For my first blog post I thought I would give you a little insight into the person behind the brand, Made by Shannon. It is always nice to know whom you are buying from and that's the joy of a small business, it's a lot more personal!
Who are you?
I'm Shannon, a twenty something, vintage floral obsessed, small business owner, living in West Yorkshire.
If you have met me at a market you may have noticed I don't sound northern and that is because I grew up on the South Coast in the seaside town of Worthing.
How did your business start?
Made by Shannon started in a tiny room in Manchester. It was so small it couldn't even fit a bed! It has a tiny table with my sewing machine, piles of fabric were stacked against the walls and I did all my pattern cutting on the floor.
I began stitching different projects from sewing books and after a few months I had quite a lot of stock. A friend of mine suggested having a stall at a small local craft fair and so I booked a table and displayed my wide variety of creations.
There was no consistency in the fabrics or products, no branding and I hadn't worked out my costs. I just thought it would be interesting to see what products people bought. My business has grown organically and I have found my style over the years.
You are from the South and now live in West Yorkshire. Why did your business start in Manchester?
I studied Fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University for a year before deciding it wasn't for me. I then got a job Cath Kidston, which I adored. I was surrounded by beautiful floral fabrics all day and learnt to sell to customer, which I love doing.
After a while I missed being creative and that was when I began sewing again.
What are your brand values?
UK suppliers: For items that can not be made in my studio I like UK suppliers to produce. I feel it is important to help our own economy and if I can support local businesses by working with them then I will.
Ethical and eco-friendly products: I use eco-friendly materials where possible to decrease my carbon footprint. Made by Shannon zip pouches are made from repurposed fabrics and our greetings cards are made from 100% recycled materials, to name just a few.
Fun and beautiful: As you can probably tell from the cards, I like to make people laugh through my work. There is nothing better than people crowding around my market stall laughing with friends over the sayings.
Beautiful is all about the fabrics and colours. I have been working with more pastel colours recently and old pieces of quilt that have been worn and loved. I want people to think 'Wow! That's stunning. I want to take a little bit of that home with me'.
What are you passionate about?
I really believe in supporting small businesses, not just because I own one but I love going into quirky independent shops and not knowing what I am going to find. Buying something unique always brings me joy.
In my personal life I am working towards being a minimalist, which is hard when you have piles of fabric everywhere. I like the idea of only owning items that are useful or you believe to be beautiful.
Any final thoughts or advice for someone thinking of starting a business?
My business hasn't grown like most. I didn't have a business plan and products ready to be sold at a trade show at the beginning. I have learnt everything along the way.
You don't need a degree in Business to start one. You just need determination, a good work ethic and be prepared to live off baked beans for a while.
Create your own little space somewhere where you can go and be creative and put up words or images that inspire you. Get yourself a studio dog (not obligatory) and do the hardest bit first, start!