C&E Designs are a small business based in Lancashire, UK who hand make items from paper. Gift Shop hub spoke to owner Emma Cottam about her new venture, she set up in January 2016.
How did you start out?
C&E Designs all began with my own Wedding in July 2015. For the two years before that Mr C&E and me hand made everything for our wedding using paper, including buttonholes, bridal bouquet, bridesmaid bouquets, wedding favours, table decorations and a three tier paper cake. After that I decided to keep making and C&E Designs was born in January 2016.
Where do you sell your products?
We sell our products through online shops – Etsy and Oodlique and also through some local independent shops, including Charabanc in Blackpool.
What products do you sell in your shop?
I sell a mix of greetings cards, framed gifts, paper flowers, magnets and coasters and I also have a Wedding Collection side to C&E Designs too, selling paper bouquets and boutonnieres and other wedding décor.
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing small business at the moment?
It is really hard growing your own business and I’ve learnt a lot a long the way. It is extremely hard doing everything on my own but I am continuing to work hard to make sure C&E Designs gets where I want it to be!
What tips do you have for fellow small business owners?
If you haven’t already, join groups on Facebook to help you and surround yourself with like minded creative people. They’re always the best to help share ideas, pricing and tips for your business.
What makes you stand out from the crowd?
Our products are unique and can be personlised in so many ways. People are always intrigued by how I use old books, maps and sheet music and turn it into something new and beautiful.
How important is social media in promoting your business
Social media is an essential but is also a minefield! I use Twitter a lot and this has helped me get C&E Designs out their, particularly through Twitter Hours. Instragram is also a fab tool but making sure your pictures fit is so important!
What has been your most successful promotion/marketing idea?
I am currently offering a discount when returning customers purchase again and this has been working well. Also mailing lists are absolutely essential, I now have a dedicated craft fair one and a wedding one.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are for C&E Designs to continue to grow and to hopefully add some more local and independent stockists to the list across the UK.
What features/articles would you like to see on Gift Shop Hub?
Any help with social media would be fab but also tips on how to approach stockists would also be really helpful!
Quick fire questions:
Favourite song: The Girl – City and Colour
Favourite film: Pitch Perfect
Favourite animal: Cats