Spotlight on Lauren Williams Art
If you want to buy independent and receive the best customer service along with the most exquisite products and art, then this is the place to go.
I recently bought a velvet thrown fromLauren Williams in the loveliest green colour (you can see it in my master bedroom) and I actually sent her an email afterwards congratulating her on the most amazing customer service. Her products are beautifully designed and she takes a lot of care to keep the customer happy, from emailing updates, to packaging, personal notes, it all helps you feel "cared for". And that's before we get to her extraordinary art, so popular it sells out within hours of each collection launching.
So, go and read the journey of how she got started, another busy mum trying to run her business around the kids, very successfully.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I actually never intended to start a business selling my art, but as soon as I made my first piece, the requests started coming in very consistently. I would create them over the weekends or at night after my kids were asleep. Pretty soon, I couldn’t keep up with all the requests during the nights and weekends only, so it just seemed like the obvious decision to begin creating my art full time.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I started in the garage of our rental house… I actually still work in our garage, only now it is a three car garage instead of our smaller one car garage. But we really are busting at the seams now and it is time to find a bigger space where we can be more efficient and produce more, faster.
3. How did you fund your business?
All out of pocket. I have been lucky enough to sell my pieces immediately after they are created so I never have inventory to worry about. The quick turnaround allows me to continue creating and my business pays for itself.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
I have started two other businesses- A yoga studio in LA and a commercial production company in Dallas, both with my husband. Each business had their challenges. The previous were much harder to start and grow because of the capital needed and the high overhead to keep the doors open. Selling my art has been the easiest business to start financially, because the overhead is very low. I work from home, market myself on Instagram. purchase materials needed for each piece and then sell them as soon as they are completed. Compared to other businesses that I have run, creating and selling my art has been the most organic, natural growth and therefore less pressured and more successful. I’m truly passionate about my work and am able to really target my audience through images on Instagram, this has definitely aided in the success of my business. Now that things are operating on a consistent schedule and I have collections each month, the physical labour is very taxing on my body. I could work round the clock and still not get all the pieces created that I have to do… I have to force myself to stop, take breaks and take care of my body.
5. What help was missing for you?
As an artist, it’s hard to bring in people to help when the laborious part is actually creating the art. I can’t have other people do that. So, figuring out where I could have help was essential for me. Finally accepting that I don’t need to create each shipping label, or order the shipping tubes and tape, and answer every single email has allowed me to delegate more. But finding the right people to bring into the business is a really hard task. My studio is a very personal space for me and I want to always feel comfortable when I’m working on my art. Finding the right person to work so close with me was hard. Luckily my husband has been a great help and now I have a studio manager who is wonderful.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
It’s hard to say! Anytime something doesn't go the way I want or expect, I learn from it and it helps me to avoid major issues down the road. Once a tapestry was broken in half and another time it was stolen out of the container I packaged it in before it reached my client. I insure each piece of art, so although it was frustrating to have to create another tapestry, I wasn’t out of pocket and the client was still happy… that’s always my goal!
7. What have you learnt?
I have learned tons since I started making and selling my art. I spent hours teaching myself things to help make my business better. I am now fluent in shipping and packaging, marketing and sales, taxes, customer service, website management, product design, accounting, social media, photographing, editing, interior styling and on and on! I value each dollar that my clients spend on my work, and so I want to have the best product and great customer service so that I can be proud of every item sold. I will never stop learning how I can be better so I can keep doing what I love.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Always think about how your client will feel or react to your brand. Think about how your customer will view everything you do, make, post, say, write, ship, email and interact. I include nails and hanging instructions with each piece of art that I sell. I started this after I followed up with a client on their fiber art purchase. The client said that they still hadn’t hung it up because they needed nails. As a busy mom, wife and business owner, I could totally relate. I knew I had to start sending nails so that my clients would have one less thing to worry about. Now I think about everything from how they will open my package, unroll the art, hang it, look at it and talk about it to their friends. It’s important to think about every angle of your brand. I appreciate small details that show how much thought and care went into my purchase. I want my clients to feel that with every item I sell.
9. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
I love my job and so getting out of bed each morning to “go to work” is never hard, but to keep my business growing and thriving means that I have to work harder than everyone else all the time. There are no paid vacations or holidays. I can’t take “Paid Time Off” but I can call the shots, steer my brand in a direction that I choose and feel the direct accomplishment of every decision I make, and I love that. Running my own business is the hardest and best job ever.
Nicola Says "Lauren is a great example of how to create a successful brand; she knows her customer, has kept her products focused and on message and most importantly invested in how the customer feels when receiving an item, something I was so impressed by, I actually took the time to write to her about it. It makes you feel valued and that is what will keep people coming back. That and the fact she makes the most amazing art and homewares, the fact her art sells out within hours is testament to that. She also does it around small children but has learnt to invest in herself (time out) and in people to do the bits she doesn't need to"
thanks so much for sharing Lauren!
The Girl with The Green Sofa