Posted: Fri 18th Jan 2019
For Enterprise Nation member Laura Marlow, who joined the community through our partnership with TSB, it was her own wedding that led to her starting a business. She now creates and sells personalised stationery and design for life's big moments. Read the inspiring story of The Stationery Garden.
How did you come up with your idea?
I've always been a creative person and general stationery enthusiast and I knew that one day I would need to scratch that entrepreneurial itch too!
Having had an architectural career that took me to various countries previously, I'd picked up a lot of design, project management and general business skills. It wasn't until I was planning my own wedding that I realised that I could turn my design skills to my own wedding stationery, creating a completely unique and fully coordinated suite of stationery.
I was so overwhelmed by the feedback from our guests and then friends started asking me to design theirs. That's when I knew it was time to take the leap, it was now or never and I've not looked back since.
The business has already grown from its wedding stationery roots and I now design personalised stationery and prints for other events, babies and the home. I also work with other small business owners on their branding and graphic design.
What start-up challenges have you faced?
Fellow creatives and entrepreneurs alike will understand that you just can't stop thinking and there's a million ideas floating around how you can grow your business most of the time.
One of the hardest challenges was choosing to hone in on one small area to be able to get the business off the ground, when you know that you could choose several areas.
I still have to keep reminding myself that it is better to do one thing well than several not so well. You can't be everything to everyone. I'm also a perfectionist but I've not quite learnt how to fully overcome that one yet!
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Surviving my first year! It might seem like a small feat but when you are starting up, you read lots of articles, social media posts and books that say how many businesses fail within their first year.
There have been many other achievements but combined, they helped me to keep my head above water and keep my eye on my goals.
What is your next big business goal?
Now my products are tried and tested (and had some lovely feedback too!) my next big business goal is to both increase the product range on the online shop to include 'Baby' and 'Home' collections and to increase the sales channels to bring more beautiful stationery and to more lovely people.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge getting there?
Time, especially during the busy wedding season. It's just me running the business day to day; the designer, strategiser, receptionist, web designer, social media manager, chief packer and cleaner to name just a few responsibilities!
How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?
The business support that is on tap is so useful, whether it's just a bit of reassurance that you need or you're wondering how to even start!
It's good to know that there is a network available to you, particularly when you work on your own as making connections is so important.
Which other entrepreneur inspires you and why?
My Dad. After working for other people in technical, operational and management roles for the entirety of his working life, he took the leap of faith a couple of years ago and is thriving in his own consultancy based business.
He inspires me daily with his wealth of knowledge, commitment to his clients and ability to seek out opportunities and deliver on them. He does all this whilst caring for his family with a super positive attitude.
I have my Dad to thank for my chosen career path too, I remember hours of playing on 'Paint' on his new Microsoft computer in his office!
What are your three tips for business success?
Be prepared financially as it's probably going to take you longer than you think to earn a salary like you used to!
Be true to yourself and your brand. It can be hard to say no but you'll thank yourself for not taking on tasks or clients that don't align with who you are and where you are going.
Look after each and every one of your clients; you never know who they might recommend you to!
We're proud to have people like Laura as members of Enterprise Nation. Join Enterprise Nation today and become part of an amazing community of small business owners.