This week I thought I would brighten up creative corner with a splash of colour. My interviewee is a ray of sunshine on a winters day. I’m sure you will all love the work of Adventures and Tea Parties.
1. Introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Joanna, the one-woman band behind creative lifestyle blog and colourful accessory brand, Adventures & Tea Parties. Originally from Derbyshire, I’m now based in Somerset where I work full time on my business. When I’m not working, I can usually be found sewing clothes, knitting or doodling by the fire or out and about either walking and bird watching or at a gig because I love, love, love music!
2. Tell us a bit about your business.
Adventures & Tea Parties is all about celebrating creativity (the blog) and designing products that are bright, colourful and fun. I started it at the end of 2012, having dabbled a bit with Etsy and a blog under a different name. I ran it alongside my full-time career as a research librarian and in the summer of 2016 I finally went full time on it.
3. What made you start your Adventures and tea parties?
I’ve always been a creative from an early age but opted to follow a “sensible” path and became a research librarian, working for most of my career as a law librarian in London. One day my flat mate came home with a sewing machine and to cut a very long story short, I remembered my creative side. Lunch times at work became all about knitting, embroidering, doodling, and writing blog posts. That lead to evenings, weekends, and any spare annual leave being used up to create. Before I knew it, I’d opened up an Etsy shop and well, I got hooked. Just as I started on that path, some horrendous personal problems suddenly occurred and I nearly gave up, twice. Instead, I carried on because the creative element of my business gave me so much joy that it has truly kept me going through the tough times; it’s been a form of therapy and has lead me on such a wonderful adventure!
4. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
I am completely self-taught but have been on a few creative workshops. When I want to learn something new, I’m the type of person that not only has to figure out how but will keep practising late into the night until I’ve understood it. I definitely learn by doing as I’m useless with a set of instructions!
5. Explain your creative process.
My creative process always starts with an idea or a burst of inspiration and then I’m itching to create it! I get creative inspiration from changing seasons and the colours, textures, shapes and patterns that come with those. Also taking inspiration from looking at colours and different colour combinations that I see around my home, outside, in what I’m wearing, everyday objects and then look at how I can bring those colours into a design. I may already have an accessory or jewellery idea in mind that I’d like to apply those colours, patterns and textures to or simply seeing two colour combinations together will spark the idea for a design.
6. Describe your typical day.
My typical working day sees me at my desk by 8am checking my inbox, scheduling a few tweets and posting up an Instagram post. Around 9am, with a second cup of tea in hand, I make and pack up my shop orders working all the way through until lunch time, when I stop for 30 mins to eat. The afternoon is then about doing everything else there is to do with running a business. So, it could involve doing my accounts, ordering stock, designing new products or creating content for my blog. I try to stop around 4pm and then go for a walk before coming home to cook and then read, doodle or knit the evening away, usually in front of a gripping TV drama. I’m currently addicted to GoT!
7. What’s your biggest seller?
Without a doubt, it’s my personalised hand embroidered handkerchiefs
I make these entirely by hand, including the handkerchief themselves and the embroidery. I always wonder whether people will tire of these but they keep coming back for more, so I’ll only stop when customers stop asking for them. Although, close behind the hankies are my latest key ring designs, which I offer in all the colours of the rainbow!
All readers can get 15% off in my website shop (not Etsy) with coupon code: CREATIVECORNER. Offer expires on the 31st Dec 2017.
8. What have been the high and low points of running Adventures and Tea Parties?
The low parts of running a business on your own are definitely not knowing when to stop working and being in danger of overworking. As it’s your baby there’s always the temptation of getting another job ticked off the never-ending to-do list but that only leads to burn out and exhaustion. The other low parts are the lonely nature of working on your own and balancing the books. As is their nature, sales go up and down like a yo-yo, so some days it can feel truly terrifying because those sales pay your bills and put food on the table.
But, there are plenty of highs too! The creative aspect it’s truly incredible. Creating designs that people love and keep coming back for is a feeling like nothing else and having the freedom to choose what those designs are and what direction you want to take your business is really wonderful. Also, being a part of the creative community out there (in-person and online) is absolutely mind-blowing!
9. What would be your top tips for running your own creative business?
Here are my three top tips:
1. Just start and don’t wait until your design, business, idea etc is perfect. You will never know what next steps to take or what you need to learn in order to progress your business, until you start.
2. Do not under any circumstances give up your day job until you have a steady income from your business. This make take many years but patience, hard work and chipping away at it really does pay off.
3. Be the lovely person that you are, support your fellow creative business owners and do not compare yourself to others because that never gets you anywhere.
10. What are your aspirations for Adventures and Tea Parties?
I would love to develop the creative inspiration side of my business further to include classes, tools and ideas for others to find their creative mojo. I’m already been in discussions about running a workshop based on something I love but that’s in its very early stages at the moment. I am also keen to work with or collaborate with individuals and companies in a creative sense.
11. Where can we find you?