Are you a local company in the Essex area that would like to connect with new customers? If the answer is yes - why not get in touch so that you can feature in our bi-monthly blog, Interview with...
The purpose of this blog spot is for Perfect Layout to get to know local businesses better and share with our readers the personal experiences of these companies. What has worked for them and what they could do a little better…
Perfect Layout believe that sharing knowledge and experiences is a great way to help other local businesses. Attracting customers to the Essex area is paramount if independent companies are to thrive. As a result, we are keen to promote the new, bold and varied companies that exist right here on our Essex doorstep.
Read on to find out more about a talented designer that may just have that niche gift you've been looking for...
Business name: Ashare Designs
Owner: Lucy Joseph
What type of business is Ashare Designs?
It’s a product design business, specialising in laser cut, home décor and personalised gifts.
How long have you been in business for?
Since March 2017.
How did you come up with your business name?
The name has been inspired by the names of my children. Two names have been joined together to make Ashare.
What type of items does Ashare Designs make?
Personalised home décor, wall décor and personalised gifts like keyrings and keepsake boxes. I’ve also started making cake toppers. Any message can be made to make a cake look even better.
How did your design idea come about? Are you self-taught? Had formal training?
I teach design and technology across a range of years as well as GCSE and A’ level students. I teach them how to design and create products. This idea came to me because you can only teach to a certain level with students. I felt that I wasn’t using my skills to my full potential and because people would always want to make things, I wanted to turn my passion into a business. I knew I could make commercial products. I also wanted to spend more time at home with the kids and running my own business at home means that I can make money from something I enjoy doing which is a bonus.
Is this a full-time job for you?
At the moment it’s not. I do this part-time as I’m also a secondary school teacher of Design and Technology.
Who are your main customers?
People through Etsy, family and friends of friends. Mainly female customers at the moment, which I think is due to women having more of an eye for buying personalised gifts.
Do you have any staff?
How much do your personalised gifts sell for?
Costs for these items range from £5 to about £50 at the moment.
How do you reach out to your customers as I note that you don’t have a website?
I use social media at the moment. Facebook, Etsy and Instagram. I’m seeing most of my customers come from Instagram. I always try to put the words ‘personalised’ in the taglines. I see a lot of the types of products that I’m able to produce on the ‘Not on the High Street’ website. I wouldn’t want to advertise my goods on there as it’s a bit pricey and I want to keep my products affordable for all.
What advice would you give small businesses that sell their products on Etsy, Facebook and Instagram?
You’ve got to stay active and you have to try and build up a genuine following. You have to post frequently as well as comment on posts too. Asking questions, like ‘Which do you prefer?’ helps with the engagement of your followers. I also run competitions, i.e. when I reach a 1,000 followers (that have to provide a comment), I randomly choose a winner and send them a gift. I would class being active as posting 1 or 2 photos a day. Accessing brand reps to promote your products is also a good way to generate visibility.
What types of businesses do you think would benefit from using Etsy and Facebook?
Anything niche. Etsy is more craft based and is an arty type of shop. Facebook can be used by any type of business. But as your business gets bigger it becomes more about networking and you would eventually need a website to take orders etc.
How’s business going since you first started out?
It’s good. I’m not as active as I could be because I’m trying to keep it small and manageable.
Whilst your business is doing well on Etsy/Facebook, have you thought about growing your business with the benefit of having a website?
Yes, that would be the next step once I build up a better client base.
Do you have a marketing strategy? Both digital and non-digital.
At the moment, my plan is to continue using the social media platforms.
If you had the power to re-set the clock regarding the setting up of Ashare Designs, what would you do differently?
I would perhaps have made it more streamlined. I had an idea in the beginning that I would create one new product per week and add that to the range. This would then have been part of the social media promotion regarding posts, but it didn’t really happen.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
Continue to design more products and add to the range.
Where do you see Ashare Designs in 5 years’ time?
I’d like to be in a position where someone else can help with orders and I can oversee the business more.
So, if you’re looking for a gift that offers an extra special something, how about you check out some of Lucy’s creations. The products from her shop can be seen via:
Facebook - asharedesigns
Etsy – www.esty.com/uk/shop/asharedesigns
Instagram - @ashare_designs
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch?
We’d love to hear from you!