Before reading this post, I recommend catching up with The 5 Best Things I Did for my Business Part 1.

That post was written nearly a year ago, and things have grown a fair bit since then so I thought it was worth an update. Part 1 was written just a short while after I'd started working full time on Little Nell, so it was about adapting my routine and getting used to working alone. Part 2 is about growing my brand, and learning from people far wiser than myself. (Rather than thinking I already know it all...)


I'd like to say I've always found the creative community really warm and friendly, and for the most part, it has been. But there have definitely been moments when I felt like everyone else had a Twitter clique, and the internet can make it hard to tell who is your internet friend, and who is your actual friend. Recently I've joined a few closed Facebook groups set up for this exact thing. (And now I actually use Facebook again!) It's so lovely to find an encouraging place, which provides invaluable advice from people who've been exactly where I am, and have grown their business into something amazing. I feel hugely grateful that they make time to help people like me, and to see they're still learning too. Try searching for groups local to you, or linked to your most popular marketplace sites as a starting point. 


Heading to a Trade Show was definitely one of the riskiest things I've done for my business, and there are no guarantees it will work out. (You can read all about my experience here). I've been attending trade shows for about 8 years, but this was my first with Little Nell. Each show is different, and you never quite know how it's going to go, and it can be so easy to feel disheartened if you don't come back with a folder full of orders and contacts. But pushing yourself to take a calculated risk can be a really rewarding experience. It would have been really easy to not go, and happily keep plodding along in my comfort zone, but if you never try, you'll never know. So far, I'm really enjoying working with retailers, I'm sure part of it is the novelty of doing something new, but each time I get a new stockist it feels like a new Brownie badge, and I just want a really nice collection to sew onto my shirt.

And as costly as it is, I can never be too mad about the excuse to buy new furniture on the business account.


I feel a bit daft that I didn't do this sooner, but I just didn't know it existed. It was a bit of a faff setting things up, but things are so much easier now. I do all my own post online, then just drop off the bags at the Post Office. No more queuing up for all those international orders, or taking forever posting next day delivery purchases at Christmas... And it's cheaper. Win. Win.


If you're selling your products through sites that you don't own, then you don't have control, and they can make any changes they like which could be hugely detrimental to your business. (Which one HUGE marketplace recently did and left some sellers out of the job, and looking for a new career with very little warning). This is where I've been focussing my attention recently, branching out to retail, and working with some new carefully selected marketplaces. Being dependent on one channel was a really big concern for me when Little Nell became my sole income, and not only that, I felt it was leading me in a particular direction, that wasn't completely in line with the vision I had for my business. Which leads neatly onto my last point...


I don't want to criticise marketplaces, because I think they're awesome and there is no way I'd be where I am now without them, but the downside was I found myself creating products to please them, hoping to be featured in their marketing, rather than creating the jewellery I really wanted to make. I find it a challenge to balance commercial success with creative satisfaction, and my best-selling products aren't always the ones I'm most proud of. Whilst I refuse to make jewellery that compromises on quality just because it might sell well, I also need to accept that there will be ranges I personally love, that just won't sell and need to be retired. It's getting a happy balance between the two and since branching out to work with a wider range of retailers and marketplaces, I've found a comfortable middle ground. My best selling range at retail is my worst selling one on Different retailers have different target markets, and I'm so glad I took a risk of launching something different, because it paid off. Don't be disheartened if a range doesn't sell on a particular channel, it doesn't mean it's a flop, it just might be better suited elsewhere.

WE'RE WINGING IT, AND THAT'S OKAY April 26 2016, 1 Comment

I met someone recently who had followed me online for a while, and assumed Little Nell was far bigger than it is. They thought I had staff, and that I was a proper professional, with a real studio (not a pokey attic with a bit of damp). I laughed, the thought genuinely amused me. But when I thought about it, I'm guilty of trying to portray that online, not all the time, but definitely some of the time. I always refer to Little Nell as 'we' because I finding saying 'I' a bit odd (I am not my business), and when I had a full-time job, I rarely mentioned it on Twitter for fear it would make me look less professional. My life does not look like my instagram feed, I only post the good-looking bits. (You can follow me on snapchat for the less glamorous bits @little_nells.)

The internet is full of advice, half the blog posts on my feed seem to be telling me 'How to increase your social media following' and 'Top Tips for achieving the perfect work/life balance'. I'm not against these posts, hey, I've even written some, but it can make you feel that everyone else is an expert apart from you, and it's just not true. The truth is, we're all winging it, and that's okay. I just wish sometimes we could be a bit more honest about it, without worrying about looking unprofessional, or feeling like a failure. We're all learning as we go, and some are a little further along than others. No matter how much it might look like it online, no one has completely got their shit together, and I would happily put money on the fact that even the most professional looking businesses have cocked up at least twice (but probably loads).

When I see other people's really organised studios or their super efficient daily routine, it makes me feel guilty about the fact that my desk is always a tip, I definitely start work in bed, and I've absolutely sacked the afternoon off for little other reason than the Zara sale has started. But that doesn't make me worse, or better at running my business than anyone else. I also work late, I push myself, and it might not be written down in a perfect powerpoint, but I definitely have a plan for Little Nell, (even if it's just a few bullet points in my head). You do what works for you, because you're the boss, and you know best. There are no rules about how you run your business, no rights or wrongs. Being super organised works for some people, but some of the most shambolic, disorganised people I've met are running incredibly successful businesses.

"I'm going to tell you a secret about everyone else's job: No one knows what they're doing. Deep down everyone is just faking it until they figure it out. And you will too, because you're awesome and everyone else sucks."

April, Parks & Recreation


BUSINESS TIME: MY FIRST TRADE SHOW January 29 2016, 0 Comments

(That's my nervous, first thing, day one face. You can see the look of 'please buy my jewellery' desperation.)

