Small Business Support Blog

If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!

We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.

If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected] 

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  1. #ReasonsIstarted

    Sally Moonraker

     

    Foreword from Pamela

    This series of amazing stories from fiercely feminine entrepreneurs documents the journey of some inspirational women who have founded and built incredible brands. These are stories of reinvention, stories of unlocking creativity and pivoting during the pandemic and managing adversity to demonstrate their passion and commitment to building a future legacy. 

    The next in the series is Sally Moonraker, creative designer and owner of Nine Yellow Birds an innovative polymer clay jewellery and accessories brand…

     

    Nine Yellow Birds: ‘a story behind every piece’

    Miniatures have always been in my blood- I’ve adored them since I was tiny, but before Nine Yellow Birds came about, my focus, which is still my other passion, was photography. I hope to continue improving my photographic skills within my product photos, in the future. Photography may not be my job now, but it’s still a huge part of my life and will continue to be so.

    Nine Yellow Birds was born from a passion of miniatures. I’ve always adored doll houses, miniature items and anything tiny!  When I discovered polymer clay, and realised (through ALOT of trial and error!) that I could actually work with the medium, with some ok results, I decided to try making my own miniatures- primarily food.

    Nine Yellow Birds Resin Jewellery

    I can’t explain what drew me to it, it was like a magnet; or a magpie being drawn to shiny things. I just HAD to make miniature non edible items.  After watching a few YouTube videos- “Sugarcharmshop” and “Heather Wells”were my original inspiration and go tos. Soon, however, I discovered my own style coming out in my work and I spent less and less time watching tutorials to hone my skills, and more time just experimenting.

    Once I started, I couldn’t stop! I worked out that I much preferred creating sweet miniatures as opposed to savoury food. The more I made, the more I loved the medium and creating realistic looking minis. I’d definitely found my style.

    As I created more, I realised the market for miniatures, both in England and abroad, was saturated. In any form you can imagine- magnets, jewellery, stitch markers, needle keepers, crochet hooks... the list goes on. I decided to try and create something which I was looking for myself- but in my own style.

     Resin Jewellery

    That’s when Magpie’s Gold was born- a collection of trinket dishes and statement jewellery. Both of which still feature my signature miniatures, but also some new pathways. I am inspired by nature, nature is my canvas and the greatest paint palette. Everything I create, somehow is linked back to nature.

     

    My trinket dishes, heavily feature the solar system and flowers. My style is mainly abstract. The solar system dishes, also carry over into my jewellery and can be bought as sets- for example, a Mars inspired dish with Earth inspired earrings. There’s something for everyone!

     Miniature Resin Shapes

    Within my jewellery, I wanted to create something I hadn’t found on the market. Something I was happy with and would like to wear, which also provided happiness for others. I found that many of the statement earrings out there, were literally HUGE! I didn’t want that. While I still provide large statement earrings for those who like that, I wanted to create a range which was beautiful but still small enough to wear daily. I also wanted to create dangles AND studs. Why can’t studs be gorgeous, too?!

    I hope I have created something for everyone- miniatures for those who love collectibles and dolls houses. Trinket dishes for those who have jewellery, hair ties, even coins, just lying around and earrings for everyone- men can wear the studs too!

    I create all my work with themes or seasons in minds- we have loads of items for Christmas coming up. Why can’t you have seasonal trinket dishes? Everything else is rotated to decorate for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, why can’t dishes and earrings be changed too?! 

    Unlike big companies; EVERYTHING here at Nine Yellow Birds, is slow made in micro batches. You’re not going to get perfect, mass produced, identical products. I had mix colours, hand cut, hand sand, and put all the components together myself. NYB is a one woman band!  My friends and family take the mick out of me- I have patience for nothing else but clay! I spend hours working with this beautiful medium, but anything else?! I have no patience at all!

    I only send out products I’m 100% happy with; I pour my heart and soul into each piece and if I’m not happy with something, I’ll remake the entire thing!  In the future, I hope to expand my jewellery line- I have SO many ideas! I also really hope to make some more connecting pieces with my dishes and jewellery.

    The miniatures will be firmly staying put- the great thing about them, is they never go out of style! They’ll be firmly keeping their home here on the trinket dishes. With All the experimentation I have done, I have proved to myself that miniatures and jewellery are my passion and I will continue to make them. 

    As no two pieces will ever be the same, every purchase- miniatures and jewellery- will be unique to the buyer. I also enjoy the challenge of adapting pieces to personal request. You may also notice that every dish and earring has a hand placed piece of genuine gold or silver leaf.

