Emma Margaret had a busy year with the launch of her sweet-as-sugar wedding stationery business Bea & Bloom, as well as starting to plan her own nuptials. She gives us a real insight into how she brought the business to life, as well as her future plans and how to have a recognisable brand in the wedding industry.
Since graduating from Southampton Solent University in 2014, I've worked part-time in retail and as a freelance illustrator. I run an Etsy shop, Emma Margaret Illustration, selling greeting cards, colouring books and prints featuring my illustrations, lettering and patterns.
Initially I had a few extra ideas from the sketches I'd created for my own wedding stationery, and I planned on adding them to my existing Etsy shop. But within a couple of weeks I had pages full of ideas, a vision of a brand, a business name and plans for a full collection of wedding stationery. So I set up a new website and got started on making it all a reality.
I set myself quite a challenging deadline for launch day, so I spent a very busy few weeks working most evenings and weekends getting it all sorted. I did everything myself, including the website, photography (with some help from my cousin) and branding, so there was a lot to keep on top of. I had so much fun creating everything and seeing it all come together I was actually slightly disappointed when launch day arrived and I had no more designing to do!
When I first graduated and started creating work for my shop and blog, I think I tried too hard to create a certain "look" to my work, and it felt a bit forced. I've tried to let go of that a bit now and just draw the things I love, in a style that’s natural to me, and in my favourite colours. Over the last two years that’s resulted in the pastel, floral, feminine look you can see in Bea & Bloom. Some of the designs have been inspired by some of those older pieces of work, altering them slightly to suit the modern day range.
It’s easy to be on trend with pastels this year, as they’re already a big favourite of mine. I don't focus too much on trends unless there's something that catches my eye. Instead I prefer to take inspiration from things I see and find interesting, such as florals, nature and fairytales. I’m very keen to get involved with foiling and I'm so looking forward to its launch at printed.com that I’m already working on some new designs to get printed.
Most of my product ideas for the shop come from ideas I thought of when planning my own wedding stationery. For example, I love the idea of a photo booth but have never been keen on the wigs and inflatable props that come with them. So I decided to design some of our own to match our theme, and I thought others might feel the same so I made them a part of the Bea & Bloom range too. I'm actually launching a range of photo booth prop packs when I exhibit at A Most Curious Wedding Fair in March!
For the time being Bea & Bloom will remain focused on weddings, although I'm also very happy to do christenings, engagement parties, bridal shower invites etc., as I'm still running Emma Margaret Illustration which covers non-wedding related stationery. I do have some new products coming soon though! I've already mentioned the upcoming range of photo booth props, but I'm also working on some, "Will you be my...?" cards as well, which will be launching at the wedding fair.
I'm still very new to this so I'm not in a great position to give advice to others. But I would say to work hard, write down all of your ideas (when you've got a long to do list its surprising how easily you can forget that good idea you had when you’re busy cooking the dinner!), and of course, enjoy the process. It’s so much fun having the opportunity to create something that’s completely "you".
Are you thinking of setting up a creative business this year? Let us know by commenting below! We are always looking for small businesses to feature on the blog so please get in touch if you’d like to be included.