Unfortunately I do not have one creative idea when it comes to names. I’m always the person in the pub quiz team who does not have one single suggestion for a team name. I asked a writer friend for a suggestion and he said ‘Papermash’ straight away. He actually was joking, but I liked it, and I thought it was easy to remember.
How old is your shop?
I started working on it in January, but it only launched one month ago.
What inspired you to start your own home business?
I have felt really restricted by working full-time for someone else for quite a few years, even though I have loved every job I have ever had. A few years ago I did a course on how to set up a fashion label – another idea I had – but it’s hard to find small-scale manufacturers in the UK, and it would involve a large financial investment. I’ve always loved design, so I thought I could start with paper goods, as my initial investment could be small. I have seen such beautiful paper goods ever since I started reading blogs – so it was easy for me to identify suppliers I wanted to buy from. I’m an accountant, but I love to be creative, so running my own small business is a perfect outlet for me.
What was the toughest challenge you faced so far?
The first web designer I had (who was recommended by a friend) was absolutely useless. I could go on and on about various issues, but he never answered his phone or returned my calls and it drove me crazy, and took a few days to reply to emails. According to him, he has to screen his calls because all of his customers think their project is the most important. Em, yes… But my website was due to launch in two days and I still had only had a (terrible) first draft – and he still did not return one phone call. I had to walk away from him, even though he then offered me a discount – it set me back two months.
How did you get over it?
I was lucky enough to find a great web designer (who I just found online) who understood what I wanted and was able to turn the whole thing round in a few weeks. I decided to use Shopify, which is a back-end solution package, so the web designer just had to do the front end design, which is reasonably straightforward.
the things you do when you’re not busy in your shop. . .
I’m still working four days a week, so with that, my business and my blog , I don’t have too much free time. I love going to car boot sales and farmers’ markets – and going to the cinema by myself in the afternoon. I’m afraid I often run away from the chaos that is my flat – and sneak off to the cinema instead.
stuff inside your bag you can’t leave home without. . .
I’m sorry to say that I’m carrying round Valium and water – I hate travelling on the Tube as I’m really claustrophobic when it gets stuck in tunnels. I’ve never had to take it, but I feel a bit more reassured that I have it with me – and my phobia is much better than it used to be. I’ve been really blessed that I haven’t had to commute on the Tube for three years, and I avoid it as much as possible. I’m not the kind of girl who carries round a hairbrush or lipstick – although I should smarten up a bit.
your favorite shops. . .
I love Top Shop and Reiss for clothes – and Jigsaw for bags and shoes, even though I have bought hardly any clothes over the last few years. I have seen this bag on Etsy and I have to have it – so I’m saving up for that, and also for a belt from Rachel’s Etsy shop.
your top 3 favorite picks from your shop. . .
What tips would you want to share for aspiring home based entrepreneurs like you?
At the risk of sounding really boring, everyone should have a really thorough business plan. How many items do you need to sell to make the salary you want? Can you even send out that many orders without employing another member of staff? Have you included things like wastage, press samples, tax, printer toner etc in your business plan? ‘Goal seek’ (an Excel tool) is your friend….does anyone else know what that is…?
Being professional goes a long way. One supplier I have been dealing with has offered me free postage on my first order to test the market, free press samples, and has assured me that they always have 1,000 in stock – although I’m not sure if their product is right for the UK market, I’m going to test their product as I have been impressed by their professionalism. I am much more likely to order from them that someone who takes a week to respond to my query.
Any message to your customers and the people who support you?
Thank you to everyone who has made a helped me so far! And thanks to my friend Gemma who introduced me to Daily Candy about a year ago – I’ve just been featured in their London edition and it’s had a huge effect on sales. I’m offering a small discount to Shopbug readers until the end of this month – 10% if you enter ‘shopbug’ at checkout.
Thanks Rachel for featuring my shop!
~*~*~*~I love beautiful paper so I love most of the items in the shop. These are my favorites: