Business Feature

Learning the business of Macrame with TwoMe

2020-02-01T14:40:49+00:00 September 13th, 2019|Categories: Entrepreneur, startupgold, TheStartUpGold|Tags: , , |

Is there anything more rewarding than mastering a craft you love and sharing it with others?

I never knew what Macrame was until I came in contact with TwoMe, a creative business run by Isabella Strambio who teaches the craft. Macrame is a type of textile produced using knotting patterns and techniques.

Isabella started originally with a blog about learning twelve crafts in twelve months. She tells The Startup Gold “My first craft was macrame and I got addicted, the same thing with natural dye. After about six months of starting my blog, I started teaching workshops and I haven’t stopped since“.

Isabella loves teaching and sharing her knowledge with others, inspiring people to be more creative in their daily life. In summer of 2017 she quit her career as an interior designer to work on Twome full time. Today she teaches regular workshops, at events, team building workshops, writes tutorials for magazine, blogs and runs online courses. Since her article published in the Sunday Telegraph , she has been asked to run macrame workshops at big brands including Facebook, Moo, Beyond, Nandos & Creative Debut.

She also has a curated online shop with natural dyed and macrame homewares. One of her favourite items, a naturally dyed Japanese apron, is a finalist for the Etsy Design Award 2019.

You can join one of Isabella’s workshops in London or in the lovely English countryside here. You can also sign up for an online course if you are abroad or just want to test the waters before attending a workshop.

Shop your home living, style accessories and learn the business of Macrame with TwoMe

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Business Feature – Ade Hassan of Nubian Skin

2020-02-01T15:17:52+00:00 March 7th, 2019|Categories: Entrepreneur, startupgold, TheStartUpGold|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

I am not entirely sure where to start with this post.

I could start by describing the excitement when  I finally bought hosiery in my skin tone. I could start by describing how inspiring it is seeing a woman of colour redefine the marketplace in an industry. Maybe I should begin by describing the thrill when I learnt Ade was going to share some business insights with me…. I was so chuffed.

I’ll just get right to it.

Ade Hassan, a member of the order of the British Empire, Fashion Entrepreneur of the year and UKs favourite British designer of the year award winner is the founder at Nubian Skin, a company with a carefully edited collection of Lingerie and hosiery providing the essential underwear needs of women of colour. Available at Nordstrom, House of Fraser, Bravissimo and other big brand stockists in the UK and Internationally. Nubian Skin has gone from strength to strength since it officially launched in 2014 and has received interest from celebrities like Beyonce, Thandie Newton and Beverly Knight.

On her immediate thoughts when her first photoshoot for Nubian Skin went viral – “I was shocked. I didn’t fully understand how it all worked because I wasn’t big on social media. At the time, Nubian Skin had a Tumblr and an Instagram page that had about fifty followers from random images. It was our first product photo. I didn’t think anything of putting up the image of the four girls wearing our product. I actually went on holiday directly after but my phone kept buzzing. I was shocked and amazed just to get one hundred followers. By the end of the week, we had a thousand followers. I started to feel anxious because I didn’t really understand what was happening. At the end of four weeks, we reached twenty thousand followers and the press started picking it up. Kerry Washington retweeted a post that Self Magazine had done on us and we were on DailyMail. And, all of a sudden, it was everywhere. And it was insane because we didn’t have products to sell yet. We didn’t even have a proper website up”

“My name is Ade Hassan and I’m the founder of Nubian Skin. I was born in the UK, but my family is Nigerian.  I grew up all over the world, in the UK, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the US. After I finished my masters I ended up in Banking, which was something I had been interested in doing, but ultimately, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.  Both my parents are entrepreneurs, so I guess it’s in my blood. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I’ve always had an affinity for fashion”

TSG: When you founded Nubian Skin, you were addressing a gap in the market for women of colour. How did you get past any reservations or concerns you had as to whether your idea would become successful? What sort of research did you do and what support did you have?

Ade: I did a lot of research and discovered that what I was looking for simply wasn’t available. This was a great starting point that validated my idea. After that I did a lot of testing and research amongst my friends and family. I also did a lot of research at make up counters that catered to women of colour to find out the most popular hues. Once I had that information, it was a huge process of refining these colours with the factories.  I had no idea how to find a manufacturer or how to break into the industry, so I hired a consultant who introduced me to tradeshows which was incredibly helpful.

