Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Behind the Scenes at made by lolly : All About Me

So now you know all about my Branding, my Favourite Suppliers and my Favourite Tools...

But what do you know about me?

Well, maybe that depends on who you are!

But regardless of what you may already know about me, I thought today, on made by lolly's 4th birthday, it might be a good idea to do a #MeetTheMaker type post where you can find out 
All About Me! 

I'll also be answering some of your 'Ask me Anything' questions!


Perhaps we'd better start with the introductions.



My name is Laura Smith and I am the designer/maker/owner of made by lolly

Like many small business owners, I am also the administrator, the photographer, the accountant, the copyrighter, chief biscuit eater and cleaner*.

When I'm not working at made by lolly I have a PT job out in the real-world, working as an administrator for a charity.


*You'll understand that with all my other roles, not a lot of cleaning ever gets done


Some interesting facts about me and made by lolly:

 

  • I have just realised that my bathroom windowsill is the best place in the house to take decent product photos!
  • I rarely ever have any music on when I am working.
  • I love the feeling you get when a new idea just bubbles up, apparently out of nowhere. I can't wait to get back into the workroom and see whether it works out the way I imagine it!
  • I NEVER draw any of my ideas out on paper. I cut sample shapes in a variety of colours and layer, fold, cut, stitch and manipulate until I have some samples that I am happy with.
  • My favourite time of year is when I get to choose which colours of felt are going to be included in the made by lolly Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter Collections.
  • I bounce a lot of my new ideas off my other half. Especially when I have got to the final design stages and am working out the RRP of an item. I do it so often that the question: 'How Much?' has become a catch phrase in our house!
  • Compared to my desk at my day-job - which is spotless - the desk in my home workroom is usually rather more chaotic.

Ask me Anything....


Do you have any tips for sourcing wholesale materials?
  • Search, search and search again! There really is no shortcut. Google is your friend. Try the most common or obvious search terms first but also think laterally too. What else might a wholesaler be selling that might show up quicker in search results?
  • Always keep a record of all interesting looking suppliers and wholesalers - even if you don't need to purchase now! I guarantee  6 months down the line you'll be looking for something and you'll say to yourself...
"I know, there was that website I found while I was looking for  'Y'. I'm sure that sold 'X' too... Mmm but what website was it?"
  • Don't be put off if you can't initially see prices or minimum order quantities, companies will be happy to share these if you send an enquiry email. It's always worth asking as sometimes the minimum order is smaller than you think! 
  • You could also try joining forums and groups related to your area of work - they are often a fantastic source of insider information!
  • Consider approaching some of the other small supplies businesses that you currently use and seeing if they will give you a bulk buy discount. It won't be as cheap as wholesale but you won't have as large a minimum order.

Do you have any tips for marketing your work?
  • I really admire businesses that have a very consistent approach to their branding, marketing and display, and this is something that I strive for in my own work. 
  • For me, the key starting point was to create a 'word cloud' of all the things that I thought were important to my business, with the things that were more important appearing in large letters at the top of the page, and the things that were less important in smaller letters lower down.
  • This became my 'style-guide' and a visual reminder of what I was trying to communicate about my business. So now, whether I am designing a new product card, writing a tweet, designing a poster, updating my packaging, etc, I try to refer back to my word cloud to check that it remains in keeping with my brand values.

What's the best business tip you've learnt in 4 years?
  • Price for Profit.
  • Sometimes it is hard to see the true cost AND the true value of the work that you do. Whatever stage that your business is at, and whatever you are selling, it is absolutely essential that you take EVERYTHING into account when pricing your products. 
  • As well as the direct costs of materials and packaging, you need to factor in your time. And not just for how long it takes to make. How long do you spend  photographing and editing? How long does it take to list the item on your website? How long does it take to package the item? How much time do you spend on social media advertising the item? (This is something that took  me a very long time to learn!) 

Where will made by lolly be in another 4 years?
  • To be perfectly honest... I don't know?!
  • That's not an intentional cop-out of answering the question - honestly! What I mean to say is, while I have some short and medium term goals that I think are really important and are intended to push made by lolly forward, at this stage I don't have any fixed long-term plans!
  • Looking back over the last four years, it has not been the most straight forward of journeys, and there is plenty that I would do differently then, if I knew what I know now! However, the thing I love most about my business, and my role within it, is how flexible it is. Over the last four years my business has grown and developed into something I am truly proud of. But it has grown at a rate that is responsive to what I have learnt and how I feel. It is my intention to keep learning, and keep growing my business - whilst enjoying the luxury of a work-life balance that I control!
  • So, I guess the real answer to your question is... I shall see how I feel!



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