Creativity & Tips

Ways To Make Your Small Business Less Impactful To The Environment

I’ve become more and more environment conscious over the last few years. I was brought up to think about the environment and recycling everything, but since I started my product based business I have learnt a few new things. Since I started running my shop and selling products, wastage has become a pressing issue to me as a small business owner as well as good citizen. I am conscious of the material I use and am always trying to reduce my impact on the environment.

Use paper sticky tape instead of plastic

I started to use paper sticky tapes last year and am close to using up all my remaining plastic tape. I am pleasantly surprised at its strength, and resolve to use paper sticky tape for the rest of my life! I hear that some plastic tape lookalikes are actually biodegradable but it is best to buy them from plastic-free specialised shops, just to be sure.

Reuse your packaging

I keep all envelopes and boxes from my online orders, unless they are badly damaged, so I can use them again for shipping my shop orders and commissions. The bigger boxes are particularly useful when I receive wholesale orders!

I also collect newspapers, flyers, and takeaway menus coming through my letter box and use them as a void filler, instead of bubble wraps or polystyrene foam peanuts.

Use recycled packaging and materials

Sometimes there is specific packaging I need for my products so that I have to buy in bulk instead of reusing used boxes. I proactively seek out packaging that is made of recycled materials. 

It is the same case for the rest of my materials – envelopes, backing boards, tissue papers, paper stock, etc. 

Recycling bin in close proximity

Having a recycling bin right where you work makes it easier to remember to recycle!

Buy supplies locally

Reduce air pollution by ordering from manufacturing suppliers locally, so no aircraft and fewer motor vehicles are needed. I make efforts looking for suppliers starting with Nottingham or the Midlands, and then UK wide.

Go for recycled or FSC certified stock

This is not the most difficult thing to do because almost every paper supplier and manufacturer uses FSC certified stock, and some of them offer recycled options as well. I will choose recycled stock in a heartbeat but if there is no recycled options then FSC certified paper is okay.

Also, we small businesses tend to add a personal touch when packaging our orders so it is important to use the most eco-friendly stock available for business cards, thank you cards, complimentary slips, etc.

Where to shop?

Anything But Plastic
Lil Packaging
The Green Stationery Company
Tiny Box Company
Ethical Superstore
The Green Office

My business is certainly not perfectly sustainable. I am still learning and looking for better ways to reduce my impact to the environment.

I still wrap my cards with cello bags and am looking to transition to biodegradable ones. I still have bubble wrap but I reuse it to wrap my ceramics rather than disposing of them in landfill. I have some plastic based materials in my studio and I plan to use them until they run out. I then will find a better alternative rather than buying more of the same thing.

What steps have you taken or plan to take to make your small business eco-friendly?

Northern Craft Summer Fair & More Market Tips

My last stall with Northern Craft went really well, in fact it proved to be the most successful stall I have ever traded at. I was surprised and so pleased. I was always wondering why I never had as successful a trading day as my first ever stall with Camberwell Arts but I finally overtook my personal best with my Northern Craft stall. Growing my business is paramount so I have been reflecting on why it was a success – I made three changes to my stall and I have no doubt they made a huge difference to my fortune on the day.

New card reader

I made an impromptu decision to buy a card reader few days before the market, which arrived just in time – minutes before we left for Leeds! I printed out a ‘we accept cards’ sign and placed it at eye level on my stall. I didn’t miss out any sales from people that liked my products but didn’t have the cash, because they could simply pay by card – and contactless too! And when I looked at my sales figures the next day, card sales accounted for two thirds of my sales, both in terms of revenue and number of individual purchases. I think this may be the biggest reason why this stall was successful.

More greeting cards

People love greeting cards. My card display rack was always quite bare in the past, and this time I had more greeting cards, enough to completely fill the display rack. I ran a 4-for-£10 offer and my cards flew off the shelves.

Add more height to my stall

I had a bit of height in my previous stall by arranging some framed art on boxes, but I eventually decided they are not tall enough! So I invested in three wooden boxes from IKEA and stacked them up. I think my stall looked a lot more exciting than before. I filled the boxes with some Observers’ books, notepads, and a framed original (which I sold!) I know it made a difference as there were positive remarks about them from the visitors.

Northern Craft market had such a great attendance with really engaged visitors and a buzzing atmosphere (with a bar on the floor below!) which definitely contributed to my stall success. Their promotion before the event was effective too. The (very reasonable) stall fee has turned out to be worthwhile in the end.