Earlier this month I attended my first ever trade show at Top Drawer. It felt like a real landmark for me, a deadline to get my sh*t together and start selling to retail. (Which was supposed to be my priority when I left my full time job 10 months ago...)

Trade shows were a big part of my job when I used to work in marketing, so I'm familiar with the process, but it felt quite different when it's all about your own brand (and out of your own pocket *flying money emoji*).

Until then I'd only sold direct through my own website and marketplaces, so it's a big change for my business. There's a fair amount of risk involved in trade shows, it's expensive to attend, you've then got to furnish your stand, and you've got to pay up front for a whole load of new promotional material ranging from price lists, packaging, and postcards. So between big upfront costs, and smaller margins selling to retail, there's a lot of pressure to make it successful. (I had a lot of anxious dreams the week before about arriving and my stand being wrong, stock being stolen, or my sign falling on a buyer.)

Here are a few things I wish I'd done before exhibiting, or was glad I did. Apologies if it's common sense, but if you've never attended a trade show before, hopefully it's of some help.


I didn't know what to expect. I had friends who had attended before, but they were stationery or home rather than jewellery, and most of them said each show was different anyway. I was exhibiting in Spotted which is a curated area for small creative businesses that are new to retail. There were definitely pros and cons, I wasn't sure specific jewellery buyers would come to Spotted as well as the jewellery section, but being highlighted in a 'New Talent' zone definitely meant people who might have overlooked you before would see you. 

You're told not to expect orders on the day, so I tried not to get my hopes up. But I also know from experience that lots of independent buyers will make orders on the day, and I would have been disappointed if I hadn't had any. But you shouldn't be, it's a show room, and honestly, If you were a buyer, would you buy things on the day? I'm guilty of panic buying, so I would collect the info of the brands I liked, go back to the office, look at my budget and then make any decisions. This is especially relevant if you have higher price items, or you have high minimum orders. And lots of small orders are great, but you could have just as profitable show by just getting one national store on board.


I failed at this. With the show coming just after Christmas, I was too busy (erm, managed my time too badly) to contact buyers beforehand, but you should, if only to let them know you're going to be there. The worst that can happen is that they ignore you (nothing lost) but it might just be that one little email reminds them to pay you a visit and then they fall in love with your new range. Also, loads of buyers will hide their badges, and also use the line 'I forgot my business cards', but don't fret, they'll get in touch if they like you. And it does give you the opportunity to play guess the buyer. (Or you can always stalk them on linked in beforehand...)


I was so grateful that my boyfriend took a couple of days off work to come along with me. Although you'd be fine by yourself the majority of the time, it was so nice to have someone cover the stand when you need to eat or wee, and having an extra pair of (long) arms to paint the far corners of my stand, and help move the chest of drawers I thought it was a good idea to bring. Not to mention having him keep me company over dinner and in the hotel. (He also went to the shops to buy me socks as I'd forgotten to pack any.) And I loved my little Spotted family too, it was so nice to feel like I had colleagues for a few days! And you genuinely support each other, I was really willing them to get the retailers they wanted. There are slow periods when you need someone to be silly with, to get you through the last hour of each day when your feet are burning and your back aches... Hence the creation of 3pm lunge club with our neighbours Paper Plane


You're there to sell, but you're also amongst 100s of successful brands who started exactly the same way as you, as well as 100s of potential customers. After working alone for so much of the year, I found it really helpful to talk to people and get their feedback on the products, the pricing and new packaging. If there are any particular brands you want to chat to, it's worth getting in touch beforehand, and it's best to visit them before the show opens or as it's closing when things are a bit quieter so you're not preventing them chatting to buyers.


The most important time is after the show, more orders will be made, and you'll need to follow up on all those new contacts you made. Don't leave it too long and let them forget about you. Add them to a mailing list and keep them updated with any new launches. All those price lists and post cards you had printed? (I ordered waaay too many.) Don't waste them, send those to the stores and buyers you didn't get to meet at the show. And maybe book yourself a little time off and a treat a week or so after the show. You've earned it.


INDIE OUTLOOK: LOUISE WRIGHT DESIGN November 05 2015, 0 Comments

Welcome to the wonderful, whimsical world of illustrator Louise Wright. Her artwork features a menagerie of adorable animals, possibly inspired by her own pets (anyone who has ever owned a Collie will strongly identify with this particular print!) You can shop the full range of Louise's cards and prints over on her Etsy shop.

After studying illustration at uni it was my dream to become an illustrator right away. However, reality hit me hard and that just didn't happen. I ended up doing a range of jobs that I hated in order to try and tide myself over money wise. There were a couple that I did love and stuck at for a while, one was working as a Bookseller (on the kids floor!) and a Barista at my local Cafe. But I always had the goal of getting my work recognised, and I would work every evening after my day job to try and make that happen.


To be totally honest I kind of fell into it by accident, it was a way of pushing myself to keep making creative work when times were tough. I joined a local print studio and started screen printing. I was just doing it for fun and printing onto whatever was around (tote bags, tea towels) and people at the studio kept asking me if they could buy them from me. Slowly I realised that I might have something here, and if going directly to publishers wasn't working - I'd just do it myself! 


I try and get out of the house! I find this massively helps me, I leave my phone at home and I go into town or take the dogs out for a walk. I struggled with this a lot earlier in the year and I've been forcing myself to try and take weekends off (when and where I can) so I can get out into the countryside, it makes coming back to my desk on a Monday much more exciting and I'm fresh and ready to tackle work again.



I love how rewarding it is! You put so so much in, it's always amazing when it starts to pay off. Whether that is a customer sending you a thank you card, getting a big wholesale order or nailing the card range I've been mulling over in my head for months.
(It's also nice that I get to be with my doggies all day and I can work in my yoga pants ;)

One of the toughest things for me is having no-one to speak to all day unless I go out. I find myself narrating what I'm doing to the dogs/plants. It also means there is no other creative person nearby who I can bounce ideas off so I do have to do everything by myself which can be tough sometimes. Having said that, I get distracted very easily so if some-one else worked with me in my studio I'd get no-where near as much done!

