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Taking part in an accelerator to grow your business - with Stephanie Orr
Episode 10211th March 2022 • Bring Your Product Idea to Life • Vicki Weinberg
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This week’s guest is Stephanie Orr. Steph is a screen printer and founder of Flat102 and Co Founder of The Indie Collective.  Steph created Flat102 to bring a colourful and uplifting dose of cheerfulness for your home.  The Indie Collective was founded to support local designers and makers and give them an opportunity to be seen on the high street.

We had a really wide ranging conversation, covering Steph’s own product business, Etsy, how the Indie Collective came about, pop up shops and being part of the Natwest Business Accelerator, which is a free program you can apply to join.

Listen in to hear Steph share:

  • An introduction to herself and her business (01:52)
  • How she got into screen printing(02:27)
  • What inspires her designs (07:50)
  • Starting out on Etsy (11:53)
  • Her top tips for selling on Etsy (16:14)
  • How her hobby became her business (17:57)
  • Selling her product in pop up shops (20:06)
  • How the Indie Collective came about, and what it is (26:28)
  • Running a pop up in her local shopping centre (27:37)
  • The differences between selling online and in person (33:03)
  • Being part of the Natwest Business Accelerator (36:05)
  • The application process for the Accelerator (45:25)
  • Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (45:16)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

Flat 102 Website

Flat 102 Instagram

Flat 102 Facebook

Flat 102 Etsy

The Indie Collective Instagram 

The Indie Collective Facebook

The Natwest Accelerator 

LET’S CONNECT

Join my free Facebook group for product makers and creators

Find me on Instagram

Work with me 



Mentioned in this episode:

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Transcripts

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Welcome to the, Bring Your Product Ideas To Life podcast, practical advice,

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and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products.

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Here's your host Vicki Weinberg.

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Hello so today, I have a wonderful conversation with, for you with Stephanie

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Orr Steph is a screen printer and the founder of Flat 102 and co-founder of the

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Indie Collective Steph created Flat 102 to bring a colorful and uplifting dose of

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cheerfulness for your home and the Indie Collective was founded to support local

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designers and makers and give them an opportunity to be seen on the high street.

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So I had a great conversation with Steph.

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Um, so Flat 102 is Steph's product business and she

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creates screen printed products.

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I actually didn't know what screen printing was.

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Um, after talking with Steph, I'm actually really tempted to give it a go.

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It sounds amazing, um, and really accessible as well.

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And we also talked a lot about the Indie Collective and particularly

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about some pop-up shops and events um, the Indie Collective ran since 2020.

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Um, they're not sure yet about their plans for this year, but please do

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follow Steph and the Indie Collective if you're interested in finding

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out if they're going to be running any popup events, um, this year.

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Cause I know that's definitely something they're hoping for.

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Um, so we had loads to talk about from Steph's own creative products business

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to the workshops with indie collective to help promote other retail businesses

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and products, businesses I should say, and get them into retail spaces.

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So really hope you enjoy this conversation.

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And I'd love to introduce you now to Steph thank you so much for being here.

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I

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Thank you for having me.

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You're welcome.

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Can we please start by you giving an introduction to yourself, your business

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and what you make and sell, please?

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Sure.

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Um, I'm Steph, um, I run Flat 102, which is an online shop where I sell

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my screen printed products, mainly print wooden wall hangings and cards.

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Um, and I also run workshops where I teach people to screen print as well.

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And then alongside that, I also I'm a co-founder of The Indie co

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oh, amazing.

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Thank you.

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And we're going to talk about all of these things in more detail.

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Um, but I think really good place to start would be screen printed if that's okay.

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Can you explain to us what screen printing is, um, and how you got started with it?

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Yeah, sure.

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Um, so I'll start with how I got into it.

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So I was working at Disney at the time when I discovered a screen

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printing, um, had a corporate role.

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It was quite creative well it was in marketing.

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Um, But I was just really missing, doing stuff with my hands and

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being creative and having a tangible product at the end of it.

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Um, And yeah, create something that was purely for me.

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So I did a dressmaking course and various other things stick my fingers

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into different creative bits and bobs.

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Um, and then I did, uh, an evening course on screen printing.

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It was just two hours, really simple screen printing with a paper, um, stencil

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and I absolutely fell in love with it.

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Um, started making a few bits and bobs here and there.

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Friends and family, as presents.

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Um, and then after I had my son, I decided not to go back to Disney.

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We'd moved out of London.

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It was just a long commute.

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It just, we just couldn't make it work really.

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Um, so I decided to.

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Pop some bits on Etsy and give them a go.

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And they started selling, which is great.

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Um, and then it's just grown from there really, um, some fairs and

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all sorts of bits and bobs now, which is fab, but it's great.

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I can work around the kids throughout school and things.

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Um, and then printing in terms of what it actually is.

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It's a pretty basic, um, art form.

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You have a screen, um, Back when it's been printing estarted, a

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lot of people know is silkscreen.

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Um, you're going to a metal screen or wooden screen has lots of fibers across.

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It used to be silks across it's now nylon.

