The First 100 Days
Today marks 100 days since I started Rue Franklin, and what a whirlwind it has been!
We first went live on February 20th, and now on May 31st we mark 100 days in business. Going from an ambition, to a fully functioning website running sales is a big step to take. We not only managed to get the store up and running, but we have also experimented and taken time to test-and-learn as we go.
I have learned so much in the last 100 days, and below are my key takeaways:
Just start: There will never be a right time, and there will always be more to do and to tweak, but often these are just excuses. Just start. Put that first post out there, buy the domain you need, and just get going. My site, brand and products have evolved so much in 100 days and having everything “live” provided me with a great base to test and learn, experiment, speak directly with customers and get feedback on my pieces. I am sure they will continue to evolve and grow from where they are now over the next 100 days and months!
Seek out your own opportunities: In most cases, opportunity just doesn’t come knocking all by itself. When you start out with something new, nobody knows you, your brand, your pieces or your style. It takes multiple years to build a reputation and even longer before people will start to approach you. I took it upon myself to reach out to people, I contacted local interior shops to see if they would stock my prints, I sent press releases to local and national news publications, I gifted and donated my pieces. Most of these went unanswered, but not all of them - I did end up with a feature in a national news site and an influencer shared my piece on her instagram story. Little wins matter.
Be realistic: During the first few weeks, I tried to figure out which platforms would best suit my brand. I had pieces listed for thousands of dollars on high-end sites, all original and one-of-a-kind pieces. As the canvases piled up in my small one-bedroom apartment I knew this was not a sustainable solution for my work. I hated the idea that these beautiful pieces sat in my flat and were not out in the world bringing colour and life to a dull wall! I started to investigate art prints, and how I could print, frame and ship them in larger quantities at a lower price point for the consumer. This was a great way for me to make the art more accessible and allowed me to connect directly to my customer base rather than going through an art platform. This really helped me to realign the brand and the concept to a much more targeted demographic. In addition to the realities of finding my customer, I also had the realities of filing a trademark and setting up the business which are complicated processes, and are taking much longer than anticipated.
Experiment and Learn: I started with an Instagram course to learn the ins-and-outs of how to run an instagram page, and how to make it work best for your brand. This gave me the confidence to try new things, to put up audience polls, to get feedback in real-time, and to share my process and behind the scenes studio antics with my audience. I watched tons of YouTube video tutorials. I hired freelancers to help with the website. I found templates for promo videos and I began to design my own logos and posts. I activated analytics to follow the sales on my website which gave me insight into the popularity of apparel. I started studying Activewear Design at the London College of Fashion to really test this out. I created a mock-up. I pitched to retailers to stock it in their stores. I got their feedback and their inputs. It is continuous experimentation and learning and I LOVE IT.
Crunch the numbers: All that testing and learning has helped me narrow down my next step, the problem I am solving for, my ideal customer. It gave me the confidence to make enquiries as to how much needs to be invested to bring my ideas to life. Quantifying this has made it much more of a business rather than a hobby, and that is so exciting to see! It has also brought me down to earth in terms of timing - I think it will take about a year before any of my apparel will be produced. Hang on in there - it will be a fun ride..!
Be yourself! At so many points along the way there were times I started to think about what I “should” be doing or saying or painting, and I had to stop myself. I am who I am. My style is my style. Some people will love your work, and other people won’t. I was so nervous to put my art out there, but I am so glad I did. I promise there are people out there who will love your pieces as much as you do - you just need to find them, and they need to find you.
The first 100 days are only the beginning - I can't wait to see what comes next...! If you are wondering how this all started.... take a look at this blog post!