Every now and then this changes but I figure you can never wrong with 'Dancing Queen' by Abba! Always my go to song if it's a rough day.

I wanted to be a writer, I'd spend ages writing these crazy stories and read them to my brother at bedtime to gauge if they were any good or not. If they got requested again the next night I was on to a winner!

The big thing on my mind is making it through Christmas alive at the moment!! *panic* 
But seriously...I am launching some very limited illustrated jewelry pieces at my Christmas markets, and I have new card lines getting ready for a 2016 launch. I'm now stocked in Paperchase (yay!!) and I gained my first Canadian stockist a week or so ago so I'm just working on building the brand inside and outside of the UK.
Follow Louise here:   TWITTER    |    PINTEREST    |    INSTAGRAM   

BUSINESS TIME: POP-UP STUDIO September 21 2015, 0 Comments

I'm trying to avoid the 'September is here, Autumn's arrived' angle on this post, but as lots of you already know, the shorter grey days can make photography really tricky, (unless you have your own photography studio set up!) I found this particularly difficult when I worked full time, because evenings were my Little Nell time, but trying to photograph dainty jewellery past 5pm in November is all but impossible. It was then that I made the very sensible decision to invest in some lighting, I didn't want anything too expensive or bulky, and after a little research, someone recommended these lights from Amazon. They had good reviews, and for only £60 I thought they were worth trying. (Not being a photography expert, I didn't want to spend a fortune on lights I didn't know how to use.)

They've been pretty indispensable since, they fold down to almost nothing, so are easy to store when they aren't in use, but now I use them almost daily with a corner of the attic becoming my pop-up studio. They're great for social media photos as they just look so much more consistent which was something I really struggled with before. Having a dedicated space for photography makes sure that I'm posting pictures daily, and it's helped me be a little more playful with the styling. The set up is made from a couple of white ikea shelves, and in the leather suitcase underneath I keep a selection of props, fabric and coloured wrapping paper to use as backgrounds when things need brightening up. It means I'm posting a lot more of my jewellery on social media as in the past it's been a little neglected. (It seems taking photos of my travels, outfits and the cat required a lot less consideration and I didn't want to spam my feed repeating the same old self-promoting product photography.) I try to make sure our products feature in 1 in every 3 photos (roughly) but rather than just having flat lay product shots, I'm trying to incorporate it into the style photos too so customers can see how things look on, as well as neatly laid out on a shelf.

I've set myself the target of taking one photo a day, most of which are posted on instagram, but I've also got some backed up to post when I'm away from the office, or having one of those days that's so hectic taking carefully styled instagram photos is the last thing on your to do list. I'd love to see your home studio set ups and prop collections. Mine is primarily vintage books, brass trinket boxes and tiny glass bottles....

You can follow our instagram feed here, and share your studio spaces with us over on twitter :o)




I work in an attic, space is tight and all the furniture has to arrive through what is essentially a hatch in my bedroom ceiling. Went I quit my job and realised I was going to be sat in that attic 5 days a week, I decided to scrap my impractical little Ikea desk and have one made. I bought some £25 mesh drawers, £2 desk legs and found a carpenter on to create and fit a bespoke desktop that made the most of my limited space, fitting into the uneven walls. It cost me £120 which really wasn't much more than my little Ikea one. My desk is for packing, making and working so I needed something that could work for all 3. It's deeper than a standard desk as I use it as a shelf for storing jewellery, and it's longer on the corner so my laptop can sit alongside my monitor.


Accounts is not my strong point. It's not that I can't do them, I just don't want to. It's boring, and time-consuming, which is a problem for someone (like me) with the attention span of a child. Investing in FreeAgent was the best thing I ever did. I can upload my bank statements month by month, and it gives you an overview of how much you owe the taxman (rather than thinking you know and having a hideously surprising and painful kick in the face come tax day). If you're really snazzy you can create project codes to see how much specific projects are costing you, and it can also handle all of your invoicing so you know who has paid and who is taking the p*ss out of your cash flow.


It's hard not to be a control freak when it's your business. Being in charge of everything is kind of satisfying, it's my baby and no one else will love and nurture it like I will. But that's not true, they will, because it's their job too, they'll just focus on one aspect on of your business rather than all of them. Don't get me wrong, having your own business is great for pushing you to learn new things and challenging yourself, but sometimes it helps to sit back and evaluate. Yes, I could design my catalogue for no cost, but I'm not a designer, it would take me forever, and I don't think I'd be 100% happy with the outcome. OR I could outsource it to someone who is great at that stuff. That way I get a better final result, less stress, and I've had the time to create an awesome new range to cover the extra costs.


One of the joys of working for myself is the flexibility, that I can throw routine to the wind if, and when I need to. That said, I really benefit from a routine, if I stick to traditional working hours I find it a lot easier to switch between work-time and my free-time. I treat my attic just as I would an office (with a very lax dress code) because when I didn't, the lines got blurred. When I worked on the sofa, that became my office and it's hard to just sit there and not think about work. For me, having a routine creates boundaries which I need to be my most productive. But yes, sometimes friday morning emails do get done in bed with a face mask on and a hot brew.


I'm a woman of simple pleasures, I like having a nice, comfortable working environment and it really helps my productivity. It needs to be somewhere I enjoy spending time, and for me, that means creature comforts; prints, blankets, nice lighting... Even so, now and then I need to get out of my house. Usually for 1 day every couple of weeks I'll work outside of home, away from domestic distractions of washing up, laundry, and cat cuddling. They're not bad distractions, and they don't take long, but on some days they add up and they get the better of me, because it'll only take two minutes, or they're only downstairs. I'll either work in a cafe or at a friends and being somewhere where I physically cannot make orders, or rearrange shelves means I finally get some of the admin work done.