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Um, and you basically create a stencil or either, um, from paper

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or vinyl or using the exposure unit where you have a permanent stencil

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on there and then using a squeegee.

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Um, which is a lot like the squeegee to clean your shower and things.

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Um, you pull ink across the screen and it goes through three where the

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stencil was open and then you have your print, so lift up your screen

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and you can see what you've done.

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And that's, I think that's the magical bits.

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When you lift up that screen, you get that moment of like, oh my gosh.

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Wow.

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That's amazing.

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And yeah, it literally is when it sounds then, and I guess,

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oh, That's really interesting.

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And I guess you can screen print all sorts of things.

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And can you cause am I right in thinking that you can screen print clothes?

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I think I've heard of people doing t-shirts before.

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Yeah.

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So most, um, most people print onto, um, onto paper or materials.

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Yeah.

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Clothing bedding.

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Um, lots of, um, More the high-end manufacturers for bedding and things

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will screenprint on and they'll have huge screens and do it by

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machine where they screen print onto duvets and sheets and things.

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Um, you can screen, so you can do your wallpaper, you can do everything,

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but yeah, you can also fit onto wood.

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Um, I seen people doing it directly onto their walls as well, so yeah, it's a

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really versatile medium to, to play with.

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Oh, excellent.

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And how, like, what did it take for you to get started?

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I mean, is it a case of just buying the screen and some ink and off

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you go or is there pretty much?

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Yeah, so really, um, accessible craft or art form.

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Um, it's you get, you can literally do it on your table.

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Um, you need a screen.

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And some inks and a squeegee and that's it.

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And because you can print making paper stencils, you can actually cut

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your, um, your stencils out at home.

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Um, see, I started off like that, then invested in some, I say invested.

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I mean, I think there were like 10 pounds, so it wasn't a big investment

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in some clamps to hold the screens.

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It's quite hard to hold the screen down whilst you're pulling your

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squeegee so I can now clamp it in.

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Um, and the inks that I tend to use a water-based ones.

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Um, so I can, I just clean them in the kitchen sink, cause I don't need

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any specialist, equipment or chemicals to clean those away, which is great.

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Um, so yeah, so really easy one to start at home without any

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real specialist equipment at all.

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Yeah.

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I mean, so you did that two hour workshop and was that sort of it after that?

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Did you sort of go away and just, yeah.

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Yeah.

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Lots of YouTube watching, lots of trial and error, lots of frustration with them.

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I went through a phase where all of everything I printed had bubbles

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in it and I couldn't work out.

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It was driving me mad.

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I was ready to throw the towel in completely.

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Um, and then realize it's because I kept all my inks in the garage

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and they don't like getting cold.

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That was it.

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So once I put them somewhere warm, the bubbles were gone.

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Um, yeah, it's, it's a fun one because it isn't expensive to, to start.

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You can play quite easy.

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It doesn't matter if you make loads of mistakes to start with.

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It's quite fun to, to play around with.

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Yeah.

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And it does sound, it sounds, it sounds really good fun, actually.

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I'm actually getting a little bit inspired by listening to this show.

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I'm not sure if I'm creative.

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I always say that though, but I shouldn't put myself down like that.

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So where do you get the idea from your designs to, did you

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have a design backgrounds?

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No, not at all.

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My dad's an artist.

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Um, and I think having someone in your family who is incredibly artistic,

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I had always said I wasn't creative at all because I couldn't draw.

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And I think, especially at school, you, if you can't draw, you don't do

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art and therefore you're not creative.

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And it's that simple.

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If you're not doing an art GCSE.

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It's time to move on.

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Um, whereas I think having the screen printing it made me realize you

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don't necessarily, you don't need to be able to draw to be creative.

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You can be creative in so many ways.

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And I think that little quarter-life crisis I had at Disney, where I was

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going off and try my hand at all these different creative pursuits was

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actually that creative side that I have inherited from my dad coming out and

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just trying to find its own place and figuring out where where my creative

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side could be if I, if I I'm not necessarily the best drawer in the world.

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Um, so I think from, from that, a lot of my designs are, um, Uh, word based so

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a lot of typography, um, especially now I've had the kids I've really realized

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how your surroundings affect you.

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So I love having my positive phrases and, you know, reminders for them.

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Um, one of my most popular selling pieces, there's a plaque

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that just says you're awesome.

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And I think those things, you know, kids are bombarded with so much at

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the moment that just having something there that they reading it probably

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daily sometimes, or not even paying attention to any more, but subconsciously

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reminding them how great they are.

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Um, and same reason I've got a Cool To Be Kind print and things like that.

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It's it's um, Yeah, I think my things, I just like them to be quite positive.

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Lots of bright colors.

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I love neon pink, a lot of neon pink.

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Um, yeah.

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And then as I've got my confidence with those, I have started doing more, yeah.

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More traditionally creative things.

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Um, in terms of, you know, drawings and things, I'm looking at that side of it.

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The business more.

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Um, I'm trying to get a bit bit braver in putting things and designs out there.

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And I've also got a collaboration with my dad coming up, which is so exciting.

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That's really exciting.

