Hi everyone, it’s my 10th Blog Post today yeah! When I started out I didn’t have a clue how it would go or if I’d have enough to talk about to you all but thankfully I never even have to think about it, I always have something to say when it comes to creativity!
So, for this 10th post I’ve had a bit of an idea for a mini-series in March, linked to what Joanne Hawker does in her campaign to showcase creatives online without it feeling too salesy. Joanne makes greeting cards and accessories and champions creative entrepreneurs.
She set up #marchmeetthemaker on Instagram in 2015, a daily photo prompts challenge to encourage participants to share their work, ideas and give the detailed story of what goes on behind the scenes. It’s a great way to not only share your journey but to find other makers similar to you too and build up your own Instagram community. Anyone can take part and you don’t have to post every day, why not join in?
Now, as you know my vision for The Curious Creative Club is to support people to live a more creative life but rather than it just be me giving you my experience all the time, why not interview those who have taken their talents one step further and set up their small business around it? It might just inspire us all to take the leap too?
Luckily, I have many creative people around me whose own small businesses are really taking off, not least my first interviewee, Liz Wood.
I first met Liz when she’d just moved to our village and I’d see her on dog walks with her Labrador, Robin. She then worked for a while at my son’s school and then eventually she set up her own business, hiring a unit in the grounds of the very popular local restaurant, Hide and Hoof and Yummy Yorkshire Ice cream Parlour at Ingbirchworth, just a few miles up the road from me.
After seeing her beautiful florists and chatting to her, she agreed to sell my art cards in her shop, so now I pop in whenever I’m grabbing brunch or a coffee up there and give her my next collection to sell.
So, here’s my chat with Liz, all about how her business came about and what motivates her, I hope you enjoy it!
Tell me about your business, what it is that you do and how long has it been going.
My business is a Florists, called The Watering Can and we just started in September 2018. We sell bouquets and gifts and I do contract work as well, such as for Huddersfield Town Football Club, providing flowers in the corporate suites. I also run seasonal flower-arranging workshops such as wreathe making at Christmas or Spring flower bouquets for Mother’s Day.
What’s the story behind your business name?
I really wanted The Potting Shed but lots of people have that name! So, I went for The Watering Can as that still links with my plans for the future.
Was this a long-held dream or something out of the blue?
Well I’ve run a Florists before in another village for 16 years but had a break when we moved and plenty of other jobs before the first florists, but I always knew I wanted to work for myself eventually.
Were you creative as a child, what kind of things did you like to do?
My mum introduced me to flower arranging, there were always flowers in the house. I always liked art at school, I wasn’t academic, it was the creative lessons that appealed to me, I loved baking too!
What was your first job?
My first job was a being a Post Lady, for 3 and a half years! It was a real eye opener, you see all sorts of things going on! They did put you through your driving test too so that was handy!
Where did your jobs / career go from there, prior to running this business? Do you have any regrets about not starting what you do now sooner or did each job have it’s worth, leading up to this?
I worked for Sainsburys for 9 years in their wine and spirits department, and gained some qualifications in that too.
I don’t regret anything about the jobs I did before, they were very character building! You had to become a tough cookie so it taught me stamina and strength. The dream was always to do something for myself though, I just didn’t know what at the time
Was there a key moment that lead to you choosing to run your own business? What was the path that you followed?
Yes the key moment I suppose was losing my Dad very suddenly and I thought ‘Do I really want to continue in my role putting bottles on shelves at Sainsburys or do I want to do something different?’ so I started doing a floristry course for 2 years and got an NVQ level 2 and then went on to do private day courses to Manchester and London with the aim to eventually run my own business.
After that I worked for The Posy Bowl, a Florists in town, which started out as work experience with the course. So, at one point I was working at Sainsburys, doing my college course, working at the Posy Bowl and also raising my little boy! A very busy time!
What are your aims for the business?
My ultimate aim is for me to supply The Watering Can, with the flowers, to become a flower-farmer and self-sufficient. I also want to focus on the experience workshops and include this as part of that, taking them to where I grow the flowers so that they understand the whole journey.
We’ve got a plot of land now with the new house and when I leave the shop each day, I’m out there digging and planting seeds. Hopefully by Christmas I’ll be able to harvest the foliage for the Christmas wreathes workshops.
This will make us so much more self-sufficient, especially in the light of Brexit where we don’t know what will happen, there are already protests going on in the tunnel which will effect delivery of flowers into the UK.
How much has your life changed now that you are doing this for yourself?
It’s hard sometimes, the thing I find hardest is being here on my own as previously at the old shop I had 6 people working for me so there were always people to talk to. Sometimes being on your own can make you overthink things when everything is perfectly fine!
That’s’ when self-doubt can creep in, like I’ll make something and not be entirely happy with it and then someone will come in and say that’s absolutely beautiful and I’m thinking really?, because that inner-critic creeps in. I think creative people are the worst self-critics!
What is the best thing about working in a creative way?
Just the pleasure you give to people, especially when I’m doing things like wedding bouquets and the brides are so happy. With social media now it’s easier to get that lovely feedback and see the pictures, so it’s really nice to hear that you’ve made someone’s day.
Sunshiney flowers – how could you not be happy if you received these?
What are the positives of running your own business?
I’ve nobody to answer to, I can please myself and can create what I want. It’s so much easier mentally, even though it’s still hard work.
It’s a beautiful place to work!
What other plans do you have for the future, where would you like to take your business?
On the wedding side, which I hadn’t planned, people often pop in from visiting the café and start talking to me about wedding flowers. I’ve also started doing wedding consultancy days where I invite say 5 brides and show them 4 different kinds of flower display ideas such as rustic vintage and bling, to help them make choices.
So, the wedding side is getting much busier than I anticipated and wasn’t planned, it was meant to be just a quirky little flower shop but it’s good business to have.
Is it important to you to share your talents with other people, your local community, if so, how do you do this?
Yes, I really enjoy doing the workshops and sharing my knowledge. I’m starting to be invited to other people’s events too, such a local Guest Dining event coming up in Spring, which is really nice and always good fun.
In the future I might also consider having trainees working here too to help them build up their skills.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about turning their hobby / creative passion into something more, a small business?
I’d say do it but before they commit themselves to getting a lease etc, to get the client base built up first and as much experience as possible in businesses similar to yours. So, if it was a product, like the candle supplier I have here, she’s putting her candles in quite a few other shops now with a view to getting her own eventually.
What have you learned about yourself, along the way, whilst setting up and running your business?
I know that I have to have an escape and be with other people, I really like doing the corporate hospitality at the football ground because I see lots of people down there.
Other than that, I go talk to my plants and dig a trench! But I also walk the dog and spend time with my husband, Mark of course as well as making the new house a home.
Any other top tips for anyone starting out?
Just don’t be naive, trust no-one! (laughs!) Oh, and don’t ever copy someone else!
What are you most proud of in relation to your business?
Pleasing people! The effect my work has on them.
What does living a creative life mean to you and what are the benefits to you personally?
That I don’t have to sit at a computer all day, which would drive me mad It’s a lot more relaxed and less high-pressured when you work for yourself.
Thanks for your time Liz, finally where can we find your lovely flowers and workshops?
Hint hint, if you are local, Mother’s Day is coming up!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my first interview, coming up next week is Carol from holmemadewithlove.
Until next time…
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
News! I’ve just updated the workshops page with details of the next workshops to be held at Miriam’s Kitchen Table, Kirkburton, Huddersfield, we have two new dates coming up;
PLUS! I also have a new offering where I can bring the workshop to you, in your own home, if that is more convenient for you and then you can pick the date and time yourself (location permitting of course).
See Workshops for more information on all the above, thank you!
Also….This week I have a competition coming up on Instagram, celebrating the first birthday of @soothedbynature so keep an eye out for that on there and it will also be on @thecuriouscreativeclub too!