One Year On: Business Q&A

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Who knew there's a day more exciting than my birthday, Christmas and New Year combined?
That's right! Bert turns 1 today - and what an incredible year it's been.
From a very humble and unplanned beginning to the mini wins of Etsy sales, craft fair success and meeting so many incredible creative people. As I'm sure you know, I asked you guys if you had any questions for me on this special day. So without further ado, here are the answers!
1. How did you start, or what made you start your business? #yayeveryday2016 Instagram challenge
Grab your cuppa and a furry pal because this one might take a while! It all started (don't worry, I know how cliche that sounds) when I was very ill and in the process of being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I had more time to focus on what I wanted to do and what made me happy, and I stumbled on the #yayeveryday2016 art challenge. Each day was a different prompt and when I saw the prompt for the next day was 'Parasaurolophus Party', I knew I was onto something. People liked my sketches (?!) and it felt great. I've spent most of my adult life running away from art and illustration and yet here it was, as if it was inevitable, gaining followers who wanted me to share my talent. I thought that at some point I would try and make this into something, and I was given that final push when I was contacted about having a stall at a local craft fair. With that my first batch of products was created and soon after my Etsy shop opened.
2. What is the "why" behind what you do? bert illustration stall at handmade craft and vintage fair
I spend a lot of time thinking about this. I love quirky, unique, pretty stationery, homeware, gifts and cards. Bringing joy to a friend or family member make my heart burst with happiness - especially when you get it just right. As a girl, I've always been conditioned to love smush and pink and all things stereotypically female, and that's just not me. I like dinosaurs, plants, bugs and a wicked sense of humour. So I make products for less ordinary gals like myself, who should be celebrated with the things they actually like, not just anything pink.
3. Where do you find inspiration? Taking inspiration from nature
I take inspiration from nature, puns, my puppy, feminism, Beyonce and my own relationships with friends and family. I tend to have most of my ideas when I take the pup on a walk, or just before I'm about to drift into sleep (which can be the single-handedly most annoying thing when you're a bed slug like me).
4. What is the best advice anyone has given you about social media? How I use social media
This is a tough one when you yourself teach people how to use social media!
Harking back, I think it has to be that you do not need to be everywhere. Master a platform, then add another. For me, it started with Instagram and Facebook and I'm only now moving to Pinterest. Don't spread yourself too thin and just concentrate on getting one right. And know what platforms actually fit your brand!
5. What do you find is your most successful path for finding new customers? New customers
Nothing beats meeting potential customers in person at craft fairs. You get their feedback, get to know them a little better, and they have a face attached to your business that they won't easily forget. That being said, I get most of my business from Instagram on the whole, because you have the chance to build long term relationships from your platform. Forgetting sales and customers, I have made so many friends on Instagram - other creatives, customers, people that want me to succeed. And that is invaluable.
6. How did you develop your style? How to develop your artistic style
This is a great question. When I was at school I found it incredibly difficult to experiment. I liked pencils and intricate detail and not a lot else. I've always been irrationally afraid to fail, and so it was only when I had failed that I opened up to taking risks. I am constantly finding ways to play with my style - and often different tools and media make a difference: sometimes I draw left-handed, go to a life drawing class, use outrageously different materials (my greatest love is my 0.05 fineliner, so sometimes it's worth going to the extreme opposite - a chisel tip extra large permanent marker, for example) and often I won't sketch it out before I paint. I slap the paint on the page and make it work.
7. How has your outlook changed in the year you've been in business? Have your goals changed or adjusted since experiencing this first year? Setting goals for your business
I'm way more confident and comfortable talking about my business. To begin with it made me cringe because I was nowhere near the success of other people in my industry. Truth is, it does not matterI've learned to own my experiences, my sales, my place in the bigger picture. My goals have definitely changed because I aimed way too low. I thought I'd have a harder time, that it would be a slower burn, but now I've had that experience I'll know how to set more aspirational goals in the future.
1st business birthday
Thank you so much for your questions! I hope the answers are of some interest.
When's your business birthday? Let me know in the comments or on insta! I'd love to celebrate with you

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