How I Started AG Home Interiors and the behind the scenes love and hates
Just over 2 years down the line and I have to admit that AG Home Interiors is still very much trial and error. As a person I also admit that I am quite impatient, as I’m sure a lot of people are when starting a business. Expecting it to happen over night and wanting everything to run smoothly. This has definitely not been the case and although I have loved the process, it has not been without its struggles and with plenty of areas still needing improvement. But in turn every time I overcome something I feel so much prouder for following my dream. So this is how I started and some of the things I have loved and hated about the process of building my business.
BRANDING & PACKAGING
Finding a company name and creating my logo was my very first step! I literally started doodling and brainstorming one day on various options as I knew I wanted something very simple that would be clear to the customer what I do but at the same time allowing for it to be used for my online store and at a later stage for when I offer Interior design services. I also wanted it to be personal to me so I knew I wanted to include my name in some way. I originally came up with AG Interiors but after further investigation when looking to make it an officially limited company the name had already been taken and so the word ‘Home’ was added.
The Logo design was very simply formed from when I was looking at designing my business cards. The supplier had such a large selection of templates and I chose a black and white spot design which then progressed to a large black spot with white background and wording for my actual logo and linked in perfectly with the business cards.
When I first started AG Home Interiors I pretty much went in blind with my packaging. Of course I knew it was important and as an online shopper myself I knew how much I preferred quality and branded packaging to add to the enjoyment and excitement of receiving a parcel but I was also fighting with the fears of postage pricing and general start up costs.
I started by googling various packaging companies and comparing prices,sizes and packing types. As I hadn’t even brought the whole of my first product range yet I found it extremely hard to predict what box sizes I would need. Finally i settled on 2 sizes and a company who I have been exceptionally pleased with and still use today. I did find that the box sizes were both too large for most items but at the time of purchase needed to cover myself for the larger products too. If I am honest I ended up wasting money on extra postage for a lot of items sent at the beginning in boxes that were too big. To rectify this now that I am more settled with my product ranges and sizes I have since added another 2 smaller sized and single walled boxes as the previous were double walled and rather unnecessarily bulky. I have found the single walled option more than sufficient for the protection of any items sent and I have found the smaller sized boxes are used more often. In addition to this I ordered white puffy envelopes in 2 sizes in order to send some of our softer items. It was definitely the right move to include more size and packaging options which I am now very happy with.
I had looked into branded boxes at the start but soon realised this was going to be out of my budget so needed to look at alternative branding options. From a previous job in the handbag industry I had come across thank you cards that were enclosed within the box when purchases were sent. This included a little thank you message, email address and contact information which was heavily branded with the company logo and print. I thought this was a nice touch and a must, and so was one of the first things I put together along with my business cards and company flyers. I get them all from the same company Moo.com which was recommended to me by a friend who already had already set up her own business.
I have been extremely pleased with Moo as they are easy to used and the quality is great and I have actually used them for new business cards in my other company in the fashion industry.
The AG Home Interiors flyers were originally made from a thicker postcard which I have more recently changed to their flyer material as these are cheaper and lighter in weight but have exactly the same effect and great quality.
Until recently it was still bothering me how to get my branding on my boxes so that people could straight away see that they had received a parcel from us. That was until I saw a post on Instagram from the very talent Hannah Harriet where I saw her boxes were stamped with her logo. I messaged her immediately and she was so kind as to highly recommend Rachel (The Clumsy Printmaker) who makes custom stamps and was in turn extremely helpful in meeting my requirements as I wanted a large stamp to be suitable for both my boxes and also for my black paper bags that are used during fairs and events. I therefore opted for a large circle stamp of my logo including the website address and both black and white ink so that the white could be used on the black bags and the black on the brown boxes and puffy envelopes. The stamp looks great but my stamping skills definitely needed a bit of practice which was fine as I had plenty of bags in stock to stamp. I thought I would share a few of my very first disasters and some that were clearly done after a bit more practice was had.
After opening my business bank account and designing my logo the next thing I did was to build my website. I wanted to do it myself as I love learning new skills and wanted to be able to make changes to it without calling someone up every few minutes. I was recommended Sqaurespace by a friend who was also a web designer so I trusted their recommendation would be relevant for my business. I wont lie when I say I actually found it quite hard initially. This was partly because I had no experience in doing anything like this before and was learning as I went along and also partly because I had just transferred to a MAC for the first time and didn’t really know how to use it. Luckily with Sqaurespace they have a great help desk so this was used immensely. Although the designing of the website I struggled with, the commerce side I found easy and is still the part I enjoy working on the most even now. I have since used a really good web design company to make some tweaks more recently to make the site more user friendly such as having the shop in a drop down menu and some boring behind the scenes site linking bits. More recently I have started my blog which I am really enjoying developing and mid last year I included an ‘events’ page and a ‘New in’ Page to improve customer accessibility.
Social Media is one of those things that I love and hate. I love seeing everyone’s lovely home accounts and I find its a great way to show off new products and updates and of course network, but at the same time it is something you can not really take a break from. I find that if I have a few days off not updating my facebook and Instagram accounts then I suddenly lose a bunch of followers and as much as I find a lot of inspiration when away I do also really want to enjoy my holidays while i’m there rather than being on my phone.
I do love collaborating with various home bloggers and stylists which I find a great way to find more lovely home accounts to follow and also obtain a wider audience for my site and products. For everyone that read my previous blog you will of seen some of my previous Instagram collaborations and have since collaborated with the lovely Emma from ‘The Crap Flat’ as part of her 10k Follower competition. Overall I find social media can be full of major highs and lows but an important part of growing and promoting my business.
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