By Kate Marsden
We’re heading to the coast this week to see the unique and beautiful artwork of Georgie St Clair. Georgie’s work has seen her become quite a star on Instagram – read on to see why and how the purchase of “just a card” helps to give her a boost…
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I’m an artist and illustrator based in Brighton, UK. I create floral and botanical artwork collaged from real flowers and foliage, and make them into prints as well as products such as phone cases and homewares.
After 20 years in digital marketing and being a mum to my 3 kids, in September 2016 I decided to go freelance and pursue my dream of making a living from my creative business.
What does a typical day involve?
I set my alarm at 6am so I can have an hour to myself. I’ll maybe paint or write in my sketchbook. Or simply enjoy the peace and quiet with a cuppa whilst making a plan for the day in my notebook. At 7am things go a little crazy when the hubby and kids get up (Daisy aged 4, Jake aged 13 and Zac aged 15).
I work at home so I tidy and do household jobs before I sit down to work at my desk because I can’t stand mess! I’m at my desk by about 9.30am when I’ll check emails, organise orders, sort out my social media for the day and procrastinate over a few cups of tea.
The mornings are usually for more mundane or admin tasks. Packing orders, sorting out my website, writing a newsletter or blog post, photography for Instagram or products. Business planning. In the afternoons I’ll do the more creative work, work on commissions and I’ll go to the post office with orders to dispatch.
By 3pm the boys are home so my flow goes a bit by then. I’ll do bits, but usually it’s time to focus on homework, clubs, dinner etc. Daisy is picked up from nursery at 5pm, and the hours between 5pm and 8pm are family time and therefore hectic again! Once Daisy is in bed I’ll return to the drawing board or laptop. I’m my most creative in the evenings so this is when I’ll draw or do any Photoshop work.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
My tiny studio is a small extension connected to the kitchen. I also have a studio shed at the bottom of the garden which more of a storage space at the moment. However, I’m planning to make that into more of a working space sometime soon.
When I’m not working or taking care of the kids and family life, I exercise in some form, otherwise I go stir crazy. I maybe go for a walk, do some yoga, go to the gym or take a Zumba class. I’m really not that fit, it’s more of a mental stress buster. Exercise is the only activity that calms my mind and really helps me live in the moment, rather than thinking about all of things I need to do that day.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
There’s a huge amount of competition, especially on the internet, so being found and standing out from the internet noise is a challenge. Bigger companies who have larger budgets for SEO and online advertising present yet more challenges for the smaller businesses and designers, to be heard. Finding the time to create our wares, whilst also marketing yourself is a constant juggling act.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I’d love to expand my art and illustration into different product ranges to retail and wholesale. I’d also like to run workshops and collaborate more with other designers and makers.
My ultimate ambition is to make enough from my creative business to support my family and have a more flexible lifestyle. Maybe be the next Kate Spade or Anna Rifle Bond? That would be nice ;)
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Learn the basics of SEO, social media, product photography and styling. They are essential.
If you want to create a business you have to wear many hats, especially when you start out - marketing manager, operations director, delivery expert, credit control, accountant, website support etc etc. Over time, when you start making a bit more, you’ll be able to delegate these jobs.
But when you start, realise that only a third of your time, if you’re lucky, will be spent actually creating. If you’re not prepared to do all of this, for little return in the beginning, keep your creative passion as your hobby. There is a good podcast by Tara Swiger on the subject of having a business vs a hobby.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
I live in Brighton so there are too many to choose from!
I’ve recently been lusting over the collection at Little Beach Boutique in Brighton’s North Laine They specialise in handmade and locally sourced gifts and design and produce their own range of fused glass on site.
I also adore Bluebelle and Co, again in the North Laine of Brighton with their unique and vintage inspired designs.
For inspirational businesses I turn to Posh Totty. Alice Rivers Cripps started her business in 2004 after returning from living in Mexico. She spent all of her spare time learning to make jewellery and discovered an unconventional way of stamping silver. Fast forward to 2017 and Posh Totty has many celebrity fans and shops in London and 3 shops in Brighton (yes you’ve guessed it - one is in Brighton’s North Laine as well!)
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Yes, and I think any sale, even ‘Just a Card’ gives an enormous boost to designers and makers not only financially but also in confidence. People believing in our products enough to buy, is also a message that they believe in us as designers and makers.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
I think it’s an absolutely brilliant campaign. If I hadn’t made those smaller sales, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to expand and grow. In fact, I’ll admit in the early days I planned to give up about once a week!
Buying locally or from independent designers and makers is so important. Every product has a story. Every product is created with thought and care. Small independent businesses like ours are so important to the economy as a whole and it’s fantastic that this campaign exists.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I heard about it on Twitter via a tweet from you Kate! I’ve recently seen it pop up on Instagram more too . My favourite social media platform is of course Instagram. This is where I started sharing my creations many years ago and the place that gave me confidence to start selling. I adore it over there. I pop into Twitter from time to time as well.