Friday, 25 June 2010

How it all began..

I am often asked how it all began and now that we are celebrating our 2nd birthday I have been thinking back to the beginning.

We had just finished doing up our house and for the first time ever, I had a designated studio space for me. A space where I could start a project, leave it out and go back to it, without little fingers getting in the way!

The children were now both at school and having gone back to teaching full time a year previous, I had made the decision to work part time and not be so stressed. Part time teaching work meant I had a couple of days a week where I had the house and my studio to myself!

I often made cards for friends and it was their encouragement that led me to get my first set of cards printed locally at St Andrews Press in Wells. I had only been a once a year customer before, getting the yearly Christmas card printed, but I plucked up the courage to get 600 of 8 different designs printed.

I figured the worst case scenario would be family and friends would receive the same cards for birthday etc for the rest of their years! The cupcake , still a favourite now, was my very first design. I cautiously approached a few local gift shops I frequented and asked advice about pricing etc and was immensely pleased when the gorgeous Maddie Browns in Wells and the Golden Goose in Frome agreed to stock my cards.

With increased confidence and aware that I needed to get more products made, I next designed a range of 16 postcards. This way I could get more designs on show and brave the next step - the world of craft fairs. I enjoyed a round of local summer fete's and craft shows and approaching Christmas, held my first Open House. The photo below looks so sparse compared to all the products we make today!

We started a blog and had an attempt at our first website - which led people from further afield to start discovering the dots and spots label. Once we had enough products, we had our first catalogue printed and were able to approach more shops and look more professional. As my Granny put it 'it's no longer a hobby!' .

I am very lucky to have a very supportive husband who totally believes in me and dots and spots and is a huge contributing factor behind the scenes to get us where we are now. He is in charge of the ever changing / developing website, keeps a very close eye on the finances - making sure I don't get carried away and has most recently developed our trade shop for our increasing numbers of trade partners. A year ago, I took the plunge and gave up my teaching job to concentrate on the business full time.

Just yesterday I took delivery of 1000 *NEW* catalogues - 20 pages of dots and spots goodies. I thanked the printers as I always do but was delighted to hear Tim the owner tell me, that he thought I was a good example of how to grow a business slowly and successfully! Praise indeed. I wouldn't be in this position today without their help and support.

3 weeks today will see dots and spots reach yet another milestone - we will be exhibiting at our very first trade show - a HUGE step for us, which is both equally exciting and petrifying! but that's another blog post!

So there you have it - the story of how it all began! I'm loving dots and spots and the whole process we have gone through to get to where we are today. I read the above and feel I've made it all sound too easy but it has been a mixture of hard work and fun, with a few tears and headaches along the way. As with any business I wish I had more money to do all the things I'd like to do but maybe slow and steady is the best way! Fingers crossed I'll be updating you all every birthday of our growing and continuing success.

So a huge thank you to you all for your support, friendship and custom and I hope you will continue to share in our journey into the future.


Tracy said...

Very interesting post - may you go from strength to strength!

Tracy :-)x

KC'sCourt! said...

Good luck for the future, I hope you go from strngth to strength.
Julie xxxxx

Claire Hurd Design said...

A lovely post. Dots and Spots has grown beautifully in the last two years - long may the success continue!

Claire x

Anonymous said...

It is such a huge step into the business world, I am pleased that it has been a success for you. Your designs are so distinctive - can't wait to see the catalogue!xx

Vintage from the Village said...

Hi Thanks for the news, good luck with everything.
How can I get a catalogue please?

Mechelle said...

What a wonderful encouragement it has been to hear your story of slowly growing your business. Continued success!

handmade by zenia said...

Love the story so far, waiting for many more chapters to come. Also Good Luck with the Trade Fair too. x

Vintage Amethyst said...

Aahh it is so lovely to hear where it all began & the wonderful news that it is only growing & growing.
May see you at Harrogate, will be sure to look out for you!

Muddy Puddle Crafts said...

thanks for sharing, really interesting to see how you have grown, congrats on getting this far and here's to the next chapter after Harogate, sure they'll be one !

Annie xx TheFeltFairy said...

well done, you are a very talented designer! I have a couple of your cards on my craft room wall - why? - cos they make me smile! thank you xx

Button Patch said...

Thank you so much for this post. It was very interesting and equally inspiring. Well done with the growth of your business. I have just started stocking shops and it is a real mindfield. Its reasuring that you started from similar beginnings.

I hope you find the trade fairs to be an exciting new adventure.

Keep up the good work and thanks again for generously sharing with us.

Marion Cole said...

Thank you so much for this post. It is lovely to see that all your hard work has paid off.

Congratulations! It is very inspiring to read your story. You must be very proud of Dots and Spots (and rightly so).

Thanks again
Marion x

dots and spots said...

Thank you for all your lovely, encouraging comments - I think it is always a good thing to share the up's and down's of a business - I know I have often been helped / inspired by reading similar blog posts.

Moobaacluck said...

missed this one earlier Becky and think its a great post; its so helpful to all those tentatively taking their own businesses forward and bearing in mind cash constraints that a lot of us have, yours is an exemplary approach. Just wish I had a jeff to keep tabs on me! x Gabs

Mermaid said...

I always love to read how small businesses started and how they grow. You are truly inspiring and I love your designs.

Good Luck for the future.

Claire - Inspire Creationz said...

Beautiful blog & products - how can I get on your mailing list for a catalogue?

Claire xxx