Spotlight on Trudy Cross of Tin Design
I love to shop independent, as you can probably tell from the spotlights I feature on here, you can find unusual and fun items that you just can't get in the mainstream high street. That's not to say the high street does not have its place, but the smaller guys, well we should celebrate their successes.
Today features Trudy Cross from Tin Design. Trudy not only sells a great selection of unusual art and homewares but also supports local artists with an online space in which to sell their art. That is to be applauded and so go and read the journey below to find out more about the inspiration behind Tin Design.
You can shop and find out more here.
I am 45, married to Barry and have two children - Amelie 14 and Joe 12. I have a very mixed working background which includes, make-up artist, dog breeding, and singing no less. I have turned my hand to many things since having children and mainly chose things that would fit in with the family, going back to work into London was a definite no-no for me or working out of the house for long periods of time. My husband and I have moved quite a lot over the years - and this is where my passion for property and interiors has evolved. I absolutely love period properties, moving from Leigh on Sea and now settling in Westcliff in our Edwardian Home was the turning point in starting Tin Design.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I decorated the lounge first it has a very large room with high ceilings, beautiful coving and a nice fireplace - I wanted to make the most of the original features and decided to paint the ceiling dark, keeping the walls light. I chose basalt by Little Green. I then chose Tom Dixon style copper lights which complimented the ceiling and mixed up both contemporary and antique furniture - including my infamous mustard velvet sofa. When I opened an Instagram account less than two years ago, it grew overnight - I now have over 6300 followers. I received so many compliments about my home and style and decided that this would be my new venture - both home styling and owning an E-boutique selling beautiful yet quirky homeware.
Also, Leigh on Sea and the Southend area is full of artists, musicians and inspiring people, having a background in singing I have got to know some great artists as they often overlap - I thought it would be great to offer a page whereby they can sell their products - this is something I would very much like to develop further.
Why 'Tin’ - I was thinking of a fabric or material that everyone uses on a daily basis whatever your budget, it also doubled up as - 'Trudy's Interiors'
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I started in my bedroom at the Mac, I really struggled to be honest, I wasn't used to the Mac at all and thought of giving up all the time. In the beginning, I didn't even know how to download a picture onto my website, now I do it all the time. I got a great website designer who completely understood my style - he set most of it up - including downloading around 100 wallpapers - time consuming stuff. I now work from our spare bedroom, but will have to think again soon as it is going to become a large family bathroom - yikes!
3. How did you fund your business?
My dad lent me the money to start, I'm still paying him back!
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
5. What help was missing for you?
I think the hardest part of it all was definitely the IT - without Indie's help from 'Skin and Bones' I would have quit! I still find Marketing difficult but make the most of Instagram and Facebook for free advertising. I absolutely hate doing the accounts and VAT returns but it’s got to be done. Also juggling everything is hard - I literally do everything - from sourcing the products to packaging them and sending them out - even loading up my Fiat 500 and going to the post office - often several times of day. It’s not easy running the business, being a mum and doing the school run and walking the dogs, but that’s the beauty of working from home. Although it makes sense to expand and get premises, I prefer it this way for now anyway until the kids are older.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
I have learnt to toughen up a bit, I put my trust in someone in the beginning and they let me down on many levels. It was very hard and I had a tough few months, however I am a stronger person for it. I tend to see the good in people and think I was naive.
7. What have you learnt?
My husband is a massive influence in my life - he was a London Taxi Driver - he picked me up in his cab 20 years ago and we fell in love instantly. He was very unhappy being a cabbie, and managed to get into the drinks industry, he now owns several restaurants in London and his own Brewing company. I do not have the confidence he has, but learn from him all the time. He continuously encourages me to feel the fear and do it anyway.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Advice - choose something you absolutely love - don't do it just for money - it may take ages to work. I absolutely love the products that I choose for Tin Design, I get so excited - I was jumping up and down when I found the Frida Kahlo geometric prints, and now the canvases and rugs by Mineheart, I want them all round the house!
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I get a real buzz when customers style my products in their home and post them on Instagram - it is such a compliment!
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
'8’ its very, very hard, I couldn’t have done it when the kids were little, but it’s the most interesting rewarding and creative thing I have ever done.
Nicola Says "I really ought to do a summary post on the key themes that come through my spotlights because the challenges are often the same, access to good IT support, having to do it all and more, never being able to switch off, doing accounts and finances, it all comes through time and time again. and, why wouldn't it? starting a creative business is often about you being the creative, not the business person, and those skills need to be learned (or bought) along the way"
"Often family are key support structures to a small business, Trudy mentions her husband, who helps her understand how to take the risk "to feel fear and do it anyway. I can't imagine there is a small business out there that does not "feel the fear" almost every single day!
Thanks for sharing your journey!
The Girl with The Green Sofa