Spotlight on Two Faced Twins
Tonight’s spotlight is with Stella and Gem of Two Faced Twins, both artists producing striking artwork and limited edition prints from their studio at home. Their new collection is launching on 24th November and details of the launch party are in invitation are below. A giveaway of one of their new prints is also running on my Instagram account here.
Read on to find out more about this creative business and why the girls woke up one day and decided to quit their jobs and get started on their dream. You can shop their artwork here.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
Our main reason for starting this business together is because we are both passionate about amazing artwork and how it can transform a room from bland to striking.
The two of us have always been creative individuals. Stella studied Art at Northbrook University in 2010, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Illustration. She then worked as a freelance illustrator and used to spend hours in local cafes, sneakily drawing people queuing for their coffees.
I (Gem) attended Northbrook College that same year, and studied Fashion and Textile Design, achieving top marks. My passion is colour and texture and I indulged in those interests when I traveled to China in 2014 to teach English. While in China, I took countless photographs and painted their bright coloured buildings and temples.
Although our personal journey as artists has been very different from one another, we always knew we wanted to work together, we just never really knew how. Although we are identical twins who have the same faces and the same voices, we are very different in what we enjoy doing.
Stella has a range of crazy hobbies - she’s a brilliant juggler, she unicycles, and she plays the drums. Gem loves to sing and is a member of a choir, she has an obsession with notebooks and stationary and she enjoys rollerblading and the gym. Our interests have always seemed so different, until we came to the realisation that we are both very creative people.
At school, we took all the same classes, and although we enjoyed school, we have always remembered being known as ‘the no hopers’, shoved into the bottom class! We weren’t even allowed to take the full amount of GCSE’s because we weren’t seen as academic enough.
Being given this negative belief at a very young age resulted in us never trying to pursue our career dreams, until last year, when I (Gem) had an epiphany. I was walking to work, and suddenly I stopped in the street and thought ‘Is this it?’ ‘Is this all that life has to offer me?’ I knew then, that things had to change. That night, the two of us hatched a plan to combine our artistic skills together and build a joint art business. Before even creating our first piece of art together, we quit our full-time jobs and started working on our new-found ambition as a creative duo the next day.
And thus, Two Faced Twins was born.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
We started our business in our garage in our parents’ home. There was a pool table in the space and after a few months, we decided to cover it up with a large piece of wood to create a huge table for us to work on. We ended up transforming the entire garage into a studio for us (with the acceptance of our parents of course).
3. How did you fund your business?
Luckily, we haven’t had vast amounts of expenses within our business, especially in the beginning, because we had a home studio, so we didn’t need to rent anywhere, and our artwork requires us to use very little materials, such as pencils, fine liners and watercolours. We both worked part time jobs at the start to fund our expenses for market stalls, events and exhibitions.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
We’ve been trading for about one and a half years at this point. The first year was really tough for us. The hardest part was figuring out our ‘niche’ to help us stand out. But also, figuring out who our target market was, was so difficult, especially because artwork is a matter of personal taste.
Other difficulties included:
· working out our goals for the business, where we want to be in 5 years, and what we want to be known for
· how to reach those goals
· learning how to work together as a team
Crikey, the list goes on!
5. What help was missing for you?
We have always felt that we could really benefit from having a mentor, but not just any mentor… a creative mentor who knows how to set up and run an art or creative business. There are so many amazing mentors out there, and we have had lots of help from our Princes Trust mentor. But it would have been great to have someone who knows our field very well, who could point us in the right direction when needed.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
I think at the start we both had quite different ideas of what we wanted the business to be and to look like. Originally, I (Gem) wanted to have our ‘identical twin thing’ as a big part of our brand. Buying identical wigs for each other and styling us to look exactly the same created a lot of attention for us, which was brilliant.
But Stella found it quite difficult because she has always wanted us to be seen as individuals, rather than the same person. It was too much of an effort for her to dress up into effectively a different person all the time. So, we eventually decided it would be easier to scrap the wigs and just be ourselves.
Other than that, we are a bit stuck on this question! As we are quite early on in our business, we haven’t taken any huge risks so there hasn’t been any major disasters (yet).
However, in the next couple of weeks we are holding our first solo exhibition to launch our new series of artwork. We have spent weeks and weeks producing new artwork, as well as organising and preparing the entire event ourselves. We have put a lot of money into the event to try and make the occasion as big and brilliant as possible. So, fingers crossed, this won’t be a mistake and the event will run smoothly and turn out to be a huge success!
7. What have you learnt?
At first, we tried lots of different ways of marketing ourselves and getting our brand out there, but we would always make the mistake of trying these things for a couple of weeks and then giving up and moving onto another idea if it hadn’t worked, yet. From those mistakes, we have definitely learnt that a huge part of building a successful brand and business is consistency, because people forget about you so quickly if you’re not in their faces constantly.
We have also learnt how important it is to have a very clear focus and direction, so that we are always very clear on where we are headed. It makes the whole process of building a brand so much easier.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy the process of setting up your business and are constantly stressed and wound up, your mindset will gradually become negative and then positive things are less likely to happen to you. We started getting up early every morning to have time for ourselves individually, to exercise, take care of our mindset by meditating and repeating affirmations and eating a healthy breakfast. Beginning the day with a positive attitude makes a huge difference to the rest of your working day!
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
We really enjoy seeing people’s homes turn into artistic paradises with our colourful artwork. We love seeing the smiles on our customers faces and hearing how pleased they are with their new piece of artwork. Also, the rush it gives us when an order is placed is brilliant, because it makes all our hard work worth it.
We love to be busy, creating lots of artwork and delivering the best customer service we can. So, the more orders we get, the happier we are. It feels amazing.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
9/10. The entire process is a huge learning curve, especially as it’s our first business. To figure out how on earth to set up a business and keep it running smoothly is unbelievably tough and confusing, and it continues to be a struggle for us. But all the hard work, stress and frustration continues to be worth it, as we are doing a job we love every single day.
Nicola says “I love that the girls were sensible about their set up costs. I’ve said it before, but a creative business can be set up for very little, especially given there are rarely huge overheads and you can test out the marketplace, your brand and identity and what works for you, without losing huge amounts of cash doing so. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything will go right, just that it is often not terminal to the business if things have to change. It is always a steep learning curve, unless you have been doing a business in a certain marketplace for years, and even then, something always comes your way to challenge you. Understanding the pitfalls and getting a mentor is always helpful early doors.
The Girl with The Green Sofa