Spotlight on Lush Eclectic
Today's Sunday spotlight is with Marta Hutt also known as Lush_Eclectic who creates the most beautiful and striking art for your home. I have several of her pictures around my house and they are always a talking point when people come to visit and when I post them on Instagram.
Marta, like so many women, started her business when a change of circumstance came along; family and a baby. She started making her own art, when she couldn't afford to buy art online and quickly found that Instagrammers were clamouring after it. Clearly, she'd found a need and in less than 7 weeks her business was born.
I will leave Marta to tell you her story but if you want to shop any of hr pictures you can do so here.
Hello, my name is Marta Hutt and I’m a Somerset based artist. I run Lush Eclectic which is an online Gallery & Shop selling art prints. I stock a carefully curated collection of my own art.
It is important to me to stay true to myself in creating my art, while supplying a high-quality product to my customers with a personal touch. I’m trying to feed my own soul while creating and stay relevant at the same time.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
The idea for the business was totally accidental.
I was always a creative person but my past career wasn’t of a creative nature. In my last job, I was a manager in Harrods for 9 years. Logistics, people management, admin & finance were my bread and butter. Drawing and painting not so much…
After having a baby and with other family circumstances coming about, I wanted a total change of lifestyle to be able to focus my time on the family. So, I’ve said goodbye to my London career, we sold our Cambridgeshire house and moved to a seaside town in Somerset.
Here we bought my dream Victorian house by the sea.
While being a stay-home mum and renovating a house, I joined Instagram for some home décor & DIY inspiration.
I was looking for some art for my new home but being on a tight budget I couldn’t afford the art that I liked. So, I bought myself some dry pastels and after over a decade of not picking up a pencil, I started drawing. I posted a few pictures of my drawings on Instagram and I was surprised by an amazing reaction and all the kindness and support from strangers on Instagram. People were asking where they can buy my art – and this gave me the idea to start my own business. Within days I was drawing more and more and enjoying the newly re-discovered passion. Within 7 weeks from my first drawing, my online shop & gallery was up and running.
2. How did you start up? kitchen table? Mum’s garage? renting premises?
I started on my dining room table. I totally took over the space for the first few months (If you look at the Lush Eclectic logo, you will notice my dining room chair in it). I had plenty of space in my house for a studio /office but at the time when I was starting, half of my house was like a building site.
Most of the upstairs renovation is finished so I do have a studio in my house now. I do still like packing the art print orders in my dining room… mostly because my studio is always covered in paint, dry pastel dust and gold leaf flakes.
3. How did you fund your business?
I self-fund my business from my savings. Luckily, as I was creating the artwork myself, my running costs are not high.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
The most difficult thing by far was finding a time to work. It was very difficult and it was hard. Just being a mum of a toddler sometimes felt overwhelming. I didn’t have family nearby that could babysit while I was working. A big house renovation that we’ve taken on wasn’t helping either. I couldn’t afford a nursery so I had to invest in myself and I got a baby sitter for a one day a week for the first few months. This helped me enormously and it gave me time to focus on drawing. The rest of the work was fitted around when my little one was snoozing. It wasn’t easy juggling work and being a stay-home mum but at least the buggy was a good form of transport helping me carry all the orders to the post office. My son is now at the nursery so now I have time to focus full time.
5. What help was missing for you?
Babysitting! (Joking! I don’t want to come across as if I’m moaning!)
There is a huge amount of free resources out there. If you want to learn any skill, you can. You just need to filtrate down to good sources. There are fantastic courses and webinars that can teach you anything. I did spend some time learning how to design my own website. The web design was a new thing to me and so was the graphic design which I needed to help me create my own branding etc.
I was also asking a lot of questions to people that were already running their small businesses so those tips from the helpful Instagram community were much appreciated.
The Instagram crowd around home decor, DIY and art is absolutely wonderful. I’ve met many fab, inspiring and creative people who were incredibly encouraging and kind to me. I feel very lucky as I didn’t have to chase after the customers and my marketing was all organic so I didn’t have to pay for the advertising or stress about it. Seeing my art in a few home décor magazines is still a big and very exciting thing for me and so is just seeing my art all over Instagram.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
Touch wood! I can’t think of anything besides a few little mistakes that I’ve made when printing a wrong file, which meant that I’ve wasted money on a bundle of imperfect products. All my own fault.
7. What have you learnt?
I’ve learned new skills such as web and graphic design. And I’ve learned how to manage a flexible workload around my family time, to trust my gut and just keep going and overcome any hurdles on the way.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Do your research first. Get your business plan together in the smallest detail and get your numbers right. Make sure to cover: Accounting & Finance, Website / Online Shop, Social Media Marketing, Branding, Postage and Packing, Creative Work/Design/ Product Development and all the more obvious things such as registering with HMRC and getting a business account (this might take longer than you think).
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Stay humble and strong.
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I love the creative side of things. I love when it is my painting or drawing day so I lock myself in the studio, the music is on and I’m in the zone and painting.
I’ve been very blessed and lucky to have a few bigger clients commissioning me for a series of paintings (work in progress, not revealed yet) and they’ve been superbly kind and supportive as well as stimulating. I really enjoy those commissions that I’m working on as they have fabulous stories behind.
I love seeing my art, something that I’ve created in people’s houses around the world. It is still such a fantastic feeling when I see my art in someone’s home and just the thought that there are so many people looking at something that came from my imagination is just exhilarating.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
I would say 5. There is a lot to think about if you do everything yourself. And you have to be focused and organised. It is not a 9-5 job so often I will work on weekends and I will work at night but I do love the freedom of being able to adjust it around my family life. The downturn is the lack of paid holidays and you always have to plan ahead as the cash flow is not consistent and it comes in waves.
Nicola says "Marta has created a business out of a need for herself and for others and has quickly grown, despite juggling family life. She is like so many women, who create other jobs for themselves, due to the demand of having a family and needing flexibility. Of course, this makes it harder, as you are juggling a business around others needs but it is also "freeing", you can take the time off that you want and work the hours that you want.
I especially like Marta's advice about getting the business basics right, it is something I talk about a lot. Your cash flow will be lumpy, you need to plan for that and you need to do the basics like register with HMRC and open a bank account (both of which shouldn't, but can take longer than you think)"
The Girl with The Green Sofa