Welcome to Saturday Business chat. If you’re following these posts in order, we’re going from books to bunting today with Angela Wiseman from The Shetland Bunting Company. I “met” Angela on Twitter and as I’m thinking about Bunting myself at the moment (being Bunting Monitor for our Jubilee Street Party) it seemed very apt to have this one come in (in fact I did wonder about saving it for June!).
Angela’s used skills and an interest she had already (or an addiction to fabric, as she puts it) to boost her income while living somewhere with limited employment resources. Although the things she wishes she had done are quite specific, we can draw general principles from them too, about thinking ahead and profiting from economies of scale.
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
My business is called The Shetland Bunting Company and I set it up in February 2012.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
Needs must: life on the UK’s most remote inhabited island comes at a very high financial cost, yet with little opportunities for income outwith small businesses.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
A lifetime love of and addiction to textiles/sewing/fabric shopping … using one’s best skills?
Had you run your own business before?
Nope but my husband has for 14 years.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I jumped in with both feet and a sewing machine running overtime.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Just how busy I would be.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Buy two more sewing machines and have all three set up for different operations to save time resetting the same machine.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Bought wayyyy more fabrics in than I had.
What are you glad you did?
Took the jump, I love sewing and I now have the best excuse ever to buy more fabrics.
What’s your top business tip?
If you have a skill, use it, but don’t hoard it: share it with the next generation.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
We are really busy and adding to our stock range all the time with a growing customer base.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
If we keep going at this rate, I’ll be looking to employ some part-time help.
I do like to think about brightly coloured bunting making its way down from Shetland all over the UK in time for the Jubilee and other celebrations! And it’s lovely to think that The Shetland Bunting Company might be in a position to give employment to other Islanders by the time we come back to see how they’re doing.
Angela didn’t provide any further updates after this first interview. As far as I know the website is still live as of September 2013.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.