I have been lucky enough to have received a great amount of support from the Royal Agricultural University's Business Enterprise scheme, which has enabled me to test out my products and take the first step with my business. The Cirencester-based Enterprise section of the university is heralded as one of the best in the country, and in my mind really deserves such a title.
Katy Duke and her team have been hugely supportive in helping me realise my dream of creating this artwork business, and I am very grateful for all the great expert advice, as well as a small amount of funding, which has helped get my business off the ground. Not every student in the country has access to such a well-run, welcoming and encouraging enterprise operation. It is a very bright feather in the cap of the RAU.
As a little side note, I was asked a few months ago to design a logo for the enterprise scheme, and I am happy to say that the colourful geometric lightbulb you can see above was created by me and is now on banners, clothing and communications from Enterprise.
Last March, I was invited by the Royal Agricultural University, in conjunction with local schools and Cirencester Town Council, to attend the Cirencester Youth Market. This fantastic event is held in the town square and aims to promote, support and encourage young entrepreneurs to get out into the 'real world' and sell their products to real customers.
The day started cloudy and quickly fulfilled the expectations of a downpour. Despite this, the brave people of Cirencester still turned out to see what the younger generation was getting up to. They really deserved a round of applause, as the day might not have been such a successful one if everyone had decided not to venture out into the pouring rain and instead opted to stay nice and warm and dry at home. If they had, I wouldn't really have blamed them - at least us stall holders were able to keep dry under our roofs!
I received some really kind and encouraging comments about my work and plenty of people bought greetings cards. It thrills me to think of my artwork being posted off and eventually being taken out of the envelope and seen for the first time by fresh eyes. If those recipients read the back cover of my cards and come and check out my website and portfolio...well, that is even better!
As a fledgling business owner, I feel that events like this really are important. They are places where I can meet and connect with people whom I may otherwise never have reached with social media marketing or flyers in local shops. Passers-by can be drawn in by a certain product or the design of my stall, and it's great to receive interest and questions from strangers about my business. What's more, people are able to put a face to the name, and therefore I hope that they will be able to remember me better.
Maybe some of those passers by will even be reading this - if that is the case, hello again!