Happy First Birthday to Us!!!
Today is a rather brilliant day for John and I because it’s Blue Tickings first birthday. Whilst I had every faith in the business and knew we had a great idea, I never quite believed we would get here. As many of you who have set up your own business will know, a lot of planning, thought and energy go into it, even before you launch yourself to the public.
I am incredibly lucky as my partner in crime is my husband John. He’s been a tower of strength and incredibly supportive, both in practical terms with helping source and renovate the goods, but also emotionally. I really couldn’t have done it without him.
Miss Maggie was only a few months old when I decided this was what I wanted to do, and when I look back at this time I can’t quite believe we did it. We were in the throws of two children under two, with a new baby who wanted me to stand up breast-feeding and was often sick after each feed. Not a great combo and at times rather stressful. In the midst of it all though, it seemed perfectly plausible and I guess it gave me that bit of escapism during all the chaos to dream up this wonderful new business. So a good year of planning followed; the name was chosen, the look and feel of the brand was finalised and we started to buy our launch goods. This all happened whilst I was still on maternity leave so much of this was done in between naps or in the evenings. Here I am making a back for a bookcase on one of those many evening shifts!
In February 2014 Maggie went into child care a few days a week and I ‘properly’ went back to work! It was great to suddenly have 2 ½ days totally dedicated to Blue Ticking and gearing up for the launch, which we had set for May.
We had decided very early on that we were going to be an online business because we didn’t want the overheads of a shop in the first few years and the logistics of staffing it would have been an issue. We knew we could translate the brand well online because of it’s strong visual impact. We therefore set about putting together our shop on ETSY. For those of you who haven’t heard of ETSY, it’s a huge online market place, similar to Not On The Highstreet, but geared more to vintage goods. We went down this route because we wanted to test the market before investing heavily in our own website. I admit to being a bit sceptical at first, purely because I questioned whether it looked professional enough and there are only a few things you can do to make it your own brand wise. I really didn’t want people to think this venture was just a hobby, I wanted everyone to take the business seriously. However, a friend in the ‘know’ persuaded me otherwise and I’m very glad he did! So, once everything was good to go we launched on the 1st May . It was incredibly exciting and hugely rewarding and reassuring to get such positive and lovely comments. We sold a few items on day one which was a huge buzz, but I was desperate for someone I didn’t know to get into Blue Ticking. One week later it happened and I could have cried! This old army stool was the first item I sold to a non-friend and I couldn’t have been happier!
It’s also wonderful to hear back from customers about how pleased they are with their purchase, there is no better feeling to get that confirmation that you are doing something right.
Over the next few months life got a lot busier and no one work day was the same. I have really enjoyed every aspect of getting Blue Ticking to this point. It has been great scouring the fairs, spending time in the barn renovating the goods, taking photographs and also getting to grips with social media and writing blogs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always been easy and there have been stressful periods, but I have learnt a huge amount and I’m incredibly proud of how far we have come in this first year. We now have our own website which makes me very happy and excited and we are constantly thinking of new goods and avenues to explore. With this in mind we have a very exciting opportunity on the horizon, so watch this space because more details will be coming soon.
So to everyone who has bought a Blue Ticking product, liked us on facebook, twitter or instagram, said something lovely about the business or simply logged onto our website, THANK YOU! Here’s to more Blue Ticking brilliantness and fun!
A few thoughts which may help fellow start ups, (in no particular order):
- Test the market. One way we did this was by selling on ETSY first and it proved invaluable because it reassured us that people liked what we did.
- Look at the competition. You don’t necessarily haven’t to reinvent the wheel, just ensure you are offering something better or different.
- Listen and take on board what others have to say. Negative comments about your ideas or product might not be what you want to hear but it could be invaluable and make you see something you hadn’t thought of. Another perspective is always a good thing.
- Be realistic about what you can achieve and don’t necessarily look for perfection straight away. I found this quite hard as I had a very strong image of what I wanted Blue Ticking to look like, but it was unrealistic of me to think it would happen instantly. It takes time and we still have a long way to go.
- Keep costs as low as possible. We did this by renting a very basic space as our workshop and also not investing in our own website straight away. We also didn’t and still haven’t spent very much at all on advertising.
- Social media has been invaluable in helping us promote the brand and connect with people. Instagram was one I had never used before but think it could be the most powerful and influential at present.
- Understand that there will be low points and hurdles to cross. Stay positive and learn from any mistakes. Sometimes mistakes need to happen to know which direction to take or understand where you are going wrong.
- Ensure you love what you do. Starting a business is hard, but it will be even harder if it doesn’t really float your boat!
- Juggling family and a new business isn’t always easy. If possible try and find a good balance so you have time to relax and not think about the business. This is one I’m still trying to perfect!!
- Be brave and be bold. I was very scared about doing my own thing, but I knew that if I didn’t give it a go I would always wonder ‘what if’.
- Be pragmatic – definitely have a plan, but other opportunities often arise which you may not have planned for.
To end here are just some of my favourite Blue Ticking goods sold over the last year: