Spotlight on Anna Hayman Designs
When Rockett St George first showed these lampshades on their Instagram account, I literally stopped in my tracks, a beautiful mix of pattern and fringing, oversized and a fabulous shape, I knew I had to have one for my home, and I did in my bathroom which you can see below. Since this time Anna Hayman Design has gone from strength to strength, launching her own wallpaper collection and having her lampshades stocked at Liberty London.
Her products are such good quality, unusual but beautiful and she is launching her own collection of cushions and throws very soon. I will be in the queue for these too!
So, go and read this fascinating journey. You can find Anna's website here.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I have always been obsessed with pattern, and fascinated by the reasons why some patterns are so universally loved. I am from a fashion background, and have always loved and worn a lot of print. When I started this venture, I was teaching piano at the time, rather half-heartedly, and I had a conversation with my husband along the lines of ‘what would your ideal job be’, and it organically followed from that.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
As I say it was a very organic start, a lot of drawing, looking at pattern, figuring out styles. I did a lino cutting course and that is when my work started to look distinctive, and I took the decision to find a studio to try out fabrics on different products. My original studio was in a derelict iron works, surrounded by other artists makers and creatives of varying types on a peppercorn rent while the council decided what to do with the land, it was a very inspiring and interesting place to work.
3. How did you fund your business?
I took out a small loan to get going with the ceramics and tea towels etc. from my first collection, and things have built up from there. After 18 months, I was out of debt and the business was self- supporting, and I have now taken on a part time freelancer to help with the outsourcing of production and general assistance, who is brilliant, and it is a huge relief as things have completely snowballed since the Summer so it’s come at a good time.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
Setting it up wasn’t a challenge, as I’ve had a small business before, nothing was difficult really, and to be honest at the beginning I used it as a bit of a bolthole escape from the challenges arising from having two boys under five! It did take time to find out who my customer was though, and I feel like I’ve only just really started two years in.
5. What help was missing for you?
Nothing really to be honest.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
I sampled a lot of products which never went into full production, so I was sending out emails saying, ‘this coming soon’ and then it never actually did. I’m much more selective and thorough about new product lines these days, I’d rather do a few product types well than diversify too much. I am very keen though to get all my designs selling as velvet cushions, which are launching imminently, I do love an overstuffed cushion.
7. What have you learnt?
That actually my work is fairly niche. Pattern maximalism is not to everybody’s taste, when you start out you aim to please a broad range of people, and over time you learn exactly where to position yourself in the market. Now I'm really clear about what I’m doing and who I’m selling to, and I’m loving my customers - their homes are amazing and inspire me every day.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
I try not to give advice as I’m not great at receiving it - go your own way I guess! You need a lot of determination to get through the tricky parts, stick with it.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
Well I love the design stage, the magic of turning a design into a pattern, which is simultaneously the hardest part and the most exciting, but I now also love liaising with customers, interior designers, and retailers, and getting excited with someone about putting my piece in a home, commercial setting, or a store.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
Well that depends what you mean by hard! I’ve made conscious efforts lately to be more relaxed about running a business, because it actually seems to flow better the more relaxed I am. And to try not to take too much work home (there have been some comments!) I’ve done the big push of setting up and getting myself out there, and so that energy is now focused on strategy. I love what I do so it doesn't feel like work at all, but certain things are scary, like taking on a first employee, vat registration etc., but I wouldn't say it’s hard, daunting sometimes to kick it up a notch, but SO MUCH FUN.
Nicola says " I love that Anna knows exactly who she is, her brand, her niche and who her products appeal to, possibly because this is her second business and she has learnt from her mistakes. She has chosen to focus and not to over expand herself, making a small number of products well, before adding additional product lines. Her success can be seen by the fact that big interiors brands such as Liberty London and Rockett St George have chosen to stock her items."
Thanks for sharing!
The Girl with The Green Sofa