If someone suggested you start your own business, but you’d have to negotiate a global recession, 4 trade shows where you were snowed in, a book fair when hardly anyone turned up because of a volcanic ash cloud and that your MD (and partner) would be diagnosed with, and have to go through treatment for, cancer at the same time that your Office Manager was off sick for 4 months, that you’d need to move offices 4 times in 15 years, that you’d have to deal with things going wrong that you’d never imagined, that a year into starting said business you’d find out that at 42 you were pregnant with your first child, and then just as you thought nothing else could be thrown at you there would be Brexit followed by a global pandemic that would not only close most of your customers, but it would throttle your supply chain, drastically increase your costs and creativity as your staff would be stuck at home for nearly 2 years, would you bother? Probably not!

Now, what if someone suggested that you start your own business and you’d get to meet and work with some amazing people that would not only stimulate you to do and achieve things you didn’t know you were capable of, but also become lifelong friends, that you’d discover skills you didn’t know you had because school or life had guided you down a different path. That you’d win awards and medals you didn’t know existed, that you’d have great fun and great laughs with people, family and share fabulous, touching stories with customers from all over the world, that the work you produced would be translated into many, many languages. That you would get emails and letters from celebrities, royalty, politicians and wonderful people of all ages telling you how much they love your products, that you’d be proud, not only of the people around you, but of yourself, that you’d travel to countries that weren’t on your bucket list and you’d have your first child at 42 and aged 9 she would write her first book which would go on to win a global award for best children’s picture book 2021, would you bother? Probably yes!

The truth is setting up and running your own business is a bit of every extreme with lots of stuff in the middle. It’s about not only celebrating the really great things, but also being grateful for the daily achievements to make doing what you do part of Wonderful Days (by the way we’ve a journal of this name to help you celebrate them!).

60% of new businesses fail in the first 3 years, so to make it to 15 feels like a fabulous achievement. To be honest, it doesn’t feel that long (unless you count the last 2 years which have felt like forever), but that is probably because we’ve always sought out new ways to work that are innovative and exciting. What have we learnt: watch the cash flow; if it doesn’t add value to your strategic direction outsource it; recruit people that have the same values as you, are better than you and treat them well; never work your birthday; make sure you laugh as much as possible; don’t fear making a mistake, just learn from them and move on; give it a go; and take your dog to work.

We’re having an incredibly busy start to our 16th year, moving into a new studio, taking on new staff and with lots of new projects in progress. We’re very grateful that we survived the pandemic and very sad that some of our wonderful customers didn’t. We’re delighted to be back together again and excited for the next 15 years. Would I do it all again? You bet!

Helen Stephens
Creative Director

15th February 2022