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He's um, uh, I am a massive shopper um, and I love Selfridges Libertys all those

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guys, and he has done beautiful line drawings of the front of Selfridges,

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Liberty, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

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Um, so I'm going to screen print a colored background, and then we're

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going to print his designs on the top.

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Yeah, it's really nice to be able to.

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We did, um, my sister's wedding invites that he drew and

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designed and then I printed them.

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So.

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Yeah, it's nice to do another collaboration.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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That's really lovely.

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And I guess what's really fun is if you were talking about being brave and trying

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new things, I guess that now you are established and you know what sells, you

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can try other designs and other things and just sort of see if people buy them.

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Great.

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Well, obviously it's not great if they don't buy them, but I mean,

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what I mean is it's a good way.

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Isn't it of, because you have a customer base already is a good way of

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testing out will people buy different things or do they come to you?

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Just, you know, the one thing I think that's really good and it's yeah.

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And I guess it keeps it fun and interesting as well.

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Yeah, absolutely.

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Cause I think I've got your likes.

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I've got my established bestsellers.

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I know.

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Do well and you know is great.

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Um, yeah, I think it's good to keep it fresh.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, definitely.

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And so when you're talking about being at Disney and you were talking about missing

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doing something with your hands, had you done something creative or sold anything?

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Prior to starting this business, or was it more that you were just

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missing having like a creative outlet?

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I had, I'd had an Etsy shop for a little while where I'd

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tried a few different things.

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Um, I'd made some cushions that I'd embroidered.

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Um, what else that made some bracelets like beaded bracelet?

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Um, some earrings, candles, something.

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I was literally just throwing my net.

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Yeah.

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What, what stuck?

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Um, yeah,

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and I did that all the time in my little flat in London, which

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was flat was that was a flat 102, which is where the name came from.

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Cause I think coming up with the name, sometimes the hardest thing.

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So when I set my foot, my Etsy shop up, I was just like, oh, I'm sat in my flat.

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It's flat.

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What I do.

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Let's give it a go and it's that stuck and it's actually a bit nice to it

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links it back to where it all started.

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Yeah.

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So it sounds like you have on, you've been on Etsy for quite a while now, then.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, I have, I think I gosh when would it have been, I think it would have

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been a few years before I had Max and he was in, he was born in 2014, so

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yeah, probably coming up to 10 years.

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Yeah.

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But like I said, it was dabbling and it was like a.

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Yeah, some candles and then some earrings and then some cushions

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there wasn't a, it wasn't consistent.

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It wasn't really a brand.

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But other than that, I mean, what, because I'm just, I'm quite curious.

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Other than that, what changes have you seen on Etsy over that time?

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Cause I'm assuming it's moved on quite a lot in 10 years, because

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10 years ago it was relatively new.

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Yeah.

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I think the biggest change is how many people were in the UK now know about it.

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I think that the traffic is is huge, um, which is great.

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And there's been a lot of great changes.

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I think they invested a lot of money into, um, marketing to seller

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development, um, into their community.

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Um, but then alongside that with the growth in traffic, then unfortunately

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you get a lot of, you know, sellers.

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Buying and cheap from China and selling it on.

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And whereas before it used to be so handmade, it's not anymore.

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I think it's hard as a as a seller to, so you, you know, sell what I do at a

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price that I can make a living on and is what I feel my, my products are worth

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when you've got people, when you searched the same thing, and you've got prints

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that are coming up for like two pounds, you're like, how do you compete with that?

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But on the other hand, I think the majority of Etsy sellers seem

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to be quite, um, aware of that.

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And I'm willing to pay for the handmade element, um, which is fab, because

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I think that can be off putting if you're starting out and you see people

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on there selling things, selling what you make for so much cheaper, you're

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like, well, how can I make that work?

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Whereas actually I think people are quite discerning and, and

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are looking for quality, not just the cheapest thing they can find.

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I think so.

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I mean, I shop on Etsy all the time because I want to support

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small businesses and I want to buy handmade products possible.

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And I think that I'm really make a point of trying to just try to be quiet and

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find things like word discerning, really, because I think you can tell whether it's

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an original product that someone's, but not always, but a lot of the time you can

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set, if it's something original someone's made or if it is something they've

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bought in from China, for example, cause you might see the same something I've

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seen quite a lot it's the same product, you know, listed by a five people.

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And you think about you didn't all make that.

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I mean, you don't know if any of them did, but you know, for sure.

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Not all of them have handmade that you, you'd assume identical.

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Um, and I think you're right.

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Probably the people that are buying on Etsy, hopefully you'll buy them.

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I think the majority probably are quite discerning in that way and they're

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not going for the cheapest thing.

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Cause let's face it if you wanted a cheap print, I don't think Etsy would

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be where you go necessarily you'd probably go to eBay or Amazon or some,

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you know, or somewhere different.

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I think if you're looking for something special and unique and handmade,

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um, you're, you know, you know, you're going to pay a little bit

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more and you're prepared to do that.

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I wasn't going to talk about Etsy in great detail, but one other question I do

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have, if you don't mind is, um, obviously you've been selling on them a long time.

