For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to draw. As a child, I loved drawing cartoons and character sketches inspired by my favourite comic books. I discovered fashion drawing when I stumbled upon David Downton’s illustrations in a magazine and I’ve been hooked ever since! But I still thought of illustrating as a hobby. I always knew I wanted to start my own business and build my own brand but while studying at University, I didn't know I could pursue a career as a fashion artist. One of my first commissions was to create a custom portrait for my friend's wedding invitation. I posted this piece of work on Instagram - a platform I used for managing my portfolio and I was delighted by the amount of interest that followed. Orders for custom illustrations started to pour in and to manage this, I setup an Etsy store that focused on bespoke as well as semi-customisable portraits, invitations and stationery. I was then approached to have my artwork featured in Dutch CosmoGirl magazine, this was a turning point for me and started thinking about my venture as a brand.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?
How did the idea for your business come about?
What ignited a spark to offer live sketching as an additional service, was my pinch me moment with Louis Vuitton! I was approached to live sketch for their Mother's Day event and I couldn't have been more thrilled. Having only done 2 live illustration events in the past, I was both nervous and excited to be sketching customers in my favourite luxury store over an entire weekend! The event was huge success and I now juggle between live sketching at events and creating fashion and lifestyle illustrations for my store.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Some of the biggest hurdles I faced when building my brand, were understanding the market and figuring out how to pitch artistic concepts to brands/companies. Over time I realized that lots of research, networking were key to overcoming these challenges. Even one opportunity, if maximized and utilized correctly, can open several doors! So, it's crucial to understand your customer's vision, properly plan every detail of a project/event from start to finish and always remain professional and organized.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I'm currently reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. I would definitely recommend this book and The War of Art by Steven Pressfield for artists or creative entrepreneurs who are looking to start or expand their businesses.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I am fortunate to have supportive and encouraging family and friends. When I first started out, I would sometimes feel stressed and overwhelmed because of the uncertainties that came with this venture. I found surrounding myself with people who believed in my capabilities, taking time off to travel and reading good books helped boost my morale and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Having said that, there will always be people who bring you down or have concerns about your decisions but the only opinions that really matter are your own. So, trust in your abilities and success will follow!
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Perseverance. As an entrepreneur you often go through a roller coaster of emotions right from hope all the way through to self-doubt. But I realized success cannot be achieved overnight and it's not meant to be easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it. When things weren't going according to plan, I tried to focus on those that were in my control such as building my portfolio and working on my artistic style. You have to keep trying till you finally find a 'yes' in a sea of 'no's. Through perseverance and hard work, I started to land some exciting projects and each piece of work helped me to reach one step closer to achieving my dreams.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Free collaborations don't pay the bills. If a company tells you they don't have budget and an unpaid collaboration will provide exposure and open doors to paid projects, don't accept this and move on those who don't exploit creatives. When I first started working as a creative entrepreneur , I struggled with pricing and saying no to brands that did not value my time and effort. Through my experiences, I have learnt to say walk away from unpaid projects and to find work where there is mutual respect between the creative and the brand.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Even the smallest successes should be celebrated! It's important to take a moment and appreciate how far you've come rather measure yourself to someone else's success. Comparing your success to others only leads to killing the joy of achievement. Remember why you started this venture but also enjoy the ride because your journey is the true measure of success. We all want the gold at the end of the rainbow but we must not forget to take in all the colours along the way!