I feel like I need to end this post with a disclaimer! These are small changes that improved the way I run my business. I'm not suggesting they'll definitely work for yours, if you're looking for advice, then lord knows there are more than enough advice posts out there for you to read! I just wanted to share my own experience, but if working till midnight in your pants on the kitchen floor works for you - stick to that. What I love about our creative community is that there are no rules, we all operate differently, and there are no right or wrong ways.

INDIE OUTLOOK: STORMY KNIGHT August 25 2015, 0 Comments

Say hello to my pun-loving pal Sarah Knight, the Bristol based brains behind Stormy Knight. Stockist to the stars (Alexa Chung's sister bought one of her cards) and my go-to greetings girl, her cards have just the right mix of funny, cute and clever. Read more below to discover her 'Get Shit Done' song and childhood aspirations to be a contortionist....

I've always worked in the design industry as a graphic designer and illustrator - most recently as an in-house designer for a company retailing children's travel products. Working in a creative environment has been great for developing my design skills, but some of the things I gleaned from that job were indispensable from a commercial perspective too. (Less creative things like profit margins, setting up  bar codes etc….)

It's the main thing that drives me. Although I've been lucky enough to work in creative jobs that I've enjoyed, my mind is always filled with what I could be doing on Stormy Knight. When you are that geared towards something it feels like it's your calling and you lose interest in the other stuff - no matter how interesting that stuff is!

My peers - there are so many amazing designers, illustrators and publishers at the moment that inspiration is rife! There are also some amazing stationery blogs like 'Oh So Beautiful Paper' and the 'Paper Chronicles' which are great for seeking out trends too. And trade shows are a great place to see what's new and exciting.

It's cheesy, but I enjoy it all because it has a direct impact on my life and income. (I even enjoy doing my accounts!) But the best bit is coming up with new designs and seeing them come off the press. Or when you get a massive order for thousands of cards ;)

Sometimes you want to run ideas and decisions past someone and that's not an option. I'm lucky that my family and friends are interested in what I do and they are always willing to give me feedback on new designs. And my boyfriend is pretty good at coming up with sound business advice. But essentially I make the decisions and if I make a bad one then there's no one else to blame, (and it's down to me to make the most of it!)

KC and the Sunshine band 'Baby Give it Up'. You can't be down when that's playing.

What wasn't? Vet, mounted police, contortionist, explorer, interior designer. The list goes on...

Diversify and expand my ranges - my new foil collection was a big step aside from the humorous designs that I’m known for and they're doing really well (it’s just been announced as a finalist in for a big trade award, which I’m very excited about!) so I'm developing more typographic designs at the moment due to launch in January. I also have a new range of mini cards for Top Drawer this September and have lots of ideas for new ranges that I hope to bring to market in 2016. As well as that we've just started working with some stores in the US and Canada so I'm expanding the business both inside and outside the UK. 2016 is set to be a very busy year! 

Follow Stormy Knight on social media here...


INDIE OUTLOOK: HELLO HARRIET August 07 2015, 0 Comments

Meet Hello Harriet, purveyor of adorable goods adorned with alpacas, pugs and kittens (to name a few), but really, what's not to like? I've been following Harriet for some time on social media and my first purchase was the 'Alpaca that for you' tote bag, which is probably my favourite pun ever. Read about how she went from packing custard powder, to full-time freelance below...

It took me a good 4 years after leaving Uni before I started working for myself full time, and I literally had *so many* random jobs in that time! The most recent before becoming self employed I worked in a factory packing powdered custard, jelly and hot chocolate, which was … interesting, and as you can imagine super glamorous {I’m talking hairnets and overalls}. After that I took on a part time job at a local convenience shop just down the road from my house, which was much more bearable! I actually quite enjoyed that little job but only ended up staying there for about 6 months as that’s when my own shop really took off and I was able to make the jump to full time boss lady.

I originally planned to be a freelance Illustrator, but after graduating I started to realise I really didn’t get on with tight deadlines and the pressure that kind of work involved. I knew I really enjoyed creating artwork and making things, but it was just by chance that a friend invited me to share a stall with her & a few other creatives one Christmas that I ended up making a few products featuring my drawings. I set up an Etsy shop with the remaining stock and things went from there. I cannot imagine working for someone else now. I love the freedom of being able to work on what I want when I want.


Urgh, creative block is the worst! It usually happens to me when I have been spending way too long on Pinterest or Instagram green eying other people’s amazing work. I try to take myself away from creating anything at all. I’ll get on with other little jobs that need to be done that take zero creativity, like tidying up the studio or replying to emails to give myself a break from the ‘pressure’ of creating artwork. A bit of down time always help to clear my head out so I’ll go outside, to the gym or hang out with friends {Meeko the cat}. I basically remind myself to have fun.

There are so many things I love about my job, it’s awesome being able to work from home, as it means I get to hang out with my little fur baby Meeko all day long. {My partner, Luke is a freelance illustrator and we share our home studio so I get to see him a lot too, which is pretty sweet.} But the thing I love most is seeing my lovely customers sharing photos of things they’ve bought from my shop. There is nothing better than getting tagged in their photos on Instagram, it totally makes my day!


Aside from having to find my own motivation, being strict with myself about actually getting work done and being a one woman band - having to do literally everything myself. One of the things I often struggle with is when other people don’t take your job seriously. Yes, I draw cats and cute things, but this is a legitimate business and it takes hard work to make it work! {I can’t tell you how much I wanted to write that last sentence in lolcat}

I’m actually one of those weirdos who really enjoys silence whilst working … but, I’ve always got time for a bit of Beyonce.


I’m always working on expanding my range of products, I have a few new items in the pipeline that I’m really excited about. I’m also planning a bit of a relaunch this Autumn, so at the moment I’m planning my first ever ‘proper' photo shoot and doing a lot of work behind the scenes.

