Sandra Laurenson, an HNC Art and Design student has just won £5000 of grant funding to help develop her business 'Jolly Well Made' by investing in a new sewing machine. Here is the story of her success.
Tell us about your business?
I specialise in creating personalised free motion embroideries handmade to order.
A gorgeous embroidered personalised gift that is perfectly handcrafted to celebrate any occasion such as an anniversary, birthday or wedding, the list is endless! Capture a special memory or moment in a unique way to treasure forever.
My embroideries are produced using the free motion embroidery technique. This is a form of stitching with the sewing machine, where the needle is used to draw like a pencil or pen would. As this is a manual process rather than a digital reproduction, any part using free motion embroidery is unique and cannot be reproduced, unlike with computerised embroidery. I use many different fabrics, so each commission is unique. Text included in the design will simulate handwriting rather than a digital computerised finished. All designs are finished to meet the customer's specification and delivered gift wrapped.
How did the business idea come about?
I love to try new things and I knew I was good at doing anything creative. I liked the idea of creating pictures using free motion embroidery and I learned how to do it by watching YouTube videos. The first picture I made was a family portrait for the wall in my new extension. All my friends and family loved it and asked me to make one for them. After that it just exploded.
How did you come up with the name?
I wanted a "happy" word because my pictures are all about fun. "Jolly" seemed to work well. As my products are of the highest quality and handmade - "Well Made" seemed to fit the bill. The illustration of the dog, is my own pet and it's a fun illustration which visually represents my products.
How's the business going so far?
It's going really well, I started with a Facebook page. I average 10 orders a week and manage my time effectively whilst providing a great customer service with a quick turn-around period. Seasonally I have had 20 orders for a couple of months, these were taking too long to complete, and I developed a long waiting list. A new industrial sewing machine will help me produce a larger volume of products.
My orders are varied, and I have had customers from countries all over the world. The current Principal of Ayrshire College is even a customer! When she left her previous role at Dumfries & Galloway College, the management team bought her one of my designs as a leaving gift.
How do you promote your business?
I use Facebook and Etsy and my website www.jollywellmade.com and this generates most of my orders.
I plan to market my products by hosting a table at wedding fairs and Christmas fairs. Word of mouth through friends and family and referrals from happy customers are the most effective. I would like to batch produce for shops to sell for me and my new machine will help me keep up with an increase in orders.
How has the Enterprising Students Fund helped you?
It's been amazing! Lynn Kelly from Bridge2Business is my business mentor, and she has helped me with things like idea generation, costing, writing a business plan, but most of all she has helped me to believe in myself. I have learned so much about running a business and what opportunities are available to us.
I was delighted to receive the £5000 funding from the Enterprising Students Fund and I would like to thank the trustees from the Ayrshire College Foundation for believing in my business. I am using the money to buy a professional sewing machine to enable me to batch produce and fulfil an increase in orders.
How do you manage your time?
I love writing lists and this helps me plan my next steps and ensure I don't take on too much and become overwhelmed. I am a mother of three children, I work part-time whilst studying full time at college and I plan to return next year to do my HND Art & Design course as well. I do my business at weekends, in the evenings and on days off college. Full time at college is actually 2 ½ days a week so it's manageable to balance my business, family and my course work.
How has your course helped you with the business?
It has been great because the lecturers encourage you to try using different media. For example, I am learning how to do screen painting onto fabric, so I am excited to see how I can use this new technique to expand my product range. My course is all about embracing who you are, and I have found out I love being creative, and learning new skills to enhance my business is definitely an ambition.
If you have been inspired by Sandra's success find out more about starting your own business here at Ayrshire College http://www1.ayrshire.ac.uk/enterprising-student/
Are you creative? Why not join the HNC Art and Design course at the Ayr Campus, Ayrshire College.
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