May Business of the Month – Imogen Allen Designs

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Business name: Imogen Allen Designs

Website: www.imogenallendesigns.co.uk

Short description of your business:

My business is the creation and design of textile art and embroidery. I use a combination of machine sewing and hand embroidery methods when hand making custom made and personalised artwork and soft furnishing designs. My designs include a range of home interior ideas and personalised gifts for special occasions that are truly unique and bespoke. No two hanging hearts or cushions are ever the same, due to the hand embroidery techniques used. I work on commissions and will happily work with individual customers to create unique designs that fit their requirements. I also have a range of artworks, created with watercolour and pen which have been made into affordable notebooks, prints and mouse mats.

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How long has your business been running?

My business was formally established in June 2012

What made you start the business?

My family circumstances had changed and I had moved counties as well so going back to sewing initially started as a hobby and I began making different keepsakes for friends and family and so decided to establish Imogen Allen Designs and began to promote my designs

Who is your target market?

My target market is most probably a more mature individual, usually female, who is looking for a personalised keepsake design for members of their family, especially for grandchildren and family members. I do also make a lot of the keepsake hearts, especially for weddings and they appeal to a much wider audience.

Where do you advertise?

I am socially active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. I am also a featured designer with www.makethemostof.co.uk and an artisan member with The Arts and Crafts Emporium www.facebook.com/ACEmporiumgifts In addition to my website I also have a shop on Etsy www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ImogenAllenDesigns I am also a member of the Nation of eShopkeepers www.nationofeshops.co.uk

Of course, I have amazing support from EasySiteSolutions www.easysitesolutions.co.uk who I have been with me from the beginning of my creative business journey. I have recently refreshed my website with a more modern and contemporary look and have worked with them to create the new look website, so I was thrilled to be voted website of the month after all the hard work! A lot of SEO work has gone into the new website and I hoping that I shall start to see the benefits of this over the coming months.

A lot of my work also comes from word of mouth and happy customers that I have previously made for. I do have some amazing customers who do come back time and time again and that kind of business is priceless and I cherish it very much!

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a business owner?

I love to be in charge of my task load and creative design. I have really enjoyed linking up and working together with other businesses in the UK, some within the creative industry and some outside of that, to give a real balance and connect with people in all kinds of businesses. It also means that I have the opportunity to be flexible around family life although that is sometimes a lot harder than most people would give it credit for!

What have you found most difficult as a small business?

It can be quite isolating at times working for myself but I have an amazing online support from fellow crafters and artists in the industry. It is very hard to be seen on social media and I have learned that by teaming up with others, supporting and sharing ideas and helping each other is incredibly valuable and I have made some amazing friends in the process! Thankfully, my husband and family are incredibly supportive too and that helps enormously on the tough days and to celebrate the highs with as well!

Where would you like the business to be in 5 years time?

I would love my business to grow to be more self supporting financially and for my work to be easily recognisable as mine!

If you had to start again, what would you do differently?

It has been a really slow process but I don’t think there would be really much I would change at all!

What tips do you have for anyone looking to start a small business?

I think my tip would be to be prepared to work hard, connect with others and share information and support each other. Make sure you do your research and always try to learn as much as you can on your journey. There are so many areas where you can get help and support to run a business. The more you put in the more you get out and finally….make sure you always treat others as you wish to be treated!

Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity to be able to tell you more about myself and the work I do and a huge thanks to EasySiteSolutions for the amazing website support they have given me over the last 3 years!

Imogen Allen

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