Professional Practice III – Costing & Pricing

Richard Morris  talked to us about what to reflect and taking action on when considering working for yourself. Since I chose to do a Business Plan as my dissertation I was very interested in the session. But I also believe that it could be very enlightening even for those who don’t seriously consider in starting their own business. I already had the pleasure in having Richard as tutor during ‘Are you sitting Comfortable’ (the chair project) and ‘Mind Your Own Business’ (setting up a small business) so I was expecting that for half of the time I would listen to numbers and organisational skills and he did not disappoint my expectations.

First of all he wanted to give us a global, in numbers of the businesses around Uk, dispelling some common myths that running a business is necessarily a full time job of big companies. In fact:

  • Only 50% of business in the UK are run full-time (Start-Up Britain)
  • 72% of businesses have zero employees (Office for national Statistics)
  • 46% of Welsh businesses have a turnover of less than £100k (FSB Wales)

At this point we all received a piece of paper listing important skills needed to run a business. Richard asked us to be totally honest in ticking the relative boxes and answer whether we had them or not. He made sure we understood that not having some of the skills didn’t mean we were not made to have our own business but that we had to work to improve them or outsource them in time of need. Working for oneself is a tough job that requires commitment and persistence. You have to deal with many aspects of the job such as Branding, Marketing, Profit & Loss, Pricing, Competitors, to mention a few.

Richard Morris quote ‘Do what counts till the year ends, every moment spend not doing is money and opportunity wasted’

After that we were asked to write down our expectations in running our own business. What did we hope to get out from working for ourselves? He then listed the majority of answers he would always get when asking this question:

  1. job satisfaction
  2. being in control of what you design/make
  3. being your own boss
  4. flexibility
  5. staying true to your values
  6. difficult business decision to take alone
  7. staying current, fresh and original.. with your own style

Talking about costs he mentioned two important  considerations to make, the first one regarding the costs of running the business such as eventual rent for the space, electricity, consumables, internet etc. and the second one regarding our ideal salary, to be developed separately, such as living costs, car, food, entertainment etc that realistically represents our expenses. This last one also called ‘Personal Survival Plan’.c

Eventual added expenses to consider:

  • if you start a business at home the costs of products are lower
  • if your business goes well and you move to a new studio to expand, the overheads will be higher and this will lead to increase your product costs that will probably displease your loyal and growing customer base
  • So the advise is to think long term and not undersell yourself in the beginning

An always problematic matter for those who decide to run their own business is how to cost and price a product or service. A piece of advice we received:

  • during the third year keep a record of the time spend developing your product range
  • keep a record of the cost of all materials used such as tools etc.
  • you can use this info to work out batch of products (no more than 6)p

expendable tools is something that breaks and needs to be replaced

what will the customer pay for the product? after analysing the product costs, if the products it’s not worth the amount we need to charge, there are some considerations to make such as:

  • Find cheaper suppliers of the raw materials
  • Increase the perceived value by making it look more expensive and so that sells to other markets
  • Lower your time costs in the making process, consider employing someone on a lower wage to undertake certain parts of the making
  • Make more than one at a time, increase the volume
  • Speed up the making process
  • Buy-in ready made parts to incorporate into the product

How many hours a week will i be able to dedicate for making my products?

  • running a self employed business, most of time available will take for admin work leaving just half of the time for the actual designing and making. Phone suppliers, chase them and others
  • Realistically speaking, considering various holidays we work 48 weeks per year, 40 (or even 50 h close to deadlines) h per week, of which only half, around 25 will be spend for making. This leads to a total of  48×24=1152 h per year
  • If we consider our hypothetical 31.280 overheads divided by the total designing and making hours of 1152, our hourly rate should be £27,15. The question to ask is if this is a realistic one for a textile designer graduate. Would anyone pay this amount?

Start your own business in the Uk:

  • Is similar to starting to practice as a freelancer
  • inform the tax office, you will be self employed
  • Start work and keep all receipts, and get an accountant (which I would add that it is not mandatory since I know people whom in this stage of business are capable to keep their own balance)
  • if you do this from home it’s called freelancing
  • if from a rented office, you’ve started your own studio
  • The simplest form of self employment is as a sole trader in your own name. This doesn’t require a company registration or business premises, but does require you fill in a tax return every year, and submit accounts detailing expenditure and income.

