Sometimes a passion for a hobby can take over into a fully fledged businesses. So how do you make the leap, and better yet, how do you shoot for success once you’re up and running? Lisa, founder of Lighthouse Twelve, tell us how it’s done.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
I've been running Lighthouse Twelve full time for nearly six months now, working from my home on the Northumberland coast. I design personalised stationery, ranging from party invites to customised wedding stationery. I'm very creative and love learning new things, which is how I ended up in graphic design.
I have many creative hobbies including crochet, knitting, spinning and embroidery. I'm learning how to take great photos at the moment and I'm loving it. I also design wall art and items for crafters to use in their designs.
How did you get into design?
I love learning new things and teaching myself how to do things. My first steps in design were teaching myself simple bits and pieces in Photoshop for personal projects. Once I had learned a little bit more I started designing patterns and scrapbooking sheets for other crafters.
My parents are wedding photographers (http://www.kennreayphotography.co.uk) which is what led me to start designing wedding stationery. I love incorporating their photos into my designs where I can.
What did you decide to take the leap into starting your own businesses?
I started my business a couple of years ago in my spare time. I've been suffering from chronic back pain over the last few years and decided to work on my business full time this spring. Working for myself allows me more flexibility around when I work, letting me put in more hours when my back allows.
You currently sell on Etsy, how have you found this experience and do you have any advice for people wishing to use it too?
I've sold on Etsy for quite a few years, starting with handmade items before moving on to design. I've found it to be a very positive experience, as it lets you communicate with buyers quite easily. You can work with your customers closely to create custom designs for them.
Etsy has a really close community feel to it. Joining a 'Team' lets you join forces with other sellers to help cross promote each others items. If you're new to Etsy, I'd recommend that you find a team that appeals to you. Speaking to other sellers is a great way to pick up tips and ask questions if you get stuck with something.
I'd also recommend reading Etsy's blogs. They have blogs just for the UK and other countries which are well worth a read. The Etsy Success blog is a great place to pick up tips on how to improve your shop and get more sales. I try to read a blog article each day to keep myself up to date with things.
What is your creative process like? How do you get inspired?
Ideas come to me at all times of day, so I always keep a notebook nearby so that I can write things down before I forget them! I block out periods of time for creating designs and try and get as many as possible finished while I'm in a creative mood.
I get a lot of inspiration from my surroundings. I live two minutes from the beach and also spend a lot of time in the Lake District, so I get inspiration for colours etc. from that. I also spend quite a bit of time on Pinterest and Instagram. They are great for getting inspiration from photos which play in big part in my designs.
You do a lot of designs featuring quotes, do the designs around the quotes just come to you or do you have to take time to consider the colours and typography etc?
I normally start with a quote that inspires me and work from there. The colours and typography generally depend on what kind of mood I'm in and what's inspiring me that day. I play with different colours and lettering until I find one that suits the mood of the quote.
You also feature a lot of photography on your designs for wedding stationery, do you find that there is a growing trend for this and what do you think makes a good wedding picture?
DIY weddings are a growing trend and featuring photos of yourself in your wedding stationery fits in well with this. This trend tends to be with couples in the US, but it's definitely getting more popular in the UK and elsewhere. My parents are professional wedding photographers which is what first inspired me to try it.
I think that a good wedding photo is one that shows the couple being relaxed on their wedding day. My parents concentrate on this as well as using a mix of informal and creative photography. Formal group photos aren't really that popular any more, I think that catching the couple and their guests having fun makes for much better images.
Any advice for those just starting out?
Make sure you research your chosen market well before you start your business. Having a good idea of your target market will help you enormously when you design products. It will also give you a good idea of where to find potential customers and how you can promote your products.
Communicating with customers is key. If you are making personalised items you need to discuss this in detail with the customer. This will help to make sure that the finished item is exactly how they expect it to be and will help avoid any unhappy customers.
Where do you see yourself heading next?
I'm going to be expanding the range of personalised stationery that Lighthouse Twelve offers. This will include items for bridal and baby showers, birth announcements, christenings, birthdays and more. I'm working on improving my photography skills with the help of my parents. I hope that this is going to play a big part in my future designs.
Feeling curious? You can visit Lighthouse Twelve at their site here.