I’ve followed Holly’s business, Rocks Design, on Instagram for sometime now and love seeing her business grow and develop. I know you are going to love her designs, just as much as I do and get ready to add loads to your wish lists! Settle in with a coffee (or any drink of choice) and read her Start Up Story….. psst and make sure you don’t miss the huge giveaway at the end!
My name is Holly, I was born in Cornwall but am now based in sunny Suffolk (apparently, the driest county in the UK – lucky, lucky me!) I have moved house 7 times in the last 11 years, not through choice, but I’ve loved it. I’m a mum to 3 year old Max and a military wife of an RAF PTI (Physical Training Instructor). The newest member of the family is Olive, she’s a miniature dachshund. She has more pep than a coffee with an extra shot. If you follow me on social media you’ll already be enjoying your weekly dose of ‘Sausage Spam.’
Tell us a little bit about your business
I started my business properly, in 2015. I’m a trained Graphic Designer and I specialise in prints and cards. I LOVE to design for new babies AND us mums, because we need treats too! My business was triggered when my husband was deployed with the military for 6 months. Max had just been born so it was a bit of shock. So, off he went and there I was, a new mum, 6 hours from all family and our support networks, holding the forte. Right, OK. This was going to be a very long six months unless I did something to take my mind off him being away.
Once you had the idea how did you go about turning it into a reality?
Of course, I had Max and this was the most wonderful, wonderful thing. He was a dream. But, in reality we all know how hard and consuming a new baby can be without any escape of ‘me time’ or something for ourselves. Design has always been a huge part my world. So, I thought, I think I’m going to set up my own business, I’ll do it in six months, whilst Paul is away. From then, Love Island (2015 – guilty pleasure!), this crazy business goal and Max were plenty to get me through and keep me distracted. I was accepted onto notonthehighstreet.com on my 30th Birthday and my Etsy store was born a little after. My first orders started to trickle in and I was away!
What’s been the hardest part of your life as a start up business so far and how do you overcome those kinds of hurdles?
The hardest thing about running my own business is when tech breaks down! Although, my husband is fast becoming my in house IT helpdesk! I also really miss office cheer! The Starbucks, Dominoes, Twanger and Crème Egg runs. And just the general company of other colleagues and friends.
I run on black coffee and chocolate biscuits when I’m working, what couldn’t you live without?
A dog walk first thing in the morning clears my head. One of the reasons why I wanted a dog was because my head was so consumed in work that I needed something else to help break up my day. She makes me stop to walk her, then I think, well I might as well have lunch now! Before I had Olive I would go a whole nine hours on just coffee, water and maybe a healthy homemade ‘make sure you drink your shake – it’s in the fridge’ shake.
I know from running this blog and my own online store that when you’re a primarily online based business you need a strong social media presence, which is your favourite platform and do you have any tips for running it?
I LOVE Instagram, It’s the most creative platform in my opinion and I love seeing all my fellow business friends on there. I adore seeing how creative people can be with those tiny squares. It’s the best way to connect with my lovely followers too, I love hearing from them and being able to communicate and chat with them.
What is the best part of running your own business? Has there been a ‘pinch yourself to check it’s real’ kind of moment for you?
The best part…I used to love working for other people because in a strange way I used to like being bossed around. I don’t know why. Working for myself is a whole different ball game, but I still boss myself around! I’m very hard on myself as I want my customers to have the best products and the best experience and service when they shop with me. One of my pinch me moments was when I bought Olive. I’ve wanted a dachshund for as long as I can remember. Because I now work from home, it seemed like the right time to sneak off without Paul knowing and go dog shopping. She sleeps in my office whilst I work. I also love that I can take time off without having to ask anyone. I still have to schedule it in and work really hard before and after any time off but, being able to pick and choose when I work is really lovely and gives me the freedom to spend time with my family whenever I want to.
Has being a parent influenced the way your business works?
Absolutely. Max is my whole world. Everything I do, I do for him. Your world changes when you have children and your priorities shift to a new dimension. I want him to have the loveliest life he can possibly have and grow up knowing that his mummy built a little magical empire for us all to enjoy, whilst bringing joy to other families with my work.
Running an online business must get overwhelming at times, what do you do to manage your time and what tips do you have for avoiding being overwhelmed?
Lists. I LOVE lists. I never used to write them and my days would turn into disorganised carnage. I have a huge white board in my office that Paul bought for me. Every Sunday I spend 30 minutes planning the following week. I set time limits too for each task. I use an online management system for most things but for some reason I like to physically write these big tasks down. I tick them off as I go then by the end of the week I know I’ve got everything done. I get so SO much more done now.
What’s your current favourite item or range in your store at the moment?
I love my ‘Hello’ little girls print. I love the colours and the words, I also love my rainbow prints that give you a little boost on those rainy Mondays.
Got any new products or projects in the pipeline?
Just in time for Mother’s Day I’m launching my range of jumpers!
You can see the range here – Mother’s Day
Whether practical or inspirational, what is your top piece advice for anyone out there wanting to take that leap and start their own business?
You have to believe in yourself, you have to really believe. Have faith and follow your own path. Be yourself and try not to be influenced or swayed too much by others. Be true to your own passion. JFDI is something I always live by too. (Just Flipping Do IT) (some people insert a much ruder word in place of Flipping – whatever works for you!) I tend not to put things off now as I find they never get done, so I schedule it in, then I do it. Eat the frog…in other words do the hardest/most difficult thing then the rest of the day will be filled with the lovely things ie. Not frogs. Twangers, Crème eggs and unicorns. Remember doing that when you were little? Always eating the sprouts and turnip first so you could then enjoy the reason why you sat down for roast.
As the Rizzlekicks once said ‘Skip to the good stuff’. Try not to be too hard on yourself and understand that it is a marathon not a sprint. And…you know, I also believe in ‘celebrate the little things’ It’s SO important. It took me a while to realise. WHAT? I can’t spend a penny of my hard earned cash on myself. No way! How dare I! It must go back in to the business. No. Every now and then treat yourself. You’re doing a fabulous, fabulous job. Give yourself a little pat on the back and you’ll realise and remember why you’re working so hard. It doesn’t have to be a Miniature Dachshund, it could be something that needs less commitment like chocolate or a new bathroom!
What fantastic advice to end on! Like Holly I’m a huge advocate of getting the tough stuff done first – Eating the frog- as well as celebrating the little things. In the spirit of treating ourselves and celebrating the little things Holly has kindly offered to giveaway £100 worth of Rocks Design prints of your choosing! What a fantastic prize, I wish I could enter!
Have a browse around Holly’s store
Want to read more inspiring Start Up Stories? Just click on the image below
Morgana is a social media coach for small businesses and entrepreneurs, specialising in Instagram and Pinterest. Based in the North West of the UK, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She particularly enjoys a Netflix binge watch and cannot function without black coffee and dark chocolate digestives.