Also to keep in mind:

  • If you consider renting a studio space and employing others and subcontracting, then you need to consider opening a limited company where you might assume company director status.
  • Excellent advice from http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/startingup
  • You’ll need to choose a company name and check the name availability. Check with Companies House that this name is not used elsewhere
  • Do a business plan. It will be your main document to gain funding, gain interest from others, and keep you from deviating from your main purpose/mission.A Typical Business plan includes: Executive Summary, Vision/Mission Statement, Objectives/Milestones, The Management Team, The Products or Service (IP see next slide), Market Research, The Marketing Strategy, Operations, Risks – SWOT analysis (IP see next slide), The Financial forecasts, Intellectual property rights.

Intellectual Property Rights – It is important to consider patents, designs rights, trademark and copyright. For the last one, a good and inexpensive way for artists and designers to protect their rights is to place their art, drawing etc in an envelop and send it to themselves and keep it sealed.

TIPS:

  • Welsh Ice gives info and support
  • Stay in touch with the Centre of Entrepreneurship even after graduating
  • Keep an eye out on CSAD social media, cardiffmet webpages and others for Start-ups opportunities
  • Speak with specialist organisations such as the UK Crafts Council and Arts Council, they offer a range of great start-up materials
  • Inc Space

Consultancy – Revisited Moodboards

I added the sacred geometry to my Mood Board. I believe it goes very well with my  theme, both because of its mystic connotation as well as its geometrical structure that also reminds me of Art Deco. I plan in using some of these elements as a final finish.

Mood Board2

I integrated my Customer Board with the relationships I am celebrating through my theme that I somehow skipped mentioning:

Client Board 2

I also reconsidered my Competitor Board. I added a few of the designers I came across with during my ongoing research, while I decided to exclude Paperchase because it is not a direct competitor but a company that has more employed designers:

Competitors2

I didn’t alter my Colour Board so far.

Consultancy – More Research and Tutorials

Taking the hints and bullet points from Sian’s presentation I realised I had to go more in dept with my research. Especially my visit to John Lewis, Tk Max and smaller stationery shops around Cardiff, helped me widen my knowledge about my theme, what is trending now and about how other designers approach my theme or the high end market.

I came across some artists I knew about already and some designers I didn’t such as Katie Leamon, Nunchi and Sigel (among others) and saw more designs from my already chosen designer such as Sara Miller and Ted Baker:

collage designers.jpg

I also found a very interesting documentary on Netflix about space, ‘Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey’, learning about new galaxies and how the universe is much bigger than we imagine. Here is the official Trailer on You Tube:

Capture.PNG

I also continued with the digital tutorials on You Tube, this time I learned how to do Marbeling on Photoshop and transform it into a seamless pattern. I plan in using this technique to create my space inspired texture as background for my designs.

Capture1

I have also attended Screen Printing and Digital Printing workshops to practice and be able to work independently for the final collection.

Inspiration from Pinterest:

 

 

 

Pitch it Wales Event

I am currently writing my business plan as my final dissertation. Instead of writing a ‘normal’ 10.000 words dissertation I preferred to actually test the market and understand if there is a potential in selling my own creations one day, through my business. This event, as much as others, arranged by the Centre of Entrepreneurship, are a great way to learn some professional practice, attitude, communication and presentation skills, as well as marketing and other skills that can be applied not only as a business owner but as an employee as well, thanks to this very business approach.

A committee born on the partnership between Cardiff Met, Inspire Wales and Be The Spark. A first time success they all hope to continue in the future. Six business owners were selected among the many that applied with the possibility to pitch in front of 6 investors/business angels for the chance to be financed 50k each. The pitch had to be 5 minutes long with Q&A sessions after each one of them. The investors would then leave the room and deliberate as a group weather to fund the business or not. In the end 2 businesses got the full 50k funding, plus mentoring, Toddle and CanDo Laundry.

For me it was interesting to see not only their business ideas but at this stage, how they presented it, from how they were dressed to the language they used, how they interacted with the public and the investors to the number of slides in their presentation etc. They almost all had around 10 slides. Some were speaking like they memorised the speech, others talked freely, reading more or less from slides or little cards, but all talked about their motivation with confidence, showing the time and energy spend in researching and knowing their market. In the end this is what did the difference.

