Spotlight on My Off the Wall Interior
Today's Sunday Spotlight is with Sarah Simonds of My Off The Wall Interior, who has recently started her own business producing Terrariums. Macramé Art and even furniture (see garden chairs below) and running workshops.
I'm not going to steal her thunder by covering her story myself, you can read on for that, but some of her self doubt in starting a business is quite a consistent theme that I'm seeing in this type of blog post which you can read about here. The confidence to go for it, is often what is holding back so many potential creative business owners, and that is a shame, but is something that can be overcome.
If you want to shop Sarah's products you can do so through the button below and I you want to see her stunning home, you can here.
I‘ve always been a creative soul. This was recognised by my Mum and at a very early age. I was encouraged to attend Forest School Camps. An amazing organisation…. This is where in the summer months I learned Macramé and weaving, amongst other traditional crafts. Also, my Mum and Dad got rid of me for a week! I was one of those annoying busy children… nothing much has changed really.
It was an incredible experience and one that has had a huge influence on my life. Consequently, I’ve always had a keen eye for design and a passion for creative arts.
I produced my first experimental Terrariums nearly two years ago now and progressed from there. The feedback I received was overwhelming. I enjoyed a huge amount of interest in my work, so much so, that it resulted in the setting up of a stall at a local craft fair ..... I was totally overwhelmed by the interest and it has led to commission works, an Etsy shop, and recently, construction of a studio in the garden that also accommodates Terrarium and Macramé workshops that launched just a few weeks ago.
My Macramé work now resides in wonderful interiors in Australia, New Zealand, America and across Europe.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I was initially encouraged by my daughter to set up an Instagram account to share my passion for creative interiors, botanicals and tropical gardening. The interest I received was quite incredible and it gave me the push and the confidence I needed to get things going.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I was very lucky when I started and was able to utilise the existing space within our home, as our children had moved out so I had storage space.
3. How did you fund your business?
The business was self-funded. Initially the outlay was small enough that we could cover it as I was also working part time as well as continuing to do the necessary admin required for our small Plumbing business. Anything that was earned went straight back into the business.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
I think for me it was the right advice. My family and friends were incredibly supportive, but it would have been handy to have some no-nonsense advice from someone that wasn’t emotionally involved if that makes sense.
5. What help was missing for you?
Confidence has always been a big problem for me and I felt at times that I was feeling my way in the dark, as I didn’t know who to look to for support but over time my confidence has grown a little.. but still needs work… I am my own worst critic.. but I’m not backwards about coming forwards to ask for advice now.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
Again… confidence. I have learnt by making lots of mistakes and shying away from potential opportunities as I thought I wasn’t good enough.
7. What have you learnt?
My aesthetic is my aesthetic. I cannot compromise and must always stick to that. I had contemplated experimenting with mediums and colour that just didn’t sit well with me in order to clinch that sale….wrong. I’ve learnt to value myself more. One of my first Commission pieces I undercharged for horrendously… I didn’t have the confidence in myself at that stage to put a proper value against my work. It made me feel sick as I put in 1 weeks’ solid work.
I have learnt from my mistakes… that’s normally the best way!
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
I’d say… Go for it!! My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Be passionate! Don’t expect everything to happen overnight and do your research in order to gain as much knowledge as you can! You can start by doing a little on the weekends and evenings to test the water so you don’t have the added financial worry.
9. What do you enjoy the most?
I just love that I get to be creative on a daily basis, and now the workshops have launched
I get to share my passion and encourage others to great creative and enjoy themselves! This gives me the greatest pleasure!
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
It can be a rocky road… Instagram has been pivotal and interacting is essential to get your business out there, I’m sure my husband thinks my phone is permanently glued to me. You really don’t get much downtime. So, I’ve also learnt to schedule in very necessary downtime as it’s so important to re-charge!
Nicola says " I want to pick up on the confidence thing a little bit more. I'm hearing so many people who lack or lacked the confidence to start their own creative business and that is sad because there is so much potential out there. But if we look at this rationally, a creative business can quite often be started with few funds, a lot of hard work granted, but you can start out while working and without risking your livelihood or home, something that is not always the case in the technology market. So why not try it? Suppose you fail? actually that happens quite a lot in the tech sector and people, especially in America where it is a badge of honour to have "experience”, try again. Quite often the only one judging you is you. "
The Girl with The Green Sofa