Passion, creativity, and resilience are the most crucial skills in business. If you’ve got those, you’re ready to embark on the journey. - Jo Malone.
As every entrepreneur knows, business ideas can come from the most unlikely of places. Inspiration for your next start-up could quite literally be around the corner. Being open to new ideas and experiences is the key to starting a business that you are truly passionate about.
For Jodie, her wire art display business The Letter Loft was the result of an afternoon’s brainstorming with her husband. In the past six years, she has established a thriving online store selling wire letters, cake toppers, and home decor. She tells about her journey as a small business owner, and how building a cohesive brand identity was the key to success.
(In Jodie’s own words):
“The Letter Loft opened in 2013 (as The Moss Letter Company then). I had recently gotten married and returned from our honeymoon, and felt like it was a new chapter in my life. I had always wanted to work for myself, but had never succeeded. Having a cuppa with my husband I said ‘I want to start a business, what shall I do?’ He said, ’What about those moss letters you obsessed over for the wedding’ and that was the ball that started rolling. 6 months later we had found a supplier, had a website and a very green business owner was born!”
“In 2015 when it had started to feel like it could go somewhere, my Dad came on board (working from Spain!) and began making the wireframes for the letters. We changed our name, added more products and changed our ethos to British-made. It felt great! Our skills have been learned ‘on the job’ and it’s been a very step-by-step process, one we are both very proud of. Dad now lives back here and we bought a house with workshops on the grounds. We now run The Letter Loft from our home (one big house split into two houses with a workshop for me and a workshop for Dad!)”
In 2019, it’s never been easier to start a business. The power of eCommerce has massively lowered the entry barrier to selling - no longer are we forced into the high overheads that come with setting up a brick and mortar store.
We have a variety of online selling platforms to choose from, while social media gives us a fantastic set of free marketing tools. In short, it’s possible to get selling within hours as opposed to months.
Yet easier access does mean more competition. Lifestyle sectors such as artwork and home decor have become particularly saturated. Etsy alone has over 2 million sellers active on its site!
So, how does a business stand out from all this noise?
From the start, Jodie’s wire art displays were an expression of her own aesthetic. Keeping this at the center of the brand has ensured that her offerings are unique and memorable:
“For new businesses, I’d tell them to just go ahead and start; getting to your perfect ideal is a journey, and your product and business knowledge will improve over time to reach that. Most of all, it’s important not to compare yourself to anyone else or feel under pressure to do things in a certain way; your approach is what makes your company unique!”
“The bottom line is that we only make and sell stuff that we like. I couldn’t happily sell rainbow products for example, as it’s just not my style! I have gone from thinking this was a weakness to seeing it as our strength. We are industrial and botanical, and that is very up my street! We take inspiration from our customers’ ideas, Pinterest, and also building off our best sellers. Over time, I am definitely learning that less is more.”
Yet cohesive branding was also one of the biggest challenges for Jodie. Keeping everything in sync is hard for any business, but especially for one that is still figuring out its brand image.
Bringing custom tissue paper into her online orders proved to be a missing piece that helped to draw everything together:
“I’ve been obsessed with our branding since day one. It’s only recently that I finally stopped worrying about it and stumped up to get it looking how I want it to. Not having everything cohesive was stopping me from taking ideas forward. It was a case of ‘I’ll do that when it looks right’. For some, it may be an excuse/defense mechanism but for me, it was a very real blockage.”
“I take absolute delight in having a beautiful logo/palette and having the custom packaging to match! (thanks to Ryn Frank for our logo!) It’s given me the confidence to start projects and I love how it all looks; from our recognizable cake toppers and quality custom tissue paper (thank you noissue!) to a tidy Instagram feed.”