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And at first it sounds like you were, you know, putting up listings and

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hoping things sold, whereas now you've got a store and a brand and a range.

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Um, what thing, what, what's your best advice to someone

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who wants to sell on Etsy now?

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What things are you doing now that you just weren't doing back in the early

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days when you were just trying it out.

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The key thing on Etsy is it's basically a search engine at the end of the day.

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So getting your keywords right.

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So making sure firstly, you know, who your audience is, so you know what they

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are going to be searching for, then really think about your product and the

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different way you might describe it.

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So yeah, my, my wooden plaques, someone else might call it a

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pennant, or a wall hanging.

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So making sure that all of those terms are in your title and your

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description and in your tags as well.

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Um, I think the key thing, as well as making sure you've got

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really good photography, it doesn't need to be professional.

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You don't have to pay out for professional photography, but making sure that you're

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really selling your product is not, you know, bad lighting, you know, wonky

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and, you know, really show your product off to the best, your real ability.

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Show it on its own.

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Show it in a setting as well.

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So show it, you know, if it's a print for our kids from try and get some pictures

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in a kid's room or make a mock up.

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If you've got a room mock it up, that looks a bit like a kid's room.

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The key things is, you know, there are hundreds and

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thousands of sellers on there.

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It's make sure you stand out and that you come up as high as

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possible in the search rankings.

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Yeah.

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Thank you.

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And so I was going to talk a little bit about how it evolved

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from hobby into a business.

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Um, but it sounds like you already sort of had a business and so is, it feels a bit

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like your business and your hobby merged.

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If that made sense.

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Yeah, I doubt.

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I'm not sure I ever intended it to be a business.

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Um, it definitely was just something I was doing alongside being at home

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with Max and for a long time, I, you know, I said I was a stay at home mum.

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Um, even when I was doing what I was doing as well.

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And I think once it, I flipped that in my mind to that it is a business,

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then it, it starts taking off more.

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I started taking it more seriously.

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Um, you know, even doing silly things like tax returns and

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things, you're doing those.

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And all of a sudden you're like, oh gosh, you know, I might not be making

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millions, but I am making some money here.

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And it's a good thing.

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And I, yeah, I can do that flexibly along being a stay at home, mum,

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you know, might be working while I'm at home with them, but.

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Yeah, I can, I can do that alongside it.

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Yeah.

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It definitely was an evolution.

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I don't think I've sat down and was like, right, this is,

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this is what I'm going to do.

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Um, I'm getting a bit more like that now, now that both the kids were

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at school and got a bit more time.

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I can, I'm trying to plan a bit more rather than it just being reactionary

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in terms of products and things thinking about right when I don't know, thinking

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about Mother's Day and Easter and getting products ready in time for them.

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But yeah, it's all been a learning curve

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Out of interest.

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If you don't mind me asking this, because I'm genuinely curious about what you said,

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or was it like you started to do well and then saw it as a business, or you

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started to see it as a business and then.

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Started to, and then the business started to improve.

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Does that make sense?

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Yeah, I'm just genuinely curious and I hope you don't mind me asking.

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I think the minute I saw it could be a business.

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Um, was when I first started putting my products into shops and I didn't

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do, um, wholesale until quite recently.

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Um, but I was part of, um, the Mama Hood pop-up shop.

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Um, I think that one was In Dulwich or Clapham anyway, in,

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in London, South London somewhere.

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Um, and they were emailing me every week saying, oh, we sold

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out, we need more products.

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And I was like, oh, I haven't got any, I'm gonna make some.

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Um, and I think that took me by surprise because whilst Etsy was great and I'd

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have got my own website by then, and I was getting a steady trickle of orders.

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It was a trickle.

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It wasn't, you know, I wasn't having to print every day.

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I wasn't having, you know, It was the odd order here and there.

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Um, whereas yeah, once I was in the shop and I was like, actually, if I put

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a bit of thought and time behind this, then you know, I can turn that trickle

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into something a bit more consistent.

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Um, so I think that was the moment for me was when it started making

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really good money in the shop.

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Um, Which I shouldn't have, maybe shouldn't have been so surprised

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about should've had a bit more belief, but it was a really lovely surprise.

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It was amazing.

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I can definitely see that your products would sell really well.

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I mean, I can see, they would sell well online.

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I can definitely see that they would sell well in shops because

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they're so like visually captivating, they're really bright and.

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Yeah, I could see that they really stands out in, in a shop.

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I can definitely see that.

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So I'm not surprised at all that they were selling really well.

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So you mentioned that you did that pop up.

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Did you, and you've only started wholesaling recently.

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So have you been involved in other pop-ups

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I have I've also, um, I still got my stuff in a pop-up shop.

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Well, I think it's more of a permanent shop.

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It started off as a pop-up shop, um, in Whitney, near Oxford.

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Um, The Shop In Whitney it's called or Shop At Whitney, um, which really lovely

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shop as well, full of small local makers.

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Um, and then I've also.

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I ran my own pop-up shop.

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Wow.

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With part of the Indie Collective, which my, the other business

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that I co run with my, my friend.

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We'll definitely talk about the Indie Collective in a moment actually, cause

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I'm really wants to go into that as well.

