I was invited to chat about all things biz on a podcast recently with the gorg Emily Osmond (the cute business coach chick!). We talked about how my business started, literally right from the start. Like... when I used to work in our guest bedroom. And I thought… this is actually a pretty funny but real story and I really should share this more.
The podcast had such amazing feedback that I thought I should turn this (rather long) story into my first ever journal post. So here it is – you might want to grab a cuppa.
In my previous life
By day I was a graphic designer (doing boring flyers) and by night I was obsessing over all things art and interiors. It was calling my name – I just HAD to explore this but didn’t want to quit the day job just yet.
It was around the time when Etsy became big (remember etsy?!) there were oodles and oodles of pretty prints you could buy – you know like the ‘quote’ posters or pictures of colourful triangles – ha! I was hooked and decided I wanted to give it a crack, set up my own Etsy store and start selling! It was a great way to cut my teeth on the fine art print biz (printing/packaging/shipping) but overall my work looked just like everyone else’s – all that ‘same same’ generic ‘oh that would look nice in my butlers pantry’ type artwork. Nothing wrong with it… but yeah, you get my drift.
One day I had the idea of drawing my dachshund sleeping in all his different positions… I worked out a way to draw these in a fluid natural style on the computer, placed them all side by side and called the artwork ‘The Dachshund Sleep Study.’ Then my little Etsy store went bananas. I was sending out 100s of prints all over the world and it led me to purchasing my own fine art printer and quitting my day job. I was like – holy shit people like dachshunds. But furthermore – I realised the artwork was a hit because it was a completely original idea and no one else was doing it. Boom. First big lesson learnt – don’t look at what anyone else is doing. Just make good art.
Flowers have my heart
Now don’t get me wrong - sleeping dachshunds are very cute but I didn’t want to just create ‘cute’. I wanted to create statement pieces that people would keep forever. Flowers are my most favourite subject in the world so hey, why not draw some? I used my newly developed loose-line digital style to draw the flowery/botanical leafy shapes that I love and out popped my first little collection (Still Life), which I decided to launch on my own website separate to Etsy. I did all my own photos of the collection which were terrible but just good enough I suppose, I did my best!
Despite not having a big following on Instagram my new range just started selling. Then I started getting little shops enquiring about wholesale. I had to think quick on my feet and act like I knew what I was doing and would stay up late creating wholesale price lists, so I looked professional! When my artworks started appearing in shops, and then these shops started taking photos and sharing/tagging me on Instagram that’s when it all started to snowball.
With just this first little collection of four artworks I was lucky enough to be invited to sign up with Greenhouse Interiors. They got me doing professional photo shoots and I started to understand the hows/whys of the industry – most of all why you should invest in killer photos. Great photos means you will get into magazines but probably most importantly – create a vibe for your brand.
Hiring an assistant
It was 2017 and I was onto my third botanical collection and getting busier. I had two little boys who took turns at staying home from daycare with sniffles and I was also wanting a third baby (crazy) and I just needed some HELP god damn it! Somehow the universe sent me Rose – who is now one of my closest friends. I still remember clearly when she came for a job interview and I had to very embarrassingly show her into my guest bedroom/office which had desks wrapping around everywhere, even one over the bed. BLOODY EMBARASSING!!!!! But lucky for me she was cool with it. She got to work helping with packaging and address labels and even entertained the kids if she had to. (ps for those wondering… when we had guests my husband and I would give them our room and we would climb under the desks to sleep in the guest bed – I’m serious).
Onwards and upwards
Rose has been like having a best friend by my side to ‘figure shit out’. Trade fairs, photoshoots, framing… how to package framing… gawd… how to ship framing?? What does a 100m roll of bubble wrap look like? Where will we put this?! It’s been an epic ride and the demand just kept growing with every new collection. We had totally outgrown the guest bedroom by this stage obvs so hubby and I renovated the workshop part of our shed so we could finally have an office that didn’t have a queen bed in it.
I used to reverse my car out of the shed every time we needed to wrap a frame – we would just roll out a rug and wrap frames on the floor. Then I got busier again… and now I don’t have a car park anymore. We have a few fold out tables from bunnings which I thought would just be temporary while I had this ‘rush’ but it hasn’t slowed down. Now I think we need to upgrade the bunnings tables. Any maybe upgrade our house so we have a bigger shed.
Our growing team
Keddie joined our team in 2019 when we realised we needed a hand with filling orders and wrapping frames. And she is basically an encyclopedia of interiors which is a huge perk. Then Rachael joined our team in 2020 to help take over the admin stuff and get our systems looking geek-chic. We also have Domi who is the young energetic uni student who comes during sale time because it is just crazzzzzy for a good month at a time.
I feel like I have won the lottery of life with this business – if I could just keep doing this until I’m an old lady I would be happy. Of course I’m going to explore so much more though too – like clothing and products, etc, and definitely upgrade the HQ. But things are pretty damn good right now and I’m super proud to have created this business from the ground up.