As I write this we are currently tinkering with various pages, products and settings, getting ready to finally launch this website. It's taken months of talking and many hours of doing to get to this point. Whilst we've always had a website it's been little more than a holding page, a fixed point where we could direct customers to our Etsy shop. It was also important for us to secure our singlefincollective.co.uk domain name - before we really knew what we wanted to do with it. Opening our own online shop is a real milestone in our business and so it seems fitting for one of our first blog posts to tell you how we got started - two and a half years ago.
We tend to mark the start of this journey back in the early months of 2017. It was a cold, dark day, pouring with rain and so with little else to do I suggested to Sam that we do some painting and lino printing. This was met with some trepidation at first, neither of us considered ourselves talented in the art department but we decided to have a play about. I had previously completed a few evening classes at Plymouth College of Art in screen printing, lino cut printing and illustration. I've loved drawing and painting since school but never taken it particularly seriously since my GCSEs. Sam has also always had a creative flair being a photographer with a good eye.
That afternoon of watercolours, acrylics and lino prints sparked a conversation about the artwork I had hidden away from the evening classes and the photographs Sam had taken over the years. We wondered whether, if we invested a bit of time and money, we could get prints made of our work to potentially sell online. The aim was to try it out with as little expense as possible because we weren't entirely sure that anyone would be interested in our work. We had some test prints done at a handful of print shops, researched some online platforms such as Etsy, Folksy and Not On The High Street and picked a name. We also did a lot of research into what we should charge, the sizes we should offer, Etsy keywords / SEO (search engine optimisation), how to package items for posting, plus the numerous shipping options and related prices. There were so many decisions to make, and it felt very much like we were guessing at most things and simply hoping for the best! We opened our Etsy shop at the end of April 2017 with 15 products, and a amazingly had a sale within just a few hours! The Etsy sales notification (which sounds like an old sales register "Kerching") rang out on our phones to whoops of joy! It was a complete stranger buying one of Sam's paintings; Midnight Waves, and is a moment neither of us will forget.
We were absolutely over the moon that someone out in the great wide world had come across our work on Etsy and liked it enough to part with their hard earned money to buy it.
Sales were slow but steady over the first few months, but with each month generally improving on the one before! That has been our general trajectory ever since, but we still have that "wow" reaction when we get sales through, especially the big ones! It's a great feeling to wake up in the morning and find that someone in Texas or Tokyo or much closer to home in Truro has bought some of our art.
Some of the original line up of prints we opened our Etsy shop with.
We've learnt a huge amount over the years and we'll share more in later blog posts about our first year; pitching stockists, selling wholesale, finding a new print supplier and branching out into new products. We also had some different decisions to tackle that come when you have some extra cash in your bank account and need to make some investments in order to grow. Happily we have always kept the values we started with:
- Treating customers as we would our friends and family.
- Selling a quality product at a fair price.
- Sharing Cornwall's surf lifestyle with people around the world through our artwork.
If you're thinking of turning your talent into a side business we would both say DO IT! Thanks for reading, let us know if you have any questions at all about the business.