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And again, the reason for asking really is I feel like pop-up shops can be a

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really nice way maybe to test out whether your products would selling it in a shop.

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I think particularly in my mind, I'm thinking if someone was a bit unsure about

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wholesale and you know, will my products sell, I'm thinking maybe a pop-up shop

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is a nice option for testing it out.

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Yeah, absolutely.

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I think it's a real thing.

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The only thing with pop-up shops is most of them run on a sale or return basis,

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so you're not getting the money upfront.

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Um, and there's a commission element to it, which is often quite a lot less

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than you would necessarily on wholesale.

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Um, but I think it's definitely a lot less scary.

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Than, um, you know, looking for, for, um, wholesale, uh, premises, because

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I think with wholesale, I don't know.

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I always felt a bit responsible.

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Like if it doesn't, if it doesn't sell, then I feel bad that they're

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left with stock they can't get rid of.

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Um, whereas I think after having done this pop-up shops and seeing my stock

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sold well, I was much more confident than going out to, to, um, Other shops

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and saying, these are my best sellers.

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I know they sell well, you know, your audience is similar

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to the shops I'm already in.

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Um, and I think they do really well for you.

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So it just, yeah, it gave me that confidence, confidence,

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confidence, boost of, um, being able to say, I know they sell.

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Yeah.

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I think it's a nice bit of validation.

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Isn't it?

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The, as you say that you, you know, they've been in shops in front of

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people and they've sold because it is a bit different buying in person.

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Yeah, buying online.

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I don't.

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Yeah.

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I don't know what I think it depends on the product has some products definitely.

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See, I think it's pretty good because I'm all about sort of testing things

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out and not necessarily going all the way in on everything, because you can't

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think for like pop-up shops or even like a stall somewhere is a really nice

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way just to see what the feedback is.

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I always think with fairs they're great for getting feedback.

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So I guess with the pop-up you're still putting your stock there you're

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not interacting with the customer.

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Whereas with a fair, you can, even if customers aren't necessarily saying

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it to you directly, you can listen to what they're saying to their friends.

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Like, oh, I like that, but I wish it came in turquoise or, you know,

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oh, that would be lovely for Jackson when he's a bit older, you know,

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you start hearing and you can start pinpointing more who your customer is.

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Like, are they people with older kids, younger kids, no kids, you

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know, where, where in their houses.

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And then going back to the Etsy thing, you can use those things in your descriptions

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in terms of what, you know, what your who you're selling to, what they're

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looking for, why they would use it.

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Yeah, that's a really good tip, actually.

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So yeah, I guess if people are saying all this is, you know, you hear consistently,

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this is going on my living room wall, for example, then you can weave that

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into your description or your title.

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Yeah.

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That's a really good point.

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And I think that's something that, um, a lot of us don't do because

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quite often you write your product description and you do lots of maybe

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you do lots of keyword research.

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Hopefully lots of keyword research and you have a really good product

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description and then it can just sit dormant for months or years.

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And yeah, revisiting it, particularly if you have that kind of feedback

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or revisited anyways, a good idea.

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But particularly if you have feedback that whether it's terminology or how people are

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using things, I think that makes sense.

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That's great advice.

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Thank you for that.

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I think that's a really good tip.

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So let's talk a little bit, cause I think we sort of lean in towards the end.

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Let's talk a little bit about the Indie Collective and what it is,

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why you founded it and what you did.

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Sure.

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So, um, I, we co-founded the Indie Collective.

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I run it with, um, Adele and Carly.

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So they're both small business owners as well.

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Adele has Nutmeg Wall Art, which is like a vinyl stickers and stuff for your home.

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She also does, um, commercial, um, Signage as well.

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So shopfronts and things.

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Um, and then Carly has got an upcycling business.

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She does incredible, um, hand painted clothing.

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So like jackets with them, whatever, pretty much whatever

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you want on the back of it.

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Um, and she also has a virtual PA business as well.

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So between us, it's a little bit bonkers and throw in how many, five kids

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and one on the way as well not mine.

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Um, but yeah, it's all a bit bonkers, but we came together.

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Um, Etsy do a thing called Etsy Made Local, which are

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live markets in person markets.

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Um, and we came together to run one of those in Milton Keynes

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um, Um, we did a few of those.

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They were really successful.

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Um, we partnered with our local shopping center, um, INTU who,

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um, were really supportive.

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They, um, really, um, they gave us great space, um, to be, have a craft fair

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in a shopping center is like the best thing you can do because you've got

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so much passing trade that you might not necessarily have ever got into.

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You know, if you've had a standalone event.

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Um, but while we were doing organizing those, we always used to joke about

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the amazing to have our own shop.

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One day we'll have our own shop.

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Um, and then during the first lockdown, uh, INTU contacted us

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and said, we got a shop that we think might work for you guys.

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If you'd like it to run a pop-up, um, in Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, 2020.

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Which we jumped at.

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Um, it was a really big unit.

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It was, um, if anyone's Milton Keynes based, it was the old Pret, um, in,

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INTU so big unit, not necessarily perfect space in terms of it being

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a, um, Uh, food space rather than a shop space, but we made it work.

