And last, but definitely not least, Lauren from Lauren Aston Designs. I am a massive fan of everything Lauren does (in fact I have multiple products of hers, including the Santa hats she mentions below!). If I was answering this questionnaire, Lauren would be my inspiration. Everything about her is exactly what I aspire to be, whether it is her talking about going to Tesco too much, or how much milk Alex brought to her gorgeous chunky knits and her beautiful personality, I am and will forever be a proper fan girl.
How did you get started?
I have been knitting since the age of 11, having been taught by my Grandmother. It took a good few years and a degree in knitwear to truly cement my passion, but now I adore it! I love the tactility of making something so big and cosy, and always wanted to hand knit but knew I needed to do it quite quickly, so the biggest yarn I could find seemed a great solution to that. Because of this, I went on a mission to find/develop the yarn and after a lot of research and practice I managed it!
What is your favourite thing about running a business?
For me it’s the freedom, to be able to create what I want, and when I want – but also love that other people can make the things I design. It makes me so happy to see people sharing the items they’ve made and seeing the enjoyment they get from it. I get a lot of messages to say it’s helped people with their mental health and it means the absolute world that I can be a small part of a solution for someone.
Who is your inspiration?
I would say my inspiration doesn’t come from a person but from trends and the materials themselves as they’re so easy to manipulate. I mess around a lot with stitches and then imagine it in different shapes and sizes etc.
I spend a lot of time on Pinterest but I’m very careful not to look at competitors. I find if I see a great chunky knit blanket it gets stuck in my head and I can’t think about anything else. I really want to do my own thing rather than emulate anyone else’s.
I’m more likely to search ‘fun cushions’ for instance and that might lead me on to consider pompoms and their placement or colour combinations.
What is, in your opinion, the most important thing to remember when running a business?
Other than To Do lists, I’d say that utilising the quiet times is really important. For me that’s around June/July and I really make the most of these months to build stock, prep social media and plan blog posts. I make sure I have everything I need for Christmas from swing tags and compliment slips to cardboard boxes and packaging tape.
It’s so important to make the most of those times as it really does help in the busy periods. The more organised you can be, the better!
What do you consider your biggest business achievement?
Without a doubt, selling 6 of my stockings to Victoria Beckham and then seeing them on her Instagram stories, 2 years running. Having grown up in the Spice Girls era watching her go from super cool Spice Girl to incredible fashion icon, I’ve always adored her so it was truly mind blowing (I cried so much I had to go to bed the first time!) I don’t think I’ll ever get over it!!
Tell us a fact about your business: (this can be how much sellotape you go through, or a funny fact people wouldn’t know - anything!)
It’s hard one because there is so much that happens behind the scenes that I doubt anyone would find interesting, but I always love doing the ‘numbers’ blog at Christmas time. Just as an example, we’ve sold over 3,000 Santa hats during the last three Christmas’s! As soon as Christmas is over we start knitting them again!
What is your favourite product / service you offer?
I love the knitting kits – the scarf kit is great for beginners and I get told that people become addicted once they’ve had a go! And then the cardigan kit is one of my favourites for those who have already done some knitting, I love seeing the colours that people have chosen – some that I wouldn’t choose myself but totally adore! It’s amazing seeing my designs made up and making people so happy! You can shop all Lauren’s DIY kits here.
What is your number 1 advice for someone thinking of starting a business?
Be passionate about what you do! You invest so much into it that you need to absolutely love it. And start something that is totally unique, and own that USP – it’s so important to have a product that stands out, and your customers will love you for it. I’ve written loads about starting a small business on my blog so please do take a read in case there’s anything helpful on there! It’s certainly not an easy option working for yourself but there are so many positives and it’s exciting too!