Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Erin Kendal, Surface Pattern Designer & Licensed Artist based in Wodonga, Victoria, AU.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm an independent artist, educator, and surface pattern designer. My business is carried out entirely online, and I have customers worldwide — both business-to-business and business-to-consumer. As an educator, my 'customers' are fellow designers who are looking to grow their design businesses.
As a surface pattern designer, my customers are brands that license my artwork (seamless repeating patterns) to print onto their products, such as fabric, clothing, wallpaper, curtains, phone cases... the list goes on. Then there are the personal consumers who purchase products with my designs on them through print-on-demand platforms.
Tell us about yourself
I've always been creative, and I grew up in a family of creative people. Yet, I never studied art at school (hello, fear of failure). In fact, I barely even passed school! I went on to work in bars and restaurants before switching to a pretty-well-paying corporate job for 15 years. During that time, I had a handmade side hustle that was going nowhere fast. I'd always dreamed of being a creative entrepreneur... I just wasn't sure how I was going to replace my day job.
The transition into surface pattern design organically emerged from my side hustle, and once I figured out the potential it held — all bets were off. Designing had my full attention, and within about 18 months, I was able to ditch my day job and retire from my partner as well. Appreciation of my freedom is what continues to motivate me — I love what I do.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Is it selfish to say that my biggest accomplishment is creating this business? Creating it with no tertiary education or formal qualifications. Nothing will ever top the freedom this business provides me, my partner, and our kids. We operate on our own schedule... we have time (the most valuable asset of all)... and we can work from anywhere that has decent internet. Having been failed by the school system, I'm eternally grateful that my business allows us to homeschool our kids.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Knowing when to outsource and letting go of some things. I'm currently in this phase of learning.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be clear on what your biggest goal is and take that into consideration when making decisions—make sure your choice aligns with your end goal. It's okay for your path to be winding... but try not to go too off track or in circles. Be honest with yourself when you're making decisions for your business.
- Make strategic decisions—or learn how to. Learning how to be strategic and have a 'line of sight" will help you to create opportunities.
- Find someone who will support you (a peer, a partner, a mentor)—but not someone who will blindly support every single thing that you want to do. A good supporter will challenge your thinking... often frustrate you, but ultimately push you to get more out of yourself and do better than you ever imagined you could.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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