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Um, we got all husbands and boyfriends involved in helping us turn it into this

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beautiful, um, Haven for small businesses.

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Um, so we opened our doors.

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In towards the end of October of 2020.

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Um, we had think for that pop-up we had about 70 odd, small bits, different small

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businesses, um, mainly local, but we did have some from further afield as well.

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I think our furthest afield was Cornwall, which was pretty cool.

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Um, And we ran that through until well, until we got put into

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Tier 4, um, which is a shame.

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So we had, then we were open for two weeks.

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Then we had a two week firebreak locked down, then open again,

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and then it was Tier Four.

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Um, so what should have been, I think maybe two and a half months

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was actually only four weeks in the end, but it was amazing.

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Um, and the response from it locally was incredible.

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It was so busy.

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Um, so yeah, that was our first pop-up.

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And then since then we ran one in May, that was only supposed to be six weeks.

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Um, but yeah.

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So successful, we kept it running to through until the end of last year.

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Oh, wow.

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Um, so yeah, from May right through to the end of December, which was fantastic.

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And again, we had, um, gosh, I don't even know the total of the how many

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hundreds of sellers, but we, we do it where you can come in and out.

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So you don't have to sign up to be in there.

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We ask that everyone's in there for at least two weeks,

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because it gives people time.

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If you've come in and see something, you want it to be able to go away and think

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about it and come back and buy things.

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Um, but these people, once they're in they stay, which is fab.

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Um, yeah.

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So then now we're just working out this year.

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What, what our plans are, we'd love to do a fair again.

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I think people are ready for fairs now.

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Um, so we're looking at a few different locations about, we'd

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love to do some more pop-up shops possibly back in the shopping center,

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or maybe on a high street this time.

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Um, and we really want to develop the community side of it.

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So supporting, um, small businesses, more with things,

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most of them are Etsy sellers.

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Cause that was our background.

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That's where it started from.

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We were the actually Milton Keynes team and we still are, um, um, Yeah,

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sharing our knowledge about all the Etsy side of things, sharing our

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knowledge about running small businesses, finances, all of those bits and bobs.

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I think we've worked out between the three of us.

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We've got 22 years of small business life, which is bonkers when we say it like that.

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But yeah.

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So yeah, that's, that's the Indie Collective and it's free to be a part

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of, you know, there's no new charges or.

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That's amazing.

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And I will link to that in the show notes.

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And it's really exciting that when you know what you're doing this year as well.

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We'll shout about it.,

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Will do do shout everywhere and definitely I can share it all out

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for you as well, because I think, um, I definitely think people will

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be interested in being part of it.

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And when you were talking, I was thinking, wow, because I'm really familar.

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I grew up nearby and I'm really familiar with, INTU, well, when I was

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growing up, it was called the center and Milton Keynes was the market you

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did was it in the big space outside?

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I think is one of the, is it the big square anyway,

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so you've got Centre MK with John Lewis.

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Yeah, in the other bit, the bit that's got Zara

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Oh the new bit but I call it the new bit it's probably not new anymore.

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It's just had its 25th birthday.

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It's really not new.

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It was.

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I remember when that open, that's it.

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Wow.

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That's making me feel so old Steph.

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Cause I do remember that new bit.

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That's really funny.

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Oh, I was in 2000 ok I won't bore everyone with Milton Keynes, but I

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still think that is, I know what you mean about the Pret space as well.

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That's amazing.

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And did INTU give you have any help with things like retailing, because

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obviously there's a big difference.

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Isn't it?

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Between sending online and actually having a physical store?

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Um, how did you know how you know how to lay it out and what to put in the window?

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You know, I think there's a lot that goes to.

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We've we're really lucky that one of our sellers um, Danielle who

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runs, um, has a paper company, beautiful paper goods company, um,

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was a merchandiser for Paperchase.

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So she gave us a lot of advice.

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And then, um, Kylie and Adele both have amazing eyes.

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They've, you know, they can look at a table and be like, they think

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and move things around and all of a sudden, it, it, you look like

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you want to buy everything on it.

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So I think.

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Yeah, those skills all coming together really worked.

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It was great, um, INTO were great as well.

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They did give us some advice.

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Um, I think it was very different for them as well.

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They're used to, you know, Gap and Zara and Top Shop who have,

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you know, shops in a box almost.

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They come in and they do what they do in every location.

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Um, see, I think we were a bit of a new, new, uh, Experience for them as well.

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Yeah.

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Well, that's a good one.

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Isn't it.

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And do you find that such a skill to be able to sort of take things and lay them

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out in a way that looks really appealing it's not a skill I have, I think that's

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such a skill and it's amazing how people to do that because I feel like, I guess

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such a lot of the success rests on how attractive a shop looks, because if, you

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know, if you walk past and the window looks uninspiring you may just walk past.

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Yeah.

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I think one of the things we really wanted to do was, um, a lot, sometimes

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pop-up spaces you can hire, like, uh, you could get a shelf and then you

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go in and you make your shelf look pretty, but we wanted it to look.

