Your name and age: Ruth Oliver, 35
Tell us about your family: I live in Salisbury in the south west with my husband and energetic young sons aged 4 and 9
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I have worked as a designer since graduating and was working as a millinery designer and maker when I launched the business. The transition to running The Make Arcade and launching on notonthehighstreet.com came gradually and when it got too much setting up a new business and working alongside.
When did you launch?
I launched slowly in the late summer of 2013. I started taking in seriously in the autumn of 2014.
How did you get started?
Whilst on maternity leave with my youngest son it sooner dawned that working with two young kids in tow wasn’t going to work well for us. I have always loved sewing and craft and at the time ‘making it yourself’ was becoming popular. I started teaching craft and sewing workshops and hosting craft parties – hen dos etc. Alongside the workshops I started developing the craft kits that now make for 90% of the business.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business
So many things! Being able to do the school run everyday, making creative decisions, having friends in to help when it’s busy, working at shows and fairs and developing social media accounts.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business
The admin side is a bit of a pain! I have had to work quite hard to discipline myself to get organised and keep the messiness under control. The financial bit can also be a bit stressful but I try and not worry too much and go with the flow.
What has worked well about your business?
The craft kit side of The Make Arcade has been amazing and really taken off, it enables me to be creative and also create some really cute products.
What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it?
In the beginning I was very easily distracted by other projects and not sticking with what was working. This meant that I would lose sight of what I was wanting to achieve. As time has progressed I make sure I have goals to work towards which keeps me on the straight and narrow!
How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business?
The Make Arcade fits in well with our little family even though it takes up more than a full time role! I work school hours and the location of my studio means I can take the children in when there is an inset day or holidays. The studio is a godsend as it got very difficult juggling it all from the dining room! I do try and now work around holidays which is a lovely thing to be able to do. My husband is also self employed so we support each other.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?
We are hoping to buy a house at some point in the next 18 months – this is proving to be quite the motivation to up the game!
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
I can’t see it happening in the next few years but I would probably go on to run another business. I have a few daydreams about food based start ups – but we’ll see!
Do you have an exit strategy?
Not at present. I love how things are progressing – exciting times lie ahead!
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come
In 2015 I really stated to push The Make Arcade and knew that if I kept tapping away it would eventually start things rolling. In the Summer of 2015 I got accepted to sell on curated online marketplace notonthehighstreet.com after meeting some of their buyers at the Pitch Up event, and with the confidence which attending the event installed things started snowballing. By Christmas 2015 I had to move in to a studio to cope with the orders and production and I felt like The Make Arcade was a bona fide business!
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
I hope to have expanded the craft kit range and increase my wholesale side of the business considerably. I would love to start selling the kits internationally to stores too. Maybe doing a trade fair in the US. I intend to keep production in the UK too.
Your website link: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/themakearcade
Notonthehighstreet.com is launching Pitch Up again for 2017 in a hunt to find the best new creative talent from across the UK. Pitch Up provides small creative businesses with the opportunity to pitch their products and gift ideas to notonthehighstreet.com’s experts in the hope of joining the site as a new Partner (seller).
Pitch Up is free and open to everyone, launching in Richmond, London on 25th February and in Edinburgh, Scotland on 9th March. To secure a place at this years Pitch Up simply book at: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/pitchup