I’ve learned about Doopoll.co, an easy way to ask questions to a group and provide statistics based on the answers . About more initiatives from the Entrepreneur Team such as Countdown to launch, which is a 5 days workshops developing and learning new skills at the end of which the participants get the chance to pitch their own business for a small funding of some hundred pounds. I am planning to attending this, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my participation for New Designers 2019, since it will also take place in June. I have also learned about a strategy called Brand ambassador to promote one’s brand. Five out of ten proposed a 5% equity asking the full amount of 50k. One, the less experienced asked for 45k with 10% equity. This was also a good reflection point.

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Anda Avramescu, Oct 2018, CanDo Laundry Pitch Presentation Q&A time, Business School and Management, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Professional Practice II – Creative CV

Some interesting and inspiring CV I researched for in Pinterest:

This  session was all about how to produce a CV and how to use it after we leave uni. An argument that I didn’t think would require more than half an hour but I suppose you never stop learning how everything we to can always be improved or updated.

Es asked us why we were interested in assisting this session and everybody gave a quick answer. There were some who wanted to learn how to write an art oriented CV, for a job experience, write a creative CV, how to make a CV stand out or how to make it more unique, how to underline in it emotions personal characteristics such as enthusiasm or how to write a non boring CV. So the whole session started to have an interesting approach.

Even though I came across this information earlier this year, it was a good reminder to learn again about Graduate Trainee Schemes There are quite a few out there in companies such as M&S starting next summer. Applications are already open for whoever might be interested. There are some websites to look for these schemes such as:

In Art and Design there aren’t always fixed roles to apply for depending exactly on the course you graduated from. In fact, most of the roles do not specify a degree needed to apply. There are many interdisciplinary roles that could for example qualify for the same job both a textile student and a graphic designer etc. I believe it was this crossing roles that inspire Cardiff Met to encourage students to combine in their practice workshops from across all art and design courses. It was also very interesting to learn that around 20% of graduates in art and designs are in totally unrelated jobs in 2 years from the graduation. I can only imagine that the people in this percentage either found a better payed job and kept their passion as a hobby or during their studies they might have understood that they didn’t want to make a living out of that anymore, as they initially thought when they enrolled.

There are many job roles and in different categories that a graduate can apply for:

  • Designer and Maker – Freelance and Company
  • Business/ Creative- Buyer, Visual Merchandiser
  • Media- Film, Television, Theatre Design
  • Commercial – Advertising, Marketing, PR
  • Education and Community – Teaching, Art Therapy
  • Design/Art practice – Commissions, Residencies
  • Technical – Colour Technologist, Quality Control

Professional Arts Facilitation Roles:

  • Teaching/Arts Education
  • Art Therapy/Arts in Health
  • Community Artist
  • Creative Projects Manager/Event Management
  • Workshop Leaders

For those interested in education there are applications through Ucas. At this point I thought it wouldn’t be of any interest to me but I immediately found out that these applications are not only for those interested in becoming an academic but also for those interested in giving workshops in schools.

There are also jobs in Promoting/Managing art such as:

  • Gallery Curator
  • Arts Administration
  • Conservator
  • Exhibitions Manager
  • Arts writing/journalism
  • Researcher/information/archivist

As it seems most graduate jobs don’t require a specific degree discipline. Most graduate employees ask for potential, enthusiasm, and how the candidate would fit in with the company. There is also the possibility in combining a part time freelancing/self employed job with an employed one. So you can be a freelancer and give workshops, be self employed and be employed in a company. As a curiosity: after graduation, people tend to go through several jobs before settling for the right career path.

Useful websites:

IMPORTANT:

  • Most jobs in industry are not advertised. The advice is to send speculative applications. First identify the employers/companies you want to work for, study them through their website and do a cover letter for each one of them;
  • Networking and making contacts. Make yourself known. Employees often say that the employer made themselves known to them, this is how they got the job – key message gained from Es from people from the industry attending New Designers;
  • Search job pages in Linkedin and generally on social media;
  • Sign up for job allerts;
  • Attend Events.

Search for jobs:

Make specific industry oriented CV!!! Types of CV:

  • Chronological (the old fashion), even though we are creative it is still important;
  • Skills based, list all skills;
  • Visual/Creative one;
  • Specialised CV;
  • A mix of these styles. It is the best because you have to put a bit of all.

Ask:

  • Does my CV fit the purpose?
  • Does it mach my personality?
  • Does it fit into what the company I’m writing to wants to hear?
  • The cover letter goes alongside a portfolio and hand in hand with the CV?
  • Think, what makes you stand out and what shows your uniqueness?

