In the sprit of #shopsmall over the Christmas season I thought I'd celebrate some small businesses here on my blog. Running a profitable and successful jewellery business from home may well seem like the holy grail to some of you, and I'm sure we can all appreciate how hard it can be to ever achieve! I decided to chat to Maxine, who owns Little Miss Delicious.
An interview with Maxine Ashleigh,Owner of Little Miss Delicious
1. Tell us about your business, Little Miss Delicious. When and how did it start?
I started Little Miss Delicious mostly by accident! I was looking for a creative outlet whilst studying at university and I began making jewellery, but it quickly became more than just a hobby and now I couldn't imagine doing anything else.
At first I just made pieces for friends and family, but their friends started asking too so I set up an Etsy store and within a year had my own website, a loyal customer base and an opportunity to do what I love for a living. I never thought it'd grow as quickly as it did, and with no formal design training or background in business, I mostly learnt techniques to perfect each piece and promote myself along the way.
I've now been running Little Miss Delicious full time for three years, and I'm very privileged to spend each day doing something I'm so passionate about.
2. Who is your average customer, and how do they find you and buy from you?
LMD doesn't really have a general customer type as the brand is so open to all markets so I get orders from people of different ages and styles from all over the world! I try to create a varied range of designs, especially via my limited edition collections, and stock fun handmade extras to appeal to everyone.
My main website traffic comes from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as my blog. I also do various events through the year from vintage fairs to tattoo conventions to help promote LMD and further expand my customer base.
3. How do you differentiate yourself from the vast amounts of competition?
Over the past five years I've perfected the techniques from the initial stage of hand sculpting each charm to the final step of glazing the finished products to the point the end result is now distinguishable in itself. I work hard to ensure I have strong branding and a unique style so people can be proud to not only own a handmade design, but to own a Little Miss Delicious design which others recognise. It's always exciting to hear from a customer who saw someone else wearing an LMD piece and actually struck up conversation with them because of it!
With so many jewellery brands out there, competition can be difficult sometimes but I hope the attention to detail and incredible amount of time that goes into each piece helps set me apart, as well as the personal touch of a one-person run business. I also work hard to ensure I always have new products in the works to keep things exciting, whether it be a new permanent piece or more recently through limited edition collections. They give me a lot more freedom when it comes to designs, as well as the exciting opportunity to own a limited piece that won't be re-made.
4. What have been some of the highlights of running your own business?
As cheesy as it sounds, every day is its own highlight. Being able to do what I love from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed is an incredible feeling, and something I wouldn't change for the world. There are difficult days and often months where I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to pay my bills, but it all balances out and the hard times help motivate me to keep pushing myself and my brand.
One of my favourite parts of running LMD is definitely doing events - it's so great to be able to meet customers face to face, as well as getting feedback and seeing people's reactions to my products which I don't necessarily get online.
5. Is there anything you would have done differently?
I started LMD when I was just 19, and made a lot of mistakes early on, but without those mistakes I might not be where I am today. I'm continuously changing my methods when it comes to making the items, product photography and promotion but it's great to be able to adapt and continue to improve. It's exciting to think how far my brand comes every year, and I can't wait to se what it's like five years from now!
6. What would you love to happen for your business in the future?
I'd love to see it continue to grow and expand, as well as stocking products from other handmade designers and small businesses to help promote other independent brands, but as long as I can continue to run it and afford to live I'll be happy!