With my weekly Open Call Column Iâm giving a shout out to creatives and business helping to increase their exposure. Whether you have just started out, or you have an existing business or youâre an artist trying to get your work noticed do email in. The World Wide Web has totally revolutionised how we get noticed so I want this column to inspire others out there to go do! . Whether that is setting up shop, taking up painting, turning your hobby into a business itâs all about being inspired!
Talking of which meet Interior Architect Kate Whitfield. Recently Kate launched another strand to her business an online shop, An Artful Life where she sources and designs an eclectic collection of pieces both modern and traditional. I whizzed over a few questions for Kate as I love hearing about other peopleâs experiences as I think we can all learn from them. Hereâs what Kate had to say?
What made you start this new business?
I was quite ill last summer and was diagnosed with something that I have to manage for life. Â I needed to reduce my stress to try avoid getting very ill again and I have 2 young boys so it was important to make sure I am around and healthy for them. Â Doing my previous job as an interior architect in London was very stressful and added to that we (as a family) had moved out to North Essex for my husband’s work so I had a 2 hour commute and with my husband away a lot I had the pressure of always having to get back to pick the boys up. Â As you can imagine all of this together was too much to handle.
It was too depressing to decide to give up a job I loved (and was good at) for nothing so I had to come up with a plan. Â I decided to open up a shop selling all the sorts of things I would love to buy myself. Â A lot of items either aren’t on the market or if they are they are too expensive for most people’s budget!
Initially I hoped to have a physical shop, but I soon realised with kids to manage, it would take up too much time being in the shop and it was also more risky financially as I would have a rent to meet every month. Â So start small, and start on-line only. Â Â I spent time planning in my head whilst finishing my last few months at work.
I finished work mid-February this year and from then on have spent one day a week freelancing (to keep some money coming in), and 2 days setting up the on-line shop. Â (I look after my boys the other 2 days, although can do sneaky bits of work on the side!). Â The shop went live to the public literally last week, so it’s brand new, very early days. Â I’ve had great feedback, although still waiting for lots of orders to come rolling in.
Â Any advice to people starting out?
Advice to people starting out I guess is to love what you do, then it won’t feel like work, as you do need to put in the extra hours. Â It’s never going to be a 9-5 starting up/running your own business. Â It was never a wish of mine to have my own business but in the end, I think it made sense, in order to fit around other things/family etc. (hopefully). Â I always worked extremely hard as an employee, so at least now, the fruits of my labour (if there are any) will be my own.
Favourite piece in the collection?
My favourite piece, I think, is the white painted stool, with sculpted legs. Â I haven’t seen this sort of thing before (there are lots of painted/dipped legs about at the minute but this is a bit more off-the-wall). Â It’s very difficult pricing these one-off items as I struggle to want to let them go (I want to keep it all for myself/my own house, but that wouldn’t make much of a business!!).
I hope to open a physical shop when my boys go to school in a year or so. Â And further down the line I would love to branch out into stunning holiday lets, where people can ‘live an artful life’….
Thanks so much Kate and all the very best with your new business. Â I’m sure KateÂ would love to get feedback from you guysÂ and if you want to be highlighted across my social media channels then email opencall@AbigailAhern.com