If you've been reading my blog a while you may remember when I wrote about a wonderful business e-course called Hello Soul Hello Business that I did back in 2012. I loved it and my business has come on in leaps and bounds since participating. The course is about to run again, this time called The Business Soul Sessions starting on May 11th and Do What You Love have asked me if they can profile my business to illustrate what a difference it made to me. I loved the course so much that I have become an affiliate, meaning if you sign up through me I get a percentage so obviously I would LOVE it if you did!
Now this is a long post but if as a small business owner you are interested in seeing how other people grow their business (I always am) then this is for you. I've enjoyed looking back and reflecting on everything that has happened.
Where I was at before BSS.
In 2011 before The Business Soul Sessions my two businesses ‘Radiance’ (my shop) and ‘Hannah Nunn Ltd’ (my designer/maker practice) were sharing the same space. Radiance was doing really well and I had employed Matthew to help me out but in the 6 years that the shop had been open I had become completely distracted from my own design development, I was feeling frustrated as an artist and resentful about being disturbed by my customers! I had been intensely writing my book the previous year too which, although it was exciting, had taken me further away from my own work. Also my studio space was tiny and I needed to spread my creative wings. I decided to concentrate solely on Hannah Nunn Ltd for all the BSS exercises and explore how I could move forward.
In the ‘dreaming’ phase of the course I realised:
- I needed space from the shop. I needed to work in a private space and get into the flow of my work undisturbed - that this was the important work that I needed to be doing – my souls longing. I craved a large studio space with big windows, full of light and plants - a space that I LOVED so much that I didn’t want to go home! A place I could fit other people in comfortably to work for me, an organised production space.
- I imagined a pair of bright, young students doing an internship with me in the studio - me being a mentor, inspiring their practice as designers.
- I dreamed of designing wallpaper. I didn't know at the time whether I would licence patterns for wallpaper or have my own products but I knew about The Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design and decided I needed to take the course and learn how to make patterns. I had a picture of me rolling my wallpaper out on a long table in my light filled studio…
- I knew I needed a product which wasn't completely handmade. My lamps had got me so far but I needed to free myself up from the making process. I needed to make more money with less effort if my business was to have a healthy future.
- I needed a new website, an easy to manage selling site that conveyed the warmth and light of my products.
- I made a list of magazines I wanted to be in. Where Women Create, Gardens Illustrated and Country Living were on it.
Three years later I am very happy to say that it has ALL come into being. When I got my Country Living feature earlier this year it was the final piece of the picture and I was so happy. Here is a timeline of how it all happened.
Jan: Took the Business Soul Sessions e-course.
April: I began the first of three modules in the of Art & Business of Surface Pattern Design.
May: Took an inspirational trip to Japan. Found much inspiration for new website and wallpaper.
June: Started to work with Sarah Mason Photography. Her photos revolutionised my business.
July/August: My daughter Ffion who was about to study Software Engineering at Uni built my new website.
I did The Country Living Fair at Tatton Park Flower Show. I tried my hardest to get a magazine feature but it didn't happen. I got lots of new customers though.
September: Discovered The Simple Things Magazine and contacted them about working together.
October: Launched my book ‘Illuminate’ at Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.
Nov/Dec: Book reviews in Yorkshire Post, Simple Things, Craft & Design magazine.
We had the busiest Christmas season in the shop yet. It was chaos and I decided I absolutely needed to move studios. It didn't take long to find the absolute perfect space. Matthew was to work full time at Radiance so I could work in the studio. My Dad would work one day a week in the studio.
Radiance expands into the space I leave behind. Bigger and Brighter
I begin working to develop my wallpaper designs. I have decided that I am going to make my own product range.
February: I had a six page feature in ‘The Simple Things’ magazine, collaborating with Sarah Mason on photo project. (first paid bit of writing for a mag).
A blog post on Saltaire Arts Trail led to writing a piece in Pretty Nostalgic Magazine.
I hired a bookkeeper (at last).
March: Visited Anstey wallpaper for a factory tour and to discuss how we were going to print my designs.
Studio was featured in ‘Made in Paper’ magazine.
