Q: What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Starting my own business was my only option. As most freelance Artists know, it’s hard to earn a living from Art. So we have to find ways of utilising our skill base and making it work for us! The rise in handmade products in the giftware and stationery market motivated me. I noted that a lot of product was very simple to produce and very expensive to buy. I decided to design product that would offer a new perspective, affordable choice and hook into the DIY and Gay wedding markets.
Q: Tell us about your business…
Birdie and Bird design and produce original silhouette artwork and wedding stationery blanks for the DIY wedding market.
Our products are all designed and made in-house. We have multiple products within 6 collections available to buy from our website shop. ’Home’- a range of limited edition framed silhouettes for the home. These silhouettes are themed to fit with home décor-mirroring what is important to most people- whether it be family, love, or happiness. Only 10 of each of these paper cuts will be produced and new designs will be added seasonally. We have a ‘Wedding Paper Cut’ collection. These designs can be personalised with the names of the happy couple and wedding date. Our paper cut service is gay friendly and we personalise the silhouettes to reflect this. We have 4 collections of DIY wedding stationery blanks. From invites,place cards, napkin bands to menu cards. These items are cut on white linen card and sold in pack form, ready to be adorned by the bride or groom with whatever sparkles and ribbon they want. We aim, in future to offer workshops in ways to personalise our stationery blanks.
Q: How did you go about setting up your business?
I started off by doing a lot of research. I needed to understand the market I wished to enter, and if I could see myself producing a niche product. I then began writing my business plan. When I had the bones of the plan I contacted the Start Up loans company, who referred me to CWRT. I also dealt with the Local chamber of commerce, who offered valuable advice in finessing my business plan. When my plan was complete I applied for my loan through CWRT. When the loan came through, I began to put my plan into action.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far with running your own business?
The whole 3 month set up period has been a huge challenge. As I’m a sole trader, with a very limited start up budget, I have had to do most of it myself, and learn new skills as and when I needed to. I have designed all of my silhouettes using a new software package, which I had to learn from scratch. I designed my website, which was also a first for me. There is a lot of work in the set up period but I’m proud of all I’ve done in a short time with limited budget.
Q: How did/have you overcome these challenges?
I understand that, in running my own business, I have to delegate services/tasks that I can’t do, and widen my skill set and do what I can do myself. For instance, I did not have the skills/time to make frames for my work, so I sourced a local framer and organised a discount for repeat orders.
Q: What do you love about running your own business?
I love having an outlet for my creativity and offering a beautiful collection of products on my web shop. I love being able to see a product from design to completion and working when I want, for as long as I need to get a task done. I love making decisions and finding cost effective ways to make my ideas a reality.
Q: Are there any top tips that you would like to share with others thinking about starting or growing their own business?
- Choose something you are passionate about, because you will be working on it 24/7
- A business plan is vital. The plan helps you figure out so much about the business you want. It will save you money and forces you to pare down your ideas into a workable plan.
- Weigh up the financial risks every day. Don’t spend money on tasks you can do yourself.
- Be open to learning new skills
- Research, research, research
- Understand that in reality, it is unlikely you will see a profit for a long time, so dial back any pre conceived ideas of being a millionaire in 2 years!
Q: Why did you access financial support through CWRT?
I couldn’t lend from the banks, I had no assets or savings, so CWRT was my ‘last resort’.
Q: How has the loan provided helped you?
It has enabled me buy equipment, software and materials to make stock. It has facilitated me in setting up my web shop and given me options during the set up phase of my business.