TSG: What are the key areas you focus on in your business, in other words when you review your business metrics what areas are you concentrating on first before others?

Ade: Sales are incredibly important because that’s what really makes or breaks a business. We also take a look at our social media metrics, customer data and google analytics to get an idea of who our customers are, their behaviour and location etc. Another important area of focus is cost – it’s important to repeatedly analyse what you are paying for/whether it’s necessary/where it’s possible to reduce cost, because if there is a problem, you want to fix it immediately.

TSG: During your TEDx talk on “The reality of reaching your goal” you mentioned bored, frustrated and annoyed as really good motivators when you’re trying to figure out what to do next, a lot of women can relate to this, the question is when they figure out what to solve for, what do they do next?

Ade: For me it was figuring out what my end goal was (launching my e-commerce website) and then plotting backwards to where I was and figuring out every single step that was needed to get me to my goal.  Then it was a matter of putting one foot in front of another one step at a time.

TSG: You’ve talked about switching jobs when you figured out your business idea and moving into equity finance in the corporate world because you needed to save a lot of money. In a time where women aren’t getting a lot from venture capitalists, is bootstrapping the way to go and a more effective option for female entrepreneurs?

Ade: I moved from consulting into working for a private equity placement agent, which I really enjoyed and it enabled me to save a good amount. Bootstrapping worked for me, but it has its pros and cons.  I do think fundraising is also a very good option, and I think it’s important for women to keep seeking finance from angels and ventures because there are so many amazing ideas out there that are deserving of finance.

TSG: Obtaining Trademarks and Copyrights are essential to protecting your brand , in your experience at what point will you advise entrepreneurs to consider this and make it a top priority above everything else they must execute to scale their business?

Ade: It’s one of the first things you should do!

TSG: On manufacturing and bringing your product to life what advise will you give entrepreneurs when sourcing manufacturers and vendors for a product?

Ade: Figure out what is going to work for you.Do you need to do a smaller production run (which will be more expensive) or are you producing large quantities (which may be cheaper)? Find a vendor or manufacturer who you have good communication with because communication is key.  Finally, do your research, visit the factory to make sure it’s being produced in an ethical way.

 TSG: Nubian Skin is stocked in Europe, Africa, the US and Caribbean, what challenges have you had operating in International markets and how have you overcome them?

Ade: Communication and figuring out logistics are important.  Some of it is trial and error, it’s just a matter of refining your methods and figuring out what works.

TSG: Looking back on your journey as an entrepreneur, what advice would you give to women starting their business journey today?

Ade: If you’ve got an idea you’d like to bring to life, it’s really important to research your idea to make sure that whatever it is, it’s valid. Make sure you really believe in the idea especially if you’re working in another job. If you’re up at 4:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. working on this, then you want to believe in it. You also need to be willing to work really hard. Everybody who is going to start something anticipates that it’s going to be difficult, and that it’s going to be hard, but it will be so much more difficult and so much harder than you can prepare yourself for. And also – have faith in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will?

TSG: There are so many products and services out there today, the internet has made it easy for everyone to start a business, what marketing advise will you give to small business owners so they can rise above the crowd?

Ade: I would say that good imagery is key – make sure your photos stand out and are of the highest quality. There’s nothing worse than visiting a website with grainy, low-res images. I would also say it’s important to do your research, make sure your idea is valid and be prepared to work really hard!

Beyonce and her Formation World Tour dancers in undergarments made by Nubian Skin

TSG: Finally on collaborations and Partnerships, how has this helped your business and what advice can you share with budding female entrepreneurs looking to engage in partnerships that can help grow their business?

Ade: We occasionally collaborate with influencers and bloggers to create content. It’s really important that the people we work with appreciate our ethos and that the partnerships are as organic as possible. I would say that collaborations and partnerships can be a great way to widen your audience, but make sure that you also think about return on investment and whether the money you spend is going to be worthwhile.