If you want to keep up with Harriet and her beautiful furball Meeko, you can follow them here.


INDIE OUTLOOK: PAPIO PRESS July 23 2015, 0 Comments

First up in our new Indie Outlook series is Papio Press, created by illustrators Harry and Zanna. They sell a range of beautifully illustrated accessories and homewares, from prints and notebooks, to phone cases and wall clocks.

Harry and I started Papio Press at the end of our second year of our Illustration BA. Starting a business as a student was fantastic, and I would highly recommend it to others. We had a lot of support from our tutors, access to a lot of amazing equipment, and the pressure was off because all our bills were being paid for by student finance! The only downside was it got a little tricky juggling everything because both of us had part time jobs as well. But it was worth it, because now we can both afford to work part time. We both work for other, larger online businesses, so we're pretty immersed in the digital world!

We decided to start Papio because we knew it would be really difficult to get commissions as illustrators, and wanted to take our future into our own hands. This way it means we get to draw what ever we like as well, which is fantastic! We started really small with just pocket mirrors, and we were lucky enough that it kind of kicked off and we thought - woah, we might actually be able to do this for a living!

When I have creative block I don't usually try to draw anything. I find it's better just to leave it for a few days and get on with some of the many other jobs that come with running your own business (like sticking stickers on envelopes, or packing up iPhone cases etc.). The whole time I'm doing stuff like that there will be a small part of my brain thinking about things, and trying different designs out in my mind, and after a while I usually hit upon something I get excited about! We also have a huge number of books for inspiration, and getting out the house is always a good idea!

I love having total creative freedom - there's nothing else like it. Sometimes I'm still shocked that I'm lucky enough to be able to draw whatever I want and making a small living from it.

Probably figuring out the accounts. Man that's hard! Fortunately for me that's mostly Harry's job, but it makes my brain hurt just watching him try to figure it out. When you've spent the last six years doing creative studies, numbers feel a bit alien.

At the moment I'm totally obsessed with Taylor Swift. Shake It Off is my current pick me up jam. But I also enjoy a good bit of Pirate FM (Cornwall's number one radio station) because it plays great cheesy songs and reminds me of home.

I wanted to be an actress when I was little! I was in a youth theatre group for ages, and totally loved it. Harry wanted to be a fire fighter, until he realised there were a lot of flames/danger involved...

We've got a lot of gorgeous new products coming up. For the first time since we started we can really focus most of our time on the business so it's getting a lot of love. Our aim is for us to both be able to work for Papio full time, but it might be a little while until we get there!

If you love Papio Press as much as I do, give them a follow over on the following sites..

Twitter  | Instagram | Facebook

BUSINESS TIME: THE FIRST MONTH April 11 2015, 1 Comment

I've been working for myself for just over a month now, so it seemed like a good time to let you know how it's going.

My biggest worry was that I'd be bored and lonely. I've always been pretty content in my own company, but that was when time on my own was relatively rare. Suddenly I have all day to over-think everything, and there's no one around to talk me out of my crazy ideas (jewellery for cats anyone?). Although I'm reluctant to make a definitive verdict on this after such a short time, so far... *whispers*, I'm fine. (And that's not a high-pitched, Ross from Friends fine.)

I'm sure the changing seasons have helped, longer days and brighter mornings are much more motivating. There's definitely still the novelty element too, being able to do lunchtime yoga classes, and picking up food from the bakery and green grocers that were always closed by the time I came home from work.

It's hard not to get a bit mushy and sentimental about it all, but I'm just incredibly happy and content. I don't think I have one tiny regret about quitting my job (not yet anyway). I'm very conscious that this blog post could sound a bit smug, which isn't my intention at all, I'm just aware that some of my other Business Time posts are a bit 'work hard, be disciplined' etc. and that I should really write about the best bits of having your own business too, (because it is AWESOME). Par exemple; On Friday the weather was so nice that I left my desk at 2pm and went to B&Q to buy plants for the garden, (I'll just make up the time on Saturday when the weather isn't so good). And on Thursday I met a friend for lunch in the park because I CAN, (okay, now I sound smug) but I don't want to take these things for granted.

It's the change to my lifestyle that has been the most satisfying, all these things have improved since going freelance:

  • Diet: I eat much more fresh food because I stop by the green grocers on the way back from the Post Office. Bye bye greasy convenience lunches, hello avocado.
  • Fitness: Okay, not drastically, but I can go to the gym whenever I like, and fit in daytime classes too. I definitely yoga a lot more, still working on the running....
  • Spending: When you're solely responsible for every £ that goes in or out, your purchases are far more considered, no more tat.
  • Mood: No laughing! But I think I'm nicer to be around, I'm less ratty, and working alone makes you appreciate time with friends more.
  • Sleep: Working two jobs meant I had so much running through your head all the time that it's hard to switch off. I get up earlier now then I did when I worked, but I'm well rested and can't wait to start the day.

The best thing about all of this is, I made those things happen! Sometimes I forget that, and I just feel really lucky, but it's not just luck; I worked evenings, I spent my own cash setting things up and I made it happen. I've never felt like it was acceptable to publicly say you were proud of yourself, but between you and me, I am a little bit proud of myself. (Don't hate me)

*Fingers crossed this all keeps going well and I'm not at the job centre in 3 months time, because then this post will be an uncomfortable read.

BUSINESS TIME: STARTING OUT March 31 2015, 2 Comments


Starting your own business can be daunting. In the early days you have to make pretty big decisions, some of which can come back to haunt you. If you're thinking of going it alone, whether you're launching a shop, blog, or your own freelance services, here are a few things to consider...


Picking a name is one of the trickiest decisions. Do you go for a name that you think sounds nice but has no meaning? Perhaps something more sentimental, or do you pick one that perfectly describes what you offer right now, but that could be restrictive if you expand things in the future? There's no right answer, but you will be asked why you chose it, so you need to be content with your reasons. There's nothing to say you can't change it in the future, but it will be a hassle. Check what's available as a web address, and research your SEO competition on google. (I learnt the last one the hard way.)