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Like a proper shop almost not that pop up shops aren't proper shops.

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But, um, we can, we, we were thinking of it like a mini department store.

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Um, so you would go in and there would be, um, a kitchen where section.

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So all the sellers that had different kitchen wares would be in that same area.

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And we didn't want to look at it about the sellers competing against each other.

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It was how we can, how they will compliment it and.

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Yes, there might be two different types of mugs, but you were

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appealing to very different people.

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So how do we ha you know, style it to, to appeal to those people and make sure

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we're hitting the right notes for people?

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Um, so we wanted it to be, uh, a real shopping experience and, you know, and

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I had to ever thinking, you know, all of Oliver Bonas and Anthropologie and,

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you know, those are real experiences when you, when you go into them.

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And that's what we were trying to, to recreate in, you know, all of the spaces.

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That's not good.

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That's amazing.

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And as I say, do let us know when you know what the plans are for the issue.

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I think really exciting.

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I love a pop-up shop as well.

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If I'm, if I happened to be back home, when it's open, I have

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to go and have a look cause I, I do like a pop-up definitely.

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Um, so the final thing I wanted to ask about if that's okay, is

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I know I'll be honest if I can't remember whether you mentioned this

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to me or where I picked this up.

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I know your part of the Nat West accelerator program at the

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moment, and I know you haven't been doing it for that long.

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Um, so I definitely don't expect you to like share loads of us, but it'd be really

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good if you can just talk about, um, well, first of all, what it is for anyone.

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Might be curious and then just give us a little bit on how it's going so far.

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Think that'd be really interesting.

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Yeah, definitely.

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So the Nat West accelerator program is, um, a free

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accelerator, which is incredible.

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A lot of accelerators are expensive, um, and you don't have to have a

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Natwest account either, which is, you know, I think it's amazing that they

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do that offer that support, um, with no real commitments, um, from you.

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Um, but yeah, it's a it's nationwide.

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Um, you, you can sign up online.

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They do have a, um, Quite strict criteria of what they want from you.

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You have to commit quite a lot in terms of time.

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Um, and then they run networking sessions with other small businesses in your area.

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Um, there's a real mix of where people are as well.

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There's like real startups.

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Who've got an idea.

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And that's it that they're getting ready to bring their idea to market.

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And then you've got people who are turning over millions of pounds, but I'm

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ready to take it even bigger than that.

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So the networking sessions are great in terms of there's a

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real learning from both ends.

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Cause I think before you start, when you're say full of ideas, you're not jaded

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by what is, and isn't actually possible.

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So we're getting those really inspiring ideas from, from those guys

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who are, who are really fresh in it.

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And then you've got the guys who've been doing it for a long time and who are like.

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No, like, oh, you can't do that, but you just have more realistic ideas as well.

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Um, so you've got the networking events, they also run, um, specific

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sort of tutoring events as well.

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So, um, on.

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Like marketing strategy.

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A lot of that mindset, one of their big things is, you know, you've

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got to have the right mindset to be a small business owner.

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It's really hard.

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You've, you've got to be able to push through those days where it's

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tough, where you feel like you're not getting anywhere, you know,

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months and weeks of that sometimes.

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And you have to be able to keep going.

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Those.

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You have to know when.

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You've hit an actual wall.

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So how are you going to, you're going to go over that wall,

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around that wall, under that wall.

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What's what's next, you know, learning when something, when to

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stop is, is a good learning as well.

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Um, and then you have monthly one-to-one as well with your mentor,

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um, which are absolutely fantastic.

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They're they're really.

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Uplifting and positive.

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Um, but they definitely push you.

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And then, you know, we we're, we're doing it for the Indie Co

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so it's the three of us doing it.

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Both announced, take a look out for that one.

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I two, but we were talking to them about potentially in the future, like

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to have a permanent space that possibly has, um, workspace space where people

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can come and do workshops or they can hire it to come and work there

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themselves and that kind of thing.

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And, um, our mentor saying, you know, what's your timeframe for this and

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we're like I don't know, five years.

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She was like 18 months.

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Oh, okay.

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Um, I think with the knowledge they've got and the, the, um,

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contacts they have and things, they, they give you realistic pushes.

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It's not like, oh, you can do that in three days off you go it's okay.

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Right.

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Well, if you do, you know, do you want to do it in 18 months?

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We'll help you.

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And these are the, you know, you need to come back to us and tell us what

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you need and we'll help you find.

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Those people, those support networks.

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Um, so yeah, we've we started as in January, so a couple of months in,

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um, but so far it's been amazing.

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I'd really recommend that.

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Um, it's all online at the moment, um, due to all the COVID stuff, but it's, they're

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just opening the hubs back up again.

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So there'll be some, some real life networking as well, which I don't

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know if that's more terrifying or not.

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I find that scary.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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I'm definitely more, much more comfortable here.

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I think, as you say, it's good to be pushed in.

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I like a gentle way.

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Yeah.

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Definitely like you need to be pushed out of the comfort

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zone, and we all do don't we,

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absolutely

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Pushed a little bit.

