On Sunday I took myself down to the Makegood Festival. I knew very little about the event, but there were a couple of talks I was keen to go and hear so thought that would make it worthwhile. I absolutely love learning from talks, I'm one of those people who learn so much more from a conversation rather than just simply reading, so take every opportunity I can to go to them. A lot of my 'business knowledge' has been found in this way (especially when I'm feeling extra brave and ask questions!)
In addition to the talks, there were dozens of exhibitors showing their small businesses! Initially I got a sick feeling of 'oh god, why aren't I doing this?!' but then remembered that you don't have to do everything, and sometimes it's very fun just to be a spectator! It was linked to the School For Creative Startups that admittedly I don't know very much about - in fact if I'm honest I didn't know such a thing existed, I made my own school!
The first talk I went to was about Tequila! I guess that's nothing like Oh Squirrel but I really enjoyed it and hearing the story of the brand started by Cleo Rocos was fascinating. The main thing I took away from this was a feeling of living and breathing your brand is how to make it a success - having a brand that reflects your personality is bloody brilliant (well, as long as you're not a massive idiot!). She also spoke very frankly about being brave and taking risks, which is something I have done in the past and definitely intend to do more of.
The second one, and the one I came for was with Rosie Woldfenden of Tatty Devine. I admire a lot about Tatty Devine, as although the jewellery isn't the style I wear, the story of their business is fascinating and one to very much be in awe of.
Rosie spoke about how their business had started as a hobby and a 'personal calling' which is exactly how I started out with my business. 14 years on she's been awarded an MBE and is an incredible business woman who co-owns a worldwide brand, yet still produces the unique product in the UK. The brand employs 55 people and is continuously innovating to create new products to get ahead of those pesky copycats. Basically she is something of a bit of an idol!
She spoke a lot about the humble beginnings and starting out selling at markets. It was really awesome to hear that had been their starting point too, as that was the same for me. A lot of newer small businesses I know started out online, so I've always felt a little behind the times in the way I started mine, however this method has completely worked for me... & I've never worried about being backwards! She explained the big plus for this was meeting your customers, and finding out what sells, but also in that running a market stall for a day is exactly like a mini version of running a full business as you deal with so many aspects.
Between this and the final talk on PR was a talk with a female poker player called Liv Boeree. Initially I didn't have much interest in this, however I thought it was curious that she was on the listing so thought I'd give it a listen. There was one quote which I thought was brilliant - "You're going to make mistakes dozens of times, but accept that in advance and move on" (it might not have been those exact word a but it was of that ilk). Not only is that brilliant life advice, but business advise too. I used to be terrified of making mistakes and the knock on affect they had, but now I realise they're part of everyday life - I'm not saving lives for a living, so every mistake can be rectified without tears. I also love that even though she's not a 'maker' - her advise was really relevant. I quite fancy learning how to play poker now too!
The final talk was on PR, delivered by Jessica Huie. I took a lot of notes on this as now my business has grown, it's time to start thinking about this, which is very exciting. All the press I've had thus far has happened organically and I'm so thankful of that!
The comedian Mark Dolan was presenting the whole thing too, he came across as a really nice chap, and had lots of stories of his own which related to starting up (for him it was his comedy career rather than a 'business' as such) and I thought this was a really nice touch. (I did keep hoping that Alex Zane might appear though as I just kept thinking of Balls of Steel and giggling to myself).
After the talks I had another wander around the stalls and plucked up the courage to go and say hello to Tilly of Tilly & the Buttons. When you've read someone's blog for years and then get to meet them it's a bit scary! I should have taken a photograph of her lovely stand but was too busy chattering away and purchasing a copy of her book. I'm excited to start having a go at a couple of the projects as I really want to make some dresses this Summer and this may be the catalyst to get me making my own patterns again!
So! Makegood was really rather good! I didn't know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. I had to go sit down with a cuppa and make a list before going home as it started lots of wonderful thoughts and ideas happening in my head. I think it's so important to go to things like this, talk to people, listen to other stories and then relate them back to your own. I guess the fact I've made my own path and learnt in a completely different direction to a lot of folk is quite interesting and I'm completely happy with that!