Charlie Loxley talks about her personalised children's prints business journey, the daily juggle and the best advice she's been given.
The talented illustrator is also a mother of three young children, and has a day job in Advertising. Here she looks back at business mistakes, the daily juggle and the best advice she’s been given.
I came up with the idea when… I was pregnant with my third baby and feeling a little lost. I booked a life coaching session to help get some clarity on what I wanted to do with my life - it had always been a dream to start up a business but I was waiting for someone to tell me what it was. I didn't have a clue! That was the catalyst for making some big decisions and changes (sounds dramatic but for my sanity it had to be!). Designing prints for children was where I landed, but I wanted to create something that went beyond just looking stylish on a wall, something with a more powerful purpose. Something to help coax out a conversation. So the Alphabet of Emotions came to be - an A to Z of positive emotions and attitudes, illustrated with a whole family of animal characters to help bring them to life. The idea was to use these characters to help encourage them to think and speak about their emotions and feelings in the context of their day. I named the company Fearless Flamingo after the F in the A to Z - it was the character that resonated most with what I was doing!
The biggest challenge is… juggling the 'day job', Fearless Flamingo and the children. I'm currently working 3 days a week in the Advertising industry and 2 days at home with the youngest two, so the business is largely managed around nap times, evenings and weekends. I have so many ideas for where to take it next, and a to-do list that is as long as my arm, so at the moment the biggest challenge is trying to find enough hours in the day to keep up momentum.
The average day is spent… doing a little bit of everything! My husband manages the morning nursery and school drops off and I do the evenings. Once the children are in bed it's laptop on and a few hours managing and packing orders, drawing, planning, replying to emails and so on. I find it really tricky to switch off (something I'm working on!) and find most of my ideas strike as I've turned the light out at night and it's finally quiet. I always keep my notebook by my bed so I don't miss a thing.
The team consists of... me! If next Christmas proves as busy as last I may enlist some help with the order packing as that was a crazy time.
My favourite quote… Either you can or you can't, you decide.
I am where I am today because of… my family. It was the desire to spend more meaningful time with them and to get myself into a happier place that spurred me into action.
I am who I am because of... my Father. He has always backed me and taught me to trust my gut. He's a risk taker, passionate about what he believes in, authentic to who he is and always believes the best in people.
The best advice I've been given... Things happen for a reason. It may seem counter-intuitive at the time, but I've always found there's something better around the corner. Some of my biggest disappointments have come immediately before amazing opportunities. I always try to hang in there and keep an open mind as that 'thing' may not come in the guise you expect.
In five years I’d like to be… enjoying flexible, quality time with my family and real joy from running my own business. I'd like to be stocked in all the places on my wish list and become known as the place to look for fun, mindful children's gifts that can help get families talking.
The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... I've actually found there's an amazing, supportive network through Instagram and Facebook so there's lots of places to seek out advice and feedback. But no-one will be doing it quite like you so there's always a fair amount of interpretation involved. It can be pretty lonely though, particularly in the early days, when self-doubt can loom large. I think small businesses talk about this more openly now than ever before, and it's not seen as a weakness to admit it's a slog or to ask for help.
The websites I most frequently use are... Wix for managing my website, Instagram, various networking and industry Facebook groups and not forgetting Google!
Our biggest mistake and what it taught us… Right when I started I printed a huge batch of A2 size prints which cost me a fortune. I was so excited to open them but immediately spotted a problem. The file I'd sent to print had some low resolution imagery in it, and as such the illustrations were pixillated and fuzzy. Definitely not sellable. In my haste to get up and running I'd overlooked something fundamental. I was absolutely gutted. But it was a mistake you only make once. I now check everything meticulously and never rush the process. When you're running a small business you literally can't afford to make the same mistake twice.
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