Wow what a year 2018 was! It was my first full year in business as I officially started at the end of 2017 when I left my full time job. Hannah Joy Designs (or Little.b designs as it was back then) only started out as a way of me destressing and having a creative outlet. I decided to start sharing some of my watercolour prints online and with friends and they started to sell. That is where my passion for my business began to grow. Don’t get me wrong it was a very slow start and in January 2018 I made a grand total of £0 (actually it was a minus figure if you take off what I spent but we won’t mention that!) but throughout the year it has grown and become something that I am very proud of.
I thought it would be nice to share with you a bit of a look back of the past year and more importantly some of my plans for 2019
Looking back on 2018
I learned a lot of lessons last year, some of which I wish to never repeat again! When I started out I didn’t really have a focus for the business, I just wanted to create things and share them with others. And so I made things for adults and children in all sorts of styles with very little focus, I changed things a lot and got bored easily when things didn’t sell (I still do this but hopefully less so now) this meant that sometimes time, energy and resources were wasted. However I don’t regret that, it was all part of the creative process and me discovering my brand. After a while I found myself being drawn towards creating products for young children and having more of a family focus. This is where my experience lies and I am so happy that I have taken my brand in this direction.
I have taken any and all opportunities that have come my way, some of these have paid off such as the fantastic shops that I currently stock in and some opportunities have been much less successful. I have stood there with a stall for hours of the day at events that have been practically empty. These times although frustrating have taught me a lot and will help me make different decisions this year!
Although my business started with all watercolour designs I never planned for it to stay that way forever and in the second part of 2018 I brought out my wooden décor range. These have been very popular and have really helped my business to grow. The personalised Christmas baubles were particularly popular which has got me thinking about how I can make something like that an all year round product for you guys.
I worked very spontaneously throughout the whole year. I am not used to planning ahead and tend to get inspiration when each season or celebration starts. However this is not a very productive way to run a business and it did lead to some last minute panic at times, so this year I have started planning ahead more. There will inevitably be some last minute products as inspiration strikes because that’s just the kind of person I am!
All in all 2018 has been amazing and I have met some amazing and inspirational people who run their own businesses along the way. There have been times when I have felt like I wanted to give up (and I am sure there are more of those to come!) but these people and the lovely customers I have met have kept me going so I am very excited for the next year.
There will be lots of new designs and products this year, my head is full to the brim with ideas. There will be new wooden décor and gifts and I will be working on ways to offer more personalised options on lots of these because we all love personalised gifts. I am also going to release some new prints, I haven’t done any new prints for a while and they are my first love so I am really excited to get my paint brushes back out. There will be more animals and also some personalised prints for babies and family members. Look out for something special for mother’s day.
I plan to grow this blog so that I am offering you lots of useful content about activities and all things children and parenting. I have years of experience working with children and families as a family support worker and a childcare manager and have a degree in early years so I have a lot of experience and professional knowledge to share.
Last year I did some freelance design work for some companies and I really enjoyed working on those projects. I hope to do much more of this in 2019 and already have some projects lined up that hopefully I can share with you soon.
I hope to reduce my use of plastic packaging this year, this is a tricky one as especially in shops and when I have a stall the plastic wallets stop the products getting dirty or damaged, but I will do what I can to reduce how much I use and will be trying out different types of packaging throughout the year.
Something that I am very excited about is a new venture which is launching this week. I have joined forces with my friend Cat who runs a fab business called Life of Piris. Our new venture is called Indigo Avenue and will be launching on social media in the next couple of days. It will be a place where we share lifestyle content particularly aimed at families (but not exclusively) and we will be showcasing small independent businesses that we know and love. I will be a fun and positive place with lots of variety and (hopefully) useful content. If this is something that sounds interesting to you then we would love your support, you can follow us on Instagram and Facebook
I am hoping to take my business beyond retail this year. I will still be designing and making products and so that side of my business won’t change but I will be also focusing on the other things mentioned above (freelancing and Indigo Avenue) and there is another project that I am planning that will be coming soon. I realise that is annoying and cryptic but with everything else that is going on this project is still only in the very early planning stages. You will be one of the first to know when I am ready to launch though so watch this space.
I am hoping that 2019 is a big one for me and my business I certainly have lots of plans! I hope you follow along and join in with the journey as you are the most important part!