Essentials:

  • Have a clearly laid out and concise CV;
  • It is important to have bullet points;
  • A full record of education and work history, no major gaps;
  • No grammatical errors, punctuation;
  • Put emphasise on strengths and major skills.

CV Structure:

  1. Personal details: name, address, cell number, website, blog if relevant, social media. Everything that is relevant. If not relevant like the date of birth, you don’t put it, it just takes space and won’t have a say as pro or con for hiring;
  2. Some people put a profile of some lines in but often it tends to say the same in each profile ending up with too generic statements that anybody could say, if it s like this don’t put;
  3. Skills: extra curriculum activities are important. For ex. music theatre – you put confidence to relate to it, instead of describing it too much in details. Academic reports from jobs, etc that had important feedback. Put bullet points with skills and put a short sentence that goes together in context of how we developed it. Design skills, creativity, personal skills, languages are all important. Include self taught skills that I’m developing if at a good (medium high) standard and relevant;
  4. Education and qualification. Give a paragraph of degree with dates. Not only listing modules, but what you gained from each. Put A levels and highlight the marks in the relevant subjects (technical sketching for me);
  5. Employments/Work experience – It they take too much space group some together if relevant instead of list them individually;
  6. Hobbies and interest a few lines only, if a self taught skill is not medium high maybe it’s better to put it in here, if it’s high it might go in the skills if relevant.
  7. No more 2 pages of CV, better if only 1 page.

Reference: If there is no space, don’t put references, just put a line saying to ask for reference if needed. As reference you normally put two: 1) one of the tutors, 2) one from outside Uni.

Evidence of Skills is shown through different experience: Course work, including organising exhibitions, live projects, placements. Work experience, Leisure activities, Travel, Social etc.

How the Skills Section should look like:

  • Skills profile as a distinct section with bullet points;
  • Be concise and give clear specific examples;
  • Match your strengths to the job requirements;
  • What can you do? How can you prove it?
  • What does the employer/industry want? Do your research
  • Where are skills gaps, what can you do about this?

There are many personal skills one can add: Initiative, Creativity, Independent judgement, Oral communication skills, Flexibility and adaptability, Self reliance, Self confidence, Organisational skills etc.

Style: for example a class mate applied (and got the job) for Lush. and She knew they were sensitive regarding the LGBT community so she did a rainbow coloured CV and changed the font accordingly. Es also showed us very creative CV’s, some successful, some less where the creativity overcame the purpose of the CV, so it is important to be aware of the overall look and feel and find the right balance.

Professional Practice I – Sianelin – Branding and Marketing

sianelin

The first lecture of the series was Branding and Marketing. This is such an important topic that I think you never get enough information about, especially if you still didn’t develop your own. It was very interesting to hear about how Branding and Marketing from somebody that runs her own business. About how they differ but how they are also strongly interconnected and dependent on one another. It is one thing to see it around you in the aesthetics of brands we know or we don’t know, and another to dissect it and analyse it in detail for your own practice.

Branding, in our case, is how a designer differentiates himself from other designers. It is the image of what the designer wants to visually and verbally communicate to it’s targeted audience, through logo, website, the colour palette or font chosen etc. while marketing is promoting one’s business through that understanding, the branding.

Looking at all the professional designers and companies out there, it seems that all of their aesthetics make sense, that merges together perfectly. We might see some very simplistic ones and we might even think that it might be so easy to replicate, or more overwhelmingly sophisticated ones. The truth is that behind each one of them there is research and an expert evaluation of every detail.  There is a message that has to be conveyed with the right colours, fonts and lines, a message that can reach your audience in an instant just by looking at your logo. Putting together so many elements require first a deep understanding of who you are, or at least a part of who you are, in order to create a cohesive image of that.

How I can apply this to my practice for the Consultancy project:

1. What do you want to stand for?

Due to my high end target market, the style and finishing of my designs, I want to stand for quality and for something a bit more precious that you can connect with and want to treasure for longer.

2. What do you want to be known for?

For my galaxies inspired prints that celebrate the connection between loved ones through the analogy and passion for the mystery of the deep sky.

For the tactile and mysterious feel of my designs.

For the harmonious combination of the sinuous and geometric shapes that the entire universe is made of.

3. Who do you want to appeal to?

I want to appeal to those individuals that are passionate or somewhat intrigued by the mystery of the cosmos in its shapes and colours and want to celebrate the connection with their loved ones through the analogy between love and the universe.

I plan on designing for somebody who is selective in their purchase choices and are willing to pay that extra more to buy for themselves or gift something that reflects their passion or curiosity.