Follow Ade Hassan of nubianskin on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @nubianskin

To see more of Nubian Skin and place an order visit the Nubian Skin Website

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Business Feature – Eternal Blooms by Victoria

2020-02-01T15:04:40+00:00 February 6th, 2019|Categories: Entrepreneur, TheStartUpGold|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Eternal Blooms by Victoria provides preserved roses and artificial flower arrangements for personal and corporate events.

Female founder Victoria Cumberlege tells The StartUp Gold about her business and shares some tips for entrepreneurs.

TSG: Please tell us a bit more about Eternal Blooms for Victoria

Victoria: Eternal Blooms started at the beginning of 2017.  After a few years of feeling really dreadful with ME and fibromyalgia, I started ‘playing with flowers’ again.  I had trained as a florist many years ago but marriage and children came, so floristry just became a wonderful hobby!   I always found it one of the most relaxing things to do. After seeing some of my work, friends started asking me to make arrangements for them.  It just all organically grew from there and I could really see a future working with high quality artificial flowers.  I started hiring designs out for events and also businesses on a monthly basis. I then found Preserved Roses – roses that last at least a year – and that was it – I just knew that I wanted to add them to the business!  They are the new kid on the block in floral terms and the quality of the roses (and foliage) is absolutely amazing. Apart from the sales on line, there is a lot of potential with the bespoke corporate side. I can make totally bespoke orders  for companies – the boxes can be made in a variety of materials and colours and can be printed with companies own logos and then filled with these equisite roses! They make the most wonderful original corporate gift. I also make arrangements for weddings.  My next wedding is to organise bespoke hat boxes  for 450 wedding guests in the new year.

TSG: What inspired you to start the business? Do you still feel the same way?  

Victoria: My husband actually! He could see how much I was enjoying working with flowers and could see how much better I was feeling when I was being creative. I actually feel even more inspired 2 years on!

TSG: What first things were important to have in place when you started the business?  

Victoria: I think finances are paramount, as you will always need far more money than you may think at the beginning of starting a business.  Surround yourself with like-minded positive people.

Victoria: Just go for it! Stop procrastinating and waiting for the right moment and the right website and the right branding and business cards – just start! I also think investing in coaching/workshops/networking is very important.

TSG: Are there any specific skills you think are relevant for business owners?  

Victoria: Determination, have a clear idea of your business plan, organisational skills, persistence and learn from your mistakes because you will make some but the art is not to make the same mistake twice!  To give yourself well earned breaks as you are no use to anyone when you are utterly exhausted.

TSG: As a business owner, what are your top three priorities?  

Victoria: 1. To keep on top of the finances 2. To keep the business always looking fresh and exciting with new collections etc.  3. Time management and diary blocking.

TSG: As a UK business owner, are there any local network groups, business coaches you’ve found useful for building your business?       

Victoria: I had a few months of business coaching with Laura Payne Stanley. She was totally fabulous and I wholeheartedly recommend her! I joined a networking group called Onle in Winchester.  This group, which is run by James and Kelly West of Clean Slate Websites , meets in and around Winchester but has now expanded to Four Seasons Hotel in Hook, Southampton and in February 2019 Chewton Glen Hotel has been added.  I have met some amazing businesses through the group.

TSG: Has technology impacted your business? If so in what way?  

Victoria: Technology is not one of my favourite things! We cannot be good at all things so I do outsource things I know I am not good at.

TSG: How do you market your business, what tips have been successful?  

Victoria: I love using Instagram. I have also joined Response Source where journalists/influencers shout out their requests for articles/recommendations/comments in the field that you are interested in.  This has resulted in being featured in quite a lot of magazines and blogs. I have James West looking after my SEO, I write a monthly blog and also newsletters that get sent out periodically.

TSG: What do you find most rewarding about being an entrepreneur?  

Victoria: It is very easy not to congratulate yourself with your achievements or when you reach a goal when you work for yourself so I would recommend anyone to just sit back and think where they were this time last year and how much things have improved.  When I do that, I feel really rewarded.

 

 

 

Follow @eternalbloomsbyvictoria on Instagram

To see more of Victoria’s work and place an order visit the eternalbloomsbyvictoria website

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