I hate the question 'What's your unique selling point?'. I think it's very difficult to be completely unique, and I think there's room for lots of us doing similar things well, competition is healthy and people want choice. But I also think you need to be clear on exactly what it is you offer, and what makes you stand out. Once you're clear on this, write it down, it doesn't matter if it's on a post it note or laminated somewhere. It's your ethos, and when times are challenging, use it to keep yourself on track.


Your brand encompasses every element of your business, it's so much more than your logo, it's your tone of voice when you talk to customers, your packaging, customer service, etc. Think about how you want to be portrayed, and how the brands you love communicate with you, what is it that makes you listen? Every brand is on Facebook and sending weekly emails, what's going to make people engage with yours?


This was never my forte... If I'm honest, I used to hate planning, it felt so restrictive and I'm (what I like to call) a free spirit (by that I mean dis-organised), but plans don't have to be stuffy 20 page powerpoints. For me, it's about making goals for myself. They don't have to be about taking over the world, but having something to aim for does help to drive you. I find it best to plan for the year in January because it's quieter, and easier to reflect on the past 12 months. However, if you're starting up, there's never a bad time to plan.


If you're starting a business or blog because it seems like an easy way to make money, you're wrong. Don't believe those sepia toned instagram feeds, there's a lot of work that goes into making it look 'easy'. Followings aren't built overnight, and it's not going to support you financially from day 1, so be prepared to invest lots of your free time for little or no financial reward.


BUSINESS TIME: SWITCHING OFF March 05 2015, 0 Comments

When I worked full time I walked to and from the office and I found the 20 minute stroll was great for clearing my head of any work related stress (at least most of the time), but now I work from home taking the 8 steps down from my attic office just doesn't work in the same way. I find it hard to leave the office without every little job being neatly tied up, but if I did that I'd be burning the midnight oil every night. There are also those moments where I'm sat watching TV downstairs and suddenly remember there was a picture I wanted to take for instagram, and rather than leave it until I'm back in the office tomorrow, I'll run upstairs and 'do it now, before I forget again'.

Now, before any of you start thinking I'm some sort of workaholic, I assure you it's not the case. I like my free time and I strive to have a very healthy work/life balance. I work to live, not the other way around, I'm just very fortunate that I make a living doing something I love. I know it's a hideous business cliche, but I believe in working smart, not working hard. If you enjoy what you do, it shouldn't feel like work (at least not all the time). And for those days when I'm struggling to remove my head from thoughts of printing costs, and sourcing new suppliers there are a few things that never fail to help me switch off...


I could have said exercise, and that works too, but often it needs to be something I can do without having to get changed (or wrestle with a sports bra). It doesn't need to be far, sometimes I'll just walk to the park and sit on a bench for 10 minutes (like an angry teenager), but never under-estimate the power of fresh air to make you feel better when you're tired/hungover/stressed/anxious. And people watching is always a great distraction.


If there's one thing that always makes me feel better, it's being wrapped in a very fluffy dressing gown, wearing disposable towel slippers. (I'm a woman of simple pleasures). It's the combination of steam, warm water, and calming aromas that almost completely cleanses me of any stress. And when you don't have a spa to hand, a long soak in a candlelit bath always helps.


When you've had a particularly tough week, it's hard not to attach that negativity with your surroundings, it hangs around like a dark gloomy cloud. For me, the hardest thing about being freelance is working alone most days, so I try to mix things up. I spend one day a week sharing office space with friends, and roughly 2 half days at local cafes. It means I've still got people to bounce ideas off that aren't my cat, (it's only a matter of time before I create jewellery for pets isn't it?) and I find being around people is good for me. (For a start, you have to get dressed, and there are no distracting box sets lingering on the shelf.)


It might seem shallow, but making the time to put on a face mask, pluck your eyebrows and paint your nails is a great distraction. (The latter is particularly good as you can't do anything for *at least* the next half hour, whether you like it or not.) I find these things get neglected when I'm really busy, but I instantly feel better after doing them, a lot more presentable and a little more human.


BUSINESS TIME: I JUST QUIT MY JOB January 28 2015, 1 Comment

Today was a big day for me, I quit my day job. I handed in my notice for the company I've been with for over 6 years. It might be one of the boldest things I've ever done. I quite liked my job (most days), I was paid a fair salary, and I worked with some really awesome people, but It didn't make me happy anymore, I was distracted, constantly thinking about how to grow my business, rather than progressing my career there.

I know that some people might think I'm crazy, but those closest to me have been really supportive. If just one of them had turned around and said 'don't do it, it's a bloody stupid idea' I might have re-considered, but they didn't, and knowing the most important people around you have total faith in you really does make these decisions a lot easier. It wasn't a snap decision either, I've been thinking it over for a long time, and I had a lot of sensible conversations with my mortgage advisor, my accountant, and my boyfriend about the practicalities of everything before making any life-changing choices.

People keep asking how I feel, and I'm not really sure how I feel. I felt calm beforehand, and I still feel calm now, which I think was the biggest sign that it was the right decision for me. I'm really excited about growing Little Nell, getting my teeth into some new freelance marketing projects, and doing all those things I've just not had the time for juggling two jobs. But I'm anxious about working on my own most days, about leaving behind my office family who've been there through all of my ups and downs, and about being entirely responsible for making my own living. (You can guarantee I will check my bank balance at least 3 times a day for the first 2 months).

Leaving your full time job to go freelance shouldn't be a total leap of faith, you have to be practical and work out whether you can afford it, how you can sustain it, and always have a plan b just in case, (whether it's savings, or alternative options if things don't work out as you planned). But no matter how prepared you think you are, it's always going to feel like a bold move, because if it was easy we'd all be working for ourselves wouldn't we? For me, the appeal of being my own boss, and doing something I've always wanted to do was worth the risk. And if it doesn't work out, then so be it, but at least I can say that I gave it a go.

