How I started my business and why I continue
Some of you may know a little about me already. My name is Janine. In 2003, when I had trouble finding nice clips and accessories for my hair, I began to make my own Swarovski Crystal clips. Not long after, I started to make bows out of grosgrain ribbon.
Finding suppliers of craft supplies in Australia was difficult at the time. There was nowhere in Australia to buy the supplies and ribbon I needed. By November 2009 I was buying bulk from the US and selling the extra ribbon through my Pretty Beaded Things website. Slowly the sale of ribbon and bow making supplies consumed more of my time. I was hoping that by expanding the colours and sizes of ribbon available I would be able to continue to grow my business. I was amazed by the local support I received. Sarah Lauren started to emerge.
Sarah Lauren was built from a small idea and expanded in the way I wanted. I did not have a big budget or huge plans. I don’t work like that. I knew what I wanted to sell and started to expand into related items. That meant that a few shades of grosgrain ribbon was not enough. Some clips, adhesives and wholesale grosgrain ribbon were needed. A one stop bow making shop!
What continues to inspire me in business
Sarah Lauren is my creative outlet. I love to see what they have done with the supplies they have purchased.
As a sole proprietor I found it important for my mental well being to chat to like minded people. I have found the most delightful group of ladies. They are inspiring. I leave every meeting with a new sense of empowerment.
I also love chatting to crafters. This business gives me the best of both worlds. I love sourcing new supplies and being able to bring them to my customers. Some of these customers I now call friends.
Marketing and SEO
One of the hardest parts of business for me was getting my name out there. I was really struggling to find more customers without directly marketing to individual businesses. That is until I met my SEO Guru.
Most of us will never be the best at every aspect of our business. For me Copywriting and SEO were better outsourced. I have learnt so much from my investment in this area. I also outsourced the work on my website. Sure I could learn it but for the hours that would take I would rather pay the experts and spend that time working on other aspects of Sarah Lauren.
Business Tips I have learned
• Listen to customers wants and needs
You don’t have to stock the whole range of something. Start with a couple in colours that you know will sell. If that does well add to the range. If not cut your losses. You have to be brutal sometimes.
• Have time set aside to do certain jobs and stick to it.
There are jobs we don’t like doing or take a long time. Set a day/time to do it and stick to it.
• Be open to learning new business skills.
Join a like minded group – listen and learn. There are plenty of online courses or webinars.
• Make time for yourself
Whether it is to watch a movie on your own, read a book or a relaxing bath in silence –you will feel happier for it.
Be competitive but don’t end up working for nothing. This is a sure fire way to lose the love for your business. Consider everything you use and the time involved, including e-mails, photographs, searching for supplies or suppliers and invoicing. Busy is good but if you are spending most nights and/or weekends away from your family then you need to re-consider how you are managing your business. There is no point being busy if you miss out on spending time with your family and enjoying your life.
Sell yourself to the customers you want. Know the person who will buy your items and what they want it for. If you make high end toddler clothes it is no good having a market stall at a Flea Market!
Sarah Lauren is not just a business for me. It is an enjoyable part of my day when I am involved in assisting others start or finish a labour of love. Crafting an item is not quick or easy. From visualising, sourcing, creating, photographing and marketing (or gifting) your project. Thank you for letting me be a part of that processes.