GOLD NUGGETS FROM HILARY GRANT

It's time for some more Gold Nuggets where we talk with some of our most loved makers, founders and do-ers. Digging into their stories to reveal tips, precious wisdom, and even some music to get your under-the-desk feet dancing. 

We sat down with our long time friend Hilary Grant to pick her brain about running her knitwear business and what she's learned about running her business in Orkney. 
 

Image Credit: Ross Fraser McLean

Image Credit: Ross Fraser McLean

Tell us about yourself and your business
I run a knitwear company under my own name Hilary Grant, on a remote island off the North Coast of Scotland called Orkney. I started my business 2011, designing scarves and knitting everything myself on a hand-operated knitting machine. We're now a 2 person business, with my partner Rob joining me on design and running the online shop and all our knitwear is now produced with a knitwear manufacturer in Scotland. We sell our knitwear online and to department stores and design-led lifestyle stores in over 5 countries. 

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?
Have goals and celebrate smashing them. Learn from mistakes. 

When you're a small company,  you sometimes don't have the time or even notice when you're achieving things - you're always moving on to the next task. It's good to celebrate when good things happen, it gives you the motivation to move on and allows you to take stock of your achievements. 


Top 3 tips for growing a brand in a remote location
Social media is basically a lifeline for our business when we live in such a remote place. But having really brilliant content is what makes people stick around. It can genuinely be an isolating experience, running a business in a remote place but Instagram allows you to build a little world around yourself with people who support what you do and meet other businesses and creatives who inspire you and you can support in return. 

Physical face-to-face events are so important for us as it gives us a chance to meet the lovely people to support us online. It also gives you the opportunity to make chance encounters with all sorts of people outside our social media circle. We do a lot of pop up shopping events in winter and I think it really means a lot to people to be able to touch our knitwear and feel it before making a purchase. Our knitwear feel so soft and tactile -  one thing you can't show people through the internet!

Instagram has been a brilliant driver for us, but we don't want to rely on it too much. Kaye has been quite evangelical about newsletters for quite some time and we're ready to jump in with that now.

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
Make a plan and stick to it. We worked with brilliant woman called Kirsty Scott to help us build a growth strategy. It was the best thing we've ever done for our business.

What’s your ambition for your business?
We like being small as it offers us flexibility. For us the driver for the business really comes from the creative side - so we think about other products we'd like to make, techniques we'd like to develop and figure out how to reign it in to be commercial and accessible to people. We'd love to start working with more interior designers on bespoke projects and large-scale pieces. 

What song motivates you in the studio and why? 
It's hard to choose just one song. If I need to concentrate I'll listen to Disasterpiece. On Friday afternoon, when I'm trying to wrap up everything for the weekend I'l make a point of listening to Yo La Tengo's cover of "Friday I'm in Love". It's good for a Friday dance around the studio and getting into the weekend spirit!

Getting started on Instagram

Instagram is a great way to grow and keep in touch with your community.

Before you get started it’s best to first understand why you want to use Instagram, who your community are and what's going to make them tap that heart. 

Instagram Goals

With clear goals, you'll have much better success. Here are some reasons that people use Instagram to help their small business;
- Showcase your products or services
- Share news and updates
- Build your community
- Increase brand loyalty with existing community
- Increase awareness of your brand
- Showcase your company culture and values

Choose 2-3 goals to really focus on. Don't worry, these can change over time as you grow.

Setting up YOUR ACCOUNT

Writing your description. What you choose to share here should be personal, clearly describing what you do and hint at your values. Most include either (or both) of the below:

- Brand slogan or tagline (e.g. Paved With Gold “Nice Things 🔸 Good People🔸 Great Ideas🔸”)

- An outline of who you are and what you do (e.g. BleepBleeps “Cute, connected gadgets that make parenting easier”

Choosing your profile picture. Whenever someone views one of your posts or your profile they’ll see your profile picture. It’s important to show them something that’s recognisable. Unless it’s a personal account we recommend using your logo or an example of your work. Remember to choose one that works well with the circular frame without being cut off or with small text that’s hard to read.

