The next business owner in the series is Holly Smart from Ginger & Fraggle. Holly along with her dog Fraggle (who features heavily on her Instagram account) produces greetings cards for the occasions when a regular high street card won’t do, and art prints to brighten your walls. She talks here of how she started the business while going through tough times, and how humour and intuition played their part.
How do you describe your business to your friends?
I design and produce hilarious greetings cards and more serious art prints (something for every side of them).
How long have you had your business?
Since November 2016
Where are you located?
In Colchester, Essex
What inspired you to start your business?
Sadly my big brother died very suddenly in January 2015 and a year later I was made redundant from a job I’d given my all to for over four years. My whole life felt like it was spiralling out of control. I started working again but knew it wasn’t everything I wanted.
A contact at work happened to mention she had a side-hustle and was running an event the following week where a brand had dropped out having a stall. Next thing I knew I was offering to have the stall even though I had no brand or products! In a week I pulled together a small product range, a brand and the beginnings of a website. I sold, I think, one card at the event, but by god did I feel a sense of achievement just because I’d said yes – there was no time to worry and overthink (I do all that now!) so turns out I work well under pressure!
What problem do you solve for your customers?
Finding original greetings cards that are off the traditional High Street track, cards that are a little more individual and in tune with a modern sense of humour.
And also my prints provide original art at High Street prices.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Definitely when I’ve done a bespoke commission of a print for someone and they feedback how much they love it or the person they gifted to loved it. Because that puts a huge smile on my face and gives me a fuzzy feeling inside!
What’s the biggest frustration with working for yourself?
Worry. I worry about everything.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I’m actually working on my digital marketing strategy including better SEO of my website. There is SO much to do it makes my head hurt.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
Sometimes you’ve got to stop planning and just do it. I think there’s a real tendency to over-plan and wait until you think everything’s perfect – trust me, there’s never a time when everything’s perfect.
What is your favourite product that you sell?
It depends what mood I’m in. Sometimes it’s my art prints that really float my boat but if I’m feeling cheeky then it’s definitely going to be one of my cards. My favourite card at the moment is a new baby card that says ‘Some new babies look like a potato but yours is lovely’.
If a celebrity was going to buy from you,who would you like it to be and why?
Chris Pratt because I reckon he’d get my sense of humour. Plus he’s beautiful (and single now, right?!).
Do you have a nickname?
When I worked for a Deaf charity I did get given a sign name that was to do with me always dropping food down myself when I eat!
Do you have a favourite food?
A simple Italian pasta dish (eaten in Italy)
What was your first ever job? What did you learn from it?
I worked in a Little Chef when I was 15. I learned that I was a crap waitress and I couldn’t resist the smell of toasted tea cakes.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I’m not planning on growing up anytime soon.
What is your favourite song?
At the moment, anything from the Greatest Showman soundtrack.
Do you have any pet hates?
First of all – Coriander!
I’m also trying to get better at being on the receiving end of unsolicited advice.
If I gave you an extra day in the week, what would you do with it?
What else should I know about you?
I probably prefer animals to people.
Holly started her business with little planning or preparation but she instinctively knew that there was a gap in the market that she could fill. Her greetings cards and art prints and her brand convey her sense of humour and approach to life – lighthearted and cheerful. Sometimes as small business owners we can get weighed down thinking we have to analyse everything before taking action, when actually we naturally know what is right for our customer. Sometimes it’s better to go with that gut feeling and take the risk. Maybe we should be more like Holly – think less and do more!