This weeks Creative Corner interviewee makes something I love. Cushions! Hubby says we have enough, but after reading about Jared Designs I may have to pick up a few more.
1. Introduce yourself.
I’m Jane, the creator/maker behind Jared Designs. I live in a rural village near Newport, South Wales with the hubby and our three kids aged 18, 16 and 13 plus two adorable pooches! Originally from beautiful Pembrokeshire, I‘ve moved around the UK and lived in the Netherlands too but I’m very happy to have settled back in South Wales.
2. Tell us a bit about your business.
I’m a trained soft furnishings designer and my business initially grew locally with curtain making but I also sell eye-catching and unusual cushions worldwide via my Etsy shop. Over the last 12 months, the cushion business has taken off so I decided to give up the curtain making and concentrate on more bespoke cushion designs.
3. What made you start Jared Designs?
After working at management level in the steel industry for 10 years, I volunteered for redundancy as my job was changing to shift work – with my husband frequently working abroad, becoming self-employed was the only way we could manage childcare. I re-trained in my first love of soft furnishings and working around the children has been an absolute blessing – I don’t think I’ve missed a single sports day or Christmas concert!
4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
I’ve always been creative and sewed from a young age but it was a revelation to actually be formally trained – I remade all my original curtains after becoming qualified when I realised how amateur a job I’d made of them first time around! Since then, I’ve perfected many techniques and I’m very proud of the quality of work I produce.
5. Explain your creative process.
If I’m making stock items, I’ll assess the fabric I’m using to determine the best shape cushion, whether it would look better with embellishments, etc and go from there. If I’m making a custom order, then the process is likely to be a lot more structured to suit the client’s requirements, considering colour, pattern placement, any personalisation required, and so on.
A relatively new introduction to my business has been the purchase of an embroidery machine so that I can now create more personalised products. This additional piece of kit requires a lot of practice runs and prototypes to see what works best but I’m loving the experimenting.
6. Describe your typical day
The kids are out of the door by 7.45am so after cleaning the kitchen from the teenage tornado that has swept through it, I do an hour or so of marketing and networking on social
media and answer any overnight messages and emails (I have quite a few American customers). I like to be sewing or designing by 10am as I’m most productive in the mornings. My afternoons tend to be more focused on admin work, accounts, product photography, listing shop items and I’m currently redesigning my website. My evenings are totally determined by what activities my kids are doing and what taxi service is required!
7. What’s your biggest seller?
Apart from the pre-Christmas madness, my business tends to peak late Spring/early Summer when people want to shed the darker colours of Winter and brighten their homes with lighter accessories. I have a range of cactus cushions printed on a beautiful cotton/linen mix and the Nopal cactus print is the most popular.
Code BLOG10 gives my customers 10% off their order between 29th Aug – 30th Sept with a minimum spend of £10.
8. What have been the high and low points of running your own business?
The high is most definitely having repeat customers from all over the world – my best customer lives in Australia! It’s lovely to have my workmanship appreciated.
After starting my working life in a busy office environment, the low point of my job is definitely the potential isolation from working at home alone. You have to make the effort to join business groups to help bounce ideas around, ask for advice and generally feel part of the real world. Scheduling in coffee morning breaks with friends is crucial to maintain some degree of sanity.
9. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
You have to be self-motivated, disciplined and organised.
When working from home, it’s so easy to get distracted by non-work matters – cleaning the kitchen is a very attractive option when I have an afternoon of accounts ahead of me – but having a structured day is fundamental to getting work done. I’m not perfect and do fail to hit targets on some days but I do try to catch up by the end of the week to give myself well deserved family time at the weekends.
10. What are your aspirations?
I have two main aspirations for my business.
Firstly, I want to develop the use of my embroidery machine to make more bespoke items for customers – personalisation makes a gift so much more special for both the giver and the receiver.
Secondly, I want my website to work better for me. Etsy has been an excellent platform to start my business but with so many sellers, it is increasingly more difficult to get your work visible. I would love to be ‘found’ on my own terms and build my brand and reputation as an independent designer.
11. Where can we find you?
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