Your one link. Instagram doesn’t allow links to be added to posts. Instead you get just one link in your profile. Naturally many use it to direct people to their website. But sometimes you’ll want to share links to a certain campaign or piece of content. You can do this by temporarily changing your bio link, and in the post mentioning “Link in bio”.


Sharing on Instagram

What to share?

Think about those Instagram goals, what your values are and the audience you’re trying to attract. This will help you think about your content themes and what you should focus on sharing.

Some example content themes to get you started:
Behind the scenes - Getting to know the team or how your product is being made
Followers & community - stories from customers and influencers that love your brand
In the wild  - Your brand at events, demos, showcases and talks.
Useful - Content that helps your audience.

How to share?

Frequency - Try to share daily, sometimes you might not be able to but make sure you share at regular intervals rather than spamming feeds by posting all at once.

Mentioning and tagging - For more engagement you can mention and tag other Instagram accounts that you’ve featured in your post. Sometimes they might regram and mention you back too!

Hashtags - Adding the right hashtags will help your posts be more discoverable and is a great way to target followers with particular interests. We love finding unique hashtags like #capturemycraft or #signsofsummer. There’s a real magic to getting the right hashtags for your account, we'll talk about this more in another post.

Instagram styles we love

Mayku - Minimal and Knolling. Considered design.
Everything perfectly placed to showcase the simplicity of their product. 

Flat15 - Home & Lifestyle. Aspirational living.
Gabriella's blog is all about luxurious interiors, and her Instagram really brings this to life. 

Trakke - Outdoor. A sense of adventure.
The team at Trakke bake adventure into everything that they do. They've curated an awesome team of adventurers to showcase the toughness of their bags. (We're a bit obsessed)

BleepBleeps - Colour. Bright and Up.
One that we work on at Paved With Gold! Aligned with the BleepBleeps brand, we love showcasing great design and bright, bold colours. We’re using it to showcase the stories we've been creating on the blog and bring the community along as the BleepBleeps team create new products. 

If Instagram makes you nervous, or all this talk of brand values making you sweat? Give us a shout and we can help you understand clearly what your business is about, who it's for and how to reach them.

Gold Nuggets from Ding

It's time for some more Gold Nuggets where we talk with some of our most loved makers, founders and do-ers. Digging into their stories to reveal tips, precious wisdom, and even some music to get your under-the-desk feet dancing. 

In this edition we’d like you to meet one of our favourite couples, John Nussey and Avril O’Neil from Ding, a project we helped become successfully funded on Kickstarter.

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Tell us about yourselves and Ding
Hi! We're Avril and John, and with support from The Design Council, John Lewis and our amazing backers on Kickstarter we’re launching Ding. 

Ding is a simple, beautiful, smart doorbell that’s perfect for your home and makes your life easier. When a visitor presses the button, the chime rings in your home and also connects to the Ding app on your smartphone, allowing you to talk with the person at your front door from wherever you are in the world!

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?
There's a lot I wish we'd known in our first year! Making a physical product comes with many challenges and it's hard to know what to prioritise. In all honesty we don't have many regrets, as we've learnt so much through the experience. The one thing I think we wish we'd had was a way of meeting and expanding our team quicker. We have secured an amazingly talented team, including the guys at PWG, but it took a lot of searching to find them. 

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What are your top 3 tips for how to best use funding?
Tip 1. Spend it on things you can't do yourself

Tip 2. Trust your gut and don't worry about spending it

Tip 3. Invest it in the company, rather than using it as an income, get your product out there sooner. 

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
Make the business work for you and don't be a slave to any other formulas or compare yourselves to others too much. 
 
What’s your ambition for Ding?
On a personal level it is to see a product we've made out there in the world, solving a real need. In the bigger picture it's to make IOT products that have a genuine benefit for people, rather than producing technology for technology's sake. 

