Hi, I'm Ashleigh from actuallyashleigh, although pretty much everyone I know calls me Ash. I'm a wife to a wonderfully supportive husband, and a mom (and stepmom) to 3 kids. I'm also a mom to a Boston terrier, who is by far the neediest child of all! I'm definitely a homebody and I'm so lucky to be able to work from home, it gives me time to draw, garden, cook, fetch kids from school, and do all the other endless things that moms have to fit in. Despite not having a green finger, I love to draw plants, and I'm mad about birds.
I started actuallyashleigh (I love a good tonguetwister!) to make my drawings a bit more functional. I also have an annoying habit of having to cover empty surfaces with some kind of pattern or decoration, so plain white ceramics were a good place to do that. I began by getting some designs printed on transfer sheets, buying a few second hand ceramics, and then cutting and sticking to my heart's content. I found a friendly potter who had a kiln, and soon I had a stash of bowls with my designs on them! It was so exciting that I carried on, sourcing different ceramic ware and drawing new designs.
For quite a while it was only friends and family who bought my pieces, and you can only give your stuff as birthday presents for so long. Then I started doing markets and selling my things in shops. And I suddenly had to start producing more to keep up!
My business is still small, as I'm a one-woman band, and I don't mass produce anything, but I'm getting there. I have my stock in a few more outlets now, and a couple big upcoming shows this year. There are new works in progress, and some exciting new ideas in the planning phase.
The challenges include being self-motivated, finding time to take proper stock photos and keeping up with social media posts. As a behind-the-scenes type of person, I find 'selling myself' at markets somewhat nerve-wracking, but you slowly get used to it; and there's actually nothing better than meeting your customers and seeing how happy they are when they buy something they love, that you've made! The highlights of having your own business are obviously the flexible hours, being paid for doing something you enjoy, and for putting in the hours and hard work for no one but yourself.
Any tips I could give for someone starting out is to work out your pricing properly in the beginning - work out a wholesale price, and then double that for your retail price. Don't short-change yourself, and don't underestimate how valuable your time is. If you're doing something you love, you'll automatically be good at it. Market yourself and get out there!
Thanks so much,