4. What does your colour palette say about you?

My colour palette reflects nature through its mysterious side. The colours of the deep sky in a play of light that celebrates bright pixels of colour on the intense dark tones of the night sky, with hints of deep earthy colours.

5. What does your theme say about you?

Besides being fascinated by it, my theme ‘Light Magic’ it is also part of the future 2019/20 trends in WGSN. It shows my design inclination towards nature, more cosmos oriented in this case. The interplay of light and darkness shows my attitude towards a more mystic approach in designing.

6. Are you fun or serious?

I tend to give a moody feel to my designs through a clear reference of the night sky, to evoke emotions that need to be celebrated with the loved ones, even through little tokens like a simple card.

7. How old is your customer?

Over 25, professional.

8. Who is your favourite brand? Why?

I especially researched the work of Ted Baker, Katie Leamon and Sara Miller. They are high end designer capable to convey the message of nature from their more simplistic designs through the more sophisticated ones. Ted Baker and Sara Miller I admire in particular for their drawing skills and colour palette. I love Sara Miller’s foil finishing of her designs.

9. How do you stand out from the crowd?

I aim to design for a niche market that also happens to be in trend. For those passionate or somewhat intrigued by the mystery of the cosmos;

I aim to design for an all year round collection of wrapping paper and cards;

I aim to design cards that celebrates relationships through meaningful phrases that I convey through the analogy with the universe;

I aim to use high quality materials and selected techniques to give both a tactile and an intriguing visual coherent to my theme.

What I’ve learned:

Taking the hints and bullet points from Sian’s presentation I intend to go more in dept with my research. Facing the reflective questions made me realise I didn’t have the prompt answer for some of them and this brought me to analyse and discern my ideas more and started already to alter my Moodboards, to better match my Theme and my Customer.

I am also planning on working on a logo that can relate to my ‘Light Magic’ theme and also to show my products how would they look like in a life style environment through CAD visuals.

Consultancy – Mood Boards

We started our third year working on a stationery project delivered by the IG Design Group in collaboration with our course. It is very exciting because it combines our own practice and creativity with the real world. My mind set now is about building my creativity and personality around trends that could appeal to a wider range of customers and that could also fit in the Ig Design Group’s range of products.

Last year, as my inspirational company and for my theme I chose somebody that has been more of a trend setter than follower, the Timorous Beasties. This time, for the goal of the project and to challenge myself with different outcomes I decided to blend my creativity with trends. In fact, I started my research with WGSN that is an endless source of inspiration. A board full of photographs and keywords capable to transmit in a few pages a whole concept. What connected to me immediately was the ‘Light Magic’ theme that explores nature and mysticism through nocturnal skies , l have looked at stationery as well as packaging, decorative accessories and textiles.

I subsequently started a more thorough research that led me to elements such as the petrified wood, cells, synapses, molecules, nebula, the moon etc. They all had in common sinuous and roundish shapes, and looking more closely, they are connected by more or less evident strings. I chose a plant as representation of something that is born from a connection, a relationship. A plant that give fruits permitting the continuity of life, the berries that represent the shapes from my research, the smallest particles of life.

I also intend to give a sense of movement, key for the stationery look, by using three dimensional effects.

I researched and downloaded a Font that was in line with my theme, structured but interrupted where you can see through it almost as a play of light.

Mood Board1

My Colour board is inspired by the ‘Light Magic’ stationery category combined with the ‘Light Magic’ packaging category. A contrast of deep naturals and spiritual colours. To these, I added black because it is very common in nature and because of the contrast it creates. I also added an intense red because it represents the connection between all things as the blood in living creatures as well as the well known ‘red string’ that connects everything.

Colour Board

My client is a professional, over 25. Both female and male that I represented with an androgynous person. He/she has a romantic mind, likes the mystery and freedom of the sky. Appreciates art and is selective in his/her choices, from the people to be surrounded by to the details in his/her home.

The occasion I’m planning on designing for is Love/Relationships. This will show mostly with the postcards where I will underline the theme of the Connection and also because of the typographic elements I will use to celebrated them.

Client Board

My range of products are intended for a High End market. Both because it talks to a certain category of people that can identify with my theme and also because I’m planning in using some hand finishing: metallic embellishment with foil and velvety touch with flock to enhance the visual and tactile senses.

I identified some competitors, among others, that combine High End elements and a representation of my chosen theme.

Competitors