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Nuts, bolts and funds....

There is help out there!

Planning and looking for funding.

May 26th 2017

Here's my studio!!....well here's where it will be. A great space at the bottom of my garden which my husband, Ian, (who is a builder, conveniently) assures me is where my gorgeous, made-for-purpose studio will appear imminently. Quite what the timeframe is I'm not sure!

At the moment I work from a very cosy corner of my bedroom, where I have a desk in an alcove and my computer set up. Artwork gets done on the kitchen table and sometimes in the garden.

As I said previously, I gave up my teaching job last year and am focused on building a business as a surface pattern designer. I want to produce gorgeous limited edition fabrics and clothing to my own design, license artwork and run workshops and community programmes...I want to do so much. But...I have absolutely no money at the moment and Ian is working all the hours he can to keep our family afloat and support me in this endeavour.

I've never run a business before. I've made and sold stuff but not with the serious intent to build a successful business. Over the past few months I've become VERY aware of all I do not know and this could be enough to stop me in my tracks. But it won't.

Just how do you go about funding a new business, building a client base, putting manufacturing and logistics in place, getting your work seen and presented to the right standard and the right people, understanding and managing all the many activities and nuances that will make or break what is a dream and a life's purpose? The challenges are so many and various it can and often does feel overwhelming.

I've made a commitment to do something every single day to progress along this road. That often means I get head down into designing, which I love to do. But I am very aware that just making great designs does not a business make. So there are always so many other tasks which are on my mind, and my lists.

Money is a pressing and key factor. I need to get samples and a portfolio printed, and make/produce a sample range of products, then there's marketing and publicity. Ideally I want to bring my work to a trade fair, which will demand quite a sizeable investment to make happen. So without earnings, or any pot of cash stashed away it's been feeling really frustrating to try to move forward.

But...HELP IS AT HAND!! YAY!! Here in Cornwall there is a fantastic scheme called Cultivator, run by Creative Kernow. They have a small pot of European funding left, set to run for two more years, which is there to help support the development of creative industries and business in the region. I am getting fantastic initial support from a wonderful woman called Tonia Lu, who is here to help guide me on the road to getting where I want to be. She acts a support and advisor in the process of accessing any of the many and varied strands that this project can offer. One strand is the potential of up to £5k of grant funding towards strategic business development. Whoop, whoop!! I can apply for up to 80% of costs for a number of activities and outlays which I can prove will have significant impact on the growth of my business. This week Tonia and I met for the second time and I had a long list of potential needs and wants and had also started gathering costings for the grant application. Head down in paperwork is not my favourite place to be but is a vital part of making this vision a reality. Now I'm waiting for her to take an overview of what I've outlined, get back to me about what may or may not be eligible and then I'll be pouring over the application for real to meet the end June deadline. It'll be a few weeks after that before I know if I've been successful. If the grant is approved I can use this to go to the bank to ask for a business overdraft and start getting stuff done.

My list includes Web development and the putting together of an online portfolio, print of hardcopy portfolios and look books, business stationery and promotional materials, the cost of having a stand at a trade show (I'm looking at the London Print Design Fair at the moment), production and presentation of fabric and product samples, product photography...etc etc!!

And the studio?....well, as and when I start trading, and bring in some money, that will be a step nearer too.

At this point money is key. The next step is to look for and find a business mentor who is willing to offer guidance along this this space.

More soon. Thanks for reading.

Franca :-)

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