     

    Find out more about Sally and her business by visiting her instagram profile!

  2. #ReasonsIstarted

    Always-Andri-Wedding-Planner-London-Photogrpaher-Amanda-Karen (1)

    Foreword from Pamela

    This series of amazing stories from fiercely feminine entrepreneurs documents the journey of some inspirational women who have founded and built incredible brands. These are stories of reinvention, stories of unlocking creativity and pivoting during the pandemic and managing adversity to demonstrate their passion and commitment to building a future legacy. 

    The next in the series is Andri Benson, creative entrepeneur and wedding planning genius who runs Always Andri Weddings in London...

    From the BBC to serial Wedding Entrepreneur...

    Hi I’m Andri Benson, I run Always Andri a boutique wedding planning business in London. My focus has always been in designing distinctive and creative weddings as individual as the couples I work with. I want my couples to feel supported during their wedding planning and I encourage them to really personalise their day to make it meaningful to them and not just another cookie cutter wedding day.

    Creativity in the family

    I’ve always enjoyed being creative, it must run in the family as my dad was an art teacher and my mum a seamstress. Growing up they owned a dress factory. I went to Central St Martins after school to do a foundation course and it was there my tutor suggested I do a degree in Theatre Design. It was the perfect combination of art, creativity and imagination.

    After 3 years at Nottingham Trent University I returned to London to attend drama school where I learnt stage management as well as putting into practise my theatre design degree. As part of the course put on plays from start to finish, getting first-hand experience of the process. It was here I met my now husband, he was there studying to be a Director.  I loved the theatre and enjoyed imagining new worlds to create a scene and character building through costume design. 

    After a few years freelancing as a Theatre Designer for London Fringe and Off-West End theatres I got a full-time job as a costumier for the BBC Costume Store. After growing up around my parents’ dress factory – playing dress up with fabrics during the summer holidays - working with costumes all day as a costumier was a fitting role to be in. It was a fabulous job that offered security and creativity! But it wasn’t to last unfortunately. The BBC was going through its major cuts phase and so after 8 years working there, we were all made redundant. It was a long drawn out process that lasted 7 months but during that time I was able to revaluate what I wanted to do.

     

    From wardrobes to weddings

    Around the time I had started to work at the BBC, my husband and I got married; I absolutely loved planning it! What struck me most about the planning process was just how similar it was to designing a Theatre production- from working with a budget, creating timelines, designing how the tablescape - like the set, and what you would wear- like the costumes would look. So, as were considering our futures and I was asked what I wanted to do, I jokingly said I’d love to be a wedding planner. I had briefly thought about pursuing event planning when we got married 7 years earlier but the BBC job came along so I never did. Now facing redundancy, I re-visited the idea and realised that wedding planning was actually a profession you could do. By this point we had a 4-year-old son, working a 9-5 job wasn’t necessarily going to work, so I dived head first into setting up my own business from home.  I immersed myself in weddings, taking a couple of courses and learning how to run a business. A year after being made redundant I launched my wedding planning business Always Andri

    Always-Andri-Wedding-Planner-London-Photogrpaher-Maja-Tsolo(2)

     

    Diversifying the business

    The last 10 years have been a mix of highs and lows, it was a steep learning curve working out how to run a business. Around 5 years ago we did a major renovation at home so I wasn’t able to focus on the business and ended up having one of the worst years in the business after what had been one of my best planning a 100K+ wedding. I realised that relying on the one income stream realty wasn’t going to work so I started diversifying what I could do. I wrote an e-book on How to Plan Styled Shoot (a mock wedding suppliers use to promote their businesses), started mentoring other planners and then also set up a second business as a wedding celebrant,  Andri Benson Ceremonies.  In recent years I have also created a course for planners on Wedding Design that I loved putting together.

    Always-Andri-Wedding-Planner-London-Photogrpaher-Alistair-Freeman (2)

    I am now going back to one of my first loves, art and have introduced concept sketching and illustration as part my services.  I’m planning to do a sketching course using the Procreate app and an iPad for planners, stylists and florists too, after a successful digital cake drawing masterclass I put on this summer.  What with everything going on in the wedding industry this year and near halt in weddings due to the covid pandemic I’ve been grateful that I had diversified my business when I did. And with more plans in the pipeline too, this year hasn’t been as disastrous as it could’ve been.

     

    Find out more about Andri by visiting www.alwaysandri.co.uk 

    Photo Credit Amanda Karen