What song motivates you in the studio and why? 
"Ring my bell" by Anita Ward. Then there’s "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica, "My doorbell" by The White Stripes...we could go on! ;) 

Gold Nuggets from Flat 15

In this edition of Gold Nuggets we caught up with one of our favourite style and decor bloggers. Gabriella Palumbo from Flat 15 tells us how she works with brands and how she developed her own to become an award-winning blogger. 

Tell us about yourself and Flat 15. 
My name is Gabby and I am an interior designer and founder of the award-winning design and lifestyle blog Flat 15. I find inspiration for my eclectic London-based design and interior projects from my travels abroad, high and emerging fashion, artwork and daily strolls around my Notting Hill neighbourhood. I make sure to document anything that celebrates original style and happy living on Flat 15.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew in your first year?
I think something to remember when starting out is to always have confidence in yourself and just own it! When I first started I was quite nervous about putting myself out there (especially on the blog). I was timid for the first several months about really going for it and in a way I regret that. I eventually found my feet, but I wish I hadn't wasted any time in feeling like "what if people don't like what I am saying" and went for it from the very start. 

Top 3 tips for brands when approaching bloggers?
Tip 1. Be Personal. The brand should really know the blogger (and blog) that they are approaching. Sometimes brands email me and it is quite obvious that it is an email template that they have sent to lots of people. This is very off putting for me. 

Tip 2. Be Upfront. In the past it has happened to me on my part and on the brand's part, where we have not been upfront about what is expected and it caused confusion. Now I like to be very clear about what is expected for the content, timeline and brand exposure across social media. 

Tip 3. Good Fit. I think it is important for brands to be aware of the aesthetic and style of the blogger and make sure that this fits well with the overall look of the brand. This will get the most exposure for the brand and also keep with the integrity of the blog. 

What was the best bit of advice you were given and who gave you it?
I think the best piece of advice I was given was actually from my husband who told me to stay consistent with my content and voice on the blog. I think when you have your own business there are highs and lows, especially when you first start out and it seems that things are moving slowly (or slower than you want them to). Staying consistent is one of the most important aspects of building a blog, brand or business in my opinion. 

What’s your ambition for Flat 15?
I would love to eventually design some of my own products and sell them. I usually have a very specific idea of decor objects that I love so it would be great to create some of these for like minded people. 

What song motivates you in the studio and why? 
I tend to work best when I am listening to chilled music as I can still concentrate on work but feel upbeat at the office. I would say that Drake is always a go to for me during the day.

How to work creatively remotely

You’ll find Paved With Gold mostly in London and Glasgow but we’ve worked with clients from all over the world; from Hong Kong to Berlin to New York. Our designer Kim worked with us whilst cycling across Korea, Japan and then the USA, and Chara our Community Manager works from sunny Barcelona. 

We get asked a lot about how we make working remotely work for us. The most important thing to get right is making sure each team member feels in charge of their work. There’s no time for micromanaging when there’s a small team. We all support each other to make sure it doesn’t ever get too much, and make sure our deadlines work for each individual as well as the makers we collaborate with.

Anyway, here are a few things we do to make working remotely work at Paved With Gold. 

The Tool Kit

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To keep in touch, like most we’ll catch up with video calls on Skype, work collaboratively in Google Docs, and share important thoughts, links and Gifs on Slack.

A Weekly Roundup

When there are lots of projects on we like to send around a weekly roundup of what everyone has been working on. This helps everyone feel involved and gives an opportunity for anyone to chime in with suggestions and tips from their experiences.

Explore Together

Each year we take time out to get the team together. We take this opportunity to look back on the year that has passed and look forward to the year ahead. It’s an opportunity for us to hang out together for a few days and discuss how we work and talk through ways to make things better. 

Recently we all visited Kaye up in Glasgow and met a whole bunch of super interesting people in and around South Block. 

We’re keen on visiting more places this year. So if you like what we do and you’re from an interesting hub or community please get in touch. We’d love to come by!