Welcome to this week’s talented Design Diva, Jennie Witham who designs the most beautiful patterns for both paper and fabric. Jennie really does have a great mumpreneur story so do take a read and be ready to be inspired!
What is your business and when did you start it?
I am a Surface Pattern Designer and Illustrator, and I sell my designs on paper-based products via Etsy, and on fabric via Spoonflower. I also Freelance and have an Agent. I began working for myself in April 2012.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I am Pattern obsessed, and it wasn’t until I attended Art College that I realised a course exists that would teach me to create them. I applied for Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at Leeds art in 2006 and Graduated 2010. I graduated with a 2.1, having begun my degree with a 6 month old child, and graduated with 3 children.
More recently I completed an online E-course called ‘The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design’, created by Beth Nicholls and Rachael Taylor. It was this course that gave me the business know-how into starting up on my own.
Can you share 3 positive aspects about being a business mum?
I am able to work around my children, which gives me more time to be the mother that my children deserve.
They are a massive source of inspiration, they help me pick colour palettes, and help decide on which designs to put onto products. Some of my work appeals to children, as I often work with vivid colours.
I’m showing my children that I can still be successful and happy in my job, even though I don’t physically go out to work. My children are proud of me, they tell me constantly, they see my designs on products and they beam giant smiles. It confirms that I am doing the right thing.
How do you keep motivated?
I network a lot via twitter, Facebook and my Blog. Seeing the work of; and interacting with other like-minded creative gives me the drive to keep designing, keep making new products, and keep my blog up to date. I’ve made a lot of virtual friends over the last 6 months, and they motivate me and encourage me.
Would you change anything you’ve done in building and developing your business?
I’m still in the early stages, so I’m sure I have a long way to go, and will make a lot of mistakes, but I am prepared for that and am willing to take those challenges head on. I’m hoping I have learned enough from University and the E-Course to build and expand my business in the right direction.
What tips would you give anyone wanting to start their own design/craft/interiors business?
Do your research.
For a long time, I was confused by where my designs would fit in the market, I was adamant throughout university that none of my work would suit fashion, and yet at trade shows my work was admired most by those in the clothing industry. Although I sell mainly paper-based products, I have an online fabric store selling the same designs, because I now know that I didn’t really know much about the design industry and made assumptions early on.
Trend forecasting is also a must. Again, early on, I assumed I didn’t need to know anything about it, but now I see that I was just inexperienced and made an assumption that I could create my business without it. Trend forecasting and researching your industry is a must.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey so far with us Jennie. You really are an inspiration, and I’m in awe that you managed to complete your degree with 3 children!! I love that your children are so involved in your designs too and that they are so proud of you. Good luck for the future!