BUSINESS TIME: WE ALL DO IT... January 22 2015, 0 Comments

Being your own boss is awesome, It has a heap of pros, (like pyjama thursdays, and unlimited biscuits) but working for yourself also means that you work for you, and as a boss (I'm just going to say it) sometimes I can be a bit of a tyrant. I'm far harder on myself than I would be to anyone else who worked for me, so here are a few life lessons I've learned along the way...


I love looking at what my peers are doing, it's inspiring, it pushes me to make my business better, and it's really interesting to see how different business models work. What I've had to stop myself doing is comparing myself, it's so easy to get really disheartened with the 'but their website is better' and 'oh look how many Facebook fans they have' thoughts, but the truth is every business is different, we grow at different rates, with different budgets and skill sets. Rather than focusing on the negatives, think about it logically, and if you think you need to make a change, make it a goal with a set time for when you'd like to achieve it.


The challenge with being a one-man-band is that you can't just specialise in one thing. You end up being an office manager/PR pro/graphic designer/book keeper and tea maker, but the chances are you only excel at one or two of those things. My advice is to be a total boss in the things you can do, and don't be afraid to ask for help on the things you can't. And don't put the difficult tasks off. I don't know anyone who enjoys doing their tax return, but don't wait till the last minute to tackle it. It won't be as bad as you think it is, and once it's done, you've got more time to spend on the stuff you love.


I do everything I can to make customers happy, but inevitably, very occasionally things go wrong, (postal delays, faults, etc). Most people get in touch, and the problem is sorted almost immediately, but there will always be somebody who never contacts you, then leaves you a bad (and sometimes unfair) review, and it can be upsetting. But do not lose sleep over it, if there's a lesson to be learnt from it, take it, but if not, just pick yourself up and move on. You can achieve so much more by focusing on the many postives than sulking about a teeny tiny negative.


Constructive feedback is so useful, it's helped me make my product descriptions much more accurate, and has even led to whole new ranges. Friends make really great guinea pigs, and if you've got good ones, they'll be honest with you rather than telling you what you want to hear. Social media's a really great tool for getting opinions too, we'll often test out new designs on instagram to gauge feedback before launching. Just be careful not to get too carried away with one strong opinion.


When you're working alone, aside from the tummy rumbling, there's no one else to remind you that you should probably take a rest from staring into your laptop. And let's be honest, lots of people in 'real jobs' think we're just lazing around, sipping herbal tea and setting up instagram photos all day, (which is only partially true). In all seriousness, looking after yourself is better for your business, start well rested, and take a break whenever you need it. I find that I can start to lag around 3pm of an afternoon, I get post-lunch slump, and feel my eyelids getting heavy, so just taking a 20 minute stroll round the park makes a huge difference. I also have a host of different Spotify playlists to choose from depending on the task I'm doing, or my mood. Generally it's pretty laid back music that's not too distracting when I need to get stuff done, but when I'm feeling sluggish, the Northern Soul and Disco comes out, and the real joy of a home office is singing along as loud as you like.

2015 GOALS December 30 2014, 0 Comments

I don't make New Year's resolutions, I don't think you have to wait to 1st January to make self improvements, I think you can try and become a better person at any time in the year. That said, there is something about January that gives me a kick up the bum to organise myself. It's a lot quieter than the chaos of Christmas, so I get time to plan the year ahead, as well as a host of crisp new stationary that I'm dying to cover in lists and stickers. 

Wall planner & desk pad from Lollipop Designs. Diary from Typo

I think giving yourself a year to do everything on your goal list can be a little generous, there are certain goals you only tend to evaluate on an annual basis, (like the growth of your business), but most other things can be achieved at any time, why give yourself 12 months to complete a 3 week evening course? The more time we allow ourselves, the longer we tend to put things off. Here are just a few things I'd like to achieve throughout 2015...


I don't love taking photos. I love styling shoots, picking props, and laying everything out, but I don't really know how to use a camera. This year I'd like to introduce myself to some modes outside of 'Auto'.


Right now Little Nell is only available via my own online channels. In 2015, I think it's time to branch out a little, which means it's probably time to start designing a catalogue, which leads nicely to my next goal...


Well now, this is embarrassing, I'm just revealing all my incapabilities in one post. I can't use InDesign. I have a very lovely friend, who helps me out with all my graphics because my skills don't really go beyond PicMonkey. I know, I'm ashamed, but it's easily fixed right?


Juggling two jobs has its challenges, and I've definitely felt the strain over Christmas. It's so good to be busy when you rely on people buying your products, but long hours do not allow you to be a social butterfly. It's made me realise that I need to be far more efficient with my time planning, and that it's okay if you can't do everything all of the time.


I've always considered Little Nell my hobby, but as it's grown into a business, I've started to neglect my other hobbies. This year, I will get back to making my own candles (if nothing else it'll save me a fortune in Anthropologie) and cross-stitching.


SHOP INDEPENDENT THIS CHRISTMAS November 13 2014, 0 Comments

Image from the lovely, talented

Last week this image caught my eye on twitter and straight away I knew I wanted to get involved! I don't think I need to do too much explaining about the thinking behind it, but in short, shopping with independents is good for you. It's good for the economy, it's good for the soul, and best of all they have the coolest stuff.

I'd love to say that I was doing 100% of my Christmas shopping through independent stores, but realistically, I'll inevitably end up doing a cheeky last minute rush to Tesco to purchase the in-laws dog a stocking. 100% may be a little ambitious, but I'm aiming to do 75% of my Christmas shopping through independent shops, and I'd encourage you to do the same, maybe not 75% but to just consider options outside of those huge retail giants.

