Welcome back to another week of the “Share Your Story” series. Last week the lovely Kelly-Anne from Mimi Rose and Me shared her story on how she successfully got her little lady sleeping through the night! This week we have we have Lynsey from Lark and Lily sharing her story on starting your own business. Over to you Lynsey….
Lark and Lily
Let me introduce myself. I am Lynsey Macgregor, a 33-year-old Scottish lass who loves gin, fizz, fashion, makeup, road trips and my two french bulldogs Hugo & Mabel. I started blogging over a year ago but I felt that the blog I had started looked, and felt it wasn’t me. So i took a break and started afresh at the end of October 2017. I slot blogging in between my main job which is running my own small business.
Now, as anyone who knows me knows I love fashion, accessories and design. Something I stood out in at primary school and high school but which also made me a target for bullies. But that didn’t stop me following my passion.
Fast forward to 2006 and graduating with a 2:1 Hons degree in Textile & Fashion Design Management from Heriot Watt University, Galashiels Campus.
I knew I wanted to run my own business and one of the reasons I chose to do the degree I did. Another reason was I grew up with grandparents that I was very close to and they ran numerous businesses over the years, all started from nothing. That was a big inspiration for me. They worked hard and took pride in their jobs as bosses and in their personal lives.
I took a few different jobs until I had the guts to start-up myself. From working in high street fashion to retail banking. In 2011, a year before our wedding, yes I know a bit crazy, I packed in a very stressful job at a bank and took up a part-time sales assistant job in a small clothing chain and got to work in the spare time on Lark & Lily Designs. While in my job at the bank I had done some research and tested pieces with friends, family and some locals.
So with £500 of savings I was off and begun my self employed journey.
I am self-taught in jewellery and creating headpieces, but I felt that makes me less limited in terms of rules of the trade. Starting out I only sold jewellery but due to custom orders for hair accessories that side of the business became popular. A lot of my work presently is bespoke bridal orders, which I love, and to be involved in such a special day in my client’s life is an honour.
Rewinding back a wee bit to starting out, I googled for courses locally in starting up a business and I came across Business Gateway and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. I was able to attend some free courses on starting a small business, book-keeping, websites & marketing. It was a good foundation of basics and I met some lovely people who were at the same stage as me, so we all had similar questions and worries. That was a relief to know I wasn’t the only one feeling scared or a bit lost with some aspects of starting a business.
Taking the info I had learned and reading up on internet articles regarding small businesses I started up a facebook page, bought a domain and built a website myself.
In all honesty the internet has been so good for looking up questions I have had or learning ‘how to’s’. The website building was a huge learning curve but if I can do it then anyone can! I used Mr Site and the support is good, live chat or via email, I got help in areas I was stuck with. From the start I have used Moo for business cards and stationery. They are great quality and I can choose to have different product images on the back of each card. A great way to show off your work and give out your details to potential customers or collaborators.
You live and learn running a business, using that gut feeling, thinking on your feet, learning from mistakes. One was paying the high prices for print ads, for me I didn’t get sales from those that warranted paying the high prices to place the adverts and have learned a lot of my business comes from word of mouth and online.
Another was attending some local events, some just weren’t where my target customer was going so I have adjusted accordingly what events I attend. I had to use trial and error in some areas of business and to see what worked for me, every business is different.
In the beginning I naively thought customers would flock to me;
Eh, no that does not happen. It takes a lot of time to get your business ‘out there’, well in my case it did, unless you have money or an investor behind you or can afford a PR company to promote you. I find people learn to trust you and your product or service and that in turn brings sales and returning customers. Service is part of that and I treat people the way I expect to be treated, something I learned from my grandparents.
As I basically do everything myself from home I do customer service, sourcing, designing, creating to post office run, photographs, book-keeping to all the social media. It has been a tough journey with lots of ups and downs, but thankfully the business has paid for itself.
I did decide leave the p/t job to go full-time 3 and a half years ago. I just took the plunge as I think life is too short. Although money has been tight my other half has been supportive and we have managed. It was the best decision I have made, meaning I have all my time to devote to my work without trying to slot it in between weekly shift changes at a part-time job.
After 6.5 years being self-employed I can’t imagine being anything but my own boss. I often feel I should be further on after all those years or my business should be ‘booming’ as I am the most critical of myself. But at least I am still here and gradually growing at a steady pace.
There are tough times and I cry, saying I’m giving up but better days come and those are what I try to focus on.
I won’t lie, it is a lot of hard work and it can feel like I am constantly working, especially with the social media side of the business. I put a lot of work and effort into my images and when folk just scroll past without interacting it can be soul destroying. But I do try to remain positive.
By working hard for yourself it feels good, you’re not busting a gut for someone else’s benefit, it is all for you. As the business is growing I am trying to learn to work smarter and not harder, which comes with experience and time, meaning I can balance the many job roles I have in the business better. I will hopefully reap the rewards of the hard work I have put in and my wee business will see many more years of keeping my customers stylish.
Have you thought on starting your own business?
Or are you already your own boss and have similar experiences?
Thank you Lynsey for sharing your story!
If you would like to follow Lynsey you can find her on her socials: