We love a good framed quotation as much as the next person, so when Gemma told us that she had an online store full of them, we couldn’t resist asking her how she does it. Here’s what she told us...
Tell us a little about who you are and what you do
I started GW Prints about a year ago after many years of tinkering on Photoshop. When I was a teenager it was creating wallpapers of my favourite stars and movies and, as I studied video editing, I loved the projects where I got to use Photoshop to create graphics and titles.
As my friends and family started getting married, I began to create stationery for them, and think to myself “I actually really love this, I wish I could do this for others” and now I do.
I started out selling personalised printables and then added prints and canvases and now I make wedding stationery, kid’s activity packs and a range of designs for all occasions and rooms, many of them personalised and most of them customisable. I love being a part of peoples homes and celebrations, that my designs can shape someone’s wedding day and the fact that people from all over the world from Australia, Hawaii and Singapore to Swansea and Glasgow opened my prints on Christmas Day is mind blowing.
What is an average day like?
No day is the same here; I’m a work at home mum and have a lively 20 month old boy, so most of my day is spent chasing him around. As well as looking after him and running the store, I also work on video editing projects which is my "day" job, so I have lots of balls in the air. Luckily my husband works shifts which enables me to do a lot of my remote editing work when he is home in the morning and then nap time and the evenings are mostly spent designing new prints and stationery, working on orders, emailing customers, sending proofs and networking on social media to get GW Prints name out there.
What made you decide to set up your own online store and what have the hurdles been?
About a year ago my sister-in-law asked me to design a housewarming gift for her brother and sister-in-law. They both loved the result and she told me I could sell them. I’d always dabbled with design but never thought anyone would actually buy anything I made. Encouraged by their response, I opened an Etsy store and put up a few designs, and people actually started ordering.
At first I thought that I’d sell a few files and maybe earn a bit of extra money to put towards a PS4 at Christmas for my long suffering husband, but a year on and I’m about to hit my 200th sale on Etsy, plus many more through my Website, Facebook and Instagram.
The hurdles are definitely the amount of time it takes to get your name out there and your designs seen, a lot of hours are spent networking on social media, tweaking your SEO and descriptions, and sometimes it can seem like a never ending battle being seen amongst all the amazing creativity out there.
Your designs feature a lot of quotations, what makes a good quote and what is your creative process like when you design around them?
A lot of my quotes are from the public domain and are from people like Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, some of them, like my Sonnet 116 design, were inspired by my love for Shakespeare and the fact it was a reading at my wedding. Others are quotes that I have found and feel are words that people still relate to today.
In terms of the design process, I try and combine the right quotes with the right style. The hand lettered calligraphy style is so popular at the moment and I’m always on the look out for new fonts that really work well with old poetry.
Slightly less traditional designs, such as “You wouldn’t like me when I’m Hangry” and “Brothers make the best heroes”, come from everyday inspiration, be it my toddlers pre-lunch meltdowns or a sweet picture I see of two brothers in capes on Instagram. Things like my Playroom and Superhero Rules designs are simply things that I wish for my son, and imagine that other parents would wish for their children too.
These days I am always looking for inspiration and trying to execute my designs in a way that is unique to my brand and that is on trend without stepping on anyone’s toes. It’s about trying to stand out in a world that is so accessible to creatives.
Which design resources could you not live without?
Design software-wise, Photoshop and Illustrator are my go-tos. Websites like Pinterest and Instagram are amazing for getting a feel for what’s popular and on trend. I discovered a love of monochrome among Instagram mums and as a result, designed a range of kids prints that look great in monochrome, as well as bright colours.
Superheroes are also all the rage at the moment, which as a bit of a geek and Mum to a boy, I’m over the moon about,. It definitely wasn’t hard to kickstart my ideas for a superhero range of prints.
What advice do you have for those considering setting up their own store?
Do it. 100% give it a go, especially with marketplaces like Etsy and Pure N Chic, you don’t lose anything by trying. Get together a good few designs or products, take the time to take good photos, although I started out using digital mock ups, I noticed a definite increase in sales once I took a few well-lit, slightly styled photos.
Be prepared to work hard to succeed; I’m still working on increasing my traffic and sales and it is hard work. When I’m not designing or doing my day jobs, I am on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram networking and promoting. I’m always on and always thinking about four different things at once, but every time I make a sale or get amazing feedback from happy customers, it is totally worth it.
Where do you see yourself going next?
I am absolutely loving running my own small business and hope that one day it will get to the point where this can be my main job and I can spend even more time at home with my family. I have just gained my first stockist in Dorothy & Theodore, and am on the look out for more stores to collaborate with and places to stock my designs.
I hope to start doing some craft fairs and fetes, especially in the lead up to Christmas. I am planning on expanding my wedding stationery and accessory range, I do love a good wedding and my Wedding Activity Packs for Kids are proving really popular—they have quickly become my most viewed and purchased product.
I have exciting plans to expand the Activity Pack range to include children’s party packs and have something exciting up my sleeve for Christmas time.