I said getting a new card reader may be the biggest reason why this stall was successful and it will be interesting to see if it is still useful when I do more markets between now and Christmas. I have four or maybe five markets lined up, including Northern Craft in October!

I hope you find my notes useful. I have written my market tips in those posts if you haven’t read yet:

Ways To Improve Your Next Market Stall
My Stall With The London Artisan

Have you sold your products in the market before? How do you make it a success?

What I’ve Learnt Being Creative Every Day For A Year

In 2016 I created more art than ever in a year – so much that it is taking over my storage space, and my shop is overflowing with originals! I found that developing a habit of creating daily is extremely beneficial in many ways and I want to keep producing art as much as I can.

I wrote a post on what I’ve learnt being creative every day for 6 months, but now it is the new year, I want to impart the most important lessons I’ve learnt after a whole year of creating daily.

The more you create, the better your work gets

With every single piece you create, you learn and improve and better understand your skills and what you are capable of. You become braver and more confident in experimenting, and less afraid of failures. Thus your work gets better and better as you create more and push your own boundaries a little bit more with each piece.

It gets easier to get started

For many, including myself, getting started is the hardest part of creative process.

I would love to be able to wake up and feel super motivated every single day forever but it is not always like that – I have some good spells, and some bad spells. But when you are committed, you have to go and make – even if you don’t feel like it. Staying in the habit and being disciplined gets easier over time.

As Mark Twain put it –

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” 

But remember to take a break!

There will be times when you feel stagnant and run out of inspiration, and you risk burning out if you push yourself too hard. Taking a day off, working on something different, or going out for a long walk gives you a chance to reflect, feel inspired again, and give your work a fresh pair of eyes.

At other times, you might be overwhelmed by inspiration and impatient to get all your ideas down on paper! I often want to just sprint to the finish line. I sometimes found myself working days and nights in 2016, so much that I wore myself out physically – affecting my creativity in the long run, because it takes time to recover. Learn when to stop and be patient with yourself. Keep all of your ideas written down and prioritise them.

To those who followed my daily art journey last year, I think it is clear that being creative daily had a big impact on my creativity, skills, and mental health. I am lucky to be a full time artist with some of time in between commissions to focus on my own projects but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Ultimately, what makes you a better artist is not necessarily being creative every single day, but finding the courage to explore, overcome fears, and make art when you can.

How To Support Small Businesses Over Christmas (And All Year Round)


Christmas time is coming! Every year I try to shop with small businesses for presents for my family and friends. Christmas is always a critical time of year for small businesses, so here are my tips on how to support them over Christmas, and all year round, of course!

Buy from them

The simplest and most direct way to support small businesses is to buy from them rather than from big businesses that mass produce their goods. When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance.

Store their business cards

When you get their business cards via an order or stalls, remember to keep their business cards safe so you can look them up whenever you need to buy gifts. I keep and organise all of the business cards I’ve picked up all these years and go through them every time I needed a gift. It certainly helps me to shop small rather than relying on the high street shops you see every day.

Celebrate them

Retweet their tweets, share their Facebook page, regram their Instagram pictures and bring them up in your blog or better yet, when you see your friends. Keep them in the know that you are supporting them by tagging them and using their dedicated hashtag if there is any.

Share your purchases

Take pictures of your purchases from small businesses and share on them on social media. Word of mouth exposure on social media helps small businesses a lot, helping to build their brand and creating sales. Don’t forget to tag appropriately!

Let them know

A person (or a team) behind a small business sometimes needs encouragment and a boost of confidence, so show them that they are being acknowledged and loved. It doesn’t take long to pop them a short email expressing your love for their creations. You can even send them a quick tweet too! Don’t be shy – they will truly appreciate it.

Engage with them

Especially on Instagram, where engagement matters. If you can, comment and engage. Tag your friends you think will like the certain products. It is easy to forget that (I am guilty of this!) but try to quote retweet instead of just retweet, or do both! Facebook makes it difficult for small businesses to reach their audience so make efforts to visit their page and comment on their posts.

Do you have more tips? Share in the comments! I’d like to know your favourite small businesses too :)

Keeping Sketchbooks


I’ve just finished my fifth sketchbook. This time last year, I realised that even though I had been an artist for as long as I could remember, I had never properly owned a sketchbook – I was a hardcore perfectionist back then, so if I messed up a drawing in my sketchbook I’d tear the page off and eventually gave up with the idea of owning a sketchbook.

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