May: Money problems

‘I'm being slowed down by the financial side of things. I've been back in France because I couldn't afford to spend money on London rent and have been applying for part-time graphic design jobs, but it's been difficult. All the money I put aside is now in the business – I don't have any more to inject in. And because I'm out of the UK, I had to withdraw my application for a business loan and start again. Because my business is made to order, there are no issues in terms of stock or manufacturing in advance but, at the same time, I'd like to start spending on stuff like advertising. I'm not feeling too overwhelmed, though – I've got some orders from individual customers, and I've also had my two first orders from businesses. I know I can work it out – it's just a matter of getting that loan.’

June: Grieving

‘My grandmother passed away. I've been spending every single day at the hospital with my family and it's been pretty hard – I feel that time is completely suspended and it's hard to think about what's next. She'd always been a very crafty person and we would always do projects together. A few years back, she gave me a whole box of rolls of wallpaper from the seventies. I started creating these gigantic collages out of the wallpaper and thought: I could actually make a business out of this – I could translate my collages onto wallpaper. It's thanks to her that the whole business came to life. It feels somehow meaningful that she dies just as I'm launching.’ 

July: Launching early

‘There's going to be an article about the business in TechRound and it seems like a good way to announce the project is launching – even though there are some big things to change, especially on the website. I'm feeling loads of anticipation. One of my main problems is that I never really want to do things until they're completely perfect – but as you approach the launch deadline, you realize nothing is going to be perfect on the day anyway. It's a constant improvement. Working towards that mindset has been painful.’

Images courtesy of Julia Bancilhon
Images courtesy of Julia Bancilhon
July: Struggling to make early sales

‘I was expecting to start reaching out to people and they'd love my work. Then the brutality of reality hits: I'm reaching out to loads of interior designers but I haven't made many sales at all. I'm beginning to feel that launching in mid-July wasn't the best thing to do. My self-confidence is quite low. Being an artist, I already have a lot of insecurities about showing my work, but I'm trying to get over this. I keep telling myself this is part of the process. Not everyone is going to appreciate my work, and I'm just at the beginning of a very long journey. After a few days, I think maybe there's a problem with my messaging. I ask Adam [who handles the PR] to work on a template. I've been trying to manage the money I spend but, actually, it's better sometimes to leave it to the professionals and people who know that stuff.’

August: Solo-founder loneliness

‘With my financial situation still not rectified, I'm feeling a bit low. Some days I wake up and think: God, I wish I had someone to help me or motivate me. When you have a partner, there's someone else's future at stake – it's almost like you can sabotage yourself but not someone else. I have to keep telling myself: this is what you've always dreamt [of doing], so you have to carry on. You're going to be so proud of yourself even if you manage to only achieve a tiny bit, so don't procrastinate! I've stopped complaining to other people, because I feel that it can be quite unfair on them. When I feel a bit low, I go for a walk or train. It takes everything away and makes me feel like: OK, actually you're fine. I'm trying to think that this is the future I have always wanted and I should be grateful for what I've got.’

Late August: Small wins

‘Even though nothing is signed, I've received maybe four or five messages from people basically recommending my work to other people who are refurbishing their flats, and people who say they would love to work with me. The fact that people outside of my circles appreciate what I do is very rewarding. One interior designer who's pretty big in the interior design world in France tells me she really loves the idea of my virtual showroom, and that she'd love to help me. It feels like a big win and is very encouraging. I'm also getting press: Elle, Sunday Times and ICON magazine. This feels like validation of the work I've done so far. Putting those articles into my emails and the way I introduce myself is definitely going to be a big selling point.’

This article was first published in Courier issue 43, October/November 2021. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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