It’s Friday! Hope you’ve all had a wonderful week and to step into the weekend with a little inspiration here is the next interview in our spring interview series.
Today’s interview post is with Siân Winn creator of Nancy, Squeak and Me. Siân started her own business creating beautiful handmade items which she sells via her Facebook page.
Tell us a little bit about you and your business. When did you start and what made you decide to start your own business?
Hello, I’m Sian, a mother of 2 daughters aged 2 & 6. We have quite a busy lifestyle, living in the country with a menagerie of animals – many chickens, a couple of geese, 3 turkeys (!!) a couple of in-lamb sheep, and the girls’ 2 ponies, oh and 4 dogs! To unwind I enjoy sewing and have always been creative. Leading up to Christmas 2012 I wanted to make presents for all the children we buy for, so I set to work and made many aprons using oil cloth and lovely bindings. After showing a friend during the school run one day, she asked if I could make some for her children and join her friends at a small craft fair, and it went from there!
How did you decide on the name?
With the craft fair nearing, and posters waiting to be printed I had to choose a name quickly, which is very hard at the best of times! So I chose my eldest daughters middle name – Nancy, and our other daughters nickname – Squeak and then of course Me (The husband has asked quite where he fits in!! Oops!)
How did you feel when you had just launched your business?
People were asking me to make things and I had set up a Facebook page for my business, so I needed to either not advertise and sell things or go down the correct lines of registering with HMRC, which is what I did! It was very daunting, I have been a stay at home Mum for 6 years and now all of a sudden I needed to make a small business at least stay afloat. It was a big decision, but one I had to do.
What were the main challenges or most important things to learn when you first started?
My main challenge is juggling a family, home, animals and time. A school day is generally quite short as it is and a 2 year old child needs lots of love and play and my time. So the most important thing I have learnt is not to take on too much work and to give realistic finishing times. Always be honest with people as deadlines cannot always be achieved!
Did you get lots of support from family and friends?
We do not have any family close by so I do rely heavily on my husband, and he does me on me as his work is very seasonally busy. He is incredibly supportive (cups of tea late at night is the best!) and my friends are super, offering advice, recommending my work and generally being ‘a friend’. They are all very needed and appreciated.
Once you had started how long did it take for you to feel that it was an established business? Or if you’re still building your business at what point/milestone will you feel like you’ve established a successful business?
I still class my business as quite new. (I set up in July 2013) and do not feel I am at all fully established yet. I am happy for my business and name to keep trickling along really until Squeak is of school age. Until then I am pleased for it to be a ‘hobby’ (run officially!). By the time both girls are in school I hope I can then make a proper living from my sewing and can then feel like I have an established and successful business.
What was the first item that you sold? And how did it feel?
The first items sold were 2 aprons in oil cloth for a brother and sister. It’s a great feeling when someone likes and wants to purchase something that you have personally made, but there is always the underlying worry of ‘will it last? Is my stitching/work good enough? And ‘have I captured what the customer wanted?’
What items do you sell and what are your favourite products to make?
I make whatever I can from fabric and oil cloth, ranging from curtains to bags, bunting to shabby chic hearts and memo boards. I also love painting and create many plaques, children’s accessories and wall décor to name some, many of my creations are personalised too.
What are the best things about running your own business?
Being able to be at home for my family is by far the best thing about running my own business. But also being able to show people my work and say ‘I made that, I designed that, I can do that for you’
What are the worst?
Having to manage accounts, pay for stock out of my own pocket and having to work late into the night sometimes can be the downsides of your own business, but they really are quite minor!
Is there anything you wished you’d known before you started? Such as how to cost items, how to manage work and family, how to deal with customers?
Before children I set up and ran a saddlery/tack shop so I feel I have quite a good understanding of dealing with customers, but it is all a learning curve.
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement so far?
My greatest achievements would probably be the fact I am self-taught and produce my own patterns and ideas to create my work.
If you weren’t running your own business what do you think you would be doing?
If I wasn’t running my own business I would be sitting in a clean tidy house with the washing all neatly ironed and put away! And we would have dining room rather than a work room. Well, I’d like to think that, but in reality that would not be the case! I would still be doing the same as I am now day to day, but worrying about having to go back to work in a few years’ time.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I love being with the family, watching the children thrive. The girls adore being with their ponies and I thoroughly enjoy looking after them. We moved to our house just 18 months ago and I am really loving turning the garden into our little haven.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about starting up their own business?
Go with your heart. If you love being at home and can manage your time well, go for it.
What plans do you have for your business in the future?
I haven’t really thought too far in advance about the business. I take each day as it comes.
Where can we find out more about Nancy, Squeak and Me?
You can see all my creations on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/nancysqueakme
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