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Joanna Payne - Adventures & Tea Parties

By Kate Marsden

Now my love for all things colourful is well known, and I’m sharing one of my favourite colourful designer makers with you today. Joanna Payne’s work is bright and cheerful as is her gorgeous Instagram (I will join in with her colour filled Instagram challenge one day I promise!). Read on for some top advice for new small businesses, and to find out more about her world…

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Tell us a little about you. What do you do?

Hi, I'm Joanna, the one-woman band behind Adventures & Tea Parties, a creative lifestyle blog, colourful accessory brand and #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge. I also write and photograph for Simple Stylish Makes and This Is Your Kingdom. Originally from Derbyshire, I've also lived in London and Leicester working as a corporate law librarian and latterly, as a medical research librarian, all while building up my business. In spring 2016 I moved to Somerset to run my business full time.

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What does a typical day involve?

Being used to getting up early to commute from my London days, I'm up at 6am and heading straight to the kettle for a strong cup of tea, which I usually take back to bed to drink while composing an Instagram post.

After breakfast I'm in my home studio for 8am. Radio 6 goes on while I reply to emails, print shop orders and schedule some social media posts for the day. Between 9am - 12.30/1pm I make all my shop orders, which can be anything from personalised hand embroidered wedding hankies to assembling pug key rings or a making a set of cufflinks and matching bow ties. Depending on how many there are, I try to have these all made and parcelled up before I stop for lunch.

I give myself half an hour for lunch, which will be anything from a quick sandwich, a big salad or leftover food from the night before.

After lunch I tend to split the afternoon up into hourly tasks in order to both chip away at goals and ensure the admin jobs get done. Depending on the goals I've set myself that week, I could be working on anything from ordering supplies, designing a new range, writing a blog post, photographing products, or doing my accounts. I usually have the radio, a podcast or Ted Talk on while I work.

I try to stop work at 4pm and go for a 1 hour walk to ensure I get regular exercise and to relax my brain. I also love bird watching, so find this a calming way to end what is often a full on day. When I get home, I cook something tasty as I love trying out new recipes and in the evening I either knit in front of a gripping drama or if I'm busy with work, I'll do an easy job, like making up product boxes, in front of the TV or while listening to a podcast or TED talk.

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Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?

I work in my home studio, overlooking the garden, which is handy as a keen amateur birdwatcher! I now have a huge respect for starlings having watched them grow from chicks into the great numbers that dance over the garden at twilight.

My studio space is pretty small if I'm honest, especially because the ironing board is permanently up, but it's super bright and colourful with postcards, prints and interesting bits and bobs on the wall. I also have lots of tins, jars and containers full of things to make my colour themed flat lay photos with.

When I'm not working I absolutely love listening to music - either live, on the radio or my record player. That's something I really miss from my London days, all those incredible gigs! As well as being addicted to music, I love all things creative, so can often be found doodling, knitting or dressmaking. As I've already mentioned, I love bird watching and the fresh air and walking that comes with that. In the winter I can usually be found with my nose in a book, and in spring and summer outside gardening and increasing my knowledge about growing my own food.

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What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?

I'd say three things that I've noticed and also experienced recently:

1. The Instagram algorithm and ridiculous shadow bans making it hard for designer/makers to get their products out in front of their fans.

2. Trying be seen in such a thriving and growing creative scene.

3. Sadly, the uncertainty and negative economic impact of Brexit affecting not only sales and what will be an increase in all costs if it does go ahead, but designer/makers feeling unsure about the future of their businesses. So many of my fellow full time business owner friends have said how nervous they feel for their future and that is so sad.

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What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?

I would like to continue improving on my design skills in order to expand my product range and grow my business. I have lots of designs ideas that I'm currently working on and excited to work on in the future. I'm also keen to share my own knowledge with fellow creatives, so hopefully going to run some workshops or online courses. I'm already in talks about running some photo styling workshops, which is exciting!

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Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?

I have five key points, which I tell anyone starting out.

1) Don't be scared to start or try to make everything "perfect" before you launch your business or design range, just start. You won't know what you need to learn and improve on until you start.

2) Do not under any circumstances compare yourself to or try to emulate others. It just doesn't get you anywhere. If you're genuine and passionate then that will shine through and get you far. Just be yourself!

3) Support your fellow designer/makers by sharing their work, giving positive feedback, collaborating and liking posts on social media.

4) Don't give up your day job until you have a steady income coming in from your business. Remember that it can take time to build your business up, so be patient, ensure you have a healthy work/life balance and don't over stretch yourself with unmanageable goals and deadlines, otherwise you will burn out. Take it one step at a time.

5) Don't be scared to grab opportunities that come your way or approach people and companies with your ideas. What's the worst that can happen? They say no but just think, they might say yes.

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Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.

Recently, I've come across the very lovely Tash from Caffinated Crafter, who makes the most intricate, colourful and beautiful embroidered accessories. She is also such a friendly, positive and hard working person and that is infectious.

I've always loved I Am Acrylic after discovering them at Spitafields Market many moons ago on my lunch breaks and then winning one of their cute bird rings, which I've still got. I've loved seeing how they've grown as a business over the years with their original, and colourful designs and I am so excited that they have their very own shop in Bristol, I can't wait to visit!

Locally, I love ACEArts shop and gallery. It has grown tremendously in the past year and is a good example of a successful gallery. It has regular wide-ranging stunning exhibitions, creative workshops and meet ups, events and a gorgeous shop full of beautiful gifts. 

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?

I was aware and I'm a huge supporter of it. That one small purchase, whether it be a card or a gift, can be the difference in a gallery, shop or online business continuing to be thrive and be out there for everyone to enjoy. Without creative spaces and business, the world would be a very miserable place!

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How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?

It's extremely important! Every shop order means the absolute world to me because it ensures I can keep going with my business. The campaign helps raise awareness of that for so many small business owner like myself. Also, as so many small businesses are often run solo, the support the campaign offers is essential.

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 the campaign through Twitter as I'm very active on there, and also on Instagram and Facebook.

As well as continuing to shop small online and at local independent shops and galleries, people can help by sharing the campaign across social media and telling colleagues, friends and family who might be unaware of it.

I will be supporting the campaign by continuing to visit, support and buy from my local shops, galleries and from my fellow small business owners. As an active user of social media, I will also keep sharing the campaign and sharing my fellow designer/makers work.

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Kate MarsdenComment