Christmas shopping is genuinely my favourite part of Christmas, I love trawling the internet and high street in search of the perfect gift. Finding something that you know will make someone you love smile, really does make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It might sound soppy, but it's true, I get the same feeling when I hear really lovely feedback from a customer, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. (Just call me the Christmas fairy)

If you don't know where to start with your Christmas shopping, I've picked some of my favourite indie stores as a starting point...


1. Pineapple earrings from Little Nell £12 - What better way to cheer someone up during the dull winter months than with pineapple earrings?

2. Magazine rack from Moonko £22 - Also doubles as a handy rack for giant toast

3. Cloud coasters from Pygmy Cloud £14.50 - I own these, because they're awesome

4. Wall planner from Lollipop Designs £15 - For the chronic organiser, (or for someone in need of organisation...)

5. Mountain print from Leaf City Press £35 - Know someone who has just moved? This would make a lovely house-warming/Christmas gift

6. Danish stamps from Present and Correct £45 - This is just 1 from 100s of items I could have picked from Present and Correct, go and take a look. NOW.

7. Bear cushion from Robin & Mould £26 - It's a bear, and it's mustard, two of my favourite things. There are also hedgehogs, and foxes, and cats...





BUSINESS TIME: IF NOT NOW, WHEN? November 10 2014, 1 Comment



The best piece of advice I received when I was setting up Little Nell was to stop talking about it and actually do it. I spent so long faffing about what I wanted my logo to look like, what to name my twitter handle etc, when all of these things are changeable. You'll learn much more doing, than talking about doing. Yes, when I first set up my shop it looked drab and the photography was dire, but fortunately It had about 5 views a month, so I try not to beat myself up about it...


Don't be afraid to ask people for advice, you haven't done this before and you're not expected to know everything. Google is my best tool, if I want to know something, I search for it, and if Google doesn't have the answer, I'll ask other small businesses who've been where I am. Although don't be offended if you don't get a reply straight away, I've found the independent community to be really generous with their time and advice, but they're also one-man bands who are super busy.


You don't need a huge range of products to set up your own business, just look at Lost My Name, they have one product, but it's a really, really great one, and they've seen huge success off the back of it. Better to do one thing really well, then lots of things badly. But likewise, think about how your business might grow when the time comes. Selling direct is great for your margins, but one day you might want to sell to retail too, so make sure there's enough margin for both.


Creating items by hand is lovely, I find making jewellery really therapeutic, and customers love that it's been made by someone they can put a face to, rather than mass produced in a Chinese factory. The downside is that it's time consuming, particularly when you have orders to pack, expenses to file, a website to manage, and not to mention another job to get on with. Think about how you can streamline your processes, it might be something as simple as outsourcing printing, or rearranging your packing table, but if it saves you time, it's worth it!


In the profound words of Britney Spears, "you better work bitch". As much as instagram would have you to believe it, working for yourself isn't all long brunches and playing with the cat, (we only do that on tuesdays and thursdays). No one else is going to make your business a success for you. Be prepared to work late nights, early mornings and most lunch hours. But also remember that what you do may be seasonal, try not to get disheartened by the quiet weeks, use them to catch up on your accounts (or housework...), or prepare for your peak seasons. 

Image by Little Nell, Go Get 'em Tiger card by Rifle Paper Co.

BUSINESS TIME: STUDIO TOUR October 05 2014, 0 Comments

I love referring to the attic as 'my studio', it makes me feel like a real freelance creative, with an actual business, which is strange because I still think of Little Nell as my favourite hobby rather than a career choice.

Working from home has it's pros and cons, there are the obvious benefits - like working in your pyjamas and being flexible with your hours. But there are a lot of cons too - like going stir crazy with cabin fever, and not having a team on hand to bounce ideas around with..

Here's some stuff I've learnt along the way...


When Little Nell started out I'd make everything to order, and the living room sofa was my destination of choice for jewellery making. As things have grown, that's just not practical, and having my own space exclusively for Little Nell really helps. It means I can create some separation between when I'm working and when I'm 'home'.  I know not everyone has an extra room to turn into their office, but even having a desk and chair that's specifically for working rather than slaving over the dining table every day will really help you. No one wants to feel like they live at the office.


I'm fortunate that I don't need a huge amount of space. (Which is just as well because there's no room for wall shelving in the attic!) Jewellery stock doesn't take up much room so most of my supplies and stock can be stored around and under the desk and I use clipboards on the wall as my in/out tray to save on desk space. This means once I'm seated I can stay there rather than having to move around to gather bits and pieces. (It sounds ridiculous but getting up every 5 minutes to get something you need makes everything take so much longer!) My desk has to function as a workshop bench, packing table and office desk at different times throughout the day, so it's important that I'm flexible with space to get the most from it.


As well as a practical working space, it was important to me that the studio was somewhere I was happy to spend a lot of time. If we have a busy week, I can be in there first thing in the morning, and late into the night, so it had to be comfortable. Our studio also doubles as a spare room so the sofa bed was an essential. It also means I can lounge and watch TV while doing mundane jobs like stickering jiffy bags, folding boxes etc.... It also makes the most decadent cat bed around.


The main joy of having your own space, is that you can put up whatever you like. Whether it's inspirational quotes, illustrations, or just copious pictures of Michael Fassbender (ahem), no one can tell you that your desk looks 'unprofessional'. I've created my own postcard bunting that I can switch around as much as I like, it includes cards, book covers, some of our press coverage and illustrations.


The hardest thing I find about working from home, is the lack of company. You've always got to make the tea, and there's no one to gossip with by the water cooler, and even if there was, there isn't even a water cooler, it's your kitchen tap. Social Media is a godsend, and not just for marketing your brand, but for keeping me sane. And although I don't have a team to bounce ideas around with, I have a lovely group of like-minded sole-traders at the end of an email who (fortunately for me) are quite happy to lend me their ears and ideas when I need a second opinion. These people are my virtual colleagues, and they're probably more important than anything else on this list.

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