I know it is technically already day 13 of 2016 but it took me a good few days to reflect on 2015 as A LOT happened. I quit my job, signed up with the Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme and started a business! So I’ve tried to keep this summary of 2015 short but sweet with lots of photos 🙂
In January I started working at the Education First Head office in Chelsea and collaborated on a stationery range with Ellie Wilding (www.eleanorwilding.com) Ellie and I hit it off straight away and had a lot of fun together.
I finally quit my part time job that I’d had the whole way through university to go full time with creative stuff which was terrifying and actually still freaks me out occasionally, but has really helped me to stay focused.
My New Years resolution last year was to be more crafty and I got really into weaving and made myself a little loom using an old picture frame and some nails!
In March I was chosen to design two greetings cards for the Waitrose Graduate Collection 2016 in collaboration with Hallmark Cards. I’ve actually only just received the samples this week and the cards have unexpected glitter on them which I’m pretty excited about. They’re finally in shops January 2016 so any day now!
In April I started on my Prince’s Trust journey! I had a 4 day workshop in one of the grand old meeting rooms in RBS bank in the city. It was a tough 4 days and it was like being back at school, but it was great to meet some fellow young people also starting up their own businesses. We covered everything from designing promotional material to double-entry book keeping.
I also went to see Fleetwood Mac! They were incredible.
In June I started designing my new product range, researching manufacturers working out how much money I needed to get my products made and spent days feeling different swatches of fabric and paper stocks. This was super exciting.
Over the summer I attended a few more Prince’s Trust Workshops including a crash course on Search Engine Optimisation, social media, building a website and even confidence building where we did a strange meditation exercise in pairs! I also made a start on writing the huge document that was my Prince’s Trust Business Plan.
I had a little break and went to Latitude Festival to let off some steam while I waited for greetings card, notebook and fabric samples to arrive…
October 4th I showed my products to the world for the first time! I had a stall at Crafty Fox Market at the Dogstar in Brixton which turned out to be a great place to showcase my work. I was so excited to be selling next to other small handmade businesses that I had really admired from afar too.
After I was advised not to attempt to build my own website at the Prince’s Trust website workshop… I went ahead and did it anyway! And think I might have just about gotten away with it?! I spent an intense 2 weeks on it and got square eyes but launched it in mid October.
I became a member of Designers / Makers who are an international agency and online shop for contemporary design. They have a fab selection of designers under their wing including Rosie Moss and EH! (Emily Hayes).
I also started selling with The Lost Lanes, the UK’s largest ethical marketplace, which I’m really chuffed to be a member of. They sell a beautifully curated selection of ethically made products all made in the UK.
RENEGADE! I stepped up my booth display game and built a bench and a tea towel display stand for Renegade Craft Fair at the Old Truman Brewery which was the weekend of the 7th + 8th November. I shared a stand with my crafty friend Sophie Brabbins who I studied with at Leeds College of Art and we had a fab time! There was a really fantastic selection of sellers and the atmosphere was wonderful. I ate a really yummy and memorable salted caramel brownie too…
Business Plan Pitch/Launch Panel
A couple of days after Renegade I had to meet with a panel from the Prince’s Trust to pitch my business plan in order to get funding and a mentor. I took my product range down to Liverpool Street and was pretty nervous but was told it would not be like Dragon’s Den. It totally was though! I lived to tell the tale though and now I have a really great Prince’s Trust mentor that I will have regular meetings with potentially for the next 2 years!
Bust Magazine also featured me as a vendor highlight and wrote a blog post about me, calling me super sassy! You can read the blog post here: http://bust.com/arts/14903-bust-craftacular-london-vendor-highlight-natalie-lea-owen.html
My last stall of the Christmas market season was at Crafty Fox Market again at the Dogstar Brixton and this time I kitted my booth out with fairy lights, bauble decorations and some multi coloured wooden boxes to display my products in. Crafty Fox markets have really made me feel a part of the creative community and have introduced me to some fantastic new makers who share my enthusiasm for design and bright colours. Looking forward to another year of markets with them in 2016!
HAPPY 2016 AND HOPE THIS IS YOUR BEST YEAR YET!