Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? Why did you start your business?
My name is John Lally and I started TavernCreative in 2017. We specialize in invitations & wedding stationery, offering high-quality designs and print at an affordable price. I previously worked at a high-end printer in Mayfair, where I learned the art of luxury print and specialist finishing options. When I left my job, I had no real plan, I just knew I wanted to start my own business, and taking what I’d learned in Mayfair, to a wider audience seemed to like the best route to take.
What type of products do you sell? How does your manufacturing process look like?
We sell all kinds of wedding stationery, which are primarily digitally printed. However, we also offer specialist finishes, including foiling, wax seals, envelope lining, along with a wide range of finishing touches.
What are some challenging aspects of your business? How did you overcome them?
Competition in the market became a problem at times. We had a number of sellers on Etsy, replicating our designs, and undercutting our prices. I went through a phase of checking a list of about 5 other sellers on a daily basis, to see how many sales they were making (sometimes multiple times in a day). This was not only getting me down, but it was also forcing me to make irrational decisions – like dramatic price cuts or second-guessing my visuals and wording. I made the decision at the beginning of this year to stop looking at the competition entirely. I now have no idea what anyone else is doing, I don’t know if anybody is copying me and I don’t know what their prices are and I feel so much better now.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The freedom to be as creative as you want and try all kinds of crazy ideas without anyone telling you no. Some things work and some things flop, but without giving them a shot, you’d never know. The hardest part is having the full weight of responsibility on your shoulders. When things go wrong, nobody is required to give a shit, except you. It can be stressful at times and does require some long long days on occasion. My record shift is 17 hours and I’m not proud of that.
What are some beginner mistakes you made? What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
I made loads of mistakes, from the wrong products, the wrong prices and so much more. My 3 top tips are persistence, patience, and consistency.
Persistence: Trial and error. Some things don’t work and some things do, keep adjusting your offering until you find the sweet spot. You will find it.
Patience: The best things take time, overnight success is a rare thing. Consistency: Once you find the formula, stick with it, and be consistent. I make sure I post on Instagram once a day and I post 2 blog posts a week. In my new project TavernAcademy – I post one graphic design tutorial video every day on Youtube. Nobody is watching them, but I will persist and be patient, and even though the videos take ages to make, I stay consistent with the posting schedule.
What inspires you while designing and/or creating new products.
Money, basically. I wish I could give you a more profound answer.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I worked for a company between 2012 and 2015, which sold birthday and wedding invitations on eBay. Here I learned efficiency. Fine-tuning every little process to ensure it’s the best and quickest way to do things. I then worked for luxury printers in Mayfair. Here I learned the art of fine print and bespoke design. It was very expensive and only catered to the rich and famous. When I started my business, I wanted to combine the 2 and offer luxury print at an affordable price for everyone.
What are some of the most effective ways in terms of marketing products to your customers?
Etsy ads have been the most successful marketing tool we’ve used Social media also plays a big part. Instagram, Facebook & Google – make sure you have a presence on all 3 and post on a regular basis.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
If you receive a bad review, don’t get defensive in the responses, even if the customer is being unreasonable. I see this all the time and it’s a really bad image for a company. Even if you’re 100% in the right, let them know you appreciate their feedback and will put measures in place to ensure the issue doesn’t happen again. Even if it means biting your tongue. On a similar note, don’t focus on the negative reviews. I could have 10,000 5 star reviews and if I receive one 3 stars it will bug me for days, and that’s not healthy.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
Success to me is the freedom to be completely creative with new projects, without restrictions. I wouldn’t say I’m there yet but have certainly had a chance to dabble in other ventures.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I always respond to my customers within 24 hours, so emails and messages take priority. Once complete, the remainder of the day will be divided into various product development or social media projects we may have. In addition, it’s important to note, emails never stop! So I usually need to set a cut-off.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
At the moment, I’m diversifying into graphic design tutorial videos on Youtube. In the future, I would like to add other products to our repertoire – including wooden and acrylic wedding signs. I have a few other ideas too.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
Subscribe to my Youtube channel – TavernAcademy I have 15 subscribers so far and need 1000 to monetize 🙂 “Become a Graphic Designer | Free Resource. In the year of job insecurity, there’s never been a better time to learn new skills & join the booming freelance economy Everybody is welcome” I promise this isn’t just one big plug 🙂 Also, I didn’t proofread what I wrote in all my answers here, so please excuse any typos