Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Both Suz and I have worked together on many creative businesses but art is a new avenue for us. We started both our careers in fashion. Banksia Blue Studio started during the bushfires. Watching all our magnificent Australian bush going up in flames reminded me how blessed we are to have such stunning botanicals. We couldn’t understand why they didn’t feature more heavily in interior design in our own country.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
As partners, we both discuss all artwork direction and decide on a theme we would like to design. In the beginning, we decided on the direction of the brand we were going to take so that helps us stay on track if one of us is photographing and the other is designing. All pricing is also done together and we split up certain aspects of the dispatch and attending to customers.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
We draw inspiration from the natural elements of the Australian landscape specializing in Australian natives and botanicals. We sell modern contemporary Australian wall art prints, wood wall art, candles, placemats, and cushions. Along with creating a modern contemporary feel with our artwork the emphasis has been on sourcing local sustainable resources on which to print our artwork. It started with wood wall art and now our prints on quality recycled paper are also extremely popular.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
Entrepreneurship means the freedom to move the direction of the business where we want to. We have the flexibility to try new things and push our creativity. Ideally, we would love to be working 100% Banksia Blue Studio but we have to build it up to support two incomes. It is very rewarding to have customers leave us a review and this keeps us focused to keep going.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
Initially, we started on Etsy and created a website. This helped us form a customer base to talk to. We are trying to extend our reach with social media strategies and we are slowly building a customer fan base. We also attend creative markets and this helps us understand who our customer is in person.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I definitely think there is a formula. I think the winning formula is being organized from the beginning. Suz and I spent many hours discussing the look and feel of the brand which helps us stay consistent. We also planned our marketing costs and believe in our dream. We support each other to keep going.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
The toughest is really overall the time involved in the beginning for the little return. You need to be 100% committed to making it work and assessing along the way.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
We love finding old gardening books and magazines to find different botanicals to work with. Also, there is so much inspiration just being with nature. We both have a heightened awareness of being outside now and are taking photos of nature constantly for new ideas.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
Yes, we ship internationally and due to COVID19, we are using an express courier which costs more but delivers the product to the customer in 5 days. In the beginning, when we used Australia post it was taking over a month. We do use free shipping on some products however this can be a deterrent to buying more than one print so it simply doesn’t work for some products.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Developing a product is one part of the process, you need to have a strong idea where you are going to position and market your product to attract customers.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Once you start getting sales to take note of what your customer is liking and develop more products in this category. Keep persisting, good things take time. Keep reassessing where you are headed. It doesn’t matter if you change direction if you have come across something that works better.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Freedom, money, and creativity are the things that drive us to succeed. I love the sense of purpose and working with good people. We choose our suppliers that are like-minded creatives and now some of these people are friends. To me, that’s a successful business. It’s your life, not your work.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
We plan week by week and work on a marketing plan. We each do the tasks that play to our strengths and meet 2 days a week to round up. We both have full-time jobs and work at night and weekends to keep the business rolling. Multi-tasking is our middle name.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Our plans are to be more recognizable in the market for art and interiors. Our biggest impact is customer reach and having the money to spend on marketing. Sometimes we get this wrong and have wasted money on the wrong avenues. We intend to grow the product base too.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
We spent time focusing on the quality of the product first and printing and making in Australia makes us happy and gives us the flexibility to not hold too much stock. Having a small stock holding is less risky however we have to be on our toes to ensure we get deliveries dispatched quickly. We spent too much money in the beginning on Etsy paid to advertise and not understanding the importance of keywords.
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Thank you for the opportunity.