My name is Anna Seager, I am 41, married to Mark, with two children, 9 and 7. We live by the sea in Sussex and are big into our watersports.
I started Little Crab Designs, creating and producing art for little people, just over three years ago. My dad had been very ill and this difficult time led me to re-evaluate my life and realise the work I was doing was not fitting in round the kids as I wanted it to. Whilst staying with friend and artist, Sarah Howell, one weekend in the summer of 2006, the two of us decided that, with my marketing and sales experience and her creative talent, we could work together to sell her artwork more commercially. She painted some watercolour pictures which I digitalised and got printed onto canvas. I took a stand at my children’s school Christmas fair and had a huge amount of interest in them, several orders and a sense of excitement that I had hit on something viable!
The first year was a huge amount of product design, testing different sales channels and making LOTS of mistakes! I learnt many lessons such as fairs were a lot of work with very little reward – even a loss sometimes! Wholesaling to retailers meant that I did all the work – they made all the money!! So after evaluating that first year and wondering where to go from there – I decided that to concentrate on the website was the way to go – and would also be the best way of achieving what I had set out to do, which was to work from home around the kids. I had a lot of support from Business Link – business reviews, website reviews, training etc and for the last two years the website has gone from strength to strength, growing month on month. Today, Sarah supplies me with some of the artwork for which she gets paid a commission on every sale – and I do some myself which I really enjoy.
I am very proud of the fact that Little Crab Designs is self-funded – I only spend what I have – so if I don’t have any money coming in – I don’t spend!! The beauty of the business model I have set up is that because I make to order – I don’t have to keep huge stocks of pictures – something that was a nightmare when I was wholesaling and doing fairs and events. I can keep a small stock of frames – and paint them as I use them. I also keep a small stock of prints – and pick them off as they are ordered. All my suppliers are local – so I can get stocked up relatively easily – therefore cashflow is quite fluid as I don’t tie it up in huge stockpiles
The website has been my biggest success and I am immensely proud of what I have achieved with it. I was going to invest in someone professional doing it for me – but just before I handed over the cash – I came across a “do it yourself” package on the net including domain name for £35, so I figured for that investment instead of the £500 I was about to part with – it was a worth a shot. A website review, courtesy of Business Link, pointed out that although I had a very pretty website – it couldn’t be found on the net! I was offered a course of online SEO seminars and I spent 3 weeks just before Christmas 2008 working out how to get my site listed in Google’s organic search. The holiday period kicked in and I promptly forgot about it! We went snowboarding early January – and one afternoon I decided to check my email in an internet café, only to find three orders had popped into my inbox!… When I got back home I saw that my internet hits had doubled and when I searched on my keywords – low and behold my site was on the first page of Google! It was a very gratifying moment in my business – and since then the website has continued to climb steadily – I have continued to raise the profile, improve my ranking on Google and other search engines – and the hits just keep going up and up… This January has seen my sales 300% up on this time last year – I am very excited!!!
I love working for myself – and although I sometimes have a confidence crisis and feel a bit lonely working for myself, I do have great flexibility to fit work in around my children – and I have found a great network of support from other like-minded mums online, on sites such as this one.
My advice to anyone thinking about doing something for themselves or working from home is to just go for it! Just take one step each day – don’t just talk about doing it – I have lots of friends that do that – but actually do it – it is scary – you have no idea how it might work – but if you just take each day as it comes – baby steps – anyone can work for themselves – there is nothing special about me – and I do believe that mums have a lot of skills they can bring into working for themselves that they learn from becoming mothers so don’t under-estimate your skill base.
Thanks for taking the time to read my profile – and I hope I might just have given someone else somewhere the inspiration to set up something for themselves – I would also like to offer a 10% discount on any orders that come from reading this article – just make sure you quote it when you order! Little Crab Designs – www.littlecrab.co.uk