Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
My business initially started as a side project while working full time for a National Newspaper in London as an art buyer of illustration. My background is in print design and I have a love of all things printed. Many of the illustrators I worked with were at the point in their careers where they wanted to expand on what they were doing and create their own work and not just work for commission. I took a stand at a local summer fair one year and sourced prints, cards, t-shirts, paintings and tea towels from many of those that I worked with and others that I didn't but just liked their work. It was an immediate success at that show. It took me 2 years to finally take the plunge to take it full time. I initially sourced limited edition prints from artists and Illustrators who I already knew. As time went on I reached out to other people whose work I admired and other people approached me.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
The first sales were all made in the real world - at summer fairs, Christmas shows and then on to pop-up shops and larger consumer, design shows and art fairs. That way I built up my mailing list by being visible. My biggest source of income is still from selling in the 'real world' at shows and events. However I do get a lot of visits to my website and then people make contact wanting to view work. I sell the less expensive pieces online.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
We use the Receiptful app which is a great app for sending out to customers which enables you to generate 'You may also like ' recommendations and unique discount codes. We also use the Shopify order printer and the better contact form. We also use the Shopify Facebook app. All shipments are done internally.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Don't expect to get a huge audience quickly - unless you spend time getting in the press. The web is a big place so you need to know who you are marketing to and what you are offering and then find them. My own personal experience has been about making sure people know who is behind the business - if it's just you and a couple of helping hands - that's OK! People like buying from people - and so earlier in the day I used to use the collective 'we' when in fact it was just me on a computer hiding behind the name. Respond to queries from customers quickly and always be helpful.