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Um, and so what sort of time, cause you mentioned at the start that

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they ask you to commit a certain amount of times, or what is the

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time commitment that you have to go?

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No, there's not, like they said, you have to do seven hours a

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week or anything like that.

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It's that they, um, that you don't, you won't get anything out of it if you

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don't put the time in, um, And whilst I don't think they throw you out of it.

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If you weren't holding up your end of the bargain, you know, it's

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not really fair on them either.

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If you go to each of your one-to-one and you haven't actually done the

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follow up the work that you should have done your homework or most,

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um, I think the networking bit aren't necessarily compulsory, but

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again, you're not getting as much.

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Out of it.

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Um, so there's normally a couple of hours a week in terms of like events

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going on and then your, you have your monthly one-to-one, but yeah, it's

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more than work you need to put in, in terms of, in between your one-to-one.

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Yeah, I think that makes sense, especially because it's being offered for free, I

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guess if you're not making progress and you're not doing the work that you need to

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be doing, um, it's quite, it's quite rude.

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Isn't it to put it bluntly because you're getting all of this support

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for free so I can see that.

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Yeah.

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I can see that.

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I think that if they, it sounds like they given an awful lot.

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So you need to be sort of doing the same and, um, final question I have and

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sorry so many questions but I genuinely think this will be really interesting

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as you mentioned, there was criteria you had to meet, is it an application?

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Is it, um, so as well as meeting the criteria is that if you

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want to do it and you meet the criteria you're in, or is there an

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application process to go through?

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Uh, so there was an application process.

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I don't know what their criteria was so you basically had to fill an

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online application in, um, and then you had an interview, um, which we,

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um, we put our application, like, so last minute, I don't think we'd

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realize that was an actual deadline.

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We just did it thinking, well, the next time round there's

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there opening we'll be in there.

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Uh, we hadn't realized that they were actually open and I think we put.

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24 hours or something before the deadline.

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Um, so then it was a bit of a panic of like, oh, we need to get you interviewed

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before the next deadline finishes.

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And it was all, so yeah, it should have been a 60 second pitch,

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um, as part of your interview.

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And then, um, and then an, a chat, informal chat but.

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Um, but we.

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With the shop, it was coming up to Christmas and stuff.

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It just, yeah, it was, it was a bit messy.

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Um, and we ended up having to do it off the cuff, our 60 second pitch off the

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cuff which was like, um, but I think because we're in the thick of it at that

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moment, we had the shop open and we'd been talking lots about what we wanted to do.

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Um, it actually flowed really well, um, and they told us on

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the phone that we were in, which.

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Great.

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Um, yeah, and then it all started really quickly in January.

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So yeah.

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I'm not sure what the actual criteria are, but they did.

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Yeah.

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They asked lots of questions about where we want to be, what, you know,

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what our plans were and things.

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So I don't think it's like, you need to be turning over X amount

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of money or anything like that.

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I think it's more about what, what sort of, what sorts of personnel I

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think personality may be in terms of, are you willing to put the work in?

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Are you willing to knuckle down.

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Do you want to grow?

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Do you want to expand and things?

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Amazing.

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Thank you.

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Um, and I think that makes sense.

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And I may possibly also, I guess you have to have some sort of vision of

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where you want your business as well, because it sounds like it's about,

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but isn't it, it's in the name.

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Isn't it.

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It's about accelerating and moving forward.

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So thank you for telling us all of that, because I think it's really

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interesting and I'm going to try and find a link to put in the show notes.

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I'm pretty sure applications won't be open now, but I'll try and find

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some sort of webpage I can share.

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So there people listening and interested, then they've got somewhere

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to go and have a look at least.

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Yeah.

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Amazing.

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Thank you.

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So I have one final question, if that's okay.

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Before we finish, which is what would your number one piece of

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advice be to other product creators?

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Um, I think it would be to just, just, just start, just try it, put it out there.

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Um, I mean, I probably should take that advice myself because I do have

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about five new products sat here that I haven't put out in the world yet.

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Um, but I think that is the biggest thing is, you know, put it out that it, it

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might not sell, but at least you'll know then, and you can develop it in quick.

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Change it and hone it and until it is something that does sell or it might

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sell amazingly and, you know, you'll surprise yourself and give yourself that

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massive boost of confidence to go again.

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Um, so yeah, I think it's, you know, just get started, just get, get it out

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there somehow some way, whether it's your own website or Etsy or pop-up shops, or

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just put it out there and see try it.

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That's really good advice.

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Thank you, Steph.

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Thank you for everything that you've shared.

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So I'm going to link to Flat 102 and the Indie Collective and everything

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we talked about in show notes.

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People find a bit more from you and yeah.

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Thank you so much.

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Thank you.

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It's been fun chatting.

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Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end of this episode.

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If you enjoyed it, please do leave me a review that really helps

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other people to find this podcast.

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Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes and

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do tell your friends about it too.

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If you think that they also might enjoy it, you can find me@vickiweinberg.com.

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There you'll find links to all of my social channels.

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You'll find lots more information.

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All of the past podcast episodes and lots of free resources too.

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So again, that's Vicki weinberg.com.

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Take care, have a good week and see you next time.