Now in its third year, Pitch Up provides small creative businesses with the opportunity to pitch their innovative products and unique gift ideas to notonthehighstreet.com’s experts in the hope of joining the site as a new Partner … We meet one!
1. You are now a NOTHS Partner because of a successful Pitch Up event – can you tell us more?
I had always dreamt of being able to sell my products on notonthehighstreet.com however being a fairly new business and still finding my way I hadn’t considered applying until my business had grown and until I thought I was ready but when I saw the opportunity to attend the Pitch Up event I knew I had to give a try. I went to it thinking it’d just be nice to get some feedback from people who really know what they’re talking about and could give me some great advice. Of course I was praying they would want to sign me up but I never thought it would actually happen. Whether I had have been accepted or not it was a great step for my business and a huge confidence boost. I have now been selling on notonthehighstreet.com for nearly two years and my business has been growing ever since.
2. Tell us about your business and how you benefited from the event…
I started Paper and Wool in 2015, creating handmade nursery decorations and gifts for baby showers, birthdays and the home. I have always wanted to have my own business and be able to sell products that I have handmade to people that really love them. The Pitch Up event was beneficial to me in so many ways, obviously the main one being that I was accepted to join notonthehighstreet.com which has completely changed my business and improved so many areas of my life and I also gained a lot of confidence from the event. When you’re a creative person just working away on your own you can’t always gauge if you’re on the right track. When your products start to sell it’s a great indication you’re doing something right but to sit with the team at notonthehighstreet.com and have them be as excited about your work as you are was a real confidence boost and gave me the motivation to keep building my business to what it is today.
3. How did you prepare for the event?
I definitely over prepared! My business was still fairly new and at a point where I wasn’t sure if it could actually be something I could earn a living from so I still had a lot of learning to do. With the Pitch Up event coming up I thought they might ask me lots of scary questions that I didn’t know the answer too so I researched everything! I updated my business plan and really took some time to think about what my business was about and where it was heading. When it came to the actual meeting they didn’t ask me any scary questions or put me on the spot about my business, they were so lovely! But doing all the preparation really helped with what came after I had joined, I needed to do all the preparation to be prepared for the fast growth of my business. I always believe you can never be too prepared!
4. What are the top tips for a successful pitch?
I think being excited and enthusiastic about your own business is really important, people want to be excited by your products so if they can see your excitement for it then they’re going to want to find out more. Don’t worry too much about the outcome, I went into it thinking it’d just be great to get some feedback on my products from people who know what they’re talking about. Putting too much pressure on yourself will make the whole experience stressful when it shouldn’t be, it’d should be fun!
Remember that it’s your business you are pitching and your business is your baby and you live and breath it, you can answer any question thrown at you because you know every detail of what you do.
5. How important is that all important first impression?
I think business wise it is really important, having all of your work well presented and having a well put together catalogue of your range can really make a difference to how someone feels about it before they’ve even properly looked at what you sell. I don’t think first impressions on a personal basis are as important in this situation, everyone knows you’re going to be a little bit nervous and may not come across how you want to. At my Pitch Up event I was dropping things and fumbling around and probably seemed like a clumsy fool but people understand nerves and as long as you are friendly and have a smile on your face that’s all that matters.
6. How has social media changed your business model?
I think social media is constantly growing and it’s even more important now to be connected with your customers through Instagram, Facebook etc. Most customers will search for you on these platforms and I’ve learnt that to grow in these areas it’s important to have a strong brand image and it’s a great way to show off your customer service skills so it’s definitely a bigger part of my business plan than I had expected it to be.
7. What advice would you give to any budding designer looking to start a business?
Starting my own business was a dream of mine since I can remember and after university I struggled with working in an office environment as I knew it just wasn’t for me, but I felt like I wasn’t ready or I was too young to take the leap and actually start my business. I don’t know why this held me back and I wish I had just done it sooner. I think planning and research is really important however it comes to a point when you just have to do it, I’ve learnt so much more along the way than I did just sat reading about it. They’ll never be a perfect time and you’ll never feel 100% ready to put yourself out there but you just have to go for it otherwise you’ll never know where it could lead.