April: I did The British Craft Trade Fair after having had two years off to write the book. I had a bumper show as I was brand new to some and trusty and true to old timers. I took my wallpaper prototypes and got great feedback. I made the money I needed for my wallpaper set up costs and the production of the two papers that I had decided to print.
May: Set the wallpaper production in motion. After a colour day at the factory I had 32 colours to choose from and they were all so nice! I borrowed money from my Dad to take 6 papers to print. It was quite an investment.
July: Open studios. Great to have a big studio for everyone. Had amazing seconds sale. Able to show wallpaper prototypes again.
Student from Bradford Uni comes on a three week placement.
August: Styled photos with Sarah Mason for Pretty Nostalgic magazine. We spent many summer nights in the woods waiting for twilight to shoot lamps in the woods. It was fantastic.
September: Eight page feature in Pretty Nostalgic magazine.
Wallpaper arrives at the studio.
Employed Suzi Garlick 2 days a week to help build my wallpaper empire ;).
First wallpaper photoshoot.
Emma Linney, a student from Huddersfield Uni comes to do a three month internship.
October: Exhibited at GNCCF. Wallpaper went down well.
November: Wallpaper featured on Design Sponge blog. It gets over 3000 pins in a week. We get wallpaper enquiries from all over the world.
Wallpaper featured in Yorkshire Post Home section.
December: Christmas was busy but so good to be in a big space so we could work comfortably on fulfilling orders.
January: Exhibited at HOME London. Found new stockists and interior designers interested in wallpaper.
I contact Where Women Create with photos of new studio. They would love to feature me.
April: Exhibited at BCTF. Lots of new stockists.
May: Exhibited at ICFF in New York. I hoped to find a U.S wallpaper distributor but found a Japanese distributor which was even more fun.
Wallpaper featured in Gardens Illustrated, Moyo Magazine, Simple Things and on The Print & Pattern blog.
Country Living Magazine got in touch and asked if they could feature me. Hooray!
August: Added student Emma Linney to the payroll! Her internship came to an end but I wanted to keep her so offered her some paid work to get her through her final year at uni.
I did the Liberty Open Call. They loved my wallpaper but haven’t heard from them again…yet!
Start to research fabric printing due to customer demand.
Victoria Robinson makes dresses from my wallpaper. Featured in Yorkshire Post.
November: Featured in Where Women Create magazine in the U.S
December: I go to the States on a yoga retreat in the middle of my busiest month. My staff look after things brilliantly well. This feels like a big step forward. I have created more freedom.
January: Have sold enough wallpaper now to pay off all my debts and save for the next print run.
February/March: I start to work with Standfast & Barracks fabric factory to print my fabric and I get lots of sampling done.
I do a talk to Surface Pattern Students at Staffordshire Uni. They love it. Two of them are coming to do internships later in the year.
I start my next wallpaper design on its production journey.
April: I had a four page feature in Country Living Magazine April edition.
May: My new wallpaper just arrived.
My fabric is being printed and my customers are excited.
Sales are up 53% since I did the BSS :)
I have learned that taking that time to really focus on what matters most to me and my business was the biggest gift I could give myself. The success that has followed has given me the feeling that I am creating and shaping my destiny rather than just being swept along hoping for the best. It’s made me realise that I am pretty good at making dreams come true - holding a desired outcome in mind and taking the steps to make it a reality.
In the course we explored our deepest values and the very reasons we are in business in the first place. It took me a long time to craft my ‘mission in business’. Lots of soul searching, mind mapping and journaling.
‘I am an inspiration, uplifting others with my creativity, focus and success. When I light people up with my creations or inspire people with my creativity I feel like I am living my souls purpose, I am doing what I was put on the Earth to do!’.
I also try to remember that being in business cultivates the conditions to do what I love every day and to follow my true calling. This is SO precious to me and inspires me to look after my business so it can look after me long term.
Of course there is much more to the BSS course than dreaming. It covers everything you need - marketing, financing, planning, time management, generating ideas, design -all the stuff that you would expect to find in a business course but it does it all in a beautiful soulful way which speaks to the creatives inside of us and tells us we can do it!
I'm glad the Business Soul Sessions are coming round again because I'm ready for another dose. It’s time to create some even bigger dreams...
You can read more about the Business Soul Sessions on the Do What You Love website and you can see the course curriculum here.