made a difference to the way I now work. In hindsight it was worth all those weeks of being bored to literal tears.
Pablo and I took a much needed trip to Hamburg where we were spoiled by the amount of street art, coffee, and beer.
I handed in my final business plan and got it signed off by the Prince's Trust and celebrated with two of my favourite events: Pride and Assembly Chopper show.
I launched my own website with Big Cartel instead of being solely on Etsy.
I finished my wrapping paper designs but months later they have STILL not hit my store, because I can't figure out the best way to package them.
I learned that jumping into things is not the most productive way to run a business.
I really missed travelling so put that energy into a set of 4 travel inspired prints.
Wow this was a busy one.
I pitched my business to the Prince's Trust Launch panel, which is kind of like a Dragon's Den scenario where three industry experts run through your business and decide whether it viable.
Thankfully it was and I passed!!
This was a big personal win for me, I struggled through the business planning process and it was validating to have people believe in my idea. Also struggling from social anxiety it was a huge deal to be able to get through the presentation which is my idea of hell on earth.
Natasha took me along to Print Club for a Screen Printing course where I not only fell in love with the process but also the space.
Cue one week later and I moved into the co-working space next door. Though Collective was great, having my own desk space and being surrounding by other creatives has increased my productivity exponentially.
I once again got way to enthusiastic and after getting hands on printing and ordered 100 t-shirts to put my designs on. 3 months later they are still unprinted and sitting under my desk.
Yet another hard lesson in product planning and cashflow.
Spooky season is my absolute favourite time of year so to celebrate I brought out my first coloured set of prints.
We also took a much needed break and road tripped through Canada where I fell completely in love with the landscape and people.
Back to reality, and pushing jet lag aside, I did my first ever stall! I knew that the date I had been given with Urban Makers East at Spitalfields wasn’t ideal but it was another big milestone for Emma Inks Studio and I got to meet a bunch of great customers in real life.
There was loads of preparation that went into even a simple store set up but that’s something I can go into at a later date you’d be into it?
The run up to Christmas is always an exciting time and this year I was ready for it! I had my card collection ready to go, and a sales plan in place.
I also switched my website over to Shopify from Big Cartel which I'm stoked with. This is another topic I’m more than happy to go into further detail on if it would be of interest to you guys, just let me know.
I hit the screen printing studio again, and loved it just as much as the first time. I definitely want to create more prints in 2019 so watch this space...
I got a reminder that things never go exactly to plan and adaptability is key to business ownership!
Most of the stalls I had planned fell through due to incompetent market management meaning that I missed out on key physical sales dates.
It wasn’t all gloom and doom though, I met some awesome people while selling at Print Club Christmas Fair and my online sales were more than double the year before.
I also finished my valentines collection
That's a wrap
I think the main things I've learned are that;
- Planning is key
- Spreadsheets are a necessary evil
- Stop wasting time on shit you feel like you need to do
- Find what and who inspires you and do more of that
- Not to let one setback define your long term goal
WARNING - You might want a sick bucket for how soppy this sounds BUT thank you for all of you who have been here over the past year or are brand new to Emma Inks Studio, your support is allows me to follow my dream everyday which I am truly grateful for.
A very honest look at your year of growing your business. I think your designs get better and better. I am so proud of your achievements so far. Onwards and upwards.