artist, design, Etsy, evaluation, goals, illustration, illustrator, notonthehighstreet, review, sweet oxen

Things I learned in 2014

2014 has been the best year so far for Sweet Oxen with a big increase in overall sales and new customers, designs and challenges. It hasn’t been easy but I’ve enjoyed learning more about my business, visual style and myself.

Things I learned in 2014

Not following the same path as everyone else is ok

It is very easy to look at other people’s blogs, shops and social media and think…oh my god should I be doing that? But you are one person, and you can only focus on a few key ideas and projects at a time. Always ask yourself whether an idea is relevant to your business, and is it realistic?

Making mistakes is part of the process

If you aren’t making any mistakes it’s probably because you aren’t doing anything at all. It can very disheartening to realise a product hasn’t sold as well as expected, or to spend a whole day photographing products to realise they are not coming out right! Take a breath, and learn from it, and push on.

Make the most of free resources

Here I am referring to valuable online resources such as Codecademy, Youtube tutorials and online forums, where you can learn new skills and techniques for no monthly fee. There are also a huge number of free apps. For photo editing I use Afterlight, and productivity apps such as GTasks and Evernote make it easy to keep organised across many devices. I’ve found these have really helped keep my outgoings down which in the early stages of establishing a business is crucial.

Know when to outsource (if you can)

I have spent numerous hours on my product photos and I just wasn’t 100% happy with the results, and so I felt it was time to outsource to a professional! Enter Holly Booth, a fellow Derby Uni Graduate who has done an amazing job of my product styling and photography (a more detailed post on this to follow). They say that time equals money and if possible, it is better to pay to outsource to a professional, than spend so much time trying to get something to look how you want (and failing, in my case!). Those were hours I needed to spend on dealing with orders, developing my new website and I will now feel much more confident now I know my products have been photographed professionally, and look the way I want them to. Thank you Holly!

(Try to) focus on what you enjoy

There are aspects of all jobs that aren’t 100% enjoyable (accounts, I’m referring to you) but if you hate something and you’re only doing it because thats what you think you should be doing – re think it. I’ve realised recently I’m personally not enthused about celebrating Valentine’s Day, yet I feel a pressure to scrabble around developing more Valentine’s cards and gift products and sending press releases….because that’s what I think I should be doing. This year I’m going to focus on rushing less, and have more fun developing cards and products organically and ‘accidentally’ rather than forcing it.

Stay organised

As a notoriously disorganised person, I’ve had to really pull myself together with regards to keeping my receipts filed, sales logged and supplies well-stocked. There’s still more I can do (a big re-organise session is something I like to do once a month in the studio so I know exactly where everything is) but I’ve come a long way from the ocean of receipts floating in the bottom of my handbag.

Keep going

I’ve been known to have little blips every few months where I get impatient, consider going back to full time work and generally freak out, yet each time I think it the thought fills me with dread. I just couldn’t give this up now, and when I look back on my few first sales and products and see how far I’ve come I just know I have to keep on at it.

What have your lessons been from 2014? Let me know in the comments below!

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business, creative, design, Etsy, greetings card, illustrator, new baby, notonthehighstreet, stationery, sweet oxen

New Baby Greetings Card Designs Now Available!

This week I added some new designs to my YAY! Greetings Cards range, including some new baby cards.

I wanted to meet the demand for the celebration of the birth of a new baby but without falling back on pink/blue stereotyping for baby boys and baby girls, so here’s what I did! I also included a ‘twins’ option as I don’t tend to see as many of those around, plus I really wanted to include a bright orange and blue design…



boy

 

twins

 

I also added a card for any older siblings that might feel left out – it’s really common for them to be a bit jealous of all the attention so why not buy them a card and gift too?
big sis

 

And last but not least, in view of my own parents 30th Wedding Anniversary last week, I thought it was about time I added an anniversary card to the range, in the ever popular three colourways – blue&pink, yellow&black and turquoise&grey.

 

anniversary

Enjoy! X

 

IMG_20140731_210858

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Etsy, floral art print, illustrator, sweet oxen, vector illustration, wedding gift

A New Alternative Valentine’s Day Gift – a Sweet Oxen Art Print!

If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift to last all year round, I have this week launched my Bloom Collection for the Spring Season!

With roses, violets, tulips and daffodils, you’ll be sure to find something for Valentine’s Day – each print works perfectly on it’s own but as a set (or even a pair!) they complement each other beautifully.

Tulips Modern Art PrintViolets Modern Art Print

 

 

 

Daffodils Modern Art Print

 

Roses Modern Art Print

 

 

I’m so excited about these and have some wonderful feedback so far – let me know what you think! They’re also available as Notecards, along with my other Valentine’s cards – from £2.50 and available on Etsy, notonthehighstreet.com and of course www.sweetoxen.co.uk

 

 

 

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