Launching a Small Business: Our Story

If you had told me a year ago that I would now be a director of our own little business I would have laughed hysterically - but it's happened.

Lewis & Imogen proudly showing off the Mad Lilies gift card illustration

Softly launching back in December with our Christmas card range we would never have thought that I would be sat here able to tell you about the exciting and fun journey we have had so far in the space of six months that has put me in the wonderful position of spreadsheet juggling, diary/life managing and furiously tip tapping on my laptop whilst Lewis scribbles away creating these beautiful pieces.


So I'm going to give you a little round up on what we've worked on so far, what steps we took to launching our business, along with some top tips and top flops.

So why and how did we start WOOD&HAM?

Lewis answered this in a previous blog, but to put it simply it's because I love Lewis' talent and wanted everyone else to love it too so I encouraged him to share his drawings for others to see, enjoy and hopefully even purchase a piece or two.


However, it turned out not to be as easy as we thought - there are so many platforms for small businesses (which is fantastic don't get me wrong) but knowing where to start and what will get you the best visibility was (and still is) trial and error.


So here are the steps we took, rightly or wrongly, and how they've either helped or blocked us in the process.


Firstly: create a website


Getting your 'name out there' is essential otherwise it's just going to be you enjoying all your pretty work. We decided to do this by firstly trying to nail our website.


Our brand is built on negative space, so you won't see our website littered with text or pop ups; we find it important to share a voice across our platforms so simple and catchy 'to the point' content it is.


Secondly: get a logo

Original Logo

Luckily we didn't have to pay a graphic designer to create our logo for us: Lewis went ahead and pulled it together. Thinking of our brand name was pretty easy; I'm soon to be a Woodham (400+ days pending) so as a play on Lewis' fun surname we added an '&' to be super out the box.


Our logo therefore is super simple, non obtrusive, and easy to use and manipulate. We really recommend taking into consideration the flexibility of your logo use; will it look great on different backgrounds, work on apps, icons, avatars, in print, but can it also look impactful no matter what the size - ensure it's easy to read.


We used to have 'Designs' below our logo (as shown above); we use it now and again on certain items but have dropped it where we don't believe the brand needs explaining.


Thirdly: join social media

Instagram was the first platform that we embraced, and is now our main domain for engagement.


Facebook on the other hand, we have learned, isn't for our target audience and acts as a mirror of our Instagram instead to pull people towards our website and Instagram feed.


Pinterest is another avenue we have ventured down and it's directing a great deal of traffic to our Etsy page and website which is fantastic; highly recommend, even if it's just to have fun creating your boards!



From here on out: get our name out there!


As soon as you feel comfortable with your brand, feel your website or social platform is in good enough shape to give people something to interact with, then it's go time. Initially most of our following was sourced from our loving family and encouraging friends, and thankfully they continue to support us to this day with much of our artwork appearing on their grids too (thank you to you all!!). It's tricky to build an audience if you don't have any direction with your work, and this is what we battled with for a while. However, as soon as we launched the #StayatHome campaign this all changed and we found our purpose, especially during lockdown: to champion small businesses.

The greatest reward has been from providing these small businesses with custom bespoke illustrations of their shop exteriors and interiors that they can welcomingly use. The many relationships we have built since has been phenomenal and opened doors to continue working with a few. Our intention was to help promote the shops and cafes that we hold dear to us and that we were missing during the closed down period and we hope we gave these businesses the platform that they deserved and have been able to gain from since.


This beautiful collaboration pictured below is a result of the campaign. Mad Lilies, the gorgeous florist in Banstead, has recently gone through a re-brand, and the owner Ali asked Lewis if he would we-work his original art to produce a new illustration: well who was going to say no to that!

Lewis and Imogen making funny faces with their mad lilies gift card illustration

These adorable little gift cards now accompany each bouquet of flowers you purchase from the shop in-store or online; we're extremely proud of this artwork and this card now sits proudly on 'Lewis' shelf' which you can spot behind us in the picture.


The best thing when someone likes your work is that they'll champion you, and thankfully due to the kindness of Ali being our 'small business cheerleader' we've been introduced to some irreplaceable contacts which we excitedly have a number of projects in the pipeline with....I'll leave that there!


We have always had our online shop on our website which holds a small number of prints ready to buy which has been popular as our prints can be bought for less than £9.99 - a perfect gift.


Since the campaign our customer base has expanded and with a slightly different request: custom.

We now see alot more requests come in for commissioned custom artwork for businesses but also for followers as presents, for their homes and more.


In order to keep up with demand we've expanded our ready to buy prints and moved on to Etsy which has been great - the sound of that 'ping' when a sale comes through gives us butterflies each time.


Soon we will be adding another platform to our bow which we are hoping to announce in the coming week (excited squeal)!


It's all very much 'learn as you go' and we will continue to make mistakes, but our biggest bit of advice is ENJOY IT! We love waking up every day to something new and exciting, seeing WOOD&HAM grow and speaking to so many great people: embrace the journey.


I could go on forever, but let's not bore you any further, so here is a little bit more about us seeing as we finally put our faces on our grid this week.

Imogen


Known to my friends as 'Immie', I'm the marketing body behind WOOD&HAM. You won't see me adding a splash of colour or an inch of shading to any artwork we produce (I was not graced with artistic talents), but you are likely however to hear my voice at the other end of an email or see me like and respond to your comments on Instagram!


Cornwall is my home county, however upon graduating with an English and Sports Science degree from Loughborough University I traded in coast living for the city to try and make my break as a journalist. I quickly learnt that the cruel world of journalism really wasn't for me (harassing people for stories really isn't my thing) and after a few incredible career opportunities as an Editor of a magazine and Project Manager at an International Tennis Camp business, I joined the LTA, where I have been for the past four years (almost) and currently work in the Performance space.


It was at our beautiful offices of the National Tennis Centre that I met Lewis.


The rest up to our engagement consists of a few dates, many tennis 'hits' and bucket loads of exploring Surrey; the place I (we) now call home....I won't bore you with a love story.


We've now spent more time in our beautiful flat on the edge of the Surrey Hills and in each others company than ever before since lockdown began so instead of changing every corner of our one-bedroom apartment (we've done a fair bit of it mind) we thought it wise to ramp up WOOD&HAM...and give me something to do.


I've been furloughed for three months now, so I am able to throw myself at the business which has helped in us reaching new heights with our following but also spruce up our website and other selling channels; WOOD&HAM really has kept me focused in furlough.


Lewis


Hi guys! My name is Lewis and I am the person who creates all of the artwork that you see on our website, Etsy and Instagram.


After spending the first year of my life in Lagos, Nigeria, I returned to Surrey which has been my home ever since. After opting to avoid university, I jumped into the world of work at 18 years old, cutting my teeth in sales before finding my way into the sports industry. I work in marketing and branding which I am hugely passionate about. I have long believed that branding is synonymous with art, so I spend my days approaching everything I do with an artistic mindset.


I feel very lucky to be living in the Surrey Hills, where we have endless stunning cycle routes and nature walks on our doorstep. One of my biggest passions in life besides drawing is sport. Although I have turned my hand to a number of sports over the years football, tennis, golf and cycling remain my favourites. Although I have competed in sport my entire life, there were long periods of time where I was unable to play the sports I loved. I developed Perthes Disease when I was 9 years old and after a seemingly endless string of surgeries and treatments, I was given a full hip replacement aged 22. It has never held me back and has taught me many lessons...none more so than patience!


Having drawn my entire life, I cannot explain what an honour it is to have others want to buy my work. I will never take that for granted, and am so grateful for everyone who is a WOOD&HAM fan!



"Don't be scared to follow your dream and take ownership of your future, life can change at any moment so enjoy what you love and embrace what you're great at."

Imogen

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