Spotlight on Green Lili Art
Today's Sunday Spotlight is Michelle Collins of Green Lili Art, who produces stylish art for interior lovers, like me and you. Michelle also produces the most beautiful rugs and has worked with French Connection and John Lewis. If you want to shop her collections; you can through the button below, and read on to hear her journey and how working digitally has helped her business expand and get her products feature in many of our favourite magazines.
Having worked in graphic design for several years, my skills for digitally drawing and painting developed somewhat and I started experimenting with different styles and techniques, which naturally led me back to my first love for art. I began producing my own artwork which allowed me to work freely and be a lot more creative, which I really enjoy.
My initial collection gained a positive reaction with interest from publishers and retailers, it was then I knew I was on to something! I really wanted to create stylish, affordable art for fellow interior lovers, so in January of 2016 Green Lili was launched.
Green Lili is a lifestyle brand for contemporary wall art and home accessories. Combining inspiration from travel and interior trends, we design unique art prints, framed art, canvas and rugs, and sell them through our online store greenlili.com. Also through selected stockists and retailers, as well as licensing artwork with publishers worldwide.
Working digitally means we can easily adapt colour-ways so that the artwork is tailored to suit your home, interior project or popular trends. We have created exclusive collections for various retailers including French Connection and John Lewis, which have been featured in several leading home and lifestyle magazines including Elle Decoration, LivingEtc, EKBB and S Magazine as well as a high street home decor feature on the telegraph.co.uk.
As a team of two based up north in Sheffield, we’re very proud of what we have achieved so far and sometimes can’t quite believe our artwork is sold all over the world! We’re super excited for what the future holds . . .
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I have loved to create for as long as I can remember and had previously worked designing posters for brands such as Disney and Coca Cola. Although I enjoyed it, it was when I was given the opportunity to work on a brief for Sainsbury’s Home that I realised my real passion lied with art and interiors. I was able to adapt the skills I had learnt over the years working in graphic design to create a Christmas collection of wall art, which ended up on the supermarket shelves! Seeing this I quickly knew this is what I really wanted to do.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I started working from home at the dining room table, but soon started to accumulate product samples, paperwork and would work all hours! Now being a team of two we rent studio space at a really cool hub for creative businesses in the centre of Sheffield.
3. How did you fund your business?
I took the plunge and funded the business from my own savings.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
For me I think the transition of moving from a job where I was given set tasks and deadlines, to now having to organise my own time, and not just create artwork but try my best at every aspect of the business having had little if any experience at all. Sales, accounts, marketing, social media, licensing contracts and so on, it was and still is a huge learning curve.
5. What help was missing for you?
I’ve always had great support and sources for business advice but not necessarily specific to the art world, so I guess that little bit of industry knowledge was missing.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
Plenty! But you learn from your mistakes. I probably made it more difficult for myself by trying to run before I could walk. Taking on too much too soon, and saying yes to every opportunity perhaps without fully thinking it through. The excitement of starting your own business I guess!
7. What have you learnt?
Take the time to evaluate, it’s a cliché but work on the business and not in it, you really do get out what you put in. Also, even from this early stage it’s clear that the art and interior community has so many lovely people to work and collaborate with, who are happy to offer help and support along the way.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
I think it’s important to really love what you do, this will give you the confidence to believe in yourself and trust your gut. Have a clear plan and set small, smart goals. Don’t try to take on the world on your first day!
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
Mostly I love creating new art. Hearing the reaction from happy customers when they receive their prints, and seeing photos of our artwork styled in their homes is a great feeling, and I still get really excited when I see my work in stores or featured in magazines! I also love the lifestyle that the freedom and flexibility of working for yourself gives you.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
In our third year now and it’s getting a little easier each year . . . so let’s go for 8 out of 10! New challenges come up every week, but in solving them we enjoy seeing the results and our business grow.
Nicola says "Michelle gives some great advice on learning to focus "I probably made it more difficult for myself by trying to run before I could walk. Taking on too much too soon, and saying yes to every opportunity perhaps without fully thinking it through." This is something I see time and time again, an opportunity presents and you just can't say no; I'm guilty of it too. But learning to focus and taking smaller steps also allows you to think about the other things that come with running a business; marketing, licensing, SEO, Social Media and so on. Neglect those and you will find yourself in trouble at some point down the line"
The Girl with The Green Sofa