Are you planning to go big in 2017? Want to finally become a freelancer or start your own business? It’s about time, right? The world’s been waiting for your idea!
Now, turn on your laptop, get back to the drawing board, dust off your sewing machine and start making! Here are four stories from Berlin-based women who are building businesses in the creative industries. We’re not just giving you learnings but also some personal stories because we figured it’s easier for you to start when you see how others have began building their dream careers. You can start small of course, but make sure to start today:
1. Pursue a side project and show people what you’re creating
Lana Bragina worked as a graphic designer when she met Stefan Spiegel, a mountain enthusiast. She thought it would be fun to create a map of the Alps for him, so she began spending her evenings on it as a side project. Stefan loved the outcome and together they decided to share the artwork with others by offering it on Kickstarter — because the more copies you print, the cheaper they get.
What Stefan nor Lana expected was that Lana would soon be able to call herself her own boss, founding a design studio focused on creating maps, because of their online popularity.
Lana was able to build a business that’s truly authentic to who she is because she created something without compromising on the style or the quality of the design — and others loved it as much as she loved making it.
Why not show people what you’re capable of making, and see what happens from there?
2. Dare to grow! Move your hobby out of your living room
Caroline and Valerie, two graphic designers and twin sisters, wanted to create something tangible together, so they began producing bags in their studio.
With the bags’ French flair and practical design, more and more friends started asking where they could purchase them. The sisters recognized what a chance it was to create their own brand, and they decided to look for a manufacturer to supply the demand. They learned about minimum order quantities and how much funding it would take to grow their business, but they didn’t want an investor — instead, they wanted to grow their business organically.
The idea was simple: if they could find enough people who’d pre-order their bags, they could afford to place an order and deliver everyone a bag in the style they wished for. They needed 9,000 Euros to be able to produce a small series and were incredibly pleased when more than 200 people supported their campaign on Kickstarter, enabling them to do just that.
3. Get feedback on what you’re creating during the early stages
Julia Müller always wanted to be a fashion designer. And on a trip to Peru, she fell in love with the colorful style and the high quality of the local Alpaca wool.
She made supportive local friends in the community which inspired her to make her very first collection — and so, together with a group of women, she developed a small collection of pullovers. She financed this first small collection herself, but didn’t have enough money to pre-finance anything, or to go the traditional route of looking for boutiques to sell her styles. So she turned to the public for support and launched a project on Kickstarter.
In the 30 days her project was live, people from all over the world got in touch with her to express interest in her designs. After exchanging emails with supporters, she soon realized that men loved her unique styles as well, and decided to broaden her focus beyond womenswear alone.
By getting to know her customers, she’s been able to co-create styles that fit people’s needs, which enables her to make smarter decisions for the future.
Allow yourself to share your work even before you think it’s finished — getting feedback can enable you to give people what they actually want. Collaborative creativity yields beautiful outcomes!
4. Start building an audience for your work before you ask for money
Yamina de Leon, a German vlogger, wanted to make great shoes that would suit her needs.
Due to her respectable online following, it was realistic for her to aim high and start a project with a large financial goal.
She calculated that she’d need 60,000 Euros to produce the shoes of her dreams – something doable with her online fans. But she knew that she couldn’t just launch a project on a whim and expect the money to roll in.
For Yamina, it took years of publishing content online — and for free — before she asked people to pay for something that she’d created.
You too can aim high, just don’t forget to start building a following for your creations online sooner rather than later — and definitely before you decide to ask people to support you financially. Get them excited about what you’re going to make!
If you really want to make it work and start your own business, you’ll make it happen. Don’t feel discouraged by starting small — many of the best ideas and most successful people started small too!