Client attraction. Business growth. Pretty profits.
Who: Samone Shepherdson
What: Red Letter Studio
1. Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to start your own business? How has building your own business impacted on your personal and financial situation?
I have been a graphic designer for 10 years now, and although I really enjoy my profession, it is sometimes hard to express my creativity to its full at work. So I took my love of design, illustration and typography, and started using it at home to create stationery for myself and for friends, and it kind of snowballed from there. Initially I just wanted to design a range of cards and stationery but somewhere along the line invitations have become a big part of Red Letter Studio too. I am currently working full time as a designer and doing Red Letter Studio in my own time, and so building up my own business has impacted on my social life the most – it’s virtually non-existent! But this has meant that my financial situation has improved somewhat, now it’s just planning when to take the plunge into Red Letter becoming my single source of income.
2. What is the driving force behind your business?
Definitely creativity and the urge to make stuff all the time. Whether its little sewing projects for my home, baking, making cards for my friends, drawing – I just have this need to be creative and to do something with it! Red Letter is the perfect outlet for my creative brain, it often works in overdrive if I don’t have the opportunity to be creative so it’s great to be able to go home and get those ideas and visions out.
3. I first came across you on Made It. Why did you choose Made It instead of other aggregate sites such as ebay?
Made It is just a great Aussie site that promotes handmade products and up-and-coming designers. The online culture within the Aussie handmade community is really great, and Made It fosters that with its wonderful blog, designer spotlight feature, gift guides and so on.
4. If you could add any functions to Made It what would they be?
I think the only real issue I have with Made It is the ability to purchase a spot on the homepage. I think it would be good, if like on the blog, they selected new additions to seller’s stores that are attractive and photographed well, items that will draw people into Made It to search further. I think perhaps first-time visitors to the site would prefer to have a selection of well-presented, themed images on the homepage than the general mish-mash hodgepodge that is there now! I know that if I was just searching and came to Made It for the first time that that may put me off looking further into the site.
5. What online tools/resources have been essential to marketing your goodies? Which have provided the best results? How do you measure your return on investment?
Definitely having a blog is important, or some kind of social media like a Facebook page or Twitter account to get across the personality of me and Red Letter. I love to learn about the person behind a brand or handmade item, and I think it adds character to my brand too that I can share stories and images, and info about what’s been happening here at Red Letter HQ. Having a Facebook page has worked really well too as it’s a quick way to add an update or to share some news, and also network with other designers and potential customers. And of course finding out where new customers heard about me or found my stuff is good to know what’s working!
6. Do you sell “offline”?
I sure do, at art and craft markets around Melbourne. At the moment due to time I am only doing one market a month. I also have my cards stocked in a couple of shops around Australia.
7. What do you know now that you wish you’d known from the start?
Not to undersell myself! Not only confidence-wise, but also dollar-wise! 9 times out of 10 those fiddly little jobs for a friend-of-a-friend that take heaps of time, the client is never happy, and you don’t make any money on, are totally not worth the trouble! And to just be confident in the work that I do; to stay true to what I like; my own style; and the direction I want to take Red Letter.
8. Describe the future directions of your business?
I would love for Red Letter to become my sole source of income along with my other side business that I do with a friend, Cake Ink (www.cakeinkevents.blogspot.com). I am also currently working on expanding my range of Red Letter Studio stationery. I haven’t had the time to create new designs for my online stores in such a long time! I would love to branch out into more custom stationery designs, and also art prints. And on my wish list too is the time to design a new website!
To see more of Samone’s creations click the links below: