Posted: Thu 8th Sep 2022
#SheMeansBusiness, Meta's initiative for female entrepreneurs, provides free online training on social media and digital marketing for women across the UK who want to start or grow a business.
Delivered by Enterprise Nation's accredited trainers, the programme involves quarterly events, monthly meet-ups and a purpose-built resource hub on Enterprise Nation's online platform. The aim is to help trailblazing women push boundaries and redefine what's possible for women in business.
We're catching up with business owners who have found the programme's support and guidance beneficial to their ventures. Here, we talk to Hannah McVie, whose business Homely Knots sells her handmade macramé homeware items.
Please introduce your business – what does it do and why did you choose to sell this particular product?
I'm a self-taught macramé artist, and the business was born out of a passion for creativity and a love of textile home interiors. I create a variety of eco-friendly and high-quality handmade gifts and home décor products that help transform the energy of a space.
My aim now is to help people who are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, just like I was at the start of the pandemic. I want to support them in focusing that energy and creating products for their home, or to gift to loved ones, so they can feel a sense of achievement. That's why I'm due to launch my DIY kits this month.
What circumstances that led to you starting your business?
Working as a nurse throughout the pandemic, I was in desperate need of an artistic outlet to calm my mind after a day's work. I'd previously studied fashion and textiles so knew I'd be drawn to a textile-based creative outlet.
After searching for an alternative way to be creative, I found macramé. I was drawn to the variety of textures and endless possibilities of homeware items that could be custom designed to fit any décor. Customising products always feels so much more personable and I've created some of the most amazing products through this exact process. They're now my best sellers.
You started a business at a really difficult time. What support did you seek when setting up?
Foolishly, I thought starting a small business would be a lot easier than it has been. I'd seen so many people doing it at the start of the pandemic.
However, there are many more elements to it that I hadn't even considered. Not only in regards to running the business, but things like making sure you're representing your values and ethics through your brand, and then attracting your ideal customers. It's been a work in progress.
In those early periods, what problems did you encounter? And how did you overcome them?
Oh my goodness, there were so many! I didn't look for funding or ask for support, as I'd started the business as a hobby and I wasn't sure what I was entitled to apply for or how to do it. I was winging it, very badly.
I'd done no research, which is quite surprising considering I'm the complete opposite in my personal life. I used some of the cheaper shopping platforms that didn't promote my business, and didn't think about branding, business values, marketing strategies or the technology a business would require.
I've learnt all this as I've gone along, but it's lovely to look back on the progress I've made and implemented into my business over time.
How did you learn of the #SheMeansBusiness programme? How has it helped you?
This March, I decided to join Lisa Johnson's One To Many programme, which meant I had to be more present on Facebook. It's at that point I began seeing adverts for #SheMeansBusiness and entered the Meta x NatWest Go Beyond competition back in May.
I was unsuccessful, on this occasion, but I received details of all the available training and certified programmes Meta provides. So I try to take part in those when my schedule allows.
How important is social media in helping you promote and market your business?
So important. I rely heavily on my social media presence – I use Facebook, Instagram and Messenger for the business – as that's where I generate over 60% of the leads to my website and engage with my customer base the most. It's also where I've made the best group of social media friends and learn about businesses and markets within my local area.
What are the most important lessons you've learned from going into business?
Over the last two years, I've learnt who I am as a person and what I want from my business and personal life. It's only now through all this training and investment in my business that I've begun portraying and sharing myself as the face of my business across my social media and website.
I'm proud of what I've achieved and the circumstances in which I started and can't wait to see where Homely Knots leads me in the next few years.