Wednesday, 18 December 2013

2013 - A Look Back Over The Year


Hello! today's blog post is dedicated to looking back at how 2013 has been for me and my little business. This post is a long one as there are number of thank yous I need to say along the way. Please grab a brew and get comfy...

Living The Dream Gift Wrap Design - New Summer 2013
It's been a funny old year for me.  There have certainly been highs and lows.  All in all, 2013 has been a year where I've made braver decisions and really stopped and thought things through properly because early in the year I could feel my work sliding in the wrong direction leaving me feeling frustrated and increasingly unhappy - and that can't do, especially when my work overlaps with my home life so much...

Blue Tits Gift Wrap - New Design Autumn 2013
So, I took a step back, grabbed the figures, looked at the amount of time I was spending on my business and how I was spending that time.  Then I tried to assess my business as if it was not mine and I was looking at it as an objective business consultant seeking ways to make everything leaner and fitter - with the main goal of sustaining a way to spend more time working on the stuff that makes my heart sing and more time fully focused on my family as that was the main reason for setting up the business in the first place.    Consequently I sought counsel from nearest and dearest to check I was not completely bonkers in my thinking.  I'm very grateful to be surrounded by so many lovely, kind, generous and candid people - thank you to everyone who has patiently listened and provided me with advice and guidance this year - I couldn't do any of this without you.  Especially my husband John, who not only provides advice, but also helps with admin, packing orders, post office runs on his way to work and making a decent cup of tea when I need it most - he really is a star...
New Products 2013
 Basically everything this year boiled down to working out what I really want to get out of this and not just in the short term. I found Etsy's Sellers Handbook to be a great source of reference for tools to help me plan my way towards a brighter looking future.  One particular article 'How to write a creative business plan in under an hour' was extremely helpful.  I completely recommend doing this as an exercise if you want to get clear plans in place for your small business:
https://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2013/how-to-write-a-creative-business-plan-in-under-an-hour-2/

  Another source of inspiration was a BBC TV interview I saw a few months ago that got me thinking about every aspect of my work.  In the episode, Peter Jones (from Dragon's Den) interviewed the contagiously energetic Michael Acton Smith (head of Mind Candy - the creators of Moshi Monsters) & the amazing Laura Tenison, founder of JoJo Maman Bebe.  The program gave a wonderful peep into the world of the Moshi Monsters empire where Michael said that he regularly set his team a 'BHAG' - which stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  Well I think I've finally worked out a few BHAGs of my own this year and feel very inspired to chase after them as we approach 2014.

Here's a nice link to another interview Michael did for wired.co.uk with his 10 Steps to build a killer start-up.  It makes great reading for anyone trying to succeed in business whether your business is big or very small:



2013 has been a busy year work wise and plenty of positive developments and opportunities have arisen.  As I continue to work closely with my friends at Art Eco Designs and The Heart of a Garden - they've taken my designs to two key trade events this year.  In February they took lots of my new designs to Spring Fair International.  Then in July during some particularly hot days they made the extremely long journey from Redruth to Harrogate Home and Gift, where they showcased my designs alongside their ever growing portfolio of photographic and art cards.  I'd like to say a massive thank you the team at Art Eco Designs for all their continued support  - I have great fun working with you all and I am looking forward to coming to see you again in just over a month at Spring Fair (it comes around quicker every year!)...


This year has provided me a chance to spread my wings a little and look at new ways of getting my designs out there.  It was the year I joined Society 6, become a 'Westcountry Maker' with Elsie and Fleur and created my profile on the MOYO directory.  My designs are continuing to be stocked by some branches of Waterstones and National Trust Shops.  Tower Bridge Exhibitions and some branches of RNLI shops are two notable additions to the list of new stockists.  Also, I was delighted to add Hestercombe Gardens shop as another new stockist as they enable me to have a great local outlet to test new products...

http://society6.com/angiespurgeon



http://www.moyodirectory.com/angiespurgeon
http://www.hestercombe.com/
There have been lots of sightings of my cards in shops over the year.  I am always blown away when people make time to photograph my work on display and then get in touch and send me the photo - it really is the most amazing thing to think that someone has taken the time and effort to do that, thank you to everyone who has done that over the past year, it means so much to me and keeps me going when things get tough...


My order book for general custom branding work may have been closed since the beginning of the summer, but there have been plenty of exciting collaboration projects bubbling away behind the scenes.  Here are a couple I want to share with you as I really enjoyed working on both projects - both great briefs to work on from two very lovely ladies.

Above is a little peep at some of the collaborative work I've developed for Tigerlily Makes.  Lisa, the creative force behind Tigerlily Makes had a little lamb icon as part of her brand 'Lily the Lamb'.  I was asked to develop Lily as a character that could be applied to all sorts of new products for Tigerlily Makes.  These are a couple of gift wrap and tag designs that I developed from that brief...






Another fantastic collaboration project I worked on this year was for The Beverage Bag Company and their innovative product The Bevgo Bag.  Wendy at The Beverage Bag Company asked me to come up with some designs aimed at girls (both young and slightly older pre-teens).  These designs were to go on the new lunch bag designs they were developing to house their  Bevgo Bag so that children no longer needed a separate, chunky water bottle with their packed lunch.  These lunch bags contain a refillable drinks bag with tap dispenser and matching cup making it lighter, cleaner and neater for lunches on the go.  This brief was a great opportunity to work on something very different and also dip my toes into designing for children, which is something I'm keen to do more of in the future...


I've worked with some fantastic people this year and have enjoyed having regular online chats and giggles with lots of lovely ladies working in a similar, creative way.  I feel so fortunate to be part of such a wonderful community of talented and inspiring people and want to say thank you for helping keep my spirits up and remain positive whilst I worked my way through a tricky year. 

Another big thank you goes to Porcupine PR for all their help this year.  As I've mentioned in recent posts, they've been allowing me to come and boss them around in THEIR photography studio and drink all their tea in order to get the product shots I want for my online shops.  They really are a lovely team to work with and have been a great support these past few months, I feel very grateful to them...


So here we are, just a few days away from Christmas and I'm currently working on my new range for 2014, a garden themed collection called 'Bloomin' Lovely' which I'm hoping 2014 will turn out to be!
  
Here are a couple of designs from that range which will be off to Spring Fair International with Art Eco Designs at the beginning of February.  I'm also working on lots more occasions cards, so will have plenty of new designs to share with you soon...




Before I sign off I want to say a heartfelt thanks to a few more people:

Thank you to 
Everyone I have worked with this year, 
Everyone who has ordered prints and products from my online shops,
Everyone who has bought products with my designs on from my stockists,
Everyone who has supported my social networking efforts - every like, share, comment, pin, re-tweet etc

Your commissions, purchases and support enable me to make a living doing the thing I love most and for that I am truly grateful. 


Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Happy Peaceful New Year to you all!

Best wishes


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