Eleanor Mary Designs are one of the SME's, which Notonthehighstreet.com have partnered with to support, nurture and market. We caught up with the founder, Eleanor, to learn more about her business and how with the support of Notonthehighstreet.com she has managed to turn her ideas and designs into her main source of income. Notonthehighstreet.com has enabled Eleanor Mary Designs to reach a broad and targeted audience (From social media alone they have a reach of over 1.2 million). Notonthehighstreet.com hosts over 5000 of the UK's best small creative businesses and you too can get involved in their Pitch Up scheme; an opportunity to pitch your ideas and products to the experts at NOTH. Read more about Eleanor's experience and what we can expect next from her journey and evolution of Eleanor Mary Designs:
Hi, Eleanor! Please, can you introduce your brand Eleanor Mary Designs?
Hi! My name is Ellie, I’m 28 and live in Shropshire with my husband and one-year-old son. I started Eleanor Mary Designs at the beginning of 2016 when I was on maternity leave. I had been itching to start my own business, and the timing just felt right to take the plunge. Over a year down the line and I have no regrets!
What products do you create and where do you get your inspiration?
I create photo cards to help document those unforgettable milestone moments, from your baby’s first tooth, crawl to their first time on holiday! I also make cards to celebrate pregnancy, wedding and school milestones and hope to add more to my range very soon.
Who/what has been the greatest creative influence in your life?
Without sounding too cliché, my biggest influence is my little boy. I have always wanted to set up my own business, but never had the guts to take the plunge until he arrived. I have always had a love for art, crafts and creating and it just felt like the right time to make a go of it.
What were you doing prior to launching and how did you make the transition to being your own boss?
Before starting Eleanor Mary Designs I was working full time as a School Mentor in a secondary school. Starting up Eleanor Mary Design on my maternity leave, meant I was able to take more time off to be with my son, and also has now given me the choice to return to my job part time, giving me the rest of my time to divide between running my business and watching my son grow up.
How has notonthehighstreet.com helped you grow your business?
Notonthehighstreet.com have been amazing since I became a Partner. They are continually helping me to promote, support and grow my business whether it being a part of their campaigns, promoting on social media or giving advice on any new product ideas. The help I have been given since joining back in April last year really has been invaluable to my business.
Could you tell us about your USP and how you stand out amongst competitors?
This is tough! I struggle with the self-promotion side of owning my own business still, but I am working on it! I would like to think that my variation of designs helps to cater to many potential customers, and my flexibility to make packs of photo cards specific to their requirements hopefully makes me stand out against competitors. And hopefully, them seeing I am a working Mum, trying to build my own business, will also help me stand out amongst competitors.
Have you always had an entrepreneurial streak?
I have always had a creative streak, from studying A Level Art & Design to making all of my own wedding stationery back in 2013. Becoming a Mum, trying to juggle returning to work and caring for my son, made me think of what options I had. I am very lucky to now have Eleanor Mary Designs as my main source of income, and more importantly, it allows me to spend the quality time with my son that just would not have been possible otherwise.
How do you balance Eleanor Mary Designs and motherhood?
It is extremely tough, and I experience Mum guilt almost daily! I get the majority of my work done either during nap time, or once he is in bed. As my work load continues to increase we are looking at various childcare options. I am very lucky though that I have the luxury of planning my work around him, and not the other way round.
What are your best tips for other working mothers?
I would say, take every day as it comes. Some days they will need you more than others, they are your main priority. I find being extremely organised makes life a lot easier. Keep the balance, make sure you are making as much time for your family and children as much as you can, they are, after all, your main priority.
How are you planning on growing Eleanor Mary Designs?
I have lots of new product ideas for Eleanor Mary Designs, some of which are quite different to anything we’ve done before. I would also like to pursue the wholesale market a lot more. So far this year I am already being stocked in four new independent shops, which is amazing considering we are only one month in! I’m very excited to see what happens in 2017!
How was your experience with Pitch Up and what advice can you offer those going through it this year?
Pitch Up was, and will always will be, a major turning point for my business. I was making steady sales online elsewhere, but the dream was always to be a part of notonthehighstreet.com. I found out about the Pitch Up event very late to game and booked my appointment only three days before attending. The whole experience was fantastic. I fully expected to be told I was unsuccessful, so to be told they loved my designs and wanted me to sign up there and then was such an incredible moment! I would, and have, recommend to anyone wanting to be a part of NOTHS, to attend the Pitch Up events. I would say just be yourself; the team are so friendly and approachable. And let your products shine, let them do the talking for you, be proud of your work!
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt from building your own business?
Probably my greatest lesson learnt is time management, although I am still working on it! It can be very hard to switch off and stop working when it is your own business, and you have so much love for it, but I have learnt that allowing myself time to switch off and relax enables me to be even more focused and driven when I am working. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy an evening with your feet up watching TV?!
Notonthehighstreet.com is launching Pitch Up again for 2017 in a hunt to find the best new creative talent from across the UK. Pitch Up provides small creative businesses with the opportunity to pitch their products and gift ideas to notonthehighstreet.com’s experts in the hope of joining the site as a new Partner (seller).
Pitch Up is free and open to everyone, launching in Richmond, London on 25th February and in Edinburgh, Scotland on 9th March. To secure a place at this years Pitch Up simply book at: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/pitchup