With the best will in the world, you may have set the career goal and know the job destination, however, your efforts to land that job is just not happening fast enough. How long do you keep going with the job interviews, unpaid work experience and internships? At what point do you stop and take stock of the situation and start thinking outside of the creative box.
When it comes to our careers, we our taught to think and pursue steps and ladders. In that the future is bright, the career future is linear. When the reality is that our careers are more like snakes and ladders. In that chasing the next promotion or job title may not be the answer.
With the help of a life or career coach we can give ourselves the time and head space to think about what we really want and what are the different ways to get there. Starting a business maybe the way to springboard you into your ideal job or a full-time career as an entrepreneur. Either way, by taking control of the situation pulling entrepreneurship out of your career toolbox could put you on path that is better than the one you first imagined.
Like Sophie Pollard. Founder and owner of Sophie Pollard Design. Sophie is a homeware designer and maker, specialising in beautifully hand drawn pieces using a wide range of techniques. Find out more about Sophie Pollard’s start-up story here.
Business Feature of the Week: Sophie Pollard Design
1) Tell me about your business?
I design and make eco-friendly giftware and stationary – ranging from cushions to baby bibs and greetings cards. I design and sew every product that I make.
2) When and why did you set it up?
I started my business 3 years ago with The Princes Trust because I had spent a long time interning and working unpaid hours in the print industry. I noticed how there was a huge amount of wastage and decided to start something different.
3) Where did you get your business idea from?
I’ve always loved the idea of creating beautiful things for the home and after seeing in previous work that my designs were good enough, I decided to go for it.
4) How did you set up your business?
I began my making a small collection of cushions – something that was easy to sew and I could test my designs on. This developed into a small range of products that I sold online. I approached the Prince’s Trust after I hit a wall and I didn’t know where to go from there. Completing the Enterprise course helped me gain the knowledge to go further.
5) What problems did you encounter? How did you overcome them?
I definitely struggled massively with confidence. When you’re just starting out as a maker you put an unbelievable amount of time into emailing and cold calling potential stockists. I found just picking up the phone was daunting, I realised I had a fear of rejection but honestly, with 50 ‘no’s’ that one ‘yes’ means everything and you get more confidence to keep going!
6) What 3 skills have you utilised and developed in setting up and running your business?
a) Organisation/timekeeping – This is probably one of the most important skills I had to learn. As a new designer you have to build a reputation and if something is late or disorganised, it can be really detrimental to the brand. I always pride myself on making sure an order is never late and made to the highest standard.
b) Sales Techniques – This is something I struggled with at first, I always wondered ‘how do I convince this person to buy something?’ I realised it’s not all about having the most amazing product, you have to be able to talk about your work well.
c) Pricing/Costs – It has taken me a while to get my head around pricing and margins etc. I always worried I charged too much or too little for something but taking advice from The Prince’s Trust and using pricing methods gave me confidence.
7) What 3 pieces of tech or resources could you not live without that help organise and manage your day/time? E.g. Iphone Cal, Safari, WhatsApp, Social Media
a) My moleskine – I take it pretty much everywhere with me, I write ideas, sketches and random bits in it as well as lists. Writing a list helps ease my mind with work too, you can’t beat a lovely notebook!
b) Shopify – This is a great little website builder and the app helps keep me updated with sales and figures so I don’t forget to post something!
c) Whatapp – It’s brilliant for quick and easy contact. I love the group chat, brilliant for organising meetings!
8) What have been the benefits to you in running your own business?
Naturally I love the creative control I have over everything – I can make something that I have put my heart and soul into - it’s a very personal thing. For someone to buy a product I truly believe in is an amazing feeling.
9) What has been your proudest business achievement so far?
As cliché as it sounds, I think my proudest moment was my first sale. I just remember being excited that it’s all real now!
10) In hindsight, what one piece of advice do you wish someone gave you when you started out?
Stop being scared and just do it! It took me a long time to get the courage to do little things looking back I probably could have grown a lot quicker with a little confidence.
Want to find out more?
Sophie designs her pieces not only to be aesthetically pleasing but to create something that you can touch, feel and ignite warmth and relaxation.
With a large collection of artwork from her journeys and adventures, Sophie decided to recreate these into decor for your home. Each item is exquisitely unique, delicately hand crafted exuding a sense of comfort.
Her products are all made with a passion and drive for a sustainable future; eco friendly dyes, recycled paper and plastic free packaging are just a few of the ways she aims to help the environment.
Connect with Sophie @:
Are you a woman in business? Do you have a Start-Up Story